Wednesday, 21 September 2011

An appeal to atheists and young earthers - enjoy the mystery

What have atheists and young earthers got in common?

Certainty in the face of mystery.

The atheist believes in  philosophical materialism, assuming that nothing exists outside the space, time, matter and energy which we detect directly with the 5 senses or via technology (microscopes, particle detectors etc.) or via direct inference, and tries to explain our existence in basically two different ways (please correct me if I’m wrong):
  1. The material world created itself out of existential nothingness.
  2. The material world is infinite in time and space.
1 is obviously irrational but so is 2, since it appeals to the physically meaningless concept of infinity (e.g. infinity is always infinitely far away even when you have travelled an almost infinite way towards it – wherever that may be; or it is 1 divided by zero).

The young earth creationists believe that the Genesis account in the Holy Bible is a literal scientific account of events over six days, ending about 6000 years ago. Since it was inspired by God before humans had evolved a scientific framework in which to interpret it why would our Creator have tried to communicate a scientific description? The biblical account surely is to show the relationship between God and humankind. There are various accounts in Genesis which, taken literally, contradict each other. The author was no fool, so it can only have been intended to deep, sacred truths as a divine metaphor – and I believe this is how the original Jewish mystics saw it. Creationism, as the word is used in the USA, is a modern innovation.

So both atheists and young earthers are denying themselves access to the mystery of being – all is explicable in terms of a magic materialisation out of existential nothingness with no first cause, or it has existed for a meaningless period of time, or it was all created in one week by a rather parochial God and there is no need to look further into the cosmic drama or meditate on its existence.

Atheists persist in refusing to accept that there are signs of intelligent unfolding of events in the living world in the face of overwhelming evidence, lest this should be taken by young earthers to mean there is a God who absolves us from the need to apply our own intelligence to understand the world. Young earthers refuse to accept any evidence which contradicts the 6-day model of creation only 6000 years ago. (Question for young earthers: perhaps I’m being too dismissive – it may be only the evolutionary time scale and details of terrestrial life which differentiates you from the scientific mainstream. What about modern cosmology? Please let me know.)

I believe the universe was created by our Creator somehow, sometime, probably billions of years ago. Just how we will never know but I believe God wants us to keep exploring with open minds, to be curious and to enjoy the wonder, like children (‘the kingdom of heaven is given to such as these’, Matt 19:14). To think we know it all in any sense is a terrible conceit. 

So if you fall into either the atheist or the young earth camp please stop attacking each other.

Why not just keep quiet and enjoy the mystery of being ?

Author, 2077 AD