Thanks for posting this, @jpm. I think Clark raises some valid points.
The quote that jumped out at me was this one:" But because accepting those other possibilities threatens the “evangelical worldview” just as much as trilobites and the light from distant stars, the reality of all those other people — those billions who are neither nihilists nor creationists — has to be denied."
I think Clark is right to say that the inevitable endpoint of the YEC algorithm is denial – denial of the reality of all those other people. This endpoint is very troubling, because it’s polar opposite of what Jesus taught us about love.
I’m not surprised about the disorientation of the young woman who suddenly “gets it” (the “it” being the true age and majesty of the planet). The brain will respond with some pretty strange sensations whenever a core belief system is penetrated by the arrowhead of insight. But the brain will respond this way to any core belief that’s suddenly turned on its head, so it’s not an experience unique to YEC proponents who suddenly see the flaws in the algorithm they’ve been taught.
The physical sensations can be painful and upsetting, but this is to be expected when the brain is faced with the biological challenge of taking apart a lot of its networks and building new networks to accommodate the new understanding. It’s a lot of work, as far as the brain is concerned. But that’s the beauty of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis – the brain can and will rewire itself if the insight is strong and clear enough. Insight rules the roost, so to speak.
The experience of sudden insight that challenges your unchallenged beliefs and forces you to go more deeply into your relationship with God than you ever thought possible is the experience of redemption. It breaks open your heart, makes you feel humble (probably for the first time in your life), and forces you to ask questions you were afraid to ask in the past. It hurts. It hurts like heck. It takes time and patience and humbleness to work your way through all the implications of the insight. But you realize that all the hard work is helping you get closer to God, which is the very thing the old algorithm was trying with all its might to prevent you from doing.
So in the end, the struggle of dealing with the insight is more than worth it.