The bluesmen: Why creationists "blame Darwin"

(josh abraham) #1

Basically my dissertation for Florida led me to do oral history with living creationists that as much I knew Ronald Numbers and Edward Larson had not interviewed.

I thought, why not interview them while they are still around?

So I found out that essentially they are a community in lamentation. They lament what has happened to Christian children raised on the Bible from grandma’s knee. They lament the 1960s. Almost all of it.

I read this book called “The World the Sixties Made”. It celebrated the 1960s as the moment of the greatest expansion of democracy for the largest number of people in American history.

But this was not the creationists. The white evangelical males who I suspect made up part of the “silent majority” Nixon believed recoiled at marching in the streets and civil unrest.

So now I am at a community college in Dallas. I have students like Nataly and Edgar coming from Christian backgrounds. Millenials.

The school is practically surrounded by four Southern Baptist churches that I am almost sure are young-earth creationist.

Meanwhile, I have not met a single person associated with the ASA or BioLogos in Dallas churches in three years. So I am deeply isolated here.

I wonder what I should say to Nataly and Edgar for the brief time they see me.


I feel sad for you that you feel isolated in that way.
I wonder what it is about Americal churches that tend to make them more fundementalist than some others.

it is strange that in the history of the church the church for dogmatic reasons has often opposed the growth of scientific inquiry that has seemed to challenge traditional views. is it out of fear and loss of power? The Catholic church resisted Galileo etc but also until more recent times also resisted evolution, but now coming to various degrees of adapting theology to the modern world.

Back in the Middle Ages there was an impetus for science because it was believed that things in creation were part of the truth of God. There was a “book of creation” to “read” (observe) as well as the book of scripture. The problems arose then some contraditions between the two books occured and the church decided the scriptures had to be more true than what was being observed. Seems this old problem still remains.

People forced to choose between dogma and science will I think over time abandon the dogma and then abandon the church. A church that cannot reajust to realities will no longer be relevant and have any hold on people’s trust and need of faith. A dogmatic faith that won’t change will lead more to atheism because the faith will look absurd.

The church needs to re-evaluate the sources,origin and purposes of the Genesis and other creation stories in the light of what we are now discovering about the universe and life on earth and earth history. God can act trough the contigenies of the enviroment and does not need to “zap” things fully formed into existence. The more I read about an evolutionary God the more I find it makes sense.

(Christy Hemphill) #3

I lived in Dallas for a couple years. There are lots of closeted ECs smiling and nodding when someone hands out the latest issue of Answers magazine. Don’t despair.

As for teaching, I just summarized a education journal article on teaching students opposed to evolution for faith based reasons, if it’s any use to you.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

You teach as best you san that Christianity is about faith and hope, not about fear. Point to the early church when it was in a small minority, not a majority. Point to how the Black Church kept its faith bright even in the midst of slavery or brutal Jim Crow.

Ye of little faith, God is still in charge. Don’t be fooled just because your version of Christianity does not work. Go back to Jesus, the one of Love and not of judgment.

(Phil) #5

I understand your isolation. I have lived in Texas my whole life, and in past years have had to bite my tongue when discussions of creationism came up, as the most vocal where those of the AIG type. I am now in the Hill Country area, but lived in Dallas 4 years.
However, I think things have changed a bit. Though maybe not in the flagship type Southern Baptist churches, there are many churches that do not see the whole creationism thing as an issue, even if they give lip service to a young earth if pressed. I would encourage you to seek fellowship with those of like mind or at least acceptance.
It was sort of interesting when one of the YEC guys in our Sunday school class tried to get a trip planned to see the Ark Encounter, and there was zero response. No one really wants to discuss it which is sad, but at least few see it as a key issue.
In any case, this forum has been a real blessing in that you can be relaxed and transparent without fear of condemnation, though expect to be challenged. It seems that the attitude is that an idea worth having, is worth being examined.

(Juan Romero) #6

I would actually like to visit it (I don’t know why).

(Christy Hemphill) #7

My kids keep telling people we went to Noah’s Ark this past summer, and the people are like, “Oh, the one at the Creation Museum?” and my kids look confused and are like, “No, the one in the Dells.” In my opinion, the one in the Dells is a much better use of $40.


If you’re going to articulate your views, do it in a friendly way and maybe throw some personal experience in there.

BioLogos has an entire section on Gracious Dialogue.[churchAndCulture][0]=Gracious+Dialogue

(Phil) #9

Looks great, will have to think about taking the grandkids. Though I am a little bummed as I thought Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels was the largest. It is lots of fun too.

But, back to the original post, I think while lament may descibe some, I think defensive describes more, especially the organizations involved. As the tide turns, I think we need to be sensitive to the concerns and difficulty in processing that arises when people have a major shift in viewpoint. i think that within the Christian community, that is best done by emphasis on good theology. Only when the science can be seen as not threatening can it be easily accepted.

(Curtis Henderson) #10

A Noah’s Ark waterpark sound like either a lot of fun or a horrible tragedy. :joy::joy:

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #11

Well, at least one family survived! :joy:

(Christy Hemphill) #12

No biblical exegesis went into anything we saw there. :slight_smile: But is was a lot of fun and so much huger now than I remember when I was a kid.


Up in Canada, at our local Pentecostal Bible college, about 70% is students are coming in as young-Earth Creationists. So I am told by someone in the know.

(josh abraham) #14

Thank you for the article citation. Anything helps.

(josh abraham) #15

Thanks for the encouragment. Community college adjuncting as a evolutionary creationist can be a lonely business.

(josh abraham) #16

Thanks for giving me the lowdown on Texas life. I am new here and the shock of the deeply entrenched conservatism of the countryside has been something I have had to adapt to.

(josh abraham) #17

Your point on theology is powerful… The PCA denomination won’t ordain anyone who accepts evolution. What to do about that? The SBC which is so dominant among Texas Protestants probably is in the same camp.

PCA and Adam Theology
(Andrew M. Wolfe) #18

Do you have a link for this? I’d be interested to read up on this… particularly as I visited a PCA church a couple of weeks ago, made some good new friends there, and offhandedly mentioned my love for BioLogos to one of them…


PCA and Adam Theology
(Christy Hemphill) #19

Tim Keller is in the PCA. If I remember correctly, @Swamidass and @Kathryn_Applegate attend PCA churches. Maybe they could comment on whether or not the whole denomination has any “rules” about what ordained pastors must affirm. I was under the impression that there was more of a spectrum.

PCA and Adam Theology
(Kathryn Applegate) #20

@jbabraham88, I grew up in Plano in a SoBap church. I understand, but Christy’s right - there are many allies there, it’s just hard to find them. I didn’t begin my journey of acceptance of evolution until I had moved out of state for college, so I’m sorry I can’t recommend particular churches there.