The New Creationists and the impact of Is Genesis History

@Joel_Duff is doing an interesting blog series on the emergence of different prominent figures in creationism and different ways of engaging critics and evidence (compared to old guard creationist ministries like AIG or ICR and polarizing spokesmen like Ken Ham).

It will be interesting for anyone who follows the landscape of creationist outreach and wants to keep up on who is who.

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Very interesting… I appreciate Joel’s perspective on not only the science, but the culture around it. It remains to be seen whether TNCs can break out of the polarization around YECism in general. If not, I think the “big box” YEC movement will have shot themselves in the foot.

I recently read a review Tim Keller wrote about a book called “Breaking the Social Media Prism.” It focused a bit on polarization and extremism, which is why this article made me think of it. One point it makes about social media and politics (which I think is still applicable to the origins debate) is that social media tends to bolster extremism and mute moderates:

Third, as we have seen, moderates are often attacked with enormous vitriol as moderates. Extremists need to do this in order to create the image of a political reality that supports their chosen identities. Moderates find their views attacked either with ‘bad faith readings’ (construing the statement in the worst way possible) or by being themselves assigned a social location or identity that they don’t recognize or own.

That made me think of the “compromisers” designation that flies so easily when anyone takes a position that deviates in any small way from AIG/Ham’s. The thing about extremism is that it doesn’t always age well. Eventually YECism will have to, uh, “evolve” to some degree to remain relevant.

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Yep.

I think AIG tries to flex with the current culture war focus (note the change to their statement of faith to include opposition to CRT and intersectionality and the requirement to affirm that gender is encoded in DNA from conception.) But I think their attempts to be relevant often amount to mere pandering to a certain audience and their commitments.

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‘TNC’ makes me want to cry.

[Retracted somewhat… see below. :slightly_smiling_face:]

Thanks for that link, Laura.

Second, because social media is a distorting prism, moderates get the impression that the middle is vanishing and so it is useless to speak. Bail argues that while “false polarization”—(“the tendency to overestimate the amount of ideological differences between themselves and people from the other political parties” [75]) has increased greatly, the distribution of political views has not changed all that much. Statistically, political moderates (or people who mix ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ views) are not shrinking.

I found it very heartening to read this. Not that it is good it is happening - it isn’t. But that our perceptions of a “disappearing middle” are probably exaggerated.

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Yes, that is encouraging. And I think it helps explain a little bit why I felt relieved when I first came across BioLogos. I had spent so long absorbed in that notion of “you’re either with us or against us!” that finding “the moderates” made me feel glad that the two extremes that had been presented to me didn’t cover as large of a share of “the market” as I thought. I wonder whether some people will feel similar relief when coming upon YEC rhetoric that manages to be respectful toward other views and therefore (hopefully) less polarizing.

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Yeah; it will be interesting to see how the “New Creationists” identity continues to emerge (or merge?) with prevailing culture. I know that opponents of the “anti-evolutionary” sort of creationism - which still includes this “TNC” if I’m not mistaken, will still think of it as the old discredited ideas just being dressed up in a new tuxedo. But I also think that the status of “moderate” is also in the eye of the beholder. For example, you and I like to think of Biologos as being somewhat moderate (and maybe we are in a conservative/liberal sense). But I suspect that people in what we hear think of as more extreme camps would probably disagree with that characterization and insist that we are “way out there somewhere on the left”. And that would probably come from their own like-minded desire to think that they are somewhere closer to the middle of the pack.

This could risk going tangential to the “TNC” topic - but it is related in a general sort of way. Here is an article: “Social Behavior Curves, Equilibria, and Radicalism” that provides some interesting hypotheses about our choices (not so much about our identities, though that is certainly a related subject.) Essentially the author(s) get a lot of mileage out of asking: “how much are you influenced by peer pressure?” - as in, if you start out with your Video camera on during an online meeting, what percentage of the others not doing so would tip you over to turn yours off? 1%? (meaning you’re a complete push-over on this one, and just one other having theirs off compels you to have yours off too) … 50% (you’ll go with the majority) … 100% (meaning you would leave yours on unless everybody else had their video off) Or maybe you’re the stubborn radical who doesn’t mind being the only one with your video on, so that even 100% doesn’t move you. Where everybody else in your meeting is in that spectrum makes for interesting results and where the equilibrium ends up settling out as people modify as a response to others present.

It all plays more generally in how we respond on various social issues.

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I had missed this…

They are more likely to take seriously the evidence at hand, and, therefore, those readers who follow them are more likely to follow the evidence where it leads. This allows for the opportunity to find shared ground and fellowship in Christ despite our disagreements.

  :+1:

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Maybe we moderates should aggressively push the moderate position to have our own radical movement. Maybe could be the “Militant Middle” or the “Mean Moderates-not the average position” though not sure how that would set with your Anabaptist sentiments, Marvin. If not, Laura and I might have to carry the load.
Seriously, I agree that it is encouraging to hear the actual numbers of moderates are not down.
As to the New Creationists, it will be interesting to see how they do outside of the organizational fold of the established YEC groups. I think with the aging of the those group’s demographics, it is necessary to the survival of YEC to re-invent itself. Hopefully, they can do so in such a way as to be more tolerant of other positions within the church rather than being as decisive as the older crew.

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Yeah … “militant Menno” might not fly. :flight_departure:

I do like the thought, though, of being a moderate extremist. (Or is it an extreme moderate?)

Reminds me of a Steven Wright quip where he said he likes to go into clothing stores and order “extra medium”

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Mean Menno doesn’t work either, but Menno’s mean might, as a noun.

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Reminds me of this

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2010/09/17/million-moderate-march-jon-stewart-rally-to-take-washington/amp/

What’s the impact of the now 13 human sibling, cousin and nefling species and sub-species. Were they on the ark as unclean animals?

I believe the standard answer is that they were all clearly humans just like us or apes. It’s all artist’s rendering that makes people think they were intermediates.

Apes with human skulls, human brain : weight ratios. Like us. Aye. But not like non-neotenous apes not like us.

In a way, if the new YEC crowd is more tolerant and open, I wish them success. Perhaps that would help going forward. We might even be able to have meaningful discussions in church about it. As it is now, discussion of origins is sort of a forbidden subject in our church due to divisions it causes. Sort of like discussing politics here.

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Part 2 is up now:

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Extremism doesn’t age well? Think about how long it’s been around and how many comebacks it has made. Charles Spurgeon in the UK and Billy Sunday in the US denonced evolution generations ago and the denials continue to sound familiar. If you are counting on reason and evidence to prevail, the evidence is not reassuring. As a test case, look at the floridly false, patently fantastic historical claims in the book of Mormon, and then consider how rapidly Mormonism has grown in spite of that–and how adept the faithful are at rationalizing and doubling down.

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Sure – even what we’d consider “extreme” movements can have longevity. But I think what you refer to as “comebacks” are what I mean… the movement has to keep reinventing itself to stay current or else it will get left behind much more quickly. I don’t think Ken Ham’s manner of engagement will age well, even if his general ideas are still passed on for more generations. On the other side of things, many of the heroes we now celebrate were once considered “extremists,” so maybe a lot of that depends on which direction the moderates start heading in.

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To hear Heather Cox Richardson tell it in “How the South Won the Civil War”, many things about some extremists and reactionaries today are virtual echoes of southern strategies from reconstruction, up through establishment reactions in the civil rights era and on even up through today (and depressingly so).

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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