Creationism vs.

The battle of a false dilemma
By Gericke Potgieter (May 2007)

We do love a good fight. Today I was walking through a shopping mall thinking about western civilization and our impossible need for conflict. We love warriors, we thrive on war. So it comes as no surprise that our beliefs are consistently being pitched as "this" vs. "that". We see it in religion, politics, economics and information technology. War is all around. One such battle that I am particularly interested in, is the battle between evolutionism and creationism. In the following notes I will once again pack my backpack and endeavor to explore the various issues presented. Here too I will show that both camps suffer from severe logical problems, but even more importantly, they suffer from a deficiency in their fundamental belief structures. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, without any more hesitation we shall march forth into the wild. Mush!

Poh-TAY-toh / Poh-TAH-toh
So, what are we dealing with here? Is it a simple battle of science and faith (or religion)? Oh if it were but so simple! In spite of the danger involved I will simplify the issue a bit so that you don't have to trudge through eons of philosophical junk. Evolutionism can be defined as the conjectured belief that God does not exist and did not create anything on earth, based on the findings of scientific studies proving the gradual changes in all things living across time (as first noted by Charles Darwin). Creationism on the opposite end uses a very literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis to which a host of scientific proof is attached to prove that God created everything. It is worth noting that evolution and evolutionism are two rather distinct things. In the first case it is the scientific study of changes in living creatures over time. In the latter this study is taken further as a belief system that disproves God's involvement in the universe. The main question in this rather hefty battle is this: Does God exist?

The scientific blunder
Science - the bastion of reality in a mysterious world. I love science, in fact as a kid of 8 I had my nose in the encyclopedia looking at cool space ships and lasers trying to figure out just how they work. Science brought us many good things and we may even go so far as to say that our society is the product of science. What is science? The word 'science' comes from the Latin word "scire" which is translated as "to know". It is defined by the Merriam-Webster's online dictionary as follows: "knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena." Science in Greek and Roman times were much different from the science we love and know today - their science was one of philosophy and reasoning. Natural phenomena were initially left to the deities of old until mathematics started to develop.

You see, science of the modern day is something that was born from the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle and Archimedes but it only started getting its current form when philosophers started using mathematics to describe the natural world. Yet, even with mathematics growing as a field of study in itself, science remained largely a philosophical domain. So the philosophers ruled the roost until the religious changes made by the Roman Empire towards Christianity changed the way in which society functioned. The battle between science and religion goes way, way back it seems! Anyway, these changes led to the middle ages where most people simply accepted the rule of the church and didn't question the way in which the world worked. What is surprising however is that, even though not popularly accepted, there was a large amount of scientific development going on underneath the surface. The societal system of the time suppressed and forced education into very narrow spaces due to the fear that laymen may in fact discover the "secrets of God" and overthrow the church. As such these developments only came to the fore much later. Eventually, first in Italy (1100-1300) and later in the rest of Europe (from the 1600's onwards) there came a time when knowledge became freely available to all. It was during this time that the scientific method got traction from the mind of René Descartes (famous for saying "I think therefore I am"). The scientific method is basically the process of discovering and proving "objective facts" about the world we live in. Science, and the scientific method, is up to today rife with debate. What all of science have in common though is the fact that is builds itself on mathematics. Mathematics is regarded as an objective way of proving and disproving various scientific theories. When we look at the great debate between the creationists and evolutionists, it seems that the evolutionists have a fundamental problem: the assumption that science, through mathematics, can indeed objectively describe the nature of existence. It is at this point where science once again goes back to its philosophical roots. It seems to be a pertinent issue for scientists to understand the world "as it is", yet the very fact that we are human makes it impossible to do so! We are inherently subjective - we can sense that which is actual and inevitable what we sense we will interpret. We always attach value to what we experience and it is in this process of interpretation that we lose hold of the actual. This interpretation becomes our reality, which is always subjective to our past and shared experiences. Even mathematics does not escape - somehow this foundation of science acquired the status of a completely objective thing in itself. In reality mathematics is just another language we use to subjectively describe the world. As such mathematics can be molded to our liking, and sometimes its grammar delivers us with strange and curious results (time travel anyone?). That it is a very effective language is certain, but it remains a language - a system of symbols to which we subjectively attach values and derive "facts". The mistake most evolutionists make is to say "it is so because it is scientifically proven". A few scholars with more experience does it right though - they say "we deduce this from what we have seen and believe it to be so". Scientists will always find what they are looking for because of the subjectivity of proof. All of scientific proof ends in whether we choose to believe it or not.

The problem with Genesis
Christian brothers and sisters - those among you who hold fundamentalist values dear shall not escape. It is not only the scientists that face a problem with the way they think. Fundamentalist (or evangelical, or charismatic) churches are quite interesting. It is a very American phenomenon that was borne from the Protestant colonies in America. They went through three waves of rediscovery of their fundamental roots referred to as the "awakenings". Typical to the extremes of the protestant value system, there

was a belief that the bible is the only reality that exists and that we should base on entire existence on it. This is not entirely true, because the bible itself speaks against it, but this is another day's debate. The creationist camp has various degrees of fundamentalism, but in essence what it does is to interpret the story of creation literally (God made the earth in 7 days, the earth is only 10 000 years old etc. etc.) and then try and use science to prove that they are right. This is contra-intuitive, but it works for them. There are a few problems though. Firstly, Genesis is a book written by Hebrew people. The Israelites were not a people of reasoning and deduction like the Greeks or Romans - they were a people that embedded their complete value system in the stories they told. Genesis is a very good example of how this was done. Genesis was never meant to be an exact telling of creation. In fact, if one looks closely at the order of the words, Genesis is a song of praise to God that systematically pitches God against the gods of other nations (Egyptian or Assyrian - can't remember). This song or poem of praise tells the world that there is only one God and the He was responsible for the creation of everything. There is no way that we can deduce the actual process of creation from Genesis. A simple fact - God created the day/month/year process only on the fourth "day". The word "day" in Hebrew ("yome") is often used in a metaphorical sense to describe a period of time or a process gone by. Most fundamentalist Christians do not have a good theological background and does not know this. Neither do they accept cultural circumstance as an indication of anything. Eventually all of the arguments delivered by fundamentalist Christians will dissipate because for each argument their will be a scientific counter. It ends up not as a battle of truth, but as a battle of logic which proves nothing. When it comes down to whether God created the universe I have only one thing to say: I believe He did.

What is real?
Science cannot prove of disprove God's existence, and neither can the bible. When one examines the whole debate closely, the sad thing is that it seems to not be a battle for truth, but like all wars it is a battle motivated by money and power. Think about it - if the God of the fundamentalist exists, where would that leave science? If those in power are fundamentalist Christians, scientists will once again face retribution, lack of funding and a general clampdown on scientific freedom. In contrast to that - if the scientists are right and God does not exist then society faces an even greater problem much of the power of this world resides in the hands of the church. Millions upon millions of people push billions of dollars into the church. If God does not exist, then those in power there will lose everything. On the surface we can see that whether God created the earth or not is a matter of belief. Both science and faith is built on a belief system that provides its adherents with different solutions to their problems. Underneath the surface we see that this battle is yet another symptom of a society that is driven by fear and motivated to wage endless wars for resources and power. It is my conviction that one's knowledge of God is inhibited by fear - the greater one's fear, the more one becomes blind to the nature of God. It works that way in all relationships - in many of the people I have provided with support over the years I have seen this happening - we build assumptions about what the other person is thinking and eventually lash out against them for reasons that are mostly unfounded. Eventually the relationship dies because of assumption. For those of you who are Christians: We believe God exists and the He created the universe. How He did it is a mystery that I believe science is helping us understand. When somebody draws you into a debate on this issue

just remember - it is not our place to defend the Almighty, He is quite capable of doing so Himself. It is our calling to live lives that show His true nature to the world around us. For those who claim to be atheists, agnostics or otherwise "without religion": be careful not to confuse the religion of Christianity (something wholly unbiblical) with the truth of Christianity (relationship, relationship, relationship) - eventually, whether you accept the teachings of Christ or not, you are still a creature of faith that lives out a life of reality that you chose. We create our own experiences within our frame of understanding - we will always reach a border where our understanding turns into belief. The End.