Bible Literalists Strike Again
Have you ever wondered what geologists estimate the age of the Grand Canyon to be? Are you ready for the national park’s official answer?
According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (http://www.peer.org), this is ‘due to pressure from Bush administration appointees’ in order not to offend Christian fundamentalists.
I really don’t understand why so much of the religious right in America feels so threatened by the concept of an old Earth. How does it threaten the possibility of God’s existence?
I’m asking this as a Christian who frequently feels embarrassed by obnoxious conservatives who refuse to challenge their own worldviews on any level or allow room for ideas with which they disagree.
I’m not completely convinced by any explanation of how old any rock or fossil is. With or without any combination of floods, carbon dating, layers of sediment and genealogies of the human race, it seems like however complex different theories on the age of the Earth are, they always change at least a little bit at some point and are never completely provable.
During the Inquisition, Galileo was tried and condemned by the Catholic Church for his view that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The Church officials in power at the time felt so threatened by this concept that they made Galileo officially recant his position.
Today, however, people everywhere have come to terms with the fact that our planet revolves around the Sun and this has not completely destroyed the possibility that God exists.
If the world is, in fact, millions of years old, this also should not prove that God is not real. It doesn’t even necessarily go against anything the Bible says. Without getting technical, here are a couple reasons why:
1. The Bible never says how long Adam and Eve were hanging out in the Garden of Eden without sin or death before they ate that darn apple. Technically, they could’ve been around for millions of years without dying.
2. The Bible gives the impression that Adam and Eve were created as full-grown adults. If you can believe that God can make old people from scratch, you may want to consider the possibility that he could also make an old Earth.
I would think that these suggestions should put hardcore Bible literalists more at ease with the concept of an old Earth, and maybe if you’re one of them, you can breathe a little easier when people say they think the planet is billions of years old.
I also want to apologize on behalf of my religion for the close-minded fundamentalists who love to be in the spotlight so frequently, whether they’re publicly thanking God on TV for dead soldiers or trying to restrict the flow of ideas that contradict their own. That is not an accurate portrayal of the majority of people who believe in any religion I’ve met in my personal life.
I was still a little annoyed at the scientists’ point of view in the PEER article. They were understandably upset about not being able to give their official age of the Grand Canyon. However, a big part of the article is also dedicated to geologists’ outrage at the presence of a book in the park bookstore that describes how the Grand Canyon could have been formed by the flood described in the Bible.
I would label these guys ‘scientific fundamentalists.’ Their insistence that their interpretation of the creation of the world is the only one that makes sense and should be spread demonstrates the exact same mindset as their religious counterparts.
It reminds me of the South Park episode where Cartman freezes himself because he can’t wait for the Nintendo Wii to come out and wakes up in a future where religion has been defeated by science. In this future, wars are fought in the name of science because the world still doesn’t want to allow different ideas to challenge their own.
I wish more people were confident enough in what they believe to be willing to actually listen to what the other side is saying. Ultimately, as author Donald Miller says in his book ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ ‘there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter.’ I wish more people could adopt this mindset, realize that they’re not going to prove the other guy wrong and just chill out.
Paul Backus is a third-year literary journalism major.