If the first talking snake had kept shtum, we wouldn't be here. Eve wouldn't have eaten the forbidden fruit. But she listened and was curious. So she fell into humanity, thank God. Good old snake, say I. I celebrate its independence of mind. Satan? Neh, that's a later interpretation. The snake was part of the divine purpose. God allowed it into the garden, aware of its linguistic abilities. He knew what would happen. Jesus commended dove-like innocence. AND the wisdom ... of the snake.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Some thoughts about arrogance

Creationists know they're right. So do I. The difference is I can prove it. Trouble is they think they can too. And we'll never agree what constitutes "proof".

People who know they're right and express themselves forcefully, especially in the face of wilful ignorance, may be perceived as "arrogant". I've decided that's a risk I'll have to take, for two reasons. First, I have evidence - it will be featuring on the blog - that creationists take no notice whatever of measured argument. Calling them names is more likely to force some sort of response, and typically they will show themselves up while making it. Second, anyone who challenges a creationist article of faith is liable to get called arrogant no matter how conciliatory their tone. Might as well resign oneself to the inevitable.

I might tell you that Stephen Sondheim is a greater artist than Andrew Lloyd Webber in the way that Switzerland is more mountainous than Holland. While this may strike you as mere opinion, it is the opinion of one with quite impeccable taste and aesthetic discernment, so any disagreement on your part can be discounted. Hearing that, you would call me arrogant, and you'd be right (although so would I, to express the judgement ...)

But then, I might simply tell you that Switzerland is more moutainous than Holland; and to call me arrogant then would be - tell me where you've heard this phrase recently - a category mistake. (You remember - the Archbishop of Canterbury thus described creationism). I would not be making any sort of value judgement as to the superiority of otherwise of a particular kind of territory. I'd be giving you a fact. Holland is flat. Switzerland isn't. Get over it. That might be petulant - but arrogant? Arrogance confuses opinion with fact, and there is no confusion here.

Young earth creationism is a mistake, and that's a fact too. Entire scientific disciplines - not just biology - presume a universe billions, not thousands of years old. Huge bodies of scholarship would become worthless on a creationist premise. Yet there is no controversy within those disciplines, no spread of opinion within the scientific community. Only among creationists, with an acknowledged theological rather than scientific agenda does it appear there might be an alternative paradigm. And until I have identified and made contact with an exception to the rule, I shall continue to maintain that ALL creationists are religious fundamentalists first and scientists second.

I don't think that's arrogant. I think this is: a bumper sticker which declares

Darwin's dead; Jesus isn't. Darwin's a Creationist now!

Words fail me for the moment. I may think of a suitable riposte later.


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