Undeception has an interesting article (Why the debate over creationism matters) on the creationism controversy – pointing our why the debate is important for Christians. The article makes three points about the damage done to Christianity when Christians support creationism/intelligent design (ID).
“1) A faith that demands the rejection of mainstream science in order to legitimize its teachings is automatically, unavoidably suspected to be out of touch and irrelevant.
Just think if Christians were identified as those who deny a spherical earth or a heliocentric solar system — ridiculous, huh? Verily I say unto you, despite what you’ve heard, these beliefs are no more ridiculous than a belief in creationism, and even share the same source: namely, reading the Bible as though God had revealed the intricacies of the cosmos to the authors of Scripture without due recognition of genre and cultural contextualization. . . . .”
“2) Maintaining creationism entails at least the implication of conspiracy and/or bad motives on the part of both unbelieving and believing scientists.
Just as distasteful as kowtowing to the crowd is suspecting every fringe conspiracy theory scenario to be true. The victim mentality is another dreadful byproduct of dispensational apocalypticism. This is the ultimate source of the idea that Christians and Christian beliefs are the outcasts of society; that we are forced into the catacombs of science like ICR, AiG, or the Discovery Institute, where, by the grace of God, the real work is being done underground, shielded from the persecutions of peer review.
If I may hazard my own conspiracy theory, it’s sometimes hard not to believe that the bigwigs in those creationist organizations know better, but I’d say that the minions generally just trust their non-scientist pastors, who themselves generally trust the blather of non-scientific organizations like those I just listed. I tend to believe that if most Christians really thought about what they were saying about the thousands of believers who work day to day within the sciences going about their jobs from an old earth or evolutionary perspective, they would realize how unjustly they’re treating their fellow believers. Creationists/ID advocates are telling the vast majority of believing scientists working within the relevant fields that either they’re idiots (”Uh, hello! A creationist geologist I heard said that the speed of light has slowed over time. Get a clue!”) or they’re pawns of peer pressure, their own ambition, or (and?) Satan.
Many creationists and ID advocates would have you believe there are thousands of Christians keeping the faith and not bowing the knee to “Darwinism”. But there’s no data to support this claim; in fact, a Newsweek article in 1987 cited a study that claimed only 700 out of the 480,000 American scientists working in the earth or life sciences — those who deal directly with the data touching evolutionary theory — were still fighting the mound of evidence in favor of creationism. That’s 0.0014%, an amazing minority of scientists that makes up a small percentage of even believing scientists. This doesn’t make evolution correct, but it does suggest that creationism hasn’t done a good job convincing scientists who spend their lives researching this stuff. It also makes for a grand conspiracy indeed, probably requiring more than a few backroom deals brokered through cigar smoke by a cadre of mustache-twirling villains. The specific numbers I quoted, of course, are also easily dismissed as a conspiracy to suppress the truth. How convenient.
3) Crucial for a faithful, accurate interpretation of Scripture is learning to read it as it was intended rather than holding it captive to one’s own presuppositions about it.”
I think the second point is extremely important. It seems to me that creationsists and intleligent design (ID) proponents catch themselves in their own moral trap when they are forced to advance a conspirancy theory to “explain” why these ideas have no scientific traction or support. They end up attributing dishonest motives to honest scientists and educator – hardly what we normally consider as a Christian attitude.
Undeception finishes his post with the following comment:
“In short, I don’t want Christianity’s credibility to be tied to the mast of any sinking ship. Trust me when I say that creationism is a sinking ship, and everyone outside the evangelical/fundamentalist bubble knows it. Don’t worry: you’ve still got time to board a lifeboat! But first, do help me untie our faith’s credibility from the mast.”