Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Creationism and Evolution

Jeannie, a close friend of mine and fellow seminarian, passed along a link to the following article that recounts a group of evolutionists trip to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky:

But here in the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, Earth and the universe are just over 6,000 years old, created in six days by God. The museum preaches, “Same facts, different conclusions” and is unequivocal in viewing paleontological and geological data in light of a literal reading of the Bible.

I, too, had the opportunity to peruse the exhibits at the creationist theme-park not too long ago. In many ways, I enjoyed the experience: interactive showcases, neat multimedia, a live petting zoo! And yet, I too shared the general reaction of Derek E.G. Briggs, director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale: “It’s rather scary" - though for slightly different reasons. Aside from the blatant intellectual dishonesty (the proverbial 'let me poke a hole in the Titanic and tell you it sunk' approach to contemporary scientific consensus), I worried about the role of religion within this pseudo-scientific hubbub. What ever happened to allegorism in the interpretation of Scripture?

Not only can we trace the allegorical hermeneutic back to the Apostolic Fathers (e.g. Barnabas) and Origen, among others, we find this non-literalist approach within the scriptures themselves: Hosea, Solomon, even Paul. Whether understood as symbolic, typologic, philosophic or mystical, such striving for the other (ἀλλος), more authentic (i.e. closer to God's intent) meaning appears completely absent from the mission or content of the Creation Museum.

In the process, scripture loses its vitality, its playfulness, its ingenuity, its creativity - its life. When flattened into a static ancient document of minimalist proportions, I wonder whether it deserves a museum in the first place.

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