How do Fundamentalists' justify their view on Creation?


#1

Scientists seem to agree that the universe is billions of years old, and the earth took billions of years to gradually form. They also agree about the theory of Evolution and the age of the human race.

Yet certain Fundamentalist factions of Christianity still insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. How do they justify it?

From a Catholic perspective, it would only follow logically that God’s Creation would leave obvious marks in the various scientific fields. Like a crime scene, you’d find evidence everywhere. The evidence would logically follow the event. Same thing with Creation. But the Fundamentalist view of Creation seems to have no evidence. There is no evidence that the world is thousands of years old, for example.

Also interestingly, Genesis seems to contradict itself in the first two chapters. A Catholic would look at that and say that the contradiction just goes to show that the stories are meant to be taken literally but are trying to convey a non-literal, non-historical explanation. How do Fundamentalists explain the contradiction?


#2

*aren’t.

Sorry for the typo.


#3

:thumbsup:

Yet certain Fundamentalist factions of Christianity still insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. How do they justify it?

A lot of the Fundamentalists I’ve encountered offer something along the lines “the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I trust what He gave us in Scripture.” In some cases, the Fundamentalist may offer “evidence” from creationist websites in order to justify the Earth being between 6,000- and 10,000-years-old.

To me, though, this shows a complete misunderstanding of the word “inspired.” God inspiring Scripture means He prevented the human authors from writing down any error concerning God or the reality of the Christian faith. From what I’ve been taught, “inspired” does not mean the everything in the Bible is literal word-for-word truth. For example, many modern pieces of music, art, and literature are inspired from older forms of music, art, and literature. Does this mean that the modern pieces are exact copies of the older pieces?

From a Catholic perspective, it would only follow logically that God’s Creation would leave obvious marks in the various scientific fields. Like a crime scene, you’d find evidence everywhere. The evidence would logically follow the event. Same thing with Creation. But the Fundamentalist view of Creation seems to have no evidence. There is no evidence that the world is thousands of years old, for example.

From a Catholic perspective, this is my line of reasoning (among other reasons) for rejecting a literal interpretation of Genesis. However, the Catholic Church allows both a symbolic interpretation of Genesis and a literal interpretation of Genesis. The only problem that can arise from a symbolic interpretation, according to the Church, is if a person rejects certain teachings about creation that are theologically certain (e.g. Adam and Eve were real people).

Personally, I think a literal interpretation of Genesis (specifically the six days of creation) is unreasonable. I don’t, however, berate people who do believe in a literal interpretation. If that’s what they believe to be the most sensible explanation, then so be it. I’ll just agree to disagree. I’m only gonna have a problem with a literal interpretation of Genesis is if someone tries to tell I have to believe it.

Also interestingly, Genesis seems to contradict itself in the first two chapters. A Catholic would look at that and say that the contradiction just goes to show that the stories are meant to be taken literally but are trying to convey a non-literal, non-historical explanation. How do Fundamentalists explain the contradiction?

I’d have to get to you on that. Maybe someone else can over an explanation to this.


#4

[quote="Pheonix, post:3, topic:293689"]

A lot of the Fundamentalists I've encountered offer something along the lines "the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I trust what He gave us in Scripture." In some cases, the Fundamentalist may offer "evidence" from creationist websites in order to justify the Earth being between 6,000- and 10,000-years-old.

[/quote]

Thanks for the response. I gotta say I admire how they stick to their beliefs but it baffles me, this looks like it would cause tremendous problems.

It's as if you must either believe it all literally or you must reject it all. So how is it when people from those Fundamentalist factions want to go into science and find evidence that what they believed was wrong. So if you're in that mindset, and your faith would be threatened in its entirety and you'd feel compelled to become atheist.

It also harms religion as a whole. Non-Fundamentalists would automatically be bundled with the Fundamentalists so it ends up looking like all religion rejects science -- which is in no way true and nobody is even aware that the Catholic Church -- even a beatified Bishop -- had been big contributors in science. The secular world ends up thinking that religion is for the stupid.

Does the Fundamentalist devotion do more harm than good? One wonders if I should even be admiring how they stick to their story.


#5

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:1, topic:293689"]
Scientists seem to agree that the universe is billions of years old, and the earth took billions of years to gradually form. They also agree about the theory of Evolution and the age of the human race.

Yet certain Fundamentalist factions of Christianity still insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. How do they justify it?

From a Catholic perspective, it would only follow logically that God's Creation would leave obvious marks in the various scientific fields. Like a crime scene, you'd find evidence everywhere. The evidence would logically follow the event. Same thing with Creation. But the Fundamentalist view of Creation seems to have no evidence. There is no evidence that the world is thousands of years old, for example.

[/quote]

I can't answer all of your question, but I can address the issue of the age of Earth (i.e. thousands vs. billions of years). Prior to my conversion to Catholicism, this was a common question that many people posed. Depending on whether the person was a subscriber to an "old Earth" or "young Earth" theory, the answer usually came in one of two forms:

1) The "6 days" in Genesis did not consist of days as we know them, but rather each "day" represented millions or billions of years. This was based upon the premise that since God exists outside of time, the term "day" has a vastly different meaning to Him.

2) The other camp states that our methods for measuring the age of Earth are flawed. Under this theory, they often posit that carbon decay occurred at a extremely fast rate early in Earth's history, thus skewing the results of carbon dating methods. People who subscribe to this theory use it to justify that Earth truly is only several thousand years old, rather than the billions of years that science tells us.

Hope this helps!

God bless,
Dean


#6

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:1, topic:293689"]
Scientists seem to agree that the universe is billions of years old, and the earth took billions of years to gradually form. They also agree about the theory of Evolution and the age of the human race.

Yet certain Fundamentalist factions of Christianity still insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. How do they justify it?

[/quote]

Because we're crazy enough to believe that the Word of God is more authoritative about such things than scientific theory?

But the Fundamentalist view of Creation seems to have no evidence.

Other than the Scriptures and 4,000 years of Judeo-Christian understanding.

Also interestingly, Genesis seems to contradict itself in the first two chapters. A Catholic would look at that and say that the contradiction just goes to show that the stories are meant to be taken literally but are trying to convey a non-literal, non-historical explanation. How do Fundamentalists explain the contradiction?

What contradictions? Do you believe God is incoherent and therefore contradicts Himself?


#7

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:4, topic:293689"]
Does the Fundamentalist devotion do more harm than good? One wonders if I should even be admiring how they stick to their story.

[/quote]

I absolutely believe it does more harm than good. Even among Protestants, Fundamentalists are often viewed as closed-minded, extremist, and even violent. While I'm sure most Fundamentalists are good people, there are enough over-zealous Fundamentalists out there to give their denomination a bad name.

God bless,
Dean


#8

I'm not smart enough and honestly I guess don't care to put much effort in studying scientific questions about how the world was created. I would assume most people are like myself, could be wrong though. So since I don't study and find info out for myself, I have to take somebody else's word for it.

The problem is there are compelling arguments on either side, IMO.

I really don't believe it is a matter of salvation, if it was the Church would know the answers. So I figure I will stick to the Bible's interpretation. My reasoning for this is because it seems to me that when we start picking what to take from the Bible, people tend to start going to far. At first we don't believe in literal creation, then we don't believe in the flood, parting of the red sea, and many other stories just become fairy tales. After that people start questioning the real prescene in the Eucharist and even the resurrection. I know not all people go this far, but that is what it seems to lead some to.

Once again though, it's not a matter of salvation so we shouldn't let it bother us so much when we don't agree.


#9

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:1, topic:293689"]
Yet certain Fundamentalist factions of Christianity still insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. How do they justify it?

[/quote]

Well, don't think a literal 6 day creation is a stretch for a God who made everything out of nothing by a thought and holds it all in existence by his will. I also don't think it's a stretch for him to have compressed time, expanded time, suspended the laws of physics, or anything else that might account for both what we observe (which could be entirely wrong, BTW) and what is written in Scripture.

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:1, topic:293689"]
But the Fundamentalist view of Creation seems to have no evidence. There is no evidence that the world is thousands of years old, for example.

[/quote]

From their perspective, I would imagine evidence isn't really necessary. I mean, why do you need evidence? I think there are a lot of things in Scripture that don't have what we would term empirical evidence. The Scriptures are the evidence, so to speak. God revealed it, what more do they need?

Personally whether the universe is 6 billion years old or 6000 years old has no bearing on my salvation.

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:1, topic:293689"]
A Catholic would look at that and say that the contradiction just goes to show that the stories are **(not) **meant to be taken literally but are trying to convey a non-literal, non-historical explanation.

[/quote]

Well, that might be what many average Catholics might say, but it isn't **exactly **what the Church has to say about it. Not at all.


#10

I believe in the flood and Adam and Eve. Don't know how the universe was created but I am well aware of the rationalist tendancy to discount evidence that is found too incredable to believe.


#11

The LCMS stance is thus "young earth": *The Synod has affirmed the belief, therefore, based on Scripture's account of creation in the book of Genesis and other clear passages of Scripture, that "God by the almighty power of His Word created all things in six days by a series of creative acts,"
( ... )

At the same time, the Synod firmly believes that there can be no actual contradiction between genuine scientific truth and the Bible. When it comes to the issue of the age of the earth, several possibilities exist for "harmonizing" Biblical teachings with scientific studies (e.g., God created the world in an already "mature" state, so that scientific "data" leads one to the conclusion that it is older than it actually is, etc.)*

On a personal level as a scientist, you'd think this would drive me nuts, but it doesn't. God is not beholden to space and time - and his creative acts are on His time, not ours.

His order of the six days of creation mirrors what we find in thee world; Energy -> matter -> life -> intelligence - so I'm not to eager to discount what is written in the Bible as it holds up remarkably well except for our human understanding of the time period.


#12

[quote="benjohnson, post:11, topic:293689"]
The LCMS stance is thus "young earth": *The Synod has affirmed the belief, therefore, based on Scripture's account of creation in the book of Genesis and other clear passages of Scripture, that "God by the almighty power of His Word created all things in six days by a series of creative acts,"
( ... )

At the same time, the Synod firmly believes that there can be no actual contradiction between genuine scientific truth and the Bible. When it comes to the issue of the age of the earth, several possibilities exist for "harmonizing" Biblical teachings with scientific studies (e.g., God created the world in an already "mature" state, so that scientific "data" leads one to the conclusion that it is older than it actually is, etc.)*

On a personal level as a scientist, you'd think this would drive me nuts, but it doesn't. God is not beholden to space and time - and his creative acts are on His time, not ours.

His order of the six days of creation mirrors what we find in thee world; Energy -> matter -> life -> intelligence - so I'm not to eager to discount what is written in the Bible as it holds up remarkably well except for our human understanding of the time period.

[/quote]

Thanks for sharing this. Truth be told, I am not too familiar with Lutheran beliefs, as my pre-Catholic experience was mainly in the "Evangelical" Christian denominations: Baptist, Pentecostal, so-called "Non-Denominational", etc.

FWIW, the Catholic Church doesn't require its members to believe the story of creation to be historically accurate from a time perspective (atleast, up until the time that Adam and Eve come in to the picture), the Church teaches that the "stages" of creation indeed took place in the order documented in Genesis. I think this closely syncs up with you statement regarding not discounting what's in the Bible. Or, to put it a different way, while we may disagree on the time span, we agree that the order of steps involved are in accord with those in Genesis.

God bless,
Dean


#13

I am a Creationist and not a fundamentalist


#14

[quote="IggyAntiochus, post:6, topic:293689"]
Other than the Scriptures and 4,000 years of Judeo-Christian understanding.

[/quote]

+1


#15

[quote="1ke, post:9, topic:293689"]
Well, don't think a literal 6 day creation is a stretch for a God who made everything out of nothing by a thought and holds it all in existence by his will. I also don't think it's a stretch for him to have compressed time, expanded time, suspended the laws of physics, or anything else that might account for both what we observe (which could be entirely wrong, BTW) and what is written in Scripture.

Personally whether the universe is 6 billion years old or 6000 years old has no bearing on my salvation.

[/quote]

+1


#16

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:1, topic:293689"]
Scientists seem to agree that the universe is billions of years old, and the earth took billions of years to gradually form. They also agree about the theory of Evolution and the age of the human race.

Yet certain Fundamentalist factions of Christianity still insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. How do they justify it?

[/quote]

I too am amazed by this stance.
[LIST]
]Nowhere in the Bible does it claim to be "the manual" on Astrophysics, Biology, Applied Math or Chemistry.
*]Neither does it claim to be an accurate recorder of the historical timeline.
[/LIST]Genesis is a Bronze Age creation story that includes many valuable spiritual lessons for us (just not any science lessons)
[LIST]
*]Do people expect God should have taught the **Big Bang Theory
, etc. to the largely illiterate tribes of Abraham?
*]They didn't have the language or prespective to grasp a **4.5 billion year timeline,
* let alone all the other complexities.
[/LIST]


#17

[quote="tarboy, post:16, topic:293689"]

[/LIST]Genesis is a Bronze Age creation story that includes many valuable spiritual lessons for us (just not any science lessons)

[/quote]

In my opinion, that's not quite correct; The prevailing "scientific" theory for a long time was that your eyes created the light they needed to see the world with. Plato and Empedocles were it's chief proponents, and still to this day 50% of American collage educated students think that your eyes emit the the light needed to see. *

Plato would have us put "let there be light" after animals were created.

Of course, we now know that this is false and silly.

It would think it would be wise to be humble about the Genesis - as we gain further understanding of the physical world around us, it's lessons may not seem to be so strange. For example, it could us humans view time as being rhythmic and predictable, but God's universe may not have behaved that way "in the beginning."

  • Winer, G. A., Cottrell, J. E., Gregg, V., Fournier, J. S., & Bica, L. A. (2002). Fundamentally misunderstanding visual perception: Adults' beliefs in visual emissions. American Psychologist

#18

Did the Catholic Church ever have Fundamentalist literal views on Creation?


#19

My aunt who is not a believer in Christ lives in rural Kentucky around many fundamentalists. She was hiking in the middle of the woods with a fundamentalist friend and they came across more ocean fossils that are all over the place where they live. She asked the friend something like, "if creationism is true, how can there be ocean fossils in Kentucky, a place which is hundreds of miles from the ocean?" The fundamentalist friend answered something like "The devil puts things like that around to try to decieve us." My aunt used this poor answer to again confirm that Christianity just forces you to give up reason. That's actually very dangerous thinking, that any evidence against what you believe is just from the devil.


#20

[quote="hannajomar, post:19, topic:293689"]
That's actually very dangerous thinking, that any evidence against what you believe is just from the devil.

[/quote]

I'm not really defending this Fundamentalist, but this popped into my head:.

Would you rather be a confused fundamentalist that has faith, or a very smart scientist without faith?

I spent a lot of time as a faithless "smart scientist", and I know that my life with faith and God has been much more rewarding and infinitely more profound and even more reasonable as contemplating God forces the mind to confront things that the intellect refuses to ponder.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.