In Defense of Creationists

“But what of man’s relation to the Divine?” “Quiet, please, we’re arguing over how old dirt is”

So begins a thought-provoking article in The Week on the evolution vs. creation debate entitled “In Defense of Creationists.”1 Being one who accepts evolution, rejects a young earth viewpoint, etc., I struggle sometimes in my church’s culture and Sunday School courses. The article’s author describes my outlook fairly well:
Genesis describes the created world and the Garden of Eden like a temple, and Adam’s duties therein are outlined in terms of worship and priestly service. Revelation describes the heavenly Jerusalem and the worship of all the saints, martyrs, and angels in the heavenly temple. It measures this city of God in cubits of gold brick and precious jewels. These liturgical blueprints informed and inspired the construction and worship within the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem and every Christian sanctuary worthy of the name across the planet.
And let me emphasize something important: What I just described is the “literal” interpretation of these Biblical texts. When I say Genesis and Revelation are a kind of divine architecture course, I’m taking the text on its own terms. It may be spitting into the storm of common idioms, but to be a literalist is to read poetry as poetry, history as history, and parable as parable.

Anglican bishop and biblical scholar N.T. Wright explains this rather well below.

Noting the tearing down of liturgy following the Protestant Reformation, the The Week author explains that the texts were then “reduced to a replacement science textbook and a ripped-from-the-headlines Michael Bay–style blockbuster.” Yet, despite this recognition, the author provides a charitable view of creationists’ peculiar interpretation of scripture:

They have gotten lost in the woods while trying to protect the big truths of Christianity: that God created the world, that we are dependent on him, that we owe him everything, and that he loves us even though we are sinful. In the world most of us inhabit, day to day, the world of lovers, wriggling kids, disease, war, and death, the sureness of God’s love is relevant in a way that the details of early hominid fossils never will be, glorious as they are. Have some perspective, people. In protecting that big truth of creation — that we are all made in God’s image and all endowed with supreme dignity — fundamentalists zealously guard things that follow logically from that.

As the article’s subtitle reads, “Sure, they’re misreading Genesis. But for all the right reasons.”


1 thought on “In Defense of Creationists”

  1. “to be a literalist is to read poetry as poetry, history as history, and parable as parable.”

    Yes, this! That’s why I used the term Fundamentalism in my post the other day, because it tends to refuse these kinds of distinctions, or else establish them on very shaky ground.

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