Thursday, 28 October 2010
Sometimes I think I’m ridiculously naive. I presume that most people in the world believe the same things I do; that they value honesty, hard work, kindness and intelligence. I think that everyone wants a fair society where the vulnerable are cared for and everyone believes they have a responsibility to their families, their community and the world. All too often I realise that I’m making ridiculous assumptions and though the majority of my friends have the same values I have (after all, I've chosen them to be my friends) these things are far from universal.
A lot of what I believe stems from my faith. I think the basic ideas that Christ taught (or people say he taught if you prefer) are good ones to live your life by. Where I start to disagree with my fellow Christians is when they start to believe every word in the Old Testament is the absolute literal truth. It feels like their world view and mine collides and I get annoyed at what I see as the hijacking of Christ’s name to support ignorance and intolerance. No doubt they would think I was subverting the message but you know what? They’re wrong and I’m right!
I’m used to having to defend my liberal stance on contraception, divorce, gay rights and other social issues but yesterday I was totally dumbfounded when I met two creationists.
As you know, I’m tutoring in a local school. One of the other tutors is a new father and yesterday we were discussing his new baby with a parent. He mentioned how strong his week-old baby’s grip was and I mentioned the theory that back in the days when we were tree-dwellers babies needed to be able to hang on to their mothers. At this point the mother said
“I don’t believe in evolution, I’m a Christian.”
I managed to reply,
“I am too, but I do believe in it.”
before the other tutor said,
“I don’t believe in it either.
I was dumfounded. I literally did not know what to say. Fortunately she then said,
“If we’re descended from monkeys how come we can’t use their blood for transfusions?”
So I was able to reply with a bit of common sense and say,
“We’re not actually descended from present day primates. It’s more that we’re distant cousins descended from a common ancestor. Our DNAs have changed so much over the millennia that we’re not compatible with each other.”
At this point another teacher raised the issue of the fossil record and the mother said it was too early for a debate and we moved on but I was left amazed. I’m also a little horrified that a man who believes that the world was created exactly as it is now and that fossils are a trick by God to test our faith is teaching science to primary school children.
I’m in favour of being open-minded about people’s beliefs but I’m clearly not a relativist and I’m also very confident that the scientific proof is there. It might be called The Theory of Evolution but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have huge amounts of evidence supporting it. I don’t understand why people’s faith isn’t strong enough to survive scientific ideas that counter the literal interpretation of the Old Testament.
I realise I’ve ranged over a few different ideas here but I want to end with a little scene from this morning. Imagine me and (yet) another tutor being presented with a child who refused to believe in the existence of wolves...
Photos, video, internet articles, eye-witness accounts and books; none of them were enough to convince him. I think there’s a message in there somewhere!