Sunday, 21 February 2010

Genesis Creation in University

Creationists are often outraged that their views have no representation in secular universities. They often go so far as to perceive university lecturers as spreading the pernicious lie of evolution in order to actively denigrate the historical narrative the creationists prefer. If Genesis were ever mentioned then it would be ridiculed and torn to shreds maliciously. Yet this is far from my experience. I can give two examples of occasions where this is contradicted, the second being the most striking and what urged me to write this down.

The first occurrence was nothing much, but worth mentioning. It was during a lecture back in October on the fossil record. It was an impromptu lecture as the lecturer we were meant to have was absent. The lecture instead covered some of the history of palaeontology, surely a playground for slating creationist views if one so wishes? They did, in fact, get a mention. The lecturer, a leading vertebrate palaeontologist over here, said something along the lines of "creationists explain all of this with Noah's flood, so there you go, the flood is proven". He made no effort to prove this wrong, though I would understand if this was perceived as some sort of ridicule. Either way, they got a mention.

The second occurrence was not ridicule and occurred just last week. It was in a lecture on statigraphy, particularly looking at deep time, two things which young earth creationists attack fervently. The lecture began by looking at the creation story, mentioned the global flood, and discussed Ussher's calculations. The lecturer (another leading palaeontologist, this time as a stratigrapher and echinoderm expert) actually stated that he believed Ussher did a good job considering the lack of evidence, he had sympathy for such views. The only laugh he got from people about Ussher was at the incredible accuracy of Ussher's calculations, putting creation at 9am.

So there it is. In the latter example the Genesis narrative was presented and not as an attempt to demolish. It was not even ridiculed. In a sense it was presented as antiquated, as the aforementioned calculations were some of the first attempts at dating the Earth. This was in the Earth sciences department, one in which almost everything taught contradicts young earth creationism. It is exactly the sort of department we actually would expect creationists to be ridiculed, yet they were not. It might not be quite the treatment they desire, but can they really complain? It shows that they are not completely ignored and ridiculed in secular universities.

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