Competing Myths

There is a very good essay here regarding comprehensive narratives or explanatory frameworks. The writer correctly notes that both creationism and evolution are really myths that function in this way for their adherents. He notes:

“There are two contrasting accounts of the cosmos and its multitudinous life forms that are widely disseminated in American culture today: the “creationist” narrative and the “evolutionist” narrative. Each of these accounts makes distinct epistemological claims, authorizing a radically different vision of the world, the place of human beings within it, the relationships between humans and other life forms, and the nature of time and history. Despite their differences, however, both accounts function as authoritative narratives that have the power to mobilize communities—that is, both are examples of Lincoln’s mythic discourse.”

It is interesting that both claim they are “scientific” or that “science” is on their side. Of course, both are deluded but for different reasons.

The writer quotes creationist Ken Hamlin:

“As AiG’s president Ken Ham put it at the 2007 opening of the Creation Museum, AiG’s monument to young earth creationism, ‘belief in every word of the Bible can be defended by modern science.’”

What Mr. Hamlin clearly doesn’t understand is two-fold. First, if the Bible need be or even if it could be, defended, by modern science (whatever that means!), such would mean that “modern science” were the authority and not the Bible. In other words, he has just bent his knee to an idol. Second, the writers of the Biblical narratives were not modern nor where they writing for moderns, so to now impose our modern view back on to the Bible is to entirely miss something that transcends all time periods and is timeless. It is really to try and control, to master, the Bible and to box it in, which is impossible.

Where the evolutionists delude themselves is in not understanding the difference between methodological naturalism and ontological naturalism. I noted the difference in an earlier post. The writer alludes to the difference in a footnote:

“One could legitimately object that by treating evolution as a myth I effectively concede one of the major claims of the creationist movement: that evolution and creationism are equally persuasive and thus are equally valid understandings of the natural world. To this I would argue that insofar as science itself does not mystify its claims by appeal to a superhuman realm it is not a mythic discourse in the same way as creationism. However, the popular understanding of evolution and the kinds of claims that proponents make about it invest evolution (and by extension the scientific method) with a set of transcendent moral values that, strictly speaking, lie outside of science proper.”

When he writes of science not “mystify[ing]” its claims, he is noting its methodological naturalism, which is a good thing and the reason that scientists who also happen to be Christian, agnostic, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other number of faiths can and do pursue science with no problem whatsoever. His “however” is very important though and is what puts the ontological naturalist in the same camp as the creationist. And this is why appeals to the “facts” or the “evidence” are pointless. Both sides have the “facts” and the “evidence,” (I have yet to hear a creationist or evolutionist exclaim “Oh my Gosh, I didn’t know that—that changes everything!) and both sides appeal to correspondence type theories of truth.

The problem lies within their interpretive frameworks—their explanatory narratives from which they view the evidence and facts. At the end of the day, a “fact” or piece of “evidence” is nothing until someone says it is something more than “nothing.” If it is “nothing” then no one would say anything at all, because to even say something “means” nothing is to give it meaning and the game is given away. And what falls under “facts” and “evidence” is existence itself (how could it be otherwise?) and everything we can know. Methodological naturalism cannot speak to the “why” of existence and doesn’t even attempt to, knowing its place. Ontological naturalism does, however, attempt to answer the “why” question and the “what does it mean” question, and quickly leaves “science” behind and joins philosophy.

The problem is that the Ultra-Darwinist fundamentalist and the Creationist fundamentalist will never admit that “science” supports neither one in the way that they think it does or should. If they did, it would be game over. I think deep down they know this, and therefore shout all the louder.

It is good to see though that more and more people are beginning to understand that the whole evolution/creation debate is not really about science; it is about competing myths or narratives of meaning.

This entry was posted in Creationism, Evolution, materialism. Bookmark the permalink.