On the Extended Dawkins Scales: I’m a Creationist First, a Christian Second
|August 24, 2012||Posted by scordova under Atheism, Creationism, Intelligent Design|
Continuing on with the wonderful Dawkins Festival at Uncommon Descent (UD), I would like to mention the Dawkins Spectrum of Theistic Probability.
1.Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”
2.De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”
3.Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”
4.Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. “God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.”
5.Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. “I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.”
6.De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”
7.Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one.”
But I think we can extend this notion to other ideas, like belief in creation:
1. 100 per cent creation is true.
7. 100 percent sure there was no creation.
1. 100 per cent ID is true.
1. 100 per cent Christianity is true.
So I would call these scales “the Extended Dawkins scales”.
Some Christians will say, you must be a Christian above all else. Even if that is what we ought to be, we are what we are. It may be surprising that there are those who became Creationists first and then Christians afterwards. The story close to my heart is that of Professor of Parasitology, Richard Lumsden:
Dr. Richard Lumsden was professor of parasitology and cell biology at Tulane University. He served as dean of the graduate school, and published hundreds of scientific papers. He trained 30 PhDs. Thoroughly versed in biological sciences, both in knowledge and lab technique, including electron microscopy, he won the highest world award for parasitology. All through his career he believed Darwinian evolution was an established principle of science, and he took great glee in ridiculing Christian beliefs. One day, he heard that Louisiana had passed a law requiring equal time for creation with evolution, and he was flabbergasted– how stupid, he thought, and how evil! He used the opportunity to launch into a tirade against creationism in class, and to give them his best eloquence in support of Darwinism. Little did he know he had a formidable opponent in class that day. No, not a silver-tongued orator to engage him in a battle of wits; that would have been too easy. This time it was a gentle, polite, young female student.
This student went up to him after class and cheerfully exclaimed, “Great lecture, Doc! Say, I wonder if I could make an appointment with you; I have some questions about what you said, and just want to get my facts straight.” Dr. Lumsden, flattered with this student’s positive approach, agreed on a time they could meet in his office. On the appointed day, the student thanked him for his time, and started in. She did not argue with anything he had said about evolution in class, but just began asking a series of questions: “How did life arise? . . . Isn’t DNA too complex to form by chance? . . . Why are there gaps in the fossil record between major kinds? . . . .What are the missing links between apes and man?” She didn’t act judgmental or provocative; she just wanted to know. Lumsden, unabashed, gave the standard evolutionary answers to the questions. But something about this interchange began making him very uneasy. He was prepared for a fight, but not for a gentle, honest set of questions. As he listened to himself spouting the typical evolutionary responses, he thought to himself, This does not make any sense. What I know about biology is contrary to what I’m saying. When the time came to go, the student picked up her books and smiled, “Thanks, Doc!” and left. On the outside, Dr. Lumsden appeared confident; but on the inside, he was devastated. He knew that everything he had told this student was wrong.
Dr. Lumsden had the integrity to face his new doubts honestly. He undertook a personal research project to check out the arguments for evolution, and over time, found them wanting. Based on the scientific evidence alone, he decided he must reject Darwinism, and he became a creationist. But as morning follows night, he had to face the next question, Who is the Creator? Shortly thereafter, by coincidence or not, his daughter invited him to church. It was so out of character for this formerly crusty, self-confident evolutionist to go to church! Not much earlier, he would have had nothing to do with religion. But now, he was open to reconsider the identity of the Creator, and whether the claims of the Bible were true. His atheistic philosophy had also left him helpless to deal with guilt and bad habits in his personal life. This time he was open, and this time he heard the Good News that God had sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, and to offer men forgiveness and eternal life.
I actually worked with someone who quite by “coincidence” was family friends with the Lumsdens. I had to know that Lumsden was a real person as his story seemed too fantastic to believe. And indeed Lumsden was a real scientist, a Darwinist turned Creationist, an atheist turned Christian, and I felt that God was somehow reassuring my failing faith at the time by the “coincidence” of placing me at work beside someone who knew Lumsden in his former life.
Lumsden’s story is far more dramatic than my own. My story is more of the discovery of Creation bringing a prodigal son back into the Christian faith. I still have many doubts about Christianity, I am a doubting Thomas, and hence I am chummy with atheists to a great degree, but ID seems undeniable.
On the Extended Dawkins Scales, I would rate myself:
3.5 on the YEC scale
2.0 on the Christianity scale
1.3 on the Creationist scale
1.2 on the ID scale
1.1 on the theist scale
Others are welcome to rate themselves and post.