A reader (perhaps my only reader at this point) suggests that my last post seems to leave open the possibility that I remain skeptical about evolution and deep time. In actuality I was trying to inhabit the mind of a creationist and succeeding perhaps too well. But it does bring to mind the way I viewed the whole thing as a believer in creationism, or at least as a believer in believing in creationism.
Even though I was not brought up in a fundamentalist, creationist milieu and a belief in science–and therefore evolution–was taken for granted, I can’t say it was ever explained very well. What I knew about it could be summed up in the popular image of a monkey becoming a chimp, becoming a primitive hominid, becoming a Neanderthal, becoming a Cro Magnon, finally reaching the pinnacle of evolution, a well groomed 30ish white man in a suit.
So when I met creationists, I wasn’t really able or inclined to defend evolution and the scientific world view, and I didn’t really have any sense of its importance. As I saw it then: Recorded history was more or less 6,000 years. Anything that might have happened before then was a guess. And anyway, the fundamentalist Christians were so nice! They were not the snake handling Bible thumpers I had been led to believe they would be, so they had as much of a chance of being right as anyone. Or so it seemed to me at the time. I’m ashamed also to admit that the truth of a theory or idea was not as important to me as it should have been. Ironic, isn’t it, that fundamentalism presents itself as being The Truth in uppercase, but in reality depends on one’s willingness to let important matters of fact slide? Anyway the Peace That Passeth Understanding and the sense of direction I saw in fundamentalism trumped such matters for me at the time.
But although I was shamefully scientifically illiterate, I had been a history buff from my earliest years. So even as a fundamentalist, I couldn’t help noticing that many recorded historical events took place in periods that the creationists insisted were antediluvian. I filed that away. Often I would watch PBS documentaries that spoke of things known to have happened 10,000, 15,000 years ago. I noted and proceeded to ignore the contradiction, developing my history mind or PBS mind, and using my church mind in church or among other fundamentalists. Privately, I began to doubt the 6,000 year model, but assumed still that evolution itself remained a bad guess.
To make a long story short, it was actually meeting and talking to evolutionists and reading books on evolution in an effort to cast doubt upon it that made me what I am today, a fully convinced evolutionist. That deserves more explanation in itself. Perhaps in a future post.