Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

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Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Peter Henderson » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:15 pm

As everyone here is aware, some years back I asked Church House in Belfast (the headquarters of the Presbyterian church in Ireland) what their official view was on the subject of creation. I spoke to their press officer, Stephen Lynas who told me the official position was:

"As long as a Christian believes that god created the heavens and the Earth, how and when he did it is for the individual to decide"


I would take it from this statement that the denomination allows for a wide range of views, all the way from flat Earth creationism to theistic evolution (my own view).

In my conversation with Rev. Ivan Neish of Abbot's Cross Presbyterian, he confirmed this was indeed the case and that there was a place within the church for Christians with views such as my own.

When I joined Whiteabbey Presbyterian, I spoke at length with the Rev. James Rogers, the assistant minister at the time. He also confirmed this was the official position of the denomination when I raised the topic. He also said there were a number of prominent members within Whiteabbey who point blankly refused to accept young Earth creationism.

http://www.ballynurepresbyterian.org/in ... nister.htm

My wife, who was present at the time, was under the impression that the Rev. Rogers disaggreed with me, but hadn't the courage to say.

Imagine my surprise when, scrolling through creation.con's events calendar, I came accross this:

http://creation.com/calendar

Thursday 6 October 2011
7.30pm public meeting, Ballynure Presbyterian Church, Ph: 0845 6800 264
Main Street, Ballynure, Co Antrim
Dominic Statham


If you click on the link for the Rev. Rogers, you will notice he's now the minister at Ballynure Presbyterian so he's obviousely a YEC (and well educated at that) and my wife's impression was the correct one.

Think I'll definitely go along to this one and raise the postion of the PCinI since, creation.con definitely do not allow for different views of any kind:

http://creation.com/about-us#what_we_believe

4.The ‘gap’ theory has no basis in Scripture. Nor has the day-age idea (so-called ‘progressive creation’), or the Framework Hypothesis or theistic evolution.


Personally, i think the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is telling lies. I would also suggest the denomination (the largest in NI) is now pretty much YEC. Who is it in Union Theological Coolege that's pushing this line ? Dr. Desi Alexander (a prominent lecturer in the college)also confirmed the official postion of the church and didn't appear to be YEC when he spoke at Whiteabbey PC on the topic a few years ago (he's also given a talk to the local CIS group in Belfast), nor did he appear YEC.

GRRRRRR. Think I'll go along and kick up a stink on this. Wonder what Statham will say ?
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Michael » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:25 pm

Most denominations are afraid to take on creationism , so do so!!!!!
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Sceptical » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:05 pm

It's not Union Theological College that is pushing YEC, but rather the bias for YEC is a reflection of the students for the Ministry going through the College.

As with all organisations, the stated positions and the daily practices occasionally diverge. I don't think it's a case of anyone telling lies as such. For example, PCI's official statement on the ordination of women is that women are welcome to become Elders and Ministers but the day to day practice is that some congregations will be open to this and others will be most definitely against them.

YECism should always be opposed both scientifically and theologically.
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Peter Henderson » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:24 am

If I go along and get the opurtunity, I'll ask the Rev. Rogers (if he's there) if he agrees with CMI on their statement of faith, and the referring of Christians that don't accept YECism as "compromisors", a term which I would regard as offensive.

It would be interesting to hear his response and Statham's reaction.
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby cathy » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:41 am

I think it is high time non creationist christians took a stand and forced the issue into the open. Couldn't you get the non creationist christians in that church to complain and use the creationist are liars and creationists bring the church into disrepute card? And then if this guy persists to vocally take their custom elsewhere.

Until non creationist christians take a more vocal and public stand and start isolating the lying little creationist hypocrites your religion will become just a place for half wits and liars. People like you and Michael will slowly become the minority. Maybe it is time to stop being so accomodating cos you sure as hell know they won't be. Non creationists leave room for all shades of belief-they don't! They fight nasty!

When I removed my child from the creationist church and youth club I'd mistakenly let her attende I was very vocal and very clear it was because of creationism. When they invited Paul Taylor to Redditich i wrote to their pastor pointing out what a liar he was, and I sent them a copy of the blog I wrote for here. I even said to creationist acquaintance mum (who attends) that the church had ceased to be a christian one the day it allowed Paul Taylor in. It didn't have much affect cos I wasn't a member and child had long since been removed from the youth club. and the non creationists there didn't take a stand. Just shows how concerned they were for her poor little soul doesn't it ha ha.

Christians need to mobilise and start fighting for their religion (not violently). It should be easy. Creationists lie, it is easy to expose those lies.

When I read Marc or Paul Garner or David Tyler and the rest it is very hard not to move more towards the new atheists.
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Michael » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:24 am

Cathy

Very few want to listen
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Dagsannr » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:35 am

cathy wrote:When I read Marc or Paul Garner or David Tyler and the rest it is very hard not to move more towards the new atheists.


Come to the Dark Side.

We have hobnobs.

:D
There are 2 types of people in the world:

Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Sceptical » Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:26 am

Cathy,

I understand your position and I empathise with your passion, but I'm not so sure about your methods. In these sorts of 'debates' I would favour the Socratic method rather than something more adversarial. Ultimately the hardline YECer will not be swayed by reason, but these debates are actually aimed at the more moderate or undecided listeners.

A liar is someone who is conscious that what they say is false. YECers, I think (and remembering that I was once one), sincerely believe what they say is true. Or to put it another way, the religious experience they had and the subsequent paradigm they use to interpret that experience becomes vital and so confirmation bias takes over. It's not so much lying as a needed delusion (a struggle for existence). Therefore, they need our pity rather than scorn. As I said, I was once a YECer but no longer, but the change didn't occur because I was harangued for being a liar and a hypocrite. It came because i saw all the evidence and I changed my view of God and the bible.

If you have iTunes there's a great podcast called Skeptoid. Look up the episode on conspiracy theories (it's a couple of episodes ago) and that might shed some light.

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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby jon_12091 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:13 pm

Sceptical wrote:A liar is someone who is conscious that what they say is false. YECers, I think (and remembering that I was once one), sincerely believe what they say is true. Or to put it another way, the religious experience they had and the subsequent paradigm they use to interpret that experience becomes vital and so confirmation bias takes over. It's not so much lying as a needed delusion (a struggle for existence). Therefore, they need our pity rather than scorn. As I said, I was once a YECer but no longer, but the change didn't occur because I was harangued for being a liar and a hypocrite. It came because i saw all the evidence and I changed my view of God and the bible.

A fair point, which I believe holds for many grassroots 'creationists', wherever they sit on the spectrum, but in the case of Snow's and Byer's of this world I do not believe they should not remain unchallenged when they choose to run their mouths off in public. As for the movers and the shakers of creationism, they 'handle' the evidence all the time and keep reiterating the same old, outdated and much refuted garbage - is it all down to confirmation bias for all of them?
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Michael » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:48 pm

I think the average creationist you meet in an evangelical is most definitely honest but have been misled

However when it comes to the leaders they are simply deluded for one reason or another or lying or both
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby a_haworthroberts » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:32 pm

Sceptical

"I was once a YECer but no longer." You appear to be suggesting that you were somewhat convinced of the YEC position - rather than simply being an evangelical and perhaps fundamentalist/Bible literalist Christian who had not thought much about origins science (which describes where I was).

I'd be interested to know - if you're willing to comment further - whether you were a YEC largely for theological reasons, or because of the kind of material put out by 'creation scientists', or mainly 'by default' perhaps because of upbringing or peer pressure - or perhaps a mix of these scenarios.

It sounds as though you left a YEC viewpoint following your own investigations - which did not impinge upon or undermine your personal Christian faith (though that can happen to some people; in my own case I felt abandoned by God and did not cease church involvement merely because of the anti-intellectual and anti-scientific nature of YEC-ism).

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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby cathy » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:59 am

Ultimately the hardline YECer will not be swayed by reason, but these debates are actually aimed at the more moderate or undecided listeners.

A liar is someone who is conscious that what they say is false. YECers, I think (and remembering that I was once one), sincerely believe what they say is true. Or to put it another way, the religious experience they had and the subsequent paradigm they use to interpret that experience becomes vital and so confirmation bias takes over. It's not so much lying as a needed delusion (a struggle for existence). Therefore, they need our pity rather than scorn

I think that explains the very definite move that organisations like AiG have made towards 'compromising chrisitans'. One of my children went with a friend of mine and here daughter, firstly to a creationist youth club and then to the church. I was unaware of the nature of this church as my experience before was limited to RC and CofE.

Though I removed her and was furious (and her more new atheist dad went ballistic) when I found out what went on, I was still christian at the time and my friend admitted she had always been very uncomfortable with the creationist stuff which was only occassionally touched on. Following my vocal removal of my child a number of the congregation started taking the line that it really didn't matter how you believed creation happened as long as you believed god did it. Others took the hardline creationist view. My friend took the doesn't matter line very strongly indeed as she way preferred to accept science and she preferred my take on it at that time. So did a lot of the others. I get the impression that even the creationists at that point (apart from the ones exposed to AiG) took the view that the how the book of genesis was read was not that important in the great scheme of things.

The pastor apparently didn't say much but the next thing I read was in BCSEs creation watch when I found Paul Taylor had been invited to speak there. When I watched his talk what I found most intrigruing was the amount of time he spent (nearly as long as his sales pitch) telling folk how important genesis was religiously. He even quoted Jesus saying genesis was correct and said that to reject it was to reject Jesus etc etc. It was clear that the audience were being pre-primed to feel they had to accept the dodgy sciecne that followed even if they had to suspend disbelief to do so. It backfired on the church a little. People remained split, a sig minority (like my friend) weren't happy with Paul others were ecstatic and the church has avoided mentioning it too much. They are elims though so the future will be interesting.

So in the light of your comments perhaps if christians did take a stand against creationism that ought to be the stand they took? I'm really not sure how you tackle it but I think churches need too.
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Sceptical » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:17 am

Ashley,

I was a YECer because I assumed that you couldn't be a person of faith and be anything else. It was purely for theological reasons that I believed in a literal 6 day creation - the reasoning being that if I questioned the literal understanding of Genesis then what else in the Bible would have to be understood non-literally! My faith was a house of cards that required every bit to remain in place otherwise the whole thing collapses. But as I matured I began to see that there was a mountain of evidence that pointed to a 4.6 billion year old Earth and humans as the product of an evolutionary process. That made sense, though for a while I resisted, believing that I was abandoning Faith.

Nowadays, I agree with St Paul, "When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Now I am an adult I have put away childish things". I no longer have a 'Sunday School' faith, but rather I hope that my understanding of God and the universe is in step with our best knowledge of the Universe. No longer is my conception of God one of a powerful Being who lives above the clouds and arbitrarily tinkers with human affairs. Nor is my conception of humanity that we were specially and differently created to have dominion over the earth - we, like all living things, come FROM the earth, and that should have a humbling effect on us. As Michael Dowd has said, "All truth is God's truth". Therefore I don't see evolution, geology, etc as a threat but as a portal into truth. Aquinas said that "a mistake about Nature leads to a mistake about God", and I think that's true.

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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby Michael » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:34 am

Thanks Simon.

I became a Christian a month before graduating in geology and didn't hear about creationism for three years, so when I came across it I was in a good position to see through it.
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Re: Is the Presbyterian church in Ireland telling me fibs ?

Postby cathy » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:07 am

I didn't come across creationism until recently-I was brought up as a catholic and it was never raised as an issue at all. I would never have risked letting any of my kids anywhere near a church had I known of its existence and how dishonest it is. Even with the knowledge that most christians aren't and the majority are good and honest-it wouldn't have been worth the risk. They need to understand science and they are too young and inexperienced to be immune to the sort on nonsense people like Marc come out with. And I agree with Jon that people like Marc are different to the rank and file as he does have the specific knowledge to know he is lying about science.

It was creationism and creationists that made me an atheist (and I will remain one now)-though I can't claim to have ever been a particularly devout or knowledgable believer. The sort of sophisticated beliefs held by the non creationist christians, like the ones here, stood up to all the discussions I ever had with atheists-and we would end up agreeing to differ. Creationist arguments wouldn't have lasted two minutes-they are the death knell for the credibility of religion-they are rubbish. The easiest way to make someone an atheist is to insist they read the bible literally. So there is some need for religious people to tackle it, but how I'm not sure.

I still have respect for non creationist religion.
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