Monday, 28 May 2007

Pastor Bob blogs on the Creation Museum

I've been looking through The Creation Museum, a carnival organized by PZ Myers at Pharyngula. He has collected reactions to the new Creation Museum from all over the blogsphere, and put them together in a handy index. I have my own humble contribution, on Jurassic Pigeon at the Creation Museum! I was also looking though all the blog reactions...

Here's an interesting one: Oh My, it's time for the Creation Museum to Open, from the personal blog of Bob Cornwall: "Ponderings on a Faith Journey".

Bob is a Christian. He's the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Lompoc. He's also a journalist; which is to say he has a regular newspaper column in the Lompoc Record plus a substantial body of other articles. He is an active supporter of The Clergy Letter Project, which is all about clergy speaking up in support of teaching evolution. As of May 25, there are 10,640 signatories.

Here's an extract from the letter:
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as "one theory among others" is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. ...

Bob wears his heart on his sleeve. If you want to check out what he thinks, you can follow the links and read his columns, sermons, blogs, and various other papers. I was particularly struck by a remark in an article he wrote about homosexuality. It was not the issue of sexuality that struck me most, but the practicalities of how science and faith interact for him:

... Overwhelming scientific evidence has shown that homosexuals are born, not made. Now I had to face the question: if the science is right, how should I as a Christian respond to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? I must confess I’ve not figured everything out yet, but I know that I can no longer believe as I once did.

This echos a comment made by the Dalai Lama (with my emphasis).
At one point I became particularly intrigued by an old telescope, with which I would study the heavens. One night while looking at the moon I realized that there were shadows on its surface. I corralled my two main tutors to show them, because this was contrary to the ancient version of cosmology I had been taught, which held that the moon was a heavenly body that emitted its own light.

But through my telescope the moon was clearly just a barren rock, pocked with craters. If the author of that fourth-century treatise were writing today, I'm sure he would write the chapter on cosmology differently.

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.

One of the topics I have tackled here at Duas Quartuncias that has provoked a bit of lively response has been my approach to moderate religion. Rather than try and explain myself again, I'll try using Bob as an example.

My reaction here is "Good on you!". The more people like Bob who speak up from within the church, the better. Bob and I continue to differ considerably on our basic worldview. I'm a materialistic atheist. He's a Christian. In discussion forums, I'd be happy to debate or discuss with him on the relative merits of these two incompatible positions. I do engage in such debates at present. But I must admit that I have less urgency about such discussions. I'd rather keep up the pressure on his more extreme co-religionists.


  1. Thank you for sharing with your readers how I look at things. I do believe that Christians must face the realities of the modern world and then ask ourselves -- how should we respond? How should we understand our faith in light of what we know. I appreciate the Dalai Lama quote--yes, science must be an active dialog partner!

  2. This card-carrying Neville Chamberlain atheist thinks the good Pastor Bob needs more TV exposure. When all people see are debates between O'Reilly vs. Dawkins — and the Creation Museum — they think they need to choose one side over the other. We need to parade Pastor Bob around, show him off a bit, and prove that you don't need to be the Red Queen — believing two impossible things before breakfast — in order to reconcile science and faith.