Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rev. Adrian Miller, Part 1

Rev Adrian Miller is a vicar in Norfolk serving in Norwich Diocese, ordained in 2006. He is a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) and a member of the British Creationist Society for 13 years, long before he joined the priesthood. He recently published an article in the house journal of the British Creationist Society that was republished on-line as “Why Won't Creationists Just Give Up?“ originally from "Origins 54," the magazine of the Biblical Creationist Society.

Rev. Miller goes on at some length, but the opening eight reasons, his “Headline Reasons” seem enough to sink his enterprise. Miller summarized what he thinks he has said;
“All in all, there are good theological, philosophical, sociological, biological, geological, cosmological, anthropological, epistemological, missional, spiritual and scientific reasons why we creationists won't just give up.”

So, Miller presents himself as prepared for a universal defense of creationist cant against all the sciences and philosophy, theology, and “spirituality.” Miller will need to distinguish his version of spirituality from the commercial variants represented by Tarot Card readers, and Miss Dionne Warwick’s television “Psychic Friends Network.” And then he will need to justify his spirituality against that of probably more pious, and chaste, and poor Buddhist or Hindu monks and priests. In fact, I doubt that Miller can honestly boast of his superior “spirituality” contrasted with the thousands of Christian Clergy who have signed the “Clergy Letter Project.”

One of Miller’s opening reasons to believe in YEC is,

”Because we recognise the importance of revelation in our approach to knowing.”

The Rev. Miller wants us to believe that the voices in his head are God speaking to him, and that Miller is competent to transmit these voices to us perfectly and without any interpretive bias. However, in modern psychiatry we know that we can give you a pill to make the voices go away, and that there are other pills that will bring them back. This alone makes the voices of revelation highly suspect. In modern psychology we have learned that no individual is capable of totally unbiased anything, our cognition is the result of neural architecture, as that this is altered by experience, and culture.

If not the voices in his head, then voices in some dead guy’s head, which in the specific case of the Bible were “spoken” to a near savage. These ‘revelations’ were then; in cultures, and in languages only poorly known, translated and edited and re-translated and re-edited for thousands of years. That is all that a claim for the validity of “revelation” can mean. So, we must ask the Reverend if the act of translation, redacting and editing have over the millennia been also the subject of “revelation?” Is the Bible evolving? Is there a continuing revelation, or is mankind’s direct communion with God dead? Is biblical exegesis dead? How can you deny the fact of an evolving creation if you can grasp the fact of an evolving ‘revelation?”

Creationists like Rev. Miller like to hate Charles Darwin. In fact, Miller later makes the assertion that Darwin was inspired by Satan. Darwin was far kinder to men like Miller. Describing how he had only with great reluctance abandoned his orthodox Christian beliefs, Darwin wrote,

“The question then continually rose before my mind and would not be banished,—is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, would he permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament. This appeared to me utterly incredible.” (Autobiography, 1958, pg, 86-87, Original publication 1910, written 1882).

But what if…

What if the Bible is really Revelation? What if the Bible is to be believed with the fervor and literalness of someone like Rev. Miller? Then the Bible fails to support his creationism as well, because the Bible clearly and firmly teaches that the Creation is equally valid as the Revelation, and that it is not new. First consider, Psalm 19:

1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge. (New American Standard Bible)

The Creation, the physical universe is a testament. It reveals the work of God, and (if read literally) it to reveals God’s nature. This theme is extended in Psalm 85 which reads, “11 “Truth springs from the earth; and righteousness looks down from heaven” (NASB). The Hebrew word used here for "truth," emet, basically means “certainty and dependability.” So, in the Revelation of the Bible which Rev. Miller professes, the Earth itself is attested as the source of truth, of “certainty” and “dependability.”

Are we really to pay attention to the physical creation? Ask Job. Job challenges doubters of God, “Ask the animals, they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.” — Job 12:7-8. How could this be if the sciences, particularly as all these sciences evoked by Job, Rev. Miller rejects as inspired by Satan? (Miller will falsely claim that there is a special “Creation Science” without the difficult cosmology problems like billions of years since the Big Bang, or the formation of the solar system. Miller will also deny the physical evidence from geology, paleontology, biology and anthropology).

Some of the most obvious Bible verses that illustrated an understanding of the unity of man and nature are in the book of Ecclesiastes. Eccles. 9:11 “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (KJV)

The race is not always to the swift, otherwise a fast predator would totally destroy the prey. The predator would then obviously die without prey. The race is "not always to the swift!" And then to add, "but time and chance happeneth to them all." is just too perfect a summation of evolutionary gradualism I have ever read! What brilliant biblical "evidences" for evolution. Exactly what creationists like Rev. Miller deny is the action of “time and chance.” And yet they are instructed by their Bible that these are significant factors in the evolution of life on Earth.

Another fact that creationists like Miller like to avoid is that humans are directly linked to all life on Earth. They prefer to imagine that they are “special’ in the eyes of the biblical God. After all, humans are set apart from mere animals according to some readings of Genesis. But, in Eccl 3:18-20 “I said to myself concerning the sons of men, "God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts." For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. (NASU)” The specific reference in Eccl 3:19-20 to “breath,” and to “dust” relates back to Genesis where humanity is specially created in Genesis 2:7.

So far, Rev. Miller's Revelation is in opposition to his Creationism. We will next examine Rev. Miller's creationist dogmas about Genesis in the light of the New Testament.


AM said...

Thanks again for reading my article and taking the time to respond to it.

There was a time I was intimidated by evolutionist dogma, but after I studied evolution as part of my first degree, I realised how much philosophy is involved and how the evidence lends itself to widely different conclusions. I've simply sought to be open and honest in my search for truth.

What you've written doesn't cause me to doubt that I have good ground for my views on origins. You seem to have taken my headlines, written your own articles under them in my voice and then argued against yourself. I don't recognise my thinking in what you've said.

For example, I don't hate Darwin - in fact I admire him in many ways. I think his theology was faulty and I disagree with him on some points, but that's not the same thing.

When I mention revelation in knowing, I am not talking crazy - I am standing firmly in mainstream orthodox Christian tradition. A fully formed Christian epistemology accepts that we know some things through data coming via physical senses (empirical epistemology), we know some things through the use of our reason (rationalist epistemology), but there are also certain things we can only know through God revealing them (revelational epistemology). A key text would be Hebrews 1:1-2 - In the past God spoke through prophets and now He speaks to us through Jesus.

In fact, to adopt a view that accepts a Christian epistemology and yet is uncritical of science founded on a non-Christian epistemology is inconsistent - I would feel crazier doing that than adopting the consistent worldview that I am working with. The point of my article was to call Christian thinkers to engage deeper in conversation where there are disagreements, so that we might all be thinking consistently.

If you really want to rid the world of creationists, the way I see it, you have 2 choices. You can shout as loudly and intimidatingly as you can, which will cause a lot of those who are undecided about the issues to avoid creationism because they don't want to be victim to that. Or you can take us seriously, understand the philosophical issues that we're dealing with and give us sound reasons why our philosophical foundations are shaky. The latter is a more challenging route but would be more effective. No need to call us crazy.

Gary S. Hurd said...

I had nearly forgotten your article. I am going fishing this AM, and have medical appointments this afternoon.

I'll bump this up the list of "things to do." Thanks for the reminder.

AM said...

You're welcome.