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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Intelligent design and popular culture: Man walked with the dinosaurs?

A friend writes to say,

While I was at the Tyrell Museum last Thurs. I kept thinking about [Canadian politician] Stockwell Day and his statement that dinosaurs and humans were both living on Earth 4,000 years ago. Mystifying. Very Walt Disney. And this guy is the Minister of National Defence.

Actually, the time frame Day had in mind must have been six thousand years ago, according to the chronology of young earth creationism. Four thousand years ago was the time that the Jewish patriarch and matriarch Abraham and Sarah headed into the desert. Also, Gordon O'Connor is our Minister of National Defence. Day is actually Minister of Public Safety (= anti-terrorism) - and given that Canada recently rounded up a bunch of suspected terrorists, I can't assume he is doing a bad job of it.

I don't have much use for young earth creationism, but I strongly oppose the assumption that a person who holds that view cannot function well in a job where all the important issues occur in real time today. That's a form of prejudice unjustified by the facts. While writing By Design or by Chance?, I interviewed accomplished scientists who were - for religious reasons - YECs.

I am sure that if you need a doctor to hit you up with an injection to save your life, you are not going to ask him how old he thinks the Earth is. How old will you be if you throw off his aim?

In any event, I replied,
I've always found something touching about the wishful belief that humans and dinosaurs once lived together.

It's sort of like wishing we could interact with space aliens.

(There may well be space aliens, but if they are 83 million light years away, we cannot interact with them.)

In the one case, it is a gulf of time and the other of space.

Now, I can't condone believing nonsense, but I can never quite condemn people for wishing intensely to close a gap.

Oddly, Carl Sagan's desperate wish for space aliens was not different in quality from the YEC's longing to walk with dinosaurs. One wants to abolish space and the other time.

Well, okay, okay, maybe someday ... but tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.

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