Warning! This is a rant about creationism. It will probably be tired for those familiar with the "controversy."
The Book of Genesis has piqued my interest since I first began my exploration of Christianity, more than likely because I hail from a family of strong believers who have used a rather unique combination of modern science and Biblical text to account for our existence. In my younger years, I was taught what is now known as "Old Earth Creationism," wherein each of the six days God spent creating the Earth was really a far longer period of time, allowing for the appropriate billions of years for evolution to take place. Dinosaurs were wiped out during Noah's Flood (and no, as a child I did not notice the incongruities), man was created from dirt, and neanderthals were test subjects. Why God would need a test subject, I didn't know, but my parents told me these tales with such confidence that I assumed them to be infallibly true.
Now I'm past twenty and thankfully have replaced my naiveté with actual knowledge and hopefully a little bit of insight. Still, discussing creationism is one of my interests and I do all the reading I can on the subject. Most recently, this lead to the purchase of Gleanings in Genesis by Arthur Walkington Pink. Though common sense would have dictated that I research the author beforehand, for some reason I failed to do what I normally do, and as a result I expected a more objective position, a philosophical analysis of an allegory rather than a literal interpretation.
So it was that I was curled up in bed, filled with doubt after having read the introduction ("In Genesis the truth of salvation is typically displayed" - emphasis not mine) that this was what I had thought it to be, when I came across perhaps the most blatant use of circular logic I've encountered since Strobel's Case for a Creator.
"'In the beginning, God created.' No argument is entered into to prove the existence of God: instead, His existence is affirmed as a fact to be believed. And yet, sufficient is expressed in this one brief sentence to expose every fallacy which man has invented concerning the Deity. This opening sentence of the Bible repudiates atheism, for it postulates the existence of God..."
I don't consider myself to be one of what are being called "new-age atheists" or "Dawkinsian atheists," I have no grudge against religion per se and don't condescend to the faithful. Most theists hold their faith because of personal experience and while it isn't scientific in the slightest, I wouldn't do anything to try to take that experience away from them. There are certain theistic assumptions, though, that I would argue are worthy of outright ridicule. This would be one of them. Pink somehow fails to realize that the phrase "In the beginning, God created," only repudiates atheism within the Biblical context.
How can anyone make such a glaring mistake? In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the second chapter begins with "Harry lay flat on his back, breathing hard as though he had been running." There is no argument put forth for his existence, it is presupposed. Within the context of the HP series, he exists. In reality, he does not. So it is with Genesis, a narrative in which God not only exists, but communicates and carries out action. This, though, has no bearing on reality outside scripture, an obvious statement to anyone who hasn't been so deeply enveloped by blind faith that they are unable to apply even an illusion of objectivity to their arguments.
Pink goes on to insist that because the world was described in Genesis as being created, it was necessary for there to be an intelligent creator. I hardly have to delve into the mental gymnastics required to make such an assertion. He then goes on to write that any contradiction of the Bible is a fault of science; that science must adhere to the Genesis account and not the other way around which to me underlines a gross misunderstanding of the scientific method to put it lightly. It hardly needs to be said that scientific consensus is not one of opinion. Certain methods must be adhered to in order to ensure accuracy and consistency, and evidence and evidence only dictates what science regards as tentatively true as opposed to that which is utterly false.
This was all within a few pages. I had started reading the book snug under my covers expecting to drift into sleep, but instead ended up furiously taking notes in an effort to prevent a stroke. My exasperation can't be emphasized... I'll continue reading the book, and perhaps post some of the more coma-inducing arguments here, though I doubt it will be anything very new.