I’ve heard from several people thoughtfully disagreeing with the premise of my FoxNews.com piece. They doubt that anything can be gained by talking with young earth creationists. As one person put it, “almost all [Young Earthers] at my S. Baptist church have a HS diploma at most and do little if any reading beyond devotionals. It is a big jump to assume they could even understand a scientific worldview or how science works. Those who begin by assuming the Bible was written to be literally interpreted by a 21st century person instead of for folks who lived totally different lives 2 to 3 millennia ago are hardly likely to listen to nor understand scholars or scientists. My survival mode as a believer is simply to avoid raising the subject and keep my scientific views to myself.”
Those who believe in a Young Earth often display a mirror image of this: they don’t see any point in dialog with people who don’t treat God’s Word as inspired and infallible. They believe the early chapters of Genesis, understood in a common-sense way, tell us what we need to know, and it’s not that hard to understand. Scientific “evidence,” they say, only takes us in circles, proving what’s already been assumed through naturalistic presuppositions.
Given such very different starting points, nobody can guarantee that any real communication can take place. Both positions are a counsel of despair, but sometimes despair is realism.
It’s a point of faith with me, however, that it’s worthwhile listening to people and trying to understand their point of view. I’ve done a lot of it as a journalist. As we are all human beings, there is often leakage between our air-tight compartments. Some common ground may be discovered.
It’s worth trying if only because it implies treating each other like fellow human beings. When people listen to each other, instead of lecturing each other, it’s amazing how often they find a measure of understanding.
I think of it like marriage counseling. No marriage counselor–my wife is one–can guarantee that a marriage can be saved. But for sure, if the two parties won’t listen to each other, if you can’t get them to try to understand each other’s point of view, it’s pretty hopeless.
We owe it to each other. Those of us who are followers of Jesus are obligated to it. We are told–no, commanded–to love our neighbor. I think that involves, among other things, really listening to him. And the stronger the feelings, the stronger the obligation to try to understand.