An Old Earther on Peaceful Science
Mark M. Moore is an Old Earth Creationist (OEC), and has been an active participant on the Peaceful Science forums. He recently became one of our moderators. Of note, Mark wrote an important book, Early Genesis, on Genesis 1-11, where he independently comes to a reading of Genesis 1 and 2 which describes a population outside the garden.
For one entertaining exchange, look at the blurry line between OEC and Theistic Evolution (TE). When we realize that science is silent on God’s action, the lines begin to blur. God could have inspired important mutations in our history.
So, Mark found a home on the forums. I invited him to explain why he has found value in Peaceful Science. This is, after all, a blog and forum run by a scientist that affirms evolutionary science. Why would an OEC find himself here?
I (Mark Moore) have been an Old Earth Creationist for decades, since the 1990s, including when I taught earth and life science in public schools. During and after my time in the classroom I continued to take part in apologetics classes sponsored by an area church in which I vigorously argued against evolution as the sole explanation for the diversity of life on earth. For a time, though I had some doubts about the details of their model, I was a repeat donor to Reasons to Believe. I still have a lot of respect for their work in astronomy. Though, I now adhere to a different Scriptural framework than do they (the Christ-Centered model for early Genesis), my views fall within the Old Earth Creationist Camp.
So why would a person like me find home on the Peaceful Science forum? After all, Dr. Swamidass, who hosts the forum, endorses the view that evolution is the method by which God created everything from bacteria to people. And he not only holds this position, but proactively explains his position. So why would an Old Earth Creationist choose to identify with his forum? Why would I become a moderator here?
Not for some counterfeit understanding of “peace.” I am unwilling to seek peace at the expense of integrity. I doubt that we will ever end all conflict in the origins debate any ways. The peace I hope for is the peace which comes from Christ, the one which “passes all understanding” and is therefore not dependent on tranquil circumstances to become manifest.
The invitation to the Peaceful Science forums is “to understand and to be understood.”
This type of peace is very attractive to me. Americans are increasingly turning inward. Dialogue is vanishing as people either talk past or dismiss those with which they disagree. Or they may simply seek out their own echo chambers, conversing only with those who feel like they do. I have, instead, looked for a place where diverse views were welcome and seriously scrutinized. We cannot hone and refine and improve the ideas if we do not subject them to real scrutiny. In the end, questions of origins are an inviting conversation for all people, even though we disagree on the particulars
A vision like this is no better than the people on the mission. I’ve watched how Dr. Swamidass handles controversy and disagreement. It is not just that he is a sincere Christian. He also has a complementary role in the Body to mine. Not everyone in the body of Christ has the same mission (1 Corinthians 12), but the different members of the body should not look down on those whose function within the body is different. If we all thunderously declared God’s standards for justice then who would preach His mercy? And if we all did nothing but preach his mercy, how would anyone outside the body even know why they needed it? So, it was not just that I saw we shared the same faith, but I also saw him as a balance to my natural inclinations.
While I am unconvinced by evolution, I do not define myself in opposition to evolution. I define myself in allegiance to Christ. When I see a brother or sister, I will fellowship with them on the grounds that the details of God’s creative work are among the non-essentials that should not divide us. In one way or another, perhaps both of us are wrong on this or that, but we can only discover that in journey together.
For me, the biggest surprise is the strong alignment I find with Dr. Swamidass and my reading of early Genesis. His scientific work on population genetics seems to invalidate not only Young Earth Creationist ideas about Adam, but also the model of the most prominent Old Earth Creationists at Reasons to Believe. As challenging as that sounds, I was surprised how consistent this was with my own reading of Genesis. His work on genealogical ancestry shows that Adam could have been recent, with people outside the garden.
Surprisingly, Dr. Swamidass’ scientific work and my understanding of Genesis turned out to be a fantastic pairing. I had already independently concluded, from Scripture alone, that there were people outside the Garden. Scientific evidence aside, this is what Scripture really seemed to be saying.
So, here I am, the Old Earth Creationist Moderator of the Peaceful Science forum. I hope you can join us sometime, to understand and be understood.