Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 23, 2015
Can we have real dialogue about the truth?

I would like to respond to the guest opinion expressed by Pastor Jon McCartney on Nov. 10, 2015 regarding the media’s attack on Christians.

All of us should be opposed to individuals being personally attacked because of their religious beliefs. Persecution has happened in the past, particularly of minority religions whether it was Christians in Muslim countries, Jews and Muslims in Christian countries, etc. Real persecution happens and we should be aware of it and oppose it. But there were some positions articulated by Pastor Jon for which I take exception.

First was his statement that “the truth is, in attacking a Christian, Christianity itself is attacked.” In the United States, freedom of speech allows each person the freedom to articulate their beliefs. It does not, however, exempt their beliefs from criticism. Disagreeing with a Christian is not hate speech. Are we to assume that because someone claims to be a Christian, that they are exempt from criticism? As a loyal American citizen, I rather feel obligated to respectfully disagree with ideas I find to be incorrect.

One thing I would like to articulate is that to disagree with an opinion, does not hold that I think the person I disagree with is stupid. I have many dear friends and family who disagree with me on many fundamental issues. However, I do not consider them stupid. In fact labeling people in such a way is counterproductive to the real kinds of dialogue our society needs if we are to move forward and base our decisions on reason and evidence.

One assertion Pastor Jon made that is blatantly incorrect is that “there is no scientific evidence to support evolution. Period.” Such an assertion flies in the face of overwhelming evidence from the fossil record, genetics, embryology, geology, paleontology, and several other sciences.

When Charles Darwin proposed his theory, he did so based upon limited evidence. Since publishing his “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, this theory has been used to make predictions in the fossil record that have proved correct. And though Darwin didn’t understand the mechanism by which traits are transferred between generations via natural selection, the field of genetics confirmed his theory and expanded what we know in immeasurable ways. A simple Google search “evidence for evolution” will give Pastor Jon mounds of sources that illustrate the overwhelming evidence for evolution.

Pastor Jon also expresses some hypotheses regarding the age of the universe, arguing for a young universe and earth. He asserts at the end of his guest opinion that Jesus believed the Old Testament with its creation account was literally accurate. This creates a problem not for science but for his interpretation of the Bible.

From my backyard, I see lake levels of Lake Bonneville that precede the biblical account. On a hike I took up Settlement Canyon just this last month, I found fossils of extinct marine creatures (fusinlids) that were over 250 million years old. We have volcanic rocks that radioactively decay at a constant rate that allows us to date when the rocks were formed. Using these methods gives the age of the earth at around 4.5 billion years old.

Nor should I exclude what we know from astronomy and the vast distances from which light is traveling that gives us solid evidence to a universe that is nearly 14 billion years old.

So even beyond the fields of biology, Christianity is under attack so long as it takes a literal reading of the old testament as infallible. But the attack isn’t from people meaning to do harm to Christianity. It is just scientists going about their business of figuring out how the universe and world works and trying to apply that knowledge to solving real world problems.

The question I would like to pose to Pastor Jon is this: Can all of us have a real, evidence based dialogue about what the truth actually is? Is such a discussion moot if one side has already decided they have all the answers? After carefully examining the evidence, I have concluded, as have the vast majority of scientists, that the universe is old as is the earth, and that all life has evolved through natural processes.

I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong. If presented with a good argument, and compelling evidence, I could be dissuaded from my current position. Can we take exception to ill-founded ideas without taking such exception personally? I would like to think so.

Future generations will need to work out real problems relating to growing populations, global warming, antibiotic resistant diseases, environmental degradation, etc. To address these complicated issues, the use of the scientific method and having open and honest dialogue will be needed. Before our generation departs, we owe it to the younger generation to leave bread crumbs along the path they’ll need to address these problems. Do we have the intellectual honesty and integrity to show them such a pathway? I sincerely hope so.

Swan is a resident of Tooele City.

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