Despite being a creationist, I managed to go to the same university as Rupert Myers. And despite being a creationist, I managed to have a number of friends while up at Cambridge – several of them scientists – who were also creationists. Being a creationist does not rot the brain. It does not make one incapable of rigorous academic work. It hasn’t stopped my scientist friends from excelling in their fields. Yet, if a certain Daily Telegraph columnist had his way, it would certainly limit one’s opportunities in life.
Rupert Myers takes issue in the Telegraph with the BBC’s appointment of a creationist (Dan Walker of Football Focus) as the new presenter of BBC Breakfast. Apparently creationists can’t be trusted to present the news. Now, normally I’d probably just roll my eyes at Mr Myers ridiculous column. (I’m not even linking to it, as it seems clearly designed to be the sort of piece that’s been posted to gain a high click count through controversy.) However, Mr Myers has managed to wind me up. Not with his silly dismissal of creationists as untrustworthy, but with something else. Myers writes:
‘As a Christian, I hope society continues to protect my right to hold beliefs and to express them.’But immediately follows this with a ‘but’. Freedom of belief and its expression are important, but only as long as one’s beliefs match up with what Mr Myers deems acceptable. Despite his professed Christianity and his desire for freedom of belief and expression, Myers insists:
‘To believe that God literally created the earth in six days is to deny basic elements of logic. It may not be as offensive or insensitive as holocaust denial, but it is as logically indefensible.’So, the belief of the majority of Christians around the world throughout history (not to mention the plain teaching of Scripture) can be compared to holocaust denial and apparently should be looked upon with almost as much suspicion by the BBC! But, yeah, freedom of belief and all that!
Towards the end of his piece, he exclaims:
‘A belief in creationism may be a religious belief, and we must allow generous margins to the holding of such beliefs, but creationism falls beyond the spectrum. It should be consigned to the bin of unreasonable, untenable fact-allergic nonsense. Creationists cannot be trusted to report objectively, or to interact reasonably with their interviewees and with the public.’Here Myers explicitly says that some religious beliefs should not be tolerated. Creationism is beyond the pale. So what about the Bible’s teaching on marriage? Or the church’s opposition to abortion? Or the belief that one of the Trinity suffered in the flesh for us and for our salvation? Who gets to choose which religious beliefs fall within the ‘generous margins’ and which fall ‘beyond the spectrum’? What Myers is presenting is not the freedom ‘to hold beliefs and to express them’ of which he writes at the beginning of his article, but rather a situation where either the state or the media will get to decide which beliefs are to be tolerated and which are not. Perhaps that might be a tolerable state of affairs for Mr Myers, as long as the powers that be broadly tolerate his Christianity, but what will happen when they do so no longer?
(Oh, and by the way, all orthodox Christians are creationists. Yes, some may disagree on the 6 days, but all confess, ‘I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.’)