Conversation with a Missionary

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve had the agonizing misery pleasure of having married into a religious family.  A necessary part of that is having religious family members on my Facebook.  One such family member, who married my niece, is now a missionary in the Dominican Republic (perhaps because the States don’t have any more people needing saving, or that they’re preying on the susceptible).

Normally I ignore the religious posts from this odd fellow.  This one day, however, he felt the desire to try to bash science and post the following:

Creation Oh, yes.  He’s claiming that nobody but “the Creator” can create something.  I decided to take him to task in a direct message.  The conversation is as follows.

Me:  I figured I’d send this in an email so as not to embarrass you too much. A little note about your post…Technically, you’re doing the “subtle lie” by picking on a single word in the headline, “create”. If you look in the dictionary, you’ll see that the word has the definition “to make or produce (something) : to cause (something) to exist. They are using the first definition. You choose to use the second one to your own means. Your comment about a “subtle lie” could also apply to your comment. Light isn’t “nothing”, as you state. It’s energy. What they’re doing is taking light and applying Einstein’s theory to it, and producing matter from it.

Science is much more than headlines…it’s a sign of wisdom to actually read / learn about something before dismissing it. Proverbs 3:13 says, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” But of course, you already knew that, right?

Misisonary:  Generally speaking, when people use “create” in reference to the physical world, they’re using it with the idea of bring something into existence from nothing. When you have “science”, “scientists”, “matter”, and “create” in the same context, people will immediately assume the idea of creating something from nothing. There is a general movement afoot to diminish our estimation of God’s creative power and to elevate our belief in the self-existence of the physical world. Whether or not the journalist is consciously doing this, only he can know. But ultimately it is a subtle attempt to condition people’s thinking about the word “create.” I believe it was Lenin, or maybe Hitler, who said that if you tell people a lie often enough, sooner or later, they will believe it.

The fact that light is something is the whole point of my post. If man really wants to lay claim to a creative act in this context of turning energy into matter, then he first needs to create his own energy out of nothing. Otherwise he’s merely using the light God already created and turning it into something else.

The heart of man is exceedingly haughty. Were we as humble as we ought to be, we would never dare to speak of creation in reference to any of our exploits in the laboratory.

 Me: 

To be honest, I’ve heard both versions used equally, and when used in a scientific article, it works just fine. True that SOME people will equate it in the way you talk about, but for science-minded people, we don’t jump to the assumption that it’s out of “nothing”. I can’t agree that it’s a subtle way of trying to undermine a belief, but simply an article pointing out a scientific achievement that has occurred. It may speak more to the reader’s perspective, than what the topic is about. I don’t think that using the term “create” is a bad thing. It’s not owned by religion, or god, or whatever you want to use it for. The word has several meanings, as I’ve pointed out. We can create many things. I create websites, documents, incredible coconut cream pies, and so on. I even created some interesting data in the laboratory, once upon a time. And then recreated the results, to confirm it. The term, as I stated, can be used in many contexts. Nowhere (that I read) were they stating that it was coming from nothing. Light was being pushed to another state, as we’ve done with matter being turned into energy (nuclear reactions, etc.).

It’s a simple matter of word paraedolia. The word fits what you want it to look like. To many, creation merely means making something. To others, it’s a divine copyright. It all goes back to that, in the end.

—–

And that was it.  Silence.  I honestly doubt I changed his mind, but it was an interesting exercise on my part.  I had the opportunity to go head to head with someone who not just believes in it, but was educated in religion.  What can I say…it was fun.

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