I've been thinking a lot about creation stories lately, mostly due to conversations I've had with Mom lately. She teaches fourth grade at a large private school in the metro Atlanta area, and lately they've been talking a lot about evolution vs. creation. Actually, one of her fellow teachers has been devouring information from groups like the Apologetics Press and decided to spearhead an effort to debunk evolution. The middle school and high school chose not to participate in the workshop, but the elementary school kids will be getting a full dose of creationist polemics.
I think this is a pretty bad idea. Mom agrees, but she can't voice her disagreement at school. Several years ago, a few teachers were let go because they believed in evolution, and everyone's been skirting the issue since. There's an eerie silence among the teachers - they must all take their classes to the workshop, but they are obviously unenthused about it. This week, they watched a video preview of the workshop during their teacher workday. Apparently, it was mostly full of anecdotal "evidence" against evolution and unconvincing logical arguments. One of the arguments went something like, "If the creation story is not taken as a literal 6 day event then the reliability of the whole Bible is called into question, allowing room for all kinds of immorality and faithlessness, and Christianity falls to pieces." The speaker on the video went on to link all the things that are wrong with contemporary society with belief in the theory of evolution.
Now, I don't mind someone holding or sharing honest doubts about evolution. I'd probably have a few too, if I actually took some time to study up on it. Biology isn't my area of expertise or interest; my frustration with the apologetics material is more along the lines of theology, biblical interpretation, and Christian discipleship. Is it really beneficial to make such an egregious overstatement about the importance of the literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2? Does the truth of the Bible, of the Christian faith really hinge on this? Placing the blame for all the evils of society on the theory of evolution makes about as much sense as using The DaVinci Code as a history textbook. I don't think that the best way to teach people, young or old, to follow Jesus is by loading them up with arguments and strategies for aggressively confronting people who don't believe.
Here's something that I think creationists are right about: the creation story matters. Stories of origin have an impact on how we see the world and our place in it. I think it's important for Christians to continue asserting that God is Creator and that God created human beings, both male and female, in God's image. The way the creation story describes God the Creator matters, too. It is not an option to simply scrap the opening chapters of the Bible (or any part of the Scriptures for that matter!) and accept whatever theory of origins is in vogue for the time being. However, I don't think that a literal interpretation is the only faithful option for Christians. More to come on this topic in the future...