Today’s second question comes from a new reader, Fabio. Fabio writes: “What is in my mind right now is something I read years ago in a Christian magazine. It was an article against evolution that compared the struggle of creationism against the mainstream scientific consensus with the struggle of Galileo and his theory about the earth revolving around the sun and not vice versa against the mainstream beliefs based on the Catholic Church’s teaching. What struck me was the blatant hypocrisy of the comparison: did the writer even realize that the creationists have nothing to do with Galileo and everything to do with with the dogmatic, religious spirit of the church? How do we deal with that kind of, in the best case scenario, lack of self awareness; in the worst, pure and simple hypocrisy?”
First of all, let me say, “Welcome, Fabio – and thanks for the great question!”
I learned a method years ago that has helped me engage folks who may be resistant to understanding the difference you are talking about. The model was called LARA.
LARA is an acronym that stands for Listen (to what the speaker/writer is saying), Affirm (areas that you can agree on), Respond (to what you feel is the misinformation), and Add Information (that helps make your point).
Here’s how I would use the model in the instance you are talking about.
LISTEN: You begin by letting the author/speaker make her or his case (which you already have done by having read her or his aritcle). When the person finishes, you move on to Step 2: Affirm.
AFFIRM: “I hear you feel modern-day Creationists are in a position much like Galileo’s because each party felt like an outsider since they were battling the mainstream thought of the day.”
RESPOND: “While both modern-day Creationists and Galileo did share beliefs that were considered unpopular, I believe there is an important difference between the two. Many modern-day Creationists are incredibly hostile to using insights gained from reason and science. They want to use Scripture and doctrine – in place of reason and science – to make their points. Galileo, on the other hand, refused to do that. In fact he wanted to use reason and the scientific insights of his day to challenge beliefs that were grounded solely in Scripture and doctrine.”
ADD INFORMATION: “So if you want to use Galileo as an example, then it’s important to remember what Galileo REALLY stood for. Galileo was a many of faith who believed that faithful people should use all of the tools at her or his disposal: including the tools of reason and science with which God has blessed us. And Galileo believed that a person of faith should be open to changing his or her mind if the information we gather using all of God’s tools reveal new insights. It would be inaccurate and unfair to use Galileo to support the position of those who would reject the very tools Galileo used – and who would reject a spirit of openness and inquiry – in the name of faith.”
That’s one way you could approach the matter. I know my readers probably have many other insights to share. So how about you? What might you suggest?