“God is not the God of half people,” said John Feakes, sitting at the back of the Oxford Bible Church, his one leg restlessly jerking up and down.
“God is the God of full people.”
Feakes is the creator of Winnipeg’s Christian Evidences museum, which grew out of his basement rec room in 2007 and into the Oxford Bible Church, a meeting place for the Christian reformist sect, the Plymouth Brethren.
The museum is made up of archaeological artifacts, fossils and books meant to prove that the Earth was created in six days, that humans walked with dinosaurs and that the planet is only 6,000 to 7,000 years old.
“I believe that the creationist has the intellectual high ground in this debate,” he said, before launching into a theological argument.
Feakes sees spiritual continuity between the original sin of Adam and Eve and the ultimate crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who “saved us” from that sin.
“The scripture can’t be broken,” he explained, adding that Jesus makes direct reference to creation in Mark 10:6 and Matthew 19:4.
For Feakes, these passages prove that Christ, the “ultimate authority” on all matters, regarded Genesis as historic truth.
That truth is bolstered by the genealogies found in the book of Genesis, which list the descendants of Adam and Eve up to Abraham and confirm Earth’s young age, he added.
Feakes, despite his confidence and enthusiasm for creationism, is a minority in the Christian community. Most denominations have roundly accepted evolution as the guiding principle of modern biology.
“You certainly see more vocal resistance to evolution in the (United) States,” said John Brubacher, a biology professor at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). “It gets at the core of how you read the Bible.”
Brubacher believes in God as well as evolution and interprets Genesis as an allegorical myth.
Although he believes that creationism is the result of a literal interpretation of the Bible, Brubacher also points to a more personal and spiritual reason for the denial of evolutionary biology.
“The sense ... that we are one organism among many is a threat to how a lot of people view their faith,” he said, adding that the idea of human superiority over animals is reinforced by Jesus in passages like Matthew 6:26 and 10:29.
“But for me, just because we can trace our ancestry back doesn’t mean we can’t have a spiritual life or spiritual significance.”
While Brubacher remains sympathetic to Christians who feel reluctant to accept evolution, others will directly challenge any form of religious faith.
“Resistance to science and resistance to evolution is just a bad idea because you end up accepting a lot of ridiculous claims,” said Gem Newman, 26, a computer scientist and the founder of Winnipeg Skeptics, a local secular group committed to the advancement of skeptical thinking.
“Creationists are often grossly uninformed.”
Group members like Ashlyn Noble, a 22-year-old biology student at the University of Winnipeg, plan to confront Feakes during an upcoming tour of the museum.
“The goal is to reach the wider community,” she explained, adding that several members have signed up for a tour.
“I think it’s important ... to bridge the gap between science and faith.”
Published in Volume 65, Number 9 of The Uniter (October 28, 2010)