What a busy time it has been indeed. First, I feel compelled to explain the title. After all, isn’t everything published on a privately run blog an editorial? While that is true, everything I publish here on “From the Desk and Shelf” is the end result of (typically) careful thinking, (some) research, a (dodgy) writing plan, and (not always) careful editing. I like to use my blog to put forth my own spin on ideas, as well as present aspects of my academic research with anyone who might be interested.
This piece is a little different. I will touch on the topics in the title, but I honestly have not prepared a plan for writing and do not intend to research any element. Therefore, this may come across as a little more casual. This is largely due to the fact that January proved to be a very busy month, balancing work, a personal life, and a Master’s thesis. Even now, I am writing this editorial after four hours of sleep from the night before. But, at least I have Transformers (the original cartoon) playing in the background. Anyway, on to my point.
A few nights ago, Bill Nye debated Evolution with the head of the Creationism museum, Ken Ham. Had time permitted, I would have thrilled at the chance to write a proper follow-up/commentary on the debate. However, I must merely discuss it in passing. Besides, the debate on my Facebook page proved very fruitful, the background of which I will discuss in a moment.
I heard small bits and pieces about the debate, but let me go ahead and get the overarching issue out of the way: Bill Nye will never convince Ken Ham of his position because in order to fully deconstruct Ham’s argument, you have to challenge his assumptions about the book of Genesis itself. Arguing over the science would lead nowhere, but I am interested in what the outcome of a debate between Ken ham and a biblical scholar would produce.
Unfortunately, such was not the route taken by the debate, thus I shall resign myself to discuss issues within the context of what actually occurred. To be more specific, I want to go ahead and discuss a few issues that came up on a Facebook discussion I had regarding the debate.
If you read my previous post on Creation in the Bible, or taken a wild guess based on my past posts, it likely comes as no surprise that I do not agree one bit with Ken Ham’s position. I think he has a very simplistic, misguided, misinformed, and flat out wrong understanding of the Bible. However, Bill Nye’s position is seriously flawed as well.
A relative pointed out that Nye inferred that being a good scientist meant one could not be a good Christian. If this is the case, then by that reasoning, let us go ahead and take that statement on its face-value. This therefore holds a very narrow and misguided view of Christianity on the part of a scientist. It is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, for one to possess a faith that does not require a literal reading of the text. One of my own driving principles in the faith of Christianity is borrowed from the Jewish tradition of interpretation and re-interpretation. Thus I would say that if a scientific discovery contradicts the Bible, then one should reinterpret the Bible (sound familiar?).
Finally, our discussion turned to rather one should pick apart the Bible or not, or simply let the Holy Spirit guide a person through the reading. This is really a tough position, especially for any scholar. Scholarship and Faith possess the ability to overlap, but in the end, they must meet at a final border where scholarship can go no further, one must my either choose to remain in that spot, or allow faith to carry him or her to the next level of understanding. However, the flip side from the faith perspective is this: You should pick apart the Bible, because that promotes understanding and context. For example, I approach the Bible with the idea that there are plenty of great spiritual truths to be found within it, but there are also plenty of cultural leftovers that those of us that live in the 21st century Western society simply cannot hold to anymore. Granted many of these topics demand posts of their own, but should women be held in a position of subservience, just because the Bible says so? (1 Timothy). Should homosexuals be oppressed because the “Bible says…” (Leviticus)? For that matter, why do Christians like to pick and choose which Levitical law to apply in order to argue a point of spiritual authority? I may be getting off track here, but these are some of the issues that the debate, both between Ken and Bill, and on my wall, brought up.
If you heard the debate, I hope you found it enlightening. I do wonder if either Ham or Nye were able to convince listeners of their position, and thus sway a person’s views. Hopefully, everyone can learn a little more about the Bible and a little more about science in the wake of this event. I will therefore close with a quote I posted to my own Facebook wall after reading several comments:
“Religion used to say that the Sun moved around the Earth… Science used to say that smoking was a good way to treat asthma. Please remember that both are human institutions, and both should continue to strive forward without feeling the need to be mutually exclusive of each other. Always continue to question, reinterpret, and ponder the possibilities.”
Thank you for wading through this rambling mess.