Editorial: Creation, the Debate, Facebook, and Faith

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.

 

–   Andrew

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4 Responses to Editorial: Creation, the Debate, Facebook, and Faith

  1. Michael Snow says:

    Two excellent resources pertinent to this discussion: R.C. Sproul on natural reveleation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIwHT_b72Bk
    Augustine on Genesis, warning against misusing Scrpture and voiding natural revelation http://noanswersingenesis.org.au/saintaugustine.htm
    On the text of Genesis, Ken Ham does not apply his own rule to the first two verses:
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/

    I watched the whole thing. It seemed more of a PR gig for both parties, neither of whom is well qualified to debate the science (each has only a B.S.) and Ham is no biblical scholar.

    I copied some comments in other blogs which help highlight this issue:

    comments
    The debate went as I suspected it would – more cathartic for me and those of us who have left the Young Earth Creationist camp we were raised with. Ham had all the same material, I’d heard everything he’d said before at VBS, in DVD’s, and his theology permeated my “science” books even though they weren’t exclusively AIG. I knew all his answers, I’d seen all of his graphics, he said absolutely nothing new, at all, I remembered everything verbatim from my previous encounters with AIG as a child. To Nye, this idea is so unfathomable that he had trouble grasping and understanding his audience and I don’t know that he knew what he was getting into. To the people in that room, YEC is more than a science…theory(?), it is, in a very real way, a (the) foundation of their religion.

    —-

    http://redemptionpictures.com/2014/02/04/creation-v-evolution/

    I still believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. But I simply don’t care about the Evolution vs. Creationism debate anymore.

    I remember sitting in a Ken Ham conference when I was fifteen, …

    I’m twenty-seven years old and have a Bachelor of Science degree from a liberal arts university, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pass a 9th grade science test

    Young Earth Creationism was the foundation upon which Christianity was built. If Creationism crumbled, we would fall into the sea.

    —-

    I am going to say something that may shock you: I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe in the Theory of Evolution. And I see no contradiction there. Despite what common knowledge and popular culture may insinuate about science versus religion, many churchgoing Christians have no objection to evolution or the Big Bang. Many of us find meaning and value in the Bible without taking it 100% literally. And many of us cringe when Christian fundamentalists start shoving their beliefs down everyone else’s throats.

    —–

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