I’m still fuming about the so-called “debate” between Bill Nye the representative of the Science God and Ken Ham the Bible God’s spokesperson (notice I didn’t write God of the Bible). The fight between the gods “Science” and “Bible” took place on February 4, 2014. The video of the debate has been viewed by well over one million people.This epic battle reminded me of the Prophet Elijah versus the prophets of Baal (Yahweh versus Baal) in 1 Kings 18:20-40. It was also reminiscent of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (Yahweh versus Marduk) in 2 Chronicles 36:1-21. I don’t think that the debate changed many minds. If you were a fan of creationism you probably came away convinced that science was aggressively anti the God of Creation and because of this it is a threat. If you were pro science your views were probably reenforced and you turned off your television or computer thinking that the Bible is ridiculous and Christians are perhaps strong in something they call faith but severely lacking in intelligence. I don’t believe that either position is true, and that’s why I’m angry. I believe that it is possible for science and faith to coexist.
David MacMillan of the Huffington Post writes that opinion polls have found that about 1/3 of Americans believe that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Wow! This number surprises me. I must be walking in the wrong circles. Most of the people who I know are comfortable living with the tension of believing the Biblical creation accounts while at the same time affirming that evolution might be a valid way of explaining how God created. Some of these people uphold the historicity of the first and second chapters of Genesis.Others view the accounts as stories. Either way they see the words as beautiful revelations of the God who is in with and under creation and all of life. Perhaps I need to remind myself that 2/3’s of Americans don’t believe that the earth and creation is only 6,000 years old, in order to keep my anger under control.
What is it? Is it because we all like a good fight that the media poses the two extremes–the two gods–against each other? Bill Nye may accurately represent a majority of scientists, but Ken Ham certainly represents only a minority of American Christians and an even smaller percentage of the two billion people who identify themselves as Christians. The view of creationism and the insistence that the Bible is inerrant and infallible only developed in the nineteenth century. It wasn’t the view of the early Christians, and it certainly isn’t the view of our Jewish brothers and sisters of faith. After all, the Old Testament, or perhaps more accurately entitled the Hebrew Scriptures, is first and foremost their Holy Book. I don’t see Jews of any persuasion on the front lines of this battle defending their Scripture against the invasion of science.
Creationists are not the only side that picked this fight. Science is guilty, too. I have enjoyed Bill Nye and his programs. I’ve appreciated his love of science and the way he is able to make science come alive. I don’t know, though, if in addition to being a scientist he is a man of faith. He didn’t make any statement of faith during the fight, though that was not his purpose. Wouldn’t it have been powerful, though, if he would have professed a belief in a spiritual dimension to life and his faith in the God of Creation. Such a confession would have changed the debate. It might not have been much of a debate at all.
As there are Christians who view science as a valid pursuit of humankind’s questioning mind–and not an attack on the Bible or the God who is revealed through the pages of Scripture, so there are scientists who are people of faith. The numbers of these two groups are significant. Rather than get angry, like I did, over this little boxing match between science and the Bible, perhaps we who are members of one or both groups need to speak up and proclaim to the world that this is not an “Either/Or” fight. Both/And; both science combined with faith is a workable premise. Both sides would benefit, and we would take a few steps towards a more sane faith.