A few days ago there was a 'debate' on creation/evolution in the United States between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Unfortunately it seemed to be a debate from an era I wish some in the church could just move on from, where science is presented as a competitor worldview with the Bible - or rather one particular (and not very well informed or grace filled) interpretative stance on (particular) Biblical passages. Rather predictably has apparently stirred up lots of interest in those it was already pre-inclined to do so with. I haven't watched the debate itself as I am loath to watch fellow Christians embarrass themselves publicly further and to see (some) scientists struggle to but not quite 'get' religion), but I have read some of the post-debate discussion (or rather fall out). From what I have read nothing new was presented in either content or style from the 'Christian' side of it.
One example that I found particularly frustrating was a series of 22 images over on Buzz Feed of folk who were posing questions they genuinely thought were serious and challenging to the science of evolution (or rather what they thought evolution was i.e. no what it is at all most of the time).
Unfortunately, despite what seems to their genuine earnestness (even pride) in doing so, they are a collection of frankly oft-repeated, ignorant and/or confused stock phrases used for decades now by proponents of Young Earth Creationism (YEC). In these questions anything from any domain of knowledge or personal feeling is used to challenge "evolution" or rather anything that is perceived to somehow threaten YEC belief (presented of course as Christianity rather than one historically recent sub-set of it) that originates from or touches upon scientific evidences. Especially sad is that these so-called 'objections' have been refuted by theologians, scientists and when (unfortunately) neccessary legal professionals time and time again.
Unfortunately I don't think we can continue to pretend that it is acceptable for such misconceptions to continue to be presented as either scientific fact or Christian orthodoxy. I don't doubt the honesty or earnestness of lay people who express these views, nor their motivations in doing so, but I do doubt the intention and quality
of the preaching/teaching that has been imparted upon them by their
church leaders and those working to social and political agendas that these viewpoints have become entwined with. The fact that these people are fellow Christians, advocating (in their
own way) for a (particular) Christian worldview doesn't make them any less incorrect
or righteous either.
The questions asked in the Buzz Feed article are so laden with typical YEC agendas and themes it is quite clear the questioners are posing these questions without any real understanding of the theological or scientific understanding of what they are querying. The agenda at the origin of theses questions is simply about reinforcing a unnecessary and false dichotomy between 'evolution' and Christianity. The questions are posed with no nuance or appreciation of the centuries of careful study and inquiry, by both theologians and scientists, that came before into matters of creation as if discussions about the nature of creation and God's creative activity where something new and only framed by evolutionary science. Indeed in the 21st century the study of science and religion is a respected multi-layered academic field in it's own right - a field in which (unsurprisingly) the false arguments of YEC play little to no part as they have long been shown to be dangerously two dimensional and lacking in rigour and content.
In this century (or any other actually) there is simply no excuse for Christians to be subscribing to YEC simply because they are seeking an alternative to the atheistic materialism of some scientists (and people in general). Yes, fight against such a position but that is not what evolution is despite being presented as such in many of our churches. We are in an era of incredible interaction and mutual discovery in the fields of science and religion (discoveries in neuroscience during this century will produce changes in viewpoint in both as vast as those of Copernicus and Darwin did in previous centuries). Although in the USA context there are many other social and political factors at play here that are using this debate as an angle for their particular agendas, it's about time those in the Western evangelical wing of the church stopped bringing Christianity into serious disrepute by it's continual advocacy of YEC and the bad science and crude theology it represents.
As well as being closer to truth, both science and theology as expounded by genuine scientists and theologians of all strips are infinitely more richer than YEC decrees they must be. It is time for the Church to rejoice in that and to genuinely praise their Creator for all that He really has done.
(And as to the specific questions posed in the Buzz Feed article, Bad Astronomy has some good starters for ten on answering them. And the graceful attitude displayed in responding to them (at all!) is one in which we Christians would do well to emulate.)
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