Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Weird Science

Fr. George Lemaitre proposed the theory
of the expanding universe.
I was aware of the Bill Nye/ Ken Ham debate last night, but I didn’t watch it, and I won’t. I’ve heard generally positive things and that it was conducted well, so good for them. Hopefully it was made clear that young earth creationism is a small minority within Christianity. But I disagree with the entire premise, so I’m trying to avoid looking too much into what went down.
It’s difficult for me to talk about young earth creationism, because the subject quickly leads me to saying uncharitable things. I believe Bill Nye was in the wrong for accepting this debate in the first place. It validated young earth creationism as a model compatible with modern scientific theories, and it reinforced the idea that there is dichotomy between religion and science. I understand why Bill Nye wanted the publicity and the opportunity to address the issues, but I think giving Ken Ham such a platform lent his theories too much credence. 

I’ve seen the statistics that say around 46% of the U.S. population believes in a 6-literal-day creation and 6,000-year-old earth. I know that being in the Bible Belt means that stat is probably higher around here. But honestly, my reality says differently. Yes, I know some young earth creationists, but I would say that they do not account for anywhere close to half of the people I interact with daily. Is there some sort of segregation at play where I just don’t run into these people? They seem like such a tiny, shrill, extremist group, that giving them any attention seems to magnetize their importance, politically and especially theologically. 

The reason I get frustrated and uncharitable over young earth creationism is not the bad science. If one chooses to live a life ignorant of evolutionary processes, I’m alright with that. My problem is that the ultra-literal interpretation of the Bible is bad theology, and it’s keeping people away from God. There are answers in Genesis, but they are much different than Ken Ham’s conclusions. To say that Adam and Eve had to literally exist and eat a literal fruit for original sin to exist is absurd. To say that Genesis and Kings and Matthew and Revelation must all be read in the same manner and must all be equally factual for any of it to be true is such an extreme absolute, I can only assume a Sith came up with it. 

I respect my religion’s sacred texts too much to have them reduced to biological textbooks. To ignore the context and typology of scripture and insist on fact-checking and shoe-horning insults my faith. The Bible is not the foundation of Christianity; Christ is. The traditions of the Church he founded led to the formation of the Bible. It is our text for instruction and inspiration. It is sacred. It explains man’s relationship with God. It contains Truth. But it is not the beginning and end of the faith. And it cannot be read apart from its setting and purpose. 

By creating a violent divide between the physical study of the world and the spiritual understanding of the world, young earth creationists force people to choose between two things that aren’t comparable. When forced to pick a side, people (at least of Western tradition) are more likely to pick the one that uses the empirical method, that claims objectivity, and that is generally agreed upon as a valid way to investigate the world. They reject God under the false premise that belief in God means a rejection of reality. While part of me wants to be tolerant and let people believe as they do, another part of me feels the need to combat this. This false battle between science and faith is doing unwarranted damage to my religion. It is preventing people from God’s love; it is putting others’ salvation at risk. So it is difficult for me to tolerate this vocal minority. Young earth creationism deserves to be theologically and scientifically refuted and corrected. And then forgotten. I’m still not even sure I want to give it 700 words of my attention, even to refute it.

1 comment:

  1. Well put together article. This is a very interesting topic for me. I agree that the Bible was written for the betterment of man and should be followed but I feel that we interpret it wrong sometimes. We take things that are meant to be figurative and apply them literally and vice-verses. As for the "false battle between science and faith" I agree that it is destructive to religion in general. I feel that it is a battle of Evolutionism verses Creationism or science verses religion. What it needs to be is a fight of Truth Vs. Falsehood. Then the truths of science and the truths of God can and will work together. I found another article that was very insightful on this subject. If you or any other readers would like to read it and share your thoughts?