I am an Evangelical Christian. I believe the Bible is God’s inspired word. I believe that Jesus is God in the flesh who died for the sins of the world and rose again bodily on the third day. And yet, according to Ken Ham in his historic debate with Bill Nye tonight at the Creation Museum, because of my belief in Evolution, I cannot be who I am. I cannot be both a follower of Jesus Christ and someone who believes in the evidence presented by the vast majority of scientists worldwide. Or at least, it is a very unlikely fit. Even though I insist on a theistic evolution model that includes God as the beginning point, the uncaused cause of the universe. Even though I affirm all of the core doctrines of the Christian faith and even though I have had an undeniable experience with Jesus Christ, according to Ken Ham, it must be difficult for me to be a Christian. I am deceived and adhering to one of the greatest Satanic lies ever created. All because I believe what the majority of people on planet earth do — that our beautiful planet is millions of years old and that all of life has common origins and undergoes a process of evolution that helps us to adapt, progress, and survive. Makes sense…
Those of us in the Evangelical world understand that Ken Ham represents a very small minority of Christians worldwide. The amount of Christ followers that believe in his version of creationism is waning and the reality seems to be that most millennial Christians are discovering balance between scientific fact and the experience of our faith. These are very exciting times. But tonight, thousands upon thousands tuned in to watch Ken Ham speak for “Christianity” or at least “Evangelical Christianity”, both of which I identify with. Thousands upon thousands were exposed to a man who can barely be called a scientist let alone a theologian who represented the perspective of Christianity against Bill Nye’s scientific agnosticism.
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For me, tonight’s debate was incredibly troubling. As I sat and heard Ken Ham argue that belief in evolution can lead to abortion, euthanasia, and killing our grandparents, I felt like beating our heads against the wall. As Ken Ham repeatedly responded to Nye’s request for evidence with “Well Bill, there is a book that gives us an answer to that question…” I had to restrain ourselves from screaming at our computer screen. Every time Ken Ham repeated his position that “Creationism is the only viable option…”, my jaw dropped in awe at the arrogance of that statement. Because the version of Christian faith that Ken Ham espoused tonight is not the version of Christianity that I am a part of. Ham’s understanding of what it means that the Bible is God’s inspired word is very different from what that phrase means to me. The presupposition that Ken Ham built his entire argument against Evolution on — that the Bible is God’s inerrant science textbook — is one that the majority of Christians and even Evangelicals reject. I was troubled because tonight it seemed like Ken Ham became the official spokesperson for Christians worldwide. But let me be very clear, Ken Ham does not speak for me or my faith.
The Jesus I worship doesn’t offer me scientific explanations about the world around me. The Jesus I worship is the being through which all things were created, seen and unseen. He is the Lord of the sciences. He is the creator of the Evolutionary process. My Jesus doesn’t demand that I believe one theory or another about the origins of life. My Jesus is more concerned with the content of our characters and how we love each other than with our position on any scientific, political, or even theological issue. (as Steve Mattson so beautifully points out here) My faith is one that embraces doubt, questioning, exploration, discovery, and science. My faith is not rooted in any doctrine or idea but in a relationship with the God of love. And so when Ken Ham and those of his ilk stand up and proclaim that Evolution and modern science is “opposed to God”, I am left to wonder which God he’s talking about. Because the God I know and worship has always been able to withstand my questions. He is the God who I believe is behind all scientific discovery. But apparently, Ken’s God is not. Instead, the God Ken seems to represent has apparently given us all of the answers to the mysteries of the universe in the Bible and expects us to cease thinking, exploring, and learning. Because the Bible says, we are to believe it, and that settles it. My understanding of God is one that makes God far more expansive than that. My understanding is that the creations of our amazing God go far beyond our ability to comprehend. We will also be discovering. Science will always have new questions to answer. And the more we find out, the more we will be left speechless as we behold the glory of our universe.
Yes, I am an Evangelical Christian. I believe the Bible. And I also believe that our earth was created through a process called Evolution. None of these notions contradict. In fact, these all together actually enrich my faith. Evolution causes me to stand in awe before the amazing Creator of the Universe and worship him for his majesty and creativity. And on this, I differ greatly from Ken Ham. Ham does not speak for me nor does he speak for the faith of the vast majority of Christians worldwide. To my non-Christian friends, please understand this. Please know that Christian faith does not automatically equal anti-science and anti-knowledge. In fact, for many of us, I think that kind of faith is one that is inherently contradictory to our understanding of who our God is.
For a fantastic perspective and reflection on the Nye/Ham debate, check out my conversation with my friend and theologian Dr. Peter Enns, former senior fellow of the BioLogos foundation. He succinctly offers the perspective of the non-creationist majority of Christians. It’s definently worth a listen:
Revangelical: Peter Enns Responds to the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate (Final) from The Revangelical Movement on Vimeo.
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I want to thank Dr. Peter Enns for joining me tonight. I so appreciate his thoughts and perspectives.
“A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.”
–Joseph H. Taylor, Jr.
What are your thoughts on the debate? Is Christianity compatible with Evolution? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Courier-Journal, Matt Stone