Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Real Loser in the Creation Debate

     I've seen many responses to the Nye/Ham debate that took place last night, but none of them seem to have been similar to the thought that I took from it. Mainly the response has been that either Evolution had a resounding victory or that Science was embarrassed for even participating in the debate, such as the article here. However, the danger that debate really hammered home was this incorrect idea that one cannot be a Christian and reject Creationism. What is truly sad, but not surprising in the least, is the fact that Bill Nye did a better job arguing for the compatibility of science and faith then Ken Ham did. In fact, when asked if anything could change his mind, Ken Ham said nothing could, but more importantly, started his response with, "Well, I am a Christian so..." And therein lies the problem. Within the context of the question that is a radical fundamentalist response that only further does a disservice to the religion that is Christianity. What people such as Ken Ham do not (and perhaps refuse) to understand is that being a Christian is not something that can be narrowed down to exact.. well.. science.
     What makes a Christian? Is it believing that Jesus died and rose back to life? Literally or metaphorically? Is it based off one's actions that reveal a true faith within? Is is believing that the entirety of the Bible is literally true and must be taken as such? To Ken Ham it is very black and white. There is no gray area. This is precisely the problem. The real loser of the Creation debate is not Ken Ham. It is not Bill Nye. It is not Science. It is Christianity. Christianity loses in debates such as this one simply because it further propagates the idea that Christianity is comprised of one, simple, absurd worldview that one must ascribe to if he or she wants to be a Christian. One must go no further than Twitter and search "#CreationDebate" to see that the majority of people found Ham's views to be ridiculous. But here is where the real danger for Christianity comes into play. Today's world is obsessed with polar thinking and it poisons everything. This debate may have only pitted Creation against Evolution, but it did not take much of a push until it was obvious that for many people it became a debate that pitted God against Evolution. There were an equal amount of people that "were praying for the soul of Bill Nye" as there were laughing at Ken Ham for believing in God. It was obvious that for many people accepting Evolution meant rejecting Jesus.
     For many Christians there is a belief which they have been indoctrinated with and they do not even realize it. For many Christians if one word of the Bible is wrong, the entirety of the Bible is wrong. Thus, Genesis must be entirely true. This runs under the false assumption that the writers of the Bible were conscious of the fact that they were writing the Bible. The Bible represents a variety of viewpoints that span a massive amount of time. Most of it being a form of truth that is entirely foreign to a modern understanding of the word "truth." The creation story is wonderful example of it. It is called Mythos, or Myth. This form of Myth is lost in today's world. It is a word for "story" that does not connote either reality or falsehood. It is a story that is a story. It relays what you want it to relay. Myth is truth, but not the truth that science finds. Genesis is a pure Myth. It is not that it is not true, but it is instead that it is a different way of thinking about what is true. From a Judeo-Christian perspective the Myth of creation represents the special connection humanity has with God. Taking it as as an actual moment in history makes no sense and actually takes away the real truth that is contained within the story.
     As Kenneth Miller said in his wonderful book Finding Darwin's God:
A strong and self-confident religious belief cannot forever pin its hopes on the desperate supposition that an entire branch of science is dramatically wrong, thereby to teeter always on the brink of logical destruction. To be sure, genuine faith requires from its adherents to trust in God, but it also demands a confidence in the power of the human mind to investigate, explore, and understand the evolving nature of God's world.
Ken Ham's Christianity makes Christianity something that is too far beyond reason ever comprehend in a modern world. It ignores context and refuses to acknowledge that people have not always thought the same way about life. It denies that Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Philosophy are valid. It stands in a room with nowhere else to go and flips the lights off in order to pretend that nothing else is true. Yet Ken Ham is more dangerous than that analogy because Ken Ham finds himself in a position of authority. When Ken Ham spoke last night he did not simply speak as a proponent of Creation Science, he spoke as a Christian who proclaimed that his stance was the stance of Christianity. When Ken Ham said that nothing could change his position simply because he is a Christian and that is what Christians believe, Christianity instantly lost the debate. What he damaged was the idea of the Christianity in thousands of watchers who were instantly brought into the incorrect dichotomy of Atheism or Christianity, Evolution or Creation.
     If what Ken Ham wants to call Christianity is to be understood as the Christianity then I must reluctantly join Mary Daly in walking out of the Church, giving up on Christianity, and denying that anything fruitful is left to be found within its sphere. I say reluctantly as I do not want to give up on something I think can be saved and is potentially beneficial to people. I do not even want to be a heretic in this form of Christianity, simply because it connects me to it. Creation Science has been discredited in both science and popular culture. However, a debate such as this one lent credibility not to Creation Science, but to Ken Ham's Christianity, which is the stereotype Christianity. The moment that fundamentalism was able to take center stage and call itself the one, true Christianity (as if there is such a thing), Christianity, in all its forms, lost the debate.  

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