It’s not because I don’t believe God created the universe. He did.
It’s not because Bill Nye is not a childhood hero of mine who helped develop in me a love of science. He is.
From the moment I learned the debate would be happening, I knew I would not be able to stand it. I have not been able to stand looking at the torrent of tweets being written in anticipation of it. Yes, it was probably the strongest show of willpower I have exerted in quite a while to do anything except avert my eyes.
Maybe I failed as a Christian by not cheering my “team.” Maybe I failed as someone who is supposed to be “informed” about current events. But I’ll be honest, I think we are all poorer for this debate happening, not richer. We have not gained deeper knowledge, sounder wisdom, or greater insight.
This is why I wish the debate had never happened.
Teaching an Old Bible New Tricks
The debate, televised in front of the entire nation, represents a watershed moment for American Christianity.
For decades now, the wedge has been driven deeper, between “orthodox” Christianity and modern science. As science asks deeper and deeper questions about the universe, the average Christian has been confronted with a moral conflict between his faith in the scriptures and new scientific theories and discoveries.
The problem for the average Christian is that he has been taught to treat the Bible the same as he treats a science textbook. And when you do that, the Bible starts to look like a textbook from a 1950s classroom, complete with a laughably outdated filmstrip. The average Christian has not been taught to read the Bible in its true literary genre. The literary repetition, beauty and grace of Genesis plant it firmly in the category of prose. Yet, we make the text do somersaults and other logical gymnastics until we convince ourselves that it is science and is capable of disproving a modern scientific theory. And when we do that, every Christian loses.
While we’re at it, let’s debate the merits of the number “two” versus the color “purple.”
The Fallacy of “Inerrancy”
Every Christian has been losing for a while though, not just last night. Christians have been losing out on truth, ironically, since the modern movement of scriptural “inerrancy.”
See, “inerrancy” is just a word that was invented to combat Bible critics, liberals and evolutionists who weren’t so sure the Bible was accurate in all things. Some Christians dug in their heels and said “No! The Bible is completely true, accurate and complete in everything it says.”
The problem is the Bible never claims to be completely literal in all matters.
The Bible never spells out that God created the world in six literal days (because the assumption of the author was that the readers were literate enough to pick up on his literary symbolism.) The Bible never says the rain fell on Noah’s ark for forty literal days (forty happens to be an important symbolic number.)
No, these stories do not have to be literally true in order to be truthful about the truth they are intended to communicate. The stories are intended to communicate truth about God’s character. The stories are not meant to spark debate about the meaning of the number “forty” or the word “day,” but about God Almighty.
But here we are, the defenders of “truth,” who actually miss out on the truth of the scriptures. We have less truth because of our obsession with defending “truth,” truth that is trivial, tertiary, unimportant.
So, Has Anyone “Won?”
And so I cannot think of many things sadder than Creation being pitted against Evolution in a highly publicized debate. I am saddened by the thought of young Christians thinking, “If that’s what Christians believe, than I cannot call myself a Christian.”
I am saddened by Christians missing out on the real truth of the scriptures, because they are distracted by debates about specific days. I am saddened that Christians are taught primarily how to defend their faith rather than love their neighbors.
I am saddened by the fact that although Bill Nye is surely a good man, the world of Science needed no more than a children’s television actor to defend it against Creationism. That’s what happens when you make scripture do things it wasn’t designed to do.
And I think the saddest thing of all might be this fact: that though last night’s debate ended, the debate goes on, indefinitely. The greatest minds of both fields know well enough to stay out, while those left wrestling in the filthy ditches declare “victory” over their feeble-minded adversaries. The reality is, we all lost.
What do you think? Did you watch the debate? Was it worthwhile? Was there a “winner?”