Losing The Creation Debate By Asking The Wrong Questions

I was more of a Mr. Wizzard sort of kid.

I was more of a Mr. Wizard sort of kid….

I don’t care who won the “Creation Debate” between Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and Ken Ham (The head of Kentucky’s $29 Million “Creation Museum,” but also famous for having an incredibly un-kosher name) that took place last night. Normally, I am all about this sort of thing–this interesting intersection of faith and science–but I really couldn’t care less about the “winner” of this whole spectacle. Trying to decide on a winner between faith and science is like trying to decide which a child REALLY needs–Does she need food and water, or does she need love…. I reject the question.

Anyone who wears that tie can't be THAT smart....

Anyone who wears that tie can’t be THAT smart….

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t buy into the idea that the numbers in the Bible were somehow meant to give modern people a perfectly factual account of how many people there were, exactly how long they lived, and precisely how old the earth is. But even though I believe this way of looking at the Bible (demanding rigid inerrancy, which I wrote a bit about HERE) is as harmful for the Church as it is ignorant, it doesn’t mean that a “creationist” view like the one held by Ken Ham is impossible. It’s very possible. If we’re dealing with the possibility of a God who has the power to create something out of nothing, then it stands to reason that this same God could possibly create a world with dinosaur bones already in it to test our faith. He could create a tree with rings in its trunk. There are billions of stars that are billions of light-years away that seem to be revealing their age, but it’s possible that he created the universe 6000 or so years ago with that light already hitting our eyes…. To try to trick us. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s possible.

Wait.... Raptor? I thought it was RAPTURE!?!

Wait…. Raptor? I thought it was RAPTURE!!

In the Bible, Jesus told many stories. One time, when a Jewish man asked him “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus said, “A man was walking down this road to Jericho…. He got robbed and beat up and left for dead. A priest (a good Jew) passed without helping, a Levite (another good Jew) passed by as well, but a Samaritan (whom the Jews hated) was moved with compassion and helped him. Which one was a neighbor to him?” ~ Luke 10:30-36 ABV (the Abridged Boeskool Version) Now listen–If you read this story and then go out looking for archeological evidence of this specific robbery on the road to Jericho, you are missing the damn point! The point of a story like this is to let it change you. The point is to let its truth become a part of you. To ask yourself “Where is God in this story?” And, maybe more importantly, “Where am I in this story?” “What happened? Why does it matter? How am I different?”

Is it a circle or a square? Yes. Yes it is....

Is it a circle or a square? Yes. Yes it is….

But here we are, discussing who “won” a silly creation debate that took place in a building that has been rightly described as “a monument to scientific illiteracy.” And when we focus on trying to find a winner, we all lose. Once again, the world has given us a choice between faith and science–Between reason and religion, as if we have to choose one or the other. But this false choice just reinforces the narrative that in order to follow Jesus, we must check our brains at the door. If the answer is either faith or science, once again–I reject the question. Both podiums in this debate were looking for the truth, but they both defined “the truth” in terms of numbers and math…. When the life-changing, WORLD-changing truth that the Bible reveals has always been the sort of truth that asks the question, “Where am I in this story?”

I’ve been married now for almost 12 years. It didn’t take me long after I’d met my wife for me to figure out that I loved her. She has taught me so many things since I have known her. She shows me how to be more considerate. She reminds me to let other people talk. She taught me to wash my hands. She teaches me every day how to be more patient and loving to our kids. But I think most importantly, she’s CONVINCED me that she loves me–despite the sometimes painful realizations that I still have a whole lot of crap to work on. Now, let’s say that she writes down some directions, and it’s really 12 miles to the intersection instead of 10 miles (like she wrote). Let’s say she told me that she dated that guy in high school for a year, but it was really closer to two. Let’s say she claimed her great grandmother immigrated to the US, but it was really her great GREAT grandmother. Imagine what a fool I’d have to be to let some small things like this make me question whether she ever truly loved me in the first place…. Where are you in this story?

***The absolute best thing I have ever read regarding this whole issue of Biblical Inerrancy and understanding what the Bible actually IS, is a Tumblr by Rob Bell called “What Is The Bible?”  It is accessible and plain and funny and true. Start at the first one, and read it all the way to the end. It’s fantastic.

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23 Responses to Losing The Creation Debate By Asking The Wrong Questions

  1. Barbara says:

    I have never understood why science and religion had to be separate. Actually I was taught that science was man figuring out how God created everything. There was an expectation that everyone believed in God and we all needed to learn how things worked. But I am old and did not grow up in the southern US. What I have seen happening over the years is an increasing polarization in every aspect of our society. You have to choose a side and you have to believe a certain way. If you are a Christian then you must be narrow minded. If you believe in science then you hate God. How exhausting this all is.

    • theboeskool says:

      Yes. Exhausting. I get that rigid literalism works for some people…. What I’m not okay with is the idea that unless a person holds the same sort of beliefs, that person doesn’t “really believe.” Churches that are all “My way or the highway” about this Young Earth Creation/Literalism/Inerrancy issue end up forcing educated people (many of them young and deeply desiring a connection with God) to say, “I’ll take the highway, thanks….”

      And that’s not okay.

    • I like your post. I wanted to let you know. It has given me a new idea, and something to think about.

      & @theboeskool I eat up your words. I just wrote an essay on gay rights quoting you today.

  2. I live in an academic town. Big university. There is a strong emphasis on the sciences. Some of them have Nobel Prizes. My church has more than its fair share of rocket scientists, chemists, physicists, professors of those sciences. We have had Christian geniuses, professors, astronomers, pass through for their University education. My own Christian children have grown to teach high school math and sciences, and work at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. Part of the purpose of Genesis is to explain where we came from because every sentient being asks that question sometime. Not just the self-centered 20th and 21st centuries but the rest of the 5,500 years of recorded humanity . Would it have helped them to explain that there is an ever expanding universe that started from a mysterious BIG BANG? You can be the judge of that. He is a loving, creative, intentional God who who wants us to know he has had a plan right from the start.

    • theboeskool says:

      That whole “God has a plan” thing can get pretty mysterious as well, but I get what you’re saying. 🙂

    • joesantus says:

      “Would it have helped them to explain that there is an ever expanding universe that started from a mysterious BIG BANG? You can be the judge of that.”

      If “God” had indeed began an expanding universe with a Big Bang, then why would it have been LESS help to people 5,500 years ago for “God” to have stated so, whether they comprehended that “revelation” or not? How would including such an explanation have HURT people 5,500 years ago?

      Why would an allegedly “loving, creative, intentional God who who wants us to know he has had a plan right from the start” omit even a succinct statement of such an origins truth, in the face of the controversy his alleged omni-prescience would mean “he” foreknew would result millenia later by its omission?

      I judge the resultant potential for origins controversy as evidence of the unreliability of the text, and therefore as lack of evidence for its “theopneustos” and consequently for the existence of the deity it describes.

      • This is not the only controversy. And certainly not the most important. There are many who have thrown the bible out for lesser reasons. The bible will not answer all your questions. That isn’t the point. The account of the origins was written by a different time and culture not for the purpose of proving a scientific curiosity but to provide spiritual direction. That is the point of the article.

      • joesantus says:

        “This is not the only controversy. And certainly not the most important. There are many who have thrown the bible out for lesser reasons.”

        Agreed, the origins controversy is not the only nor the most important controversy, at least not to me. It’s not the controversy nor the reason for which I dismissed the Bible.

        “The bible will not answer all your questions.”

        Agreed, that the Bible does not answer all of my (nor perhaps many people’s) questions. However, while that conclusion is reached and subsequently stated by those who attempt to find every question answered, does the Bible itself anywhere express that this is the case? Can you cite passages from the Bible text which explicitly states that it itself will not answer all my questions?

        “That isn’t the point. The account of the origins was written by a different time and culture not for the purpose of proving a scientific curiosity but to provide spiritual direction.”

        1.) Can you cite the Bible text which expressly or even indirectly cautions the reader against expecting or deriving scientific truths or naturalistic facts from the Bible?
        2.) Can you cite the Bible text which expressly or even indirectly informs the reader that “different time and culture” was allowed to override scientific and natural realities as the text was written?

        “That is the point of the article.”
        Agreed. But, that point depends upon a premise, that premise being that the Bible is not to be relied upon for scientific accuracy. That the Bible is not is, obviously, the viewpoint of the article (a viewpoint which reflects a particular interpretation of the Bible). However, where does the Bible itself say it is not to be relied upon for, nor to be expected to be a source of, scienctific accuracy?

      • joesantus says:

        By the way…I’m not a scientist, nor academic. I’m not even a college graduate. I’m a 59-year-old, 35-year-married, father-of-six-kids, blue-collar self-employed building contractor who lives in a very rural part of Tennessee.

      • joesantus says:

        …meaning, essentially, that you have no basis from the Bible itself for evidencing that the Bible is not nor was ever intended to be reliable for scientific accuracy; nor, that, as the article you linked offers, is ultimately reliable at all?

        “Our faith in God is not built on the authority and perfection of the Bible–It is built on the authority and the perfection of Jesus Christ, and the continuing revelation of His Holy Spirit.”

        Assuming that is likewise your own position…from where, then, do you obtain your information that “faith…is built on the authority and perfection of Jesus Christ”? From where or what source did and do you obtain that “fact”?

      • theboeskool says:

        Great. Fine…. Your idea of “perfection” is based on a non-hebraic understanding of duality and the nature of God. It is all Greek. Also, you using the Bible as the sole judge of itself doesn’t make sense by that same Greek understanding. But whatever. Even if you WERE seeking after the truth, with the things you are saying, I’d say you are about 5-10 years away from getting this. And I don’t have that kind of time….

      • joesantus says:

        …meaning, therefore, that your “faith” is simply arbitrary — it’s simply whatever you’ve decided to believe is “truth” and is based upon nothing?

        And, meaning that, whatever you offer to your readers is ultimately no more than your own arbitrary ideas, based upon no more than your personal imaginings?

      • theboeskool says:

        Do you use reason to decide that the Bible is the end all/be all of understanding God?

        Is your reasoning infallible?

        It turns out you ideas about Biblical inerrancy are as arbitrary as mine.

        And that SHOULD settle it, but something tells me it won’t. Again…. 5-10 years.

      • joesantus says:

        Seems you neglected to read and consider all my posts on this thread before commenting?

        I do NOT accept the Bible as inerrant. I don’t accept it as “divine revelation” in any sense. I am not a “Christian” nor any other supernatural profession.

        I’m not making claims nor assertions — rather, I’m asking you (and, so you’re aware, I do understand the distinctions between Hebrew and Greek views of revelation, of divinity, of man, of duality) how, if your source of “knowing God/Jesus” is not based upon, say, a reliable “inerrant” text (as is claimed by fundamentalists)…then, how are you certain upon which basis to “know God” at all? How, for instance, do YOU know which viewpoint, the Hebraic or the Platonic, is the one through which to know God? HOW have you come to certainty concerning which avenue is correct?

      • joesantus says:

        …by the way…lol…I think you’re 5-10 years behind me in ultimately understanding what you finally will.

  3. Martha_willis says:

    we lack linguistic finesse I think. Unlike you, too many people did not major in English in an institution capable of outfitting the verbal with some skills. Yea! Calvin. But it really was her grandmother, born in Finland, who immigrated as a 5 month old. Seriously.

  4. Michael Snow says:

    Both these guys have a B.S. Neither guy is well qualified to debate the science. It was a PR event for both. And Ham adds to what the Bible says. Most Christians do not accept his YEC view. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/
    Here was a recent debate by real scientists.
    http://www.thegreatgoddebate.org/#.UttJFEM6H-g.facebook

  5. kuu11 says:

    I have to say that your link to the rob bell stories was great. I havent read them all yet, but it will make for great reading in the next couple days. And I must say that he does have a good point, its really about perspective, understanding cultures and time eras, and the fact that we don’t have to take everything so literal. I mean at the end of the day, there is no concrete evidence on how the earth was created or where we came from, just guesses (good ones at that). I think at the end of the day we got have faith right, the idea that you just know something is there even if you don’t have the “scientific” evidence to back it up. (Love the Love analogy!)

    • theboeskool says:

      Thank you so much! I’d honestly way rather have people read Rob Bell’s Tumblr than my stuff, but thanks for the complement on the love analogy. 🙂

    • joesantus says:

      “I think at the end of the day we got have faith right, the idea that you just know something is there even if you don’t have the “scientific” evidence to back it up. (Love the Love analogy!)”

      I’ve been married for 35 years; I know my wife, Sally, loves me. How? Because I can see, hear, touch (, and even smell and taste) her, so I have no reasonable doubt that she exists; and, because, with those same senses, I can observe her — and know that it is indeed her — behaving, doing, acting, and communicating toward me in ways that evidence love for me. I can also interact with her, including ask her questions and engage in discussions, and thereby experience continuous feedback from her.

      But if I had no direct sensation of Sally’s existence; and if I could never actually observe Sally doing nor saying anything towards me; nor ever dynamically engage with Sally in any interactive way…then what would you think if I declared, “I know Sally loves me — she exists and her love for me is there even if I have no substantial evidence to back it up”?

  6. joesantus says:

    “Now, let’s say that she writes down some directions, and it’s really 12 miles to the intersection instead of 10 miles (like she wrote). Let’s say she told me that she dated that guy in high school for a year, but it was really closer to two. Let’s say she claimed her great grandmother immigrated to the US, but it was really her great GREAT grandmother. Imagine what a fool I’d have to be to let some small things like this make me question whether she ever truly loved me in the first place…. Where are you in this story?”

    Now, let’s say you’ve discovered all these errors she’s given you.

    And, let’s say you’re in the identical situation with her that you’re in with the Bible text: that, you cannot actively discuss the apparent errors and inconsistencies with her, to try to discover why she communicated errors to you. You can’t interactively question her and thereby obtain further details nor corrections nor motives. You can’t observe her actual behaviors and attitudes. ALL you can do is assess her upon what she’s already said to you in the past. So, then:

    1) HOW do you know she didn’t deliberately lie to you? IF she deliberately lied to you, HOW can you trust her for everything you’ll need to as a life-partner? If she deliberately deceived you, then HOW can you be sure she DOES love you and isn’t merely tricking you into believing she does?

    2) IF she accidentally and/or sincerely misinformed you, then you realize that she’s fallible. Therefore, will you ALWAYS implicitly trust EVERYTHING else she says to you, or, won’t you recognize that, despite her sincerity and honesty, you need to be aware that anything she says might be erroneous? If you know she’s unreliable on many things, can you rely on her for important things? For example — if she gives you directions to an important appointment, will you just assume the directions are correct if it’s vital to your career that you arrive and on time?

    How you relate to a person you know face-to-face in and through an on-going dynamic interaction and communication is quite distinct from “knowing” someone you’ve never even seen through the static of a text.
    Giving the benefit of the doubt to a text that obviously misinforms you and paralleling that to giving the benefit of the doubt to a person whom you can observe and with whom you can converse — isn’t that comparing apples to ant lions?

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