Last night, around 11 pm, I finally decided to invest two and a half hours of my time listening to two very intelligent people verbally spar about the beginning of all things.
I was hoping for something new, something inspiring (from a Christian point of view). But in the end, I must admit, I felt disappointed with Ken Ham’s core arguments for creationism. As far a winning goes, I think the blue ribbon goes to Mr. Nye for the night. He certainly argued more convincingly his points, and the fact that he was a more engaging speaker didn’t hurt either.
So why am I writing this blog? Well, it’s not to hammer either of the participants, if that’s what you’re thinking. The truth is, I think 5 or 10 years from now, these conversations will mean significantly more than they do now. In the next decade or so, the way the American Christian responds to the intellect of the religious skeptic will factor greatly into the effectiveness of the evangelized gospel in this country. It’s already very different than it was a decade ago.
Where atheism, humanism, and anti-religion used to be dormant ponds, laying still and calm, they are now moving streams and rivers which gain velocity and momentum by the day. We are no longer facing a passive, intellectual opponent who is content to fly under the radar. The intellectual community has an agenda now. They want the best world possible. And for them, that means the removal of religion.
The Bible: Front and Center
Ken Ham made a lot of people happy last night, I’m sure. Traditional, “put your foot down” Christians were delighted to hear him stake his case in the Bible. They were delighted to hear the gospel story, the narration of God, Jesus, and salvation told on several occasions throughout the night. Indeed, for many, this debate was an opportunity to spread the gospel to folks who may not actually step foot in a local church. Ken may have even viewed it this way.
I can’t disagree about the opportunity, but the argument laid out by Ken showed a lack of understanding the fundamental starting point of the seeking scientist. It comes to this for them: the Bible isn’t enough.
This is a reality we must accept. We can’t make people feel guilty about not seeing the Bible as authoritative. We can’t spit out quote after quote from the Bible in hopes that they will change their minds about it’s authority. We must find a way to converse about biblical things in non-biblical ways, or face the inevitable ineffectiveness of our evangelism.
This may sound like a compromise, but I don’t think so. The early “Acts” church did not have a “Bible” to read. The Jews may have had the stories from the Law, but the Gentiles certainly did not. And yet, the movement of God was uncontainable. In this debate, Ken tried to impose biblical authority on a subject matter to an audience to whom the Bible is not authoritative. That would be like me going to a court hearing in England and citing the Constitution in defense of my actions. That wouldn’t work because the Constitution in not seen as an authoritative document in England.
Benefit of the Doubt, or Lack Thereof
We have to realize that, as Christians, we give the mysteries of the Bible the benefit of the doubt. Where we lack understanding and clarity, we believe the God will reveal it in the right time, or that he does not deem it worthy to reveal. We see illogical, supernatural events in the Bible and we say, “That’s weird, but God can do anything.” But the atheists and scientific, intellectual skeptic does not grant the Bible such immunity. They cannot. Because, to them, The Bible is just another religious document among many. Why would they separate the biblical record from other religious documents, and their accounts? So then, discover and measurability become the only tools to find real truth in all the religious “faith” noise. Prediction, as Nye discussed, becomes a sort of “proof” of the truth of a discovery. And for the intellectual, these hard conclusions hold more sway than the soft, faith-based conclusions that lack measurables and tangible discovery.
This is the starting place from which the Christian must argue. Not standing directly on the biblical foundation, but indirectly standing on the Bible by way of observation, logic and discovery. I do realize this will only take us so far in the debate. At some point, faith must come into play.And I did think Ken Ham made some excellent points about the “faith” of the scientific discovery methods of the past. But I think the opportunity to really grab the attention and respect of the intellectual community was missed last night, which ironically, makes acceptance of the gospel even more difficult for them to receive.
We have to get this right soon, or we’re going to be digging ourselves out of a pretty deep hole. Deeper than the one we’ve already been building.
Did you listen to the debate? What did you think?
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