Following the Light is a series of blogs that point to the brights spots where I see renewal and rebirth in the world of religion and spirituality. The series will continue through the Christian season of Epiphany.
I just wish Ken Ham and Bill Nye could have sat down in their comfy chairs in a living room rather than standing firm at debate podiums. I’ve been looking for lights in religious discourse and practice during this Christian season of Epiphany. This light seems covered by too many clouds.
The debate between Bill Nye “the science guy” and Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, on evolution vs. creationism has probably been the biggest “religious” story on the airwaves this month. The story disappoints me, not inspires.
I am a Christian. I’ve even devoted my life to Christian ministry by taking the vows of an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. I’m one of those “progressive” Christians. Progressive Christians (most mainline Protestants) do not read the Bible in a literal, or fundamental way. I believe that the Bible was never intended to present historical or scientific facts. Rather it is a collection of stories collected over many, many years that try to get at a higher “truth” through the stories of regular people trying to do extraordinarily faithful things. They often fail miserably. Other times, they do remarkable things, in spite of themselves. I find incredible hope and inspiration in that.
I do not believe in creationism nor in evolution. They are theories to be explored, not absolute truths. The thing that most disappoints me about the Ham vs. Nye debate is the assumption that one or the other should “win.” The debate format, in and of itself, does not really sway anyone to believe new things. It merely allows us to listen for the “facts” that affirm whatever position you believed in the first place.
I’d rather have a much more complex conversation, one that weave together the expanse of religious traditions and the wonders of science in an awe-filled conversation about the universe and meaning. This is probably why I listen devotedly to On Being with Krista Tippett, a show aired on National Public Radio that explores meaning in the intersection between science, religion and art.
The light that bursts forth when the clouds part is when we set our ideologies aside and just have a conversation. Person to person.
Here’s some more viewing/reading about the debate:
- The full, official debate recording on YouTube.
- The Two Way Blogs on NPR, live reporting of the debate
- Pew Research — Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: Are religion and evolution at odds?
- 8 Points of Progressive Christianity