I am going to say something that may shock you: I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe in the Theory of Evolution. And I see no contradiction there. Despite what common knowledge and popular culture may insinuate about science versus religion, many churchgoing Christians have no objection to evolution or the Big Bang. Many of us find meaning and value in the Bible without taking it 100% literally. And many of us cringe when Christian fundamentalists start shoving their beliefs down everyone else’s throats.
This weekend, I sat down and watched the two and a half hour debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. The crux of the matter seems to be a question of authority. Do we trust the authority of God as presented in the Bible (specifically the English translation of the Bible), or do we trust the authority of human beings like Charles Darwin? At least this is the question Ham wants us to ask.
According to Ham, science is an effective tool for studying the world as it is today, but we cannot use it to study the past because in the past the laws of physics and nature might have been different. For example, how old is the Earth? We can’t use carbon dating to determine the age of our planet because the radioactive decay chain of carbon 14 might have been different a few thousand years ago. We can’t ask astronomers to measure the age of the universe because the speed of light might have somehow changed. According to Ham, we can’t even trust tree rings to tell us how old a tree is.
Science is apparently so unreliable that we can’t really know anything for certain, Ham tells us, so we should all just accept a literal interpretation of the Bible. After all, the Bible is the infallible word of God. We know this because it says so in the Bible!
If you have any doubt that creationism or intelligent design or whatever it’s called these days is not a subversive attempt to teach religion in science class, please watch this debate. Take note of how difficult it is for Ham to stay on topic. Notice how often he strays from the “science” of creationism into a diatribe on how Christ died for our sins, how gay marriage is wrong, and how God will reveal Himself only to His true believers. Bill Nye showed up for a debate on science. Ken Ham wanted to talk about other things.
As for Christians like myself who acknowledge evolution, Ham says that we “have a problem.” I mentioned earlier that the crux of the matter is a question of authority. Ham described the debate as a debate between the authority of God and the authority of Man, but that is not so. This was a debate between the authority of Man—specifically one man named Ken Ham—and the authority of science. And whenever one man claims to speak for God, claims to know God’s mind and understand His intentions—and whenever that man throws the Bible at anyone who would dare to disagree—yes, I “have a problem” with that.