Creationists vs. Bill Nye the Science Guy

Jason Micheli —  September 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sounds like my sermon Sunday was timely, if I do say so myself. Here is story from the Huffington Post about Bill Nye weighing in on creationism’s harmful effects on American education and taking aim at lawmakers who, trying to score political points, who advocate such measures in education.

On a related note, I received this from a friend in the church this weekend:

I wanted to reply to your recent posting about creationism. As a scientist (with a PhD in biomedical engineering) and a Christian, I sometimes get questions about this.  Non-believers wonder where I fall on this issue, and how I can reconcile my scientific training with my belief.  I wish I had better replies to them, but I tend to fall back to a few thoughts:
 
(1) Evolution happens. It’s the way that living organisms change to adapt to their environment.  To say that I “believe in evolution” doesn’t mean I necessarily think humans arose from more primitive creatures. Humans have evolved over time (gotten taller, changes in bone structure, etc.) just as creatures have evolved (to develop better ways of catching food, swimming in rivers, etc.). The recent news story (I read it yesterday?) of how a bacterium strain evolved over thousands of generations (which took days/months) to adapt to life in a petri dish was fascinating.  IMHO, to say that “evolution isn’t true” would deny the outstanding science that went into such an experiment and also deny the ability/will of God to give living organisms the ability to change.
 
(2) I think the Genesis story is a narrative, but not literally true. For example, how do we know how long a “day” was? Could a “day” even be measured or defined before the sun was created?  Humans have defined what a “day” means, not God. I think that a “day” in the story of Genesis could be thousands or millions of years.  I don’t give much weight to some folks’ argument that the Genesis story gives discrete measures of time and thus they know the true age of the planet.
 
(3) I think the “big bang” (if there was one) was the start of God’s creation process. It hard to start with something, and I don’t know how someone could prove that it wasn’t with God.
 
(4) I do believe that God created humans in God’s image, and that it led to all the glorious diversity that we humans exhibit. God gave us the ability to change, to adapt, and to alter our environments, which leads to further change in the world around us.
 
Thus, I can believe both that God created the world and that evolution is a real phenomenon.  Dinosaurs fit in there somewhere too.  🙂

It’s listening to testimony from scientists like her that makes me think creationism leaves us with the following options:

1. Sincere (even devout) scientists like her are all, collectively and willfully misleading us about the nature of the world and centuries of scientific discovery. 

2. God deliberately deceives us by creating a natural world that points to things like a Big Bang and evolution. 

3. Sin is so strong and pervasive our ability to study the natural world and arrive at sound conclusions is impaired. 

Option #1 seems paranoid at best. 

Option #2 seems to render us a God with little resemblance to the God of Jesus Christ. 

Option #3 seems to believe that the power of Sin is greater than the power of grace- as though Jesus did not die on the Cross and did not defeat Sin. 

To my mind, none of these seem as reasonable as concluding that Genesis seeks confess something of who God is not how (or when) God did something. Listening to Genesis read in church 4 different times this weekend, it becomes obvious what the text is meant to do rhetorically. The phrases ‘God created’ and ‘it was good’ repeat like crazy. This is the point of the story.

 

 

Jason Micheli

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