So this week has been full of buzz regarding the relationship between faith/religion and science. For those of you sleeping under a rock, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis participated in a “debate” about creation (video here). I watched it and found it pretty interesting.
In fact, I received quite a few questions from people asking me for my thoughts. Quite frankly, I found the debate much better than what I was expecting. I’m not convinced either of the participants “slam dunked” the other and I disagree with both of them are significant aspects of their respective positions. Truth be told, I neither embrace Young Earth Creationism (YEC) or Theistic Evolution or Nye’s evolutionary position. I think it’s important to note that in the same way that there are a variety of positions found within Christianity regarding creation, there a variety of positions under the banner of “evolution.” That’s an important part of the discussion.
Well I’ve found that the Molt has something to say about creation. After all, he’s a systematics kind of guy, so it makes sense. What I appreciate about the Molt here is his fascination with science. That’s something I do not really share, but I realize that the connection between “faith” and “science” is an important connection and that in agreement with Ham, it’s perfectly legitimate to be a great scientist and hold to YEC. I also agree with Nye that being a faithful Christian need not be attached to YEC. Here, I’ll allow the Molt to share his thoughts concerning the relationship between theology and science in his own words
“From very early on, the theological discussion with scientists fascinated me. When I was a schoolboy I dreamed of studying mathematics and physics. When I was called up in 1943, at the age of 16, I was just reading Louis de Broglie’s book Matière et Lumière, which had recently appeared in German with a foreword by Werner Heisenberg. But then experiences of life and death in war and captivity overwhelmed me. Existential questions became more important than scientific ones, and these existential questions led me to theology. But for all that, the scientific questions were never forgotten. Unfortunately I never found the time to study physics thoroughly, either parallel to theology or afterwards. So in this respect I remained a dilettante, and am still so today—an amateur in the double sense of the word: though lacking professional expertise in the scientific field, science is nevertheless for me a subject of interest and delight. Later, I took every opportunity of entering as theologian into dialogue with scientists, read standard scientific books with interest, and tried to understand them. All this convinced me that theologians can learn something about God not just from the Bible but from ‘the book of nature’ too.” (Creation and Wisdom)
First, I appreciate that Molt sees theology and science as both being important and as something that he delights in. I appreciate that the Molt is a human here.
Second, I appreciate that the Molt is open and transparent in the fact that he is not a professional scientist. When I hear some people talk about faith and science, I often find myself wondering if they are aware of the fact that their undergraduate degree in marketing isn’t the same thing as a PhD in physics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting academic arrogance here. I’m just saying that there should be a little bit of humility when we converse on subjects that we may not have the best training on. Of course, one can have a PhD in a field that is built on a foundational idea that is shaky and has significant consequences. At any rate, I appreciate the Molt’s honesty here.
Third, I appreciate the Molt acknowledging that God can be revealed in addition to Scripture. This does not require that those two “revelations” conflict either, in my opinion. But I appreciate that the Molt clearly understands the implications of Romans 1:20. Now strict Fundamentalists who hold to a certain type of inerrancy will take issue with this, but the vast majority of Evangelicals will agree here.
Lastly, the Molt recognizes that there is good that can come from advocates of different positions talking to each other. I actually think Nye, whom I disagree with, certainly modeled that. And so did Ham.
And again, I was fairly surprised that Ham acknowledged some of the differences that are found in Christianity in regards to creation. He did a decent job of acknowledging that one can be a genuine Christian while also make sure to state his differences and why he believes that there are consequences to rejecting YEC. He also was, surprisingly, helpful in clarifying the hermeneutical issue of “literalism” that Nye kept mentioning.
So I was surprised. And I think the Molt, who would likely disagree with both of these two conversation partners, would still find it encouraging that the discussion took place.
And I hope a lot more take place beyond Nye and Ham. Maybe they can start here… 🙂
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Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.