Bill Nye, Creationism, and Our Take
Bill Nye (yes, the science guy) has received some attention for his recent comments on evolution and creationism. We appreciate and commend Mr. Nye’s passion for science and learning; indeed, his concerns for academic honesty, scientific coherence, and, even more significantly, the future of our children’s intellectual welfare, are deserving of our admiration. Our concern, however, lies with the all-too-familiar rhetoric of polarization. When these two accounts are placed in fundamental opposition as though they represent totally contrasting philosophies on life (notice Nye’s use of the term “worldview”), people typically perceive them as foes without any mutual concerns. Is it any wonder, then, that some Evolutionary Creationists have accused Young Earth Creationists of dissenting into “cultic groups” all because they don’t adhere to the supposed authority of “reason”? (Whose reason are we referring to, anyway? And who deemed it canonical?) And isn’t it typical, given this polarization, that some Young Earthers often conflate evolutionary theory with naturalism (an actual worldview), such that an evolutionist cannot possibly be thought of as a Christian? Imagine the predicament for the church: an Evolutionary Creationist sits in her church pew on Sunday, and during the moment at which the congregation passes the peace, she glances over at her neighbor, a Young Earth Creationist. Now what? Will the saintly evolutionist have communion with the cult-follower? And will the saintly Young Earther pass the peace with the pagan? Apparently they’ve forgotten the brotherhood and sisterhood they share by virtue of their baptisms. What a tragedy. We believe Young Earthers hold some theological concerns that Mr. Nye has neglected to mention (or, perhaps, that he doesn’t understand). This is not an insignificant claim, because many of these theological concerns are shared by Evolutionary Creationists. What’s more, these theological insights can speak to science. If the universe is held together by Jesus and infused with His divine presence, we need not and should not say that science alone has a monopoly on nature. Rather, since Jesus is always “behind” the details of nature, theology necessarily informs our explorations of this universe. That is why Stephen Jay Gould’s “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” – the notion that science and religion have autonomous and separate “domains” – is simply untenable for Christians who believe nature is held together and infused by Jesus. While Nye believes the rejection of evolution renders one’s worldview a silly “mystery,” we would submit that Christians – YECs and ECs alike – already believe the world is undergirded by the Mystery and points beyond to the Mystery. If this is true, then Nye’s criteria for knowledge should be called into question. Finally, Evolutionary Creationism is not a worldview, nor is Young Earth Creationism. Despite what Mr. Nye says about worldviews hinging upon scientific outlooks, Christians’ worldviews are shaped by the Spirit-infused practices of the church (i.e., our worshipping practices). In fact, those practices are our worldview; passing the peace and sharing the communion table mark a proclamation and embodiment of the truth that all things hold together in Christ. And as Todd Wood, a Young Earth Creationist, has recently said, the embodiment of this truth often takes the form of surrender. While the principalities and powers try to pry apart YECs and ECs into partisan categories, we believe Jesus draws all things to himself, including seemingly contradictory insights. To hold to the mystery of the faith, as Paul tells Timothy, is to expect the Spirit to surprise us. In the end, we might be surprised to find that the Truth encompasses insights we’d previously fashioned into enemies. As YECs and ECs pass the peace and embrace the mystery, may the Spirit surprise us with a new thing.