I would assume many of you who follow or read this blog know about the debate that took place Tuesday night between Bill Nye and Ken Ham at the Museum for Creation Science in Petersburg, Kentucky. The event was well attended and live-streamed on the Internet. Bill Nye represented a side that said the earth came into being through a multi-billion year process, whereas Ken Ham argued that the earth came into being through a six-day creative process invoked by the God of “The Bible.” Both sides outlined their viewpoint, articulated their evidence (as they saw it), and probably didn’t convince anyone listening of anything new. I would guess that most people watching were already set on how they felt.
I suspect most Unitarian Universalists went to bed feeling that Bill Nye articulated well the right view and probably won the debate, as I suspect evangelical Christians went to bed feeling the same thing toward Ken Ham.
That doesn’t mean the debate was fruitless. Both debaters acted civilly toward one another and articulated clearly their views. It is necessary to model communication without name-calling and fighting.
But I got something else out of the debate. My questions for Ham would have come from the realm of theology not science, in fact it didn’t sound as if Ham was conversant with the Hebrew text, and when converting theology to science you might as well start with the original text. But the problem is when anyone tries to fit theological text into a scientific mold, we lose something very important–soul. In fact turning Genesis into a scientific text waters down the great theology that can be derived.
Genesis 1 and 2 is a piece of beautifully crafted literature. The words were not chosen simply or quickly. There was redaction and obvious work done to weave the beauty of humanity, ethics, and morality into the world. Humanity is created in this story and placed into an important role–that of steward. We were made, planted onto this earth to care for it, the world was good, we were good, and when we are good, good things happen. But the flood teaches us that the world will reflect our work–even when the work is not so good.
The first chapter of the creation story actually tells a wonderful story about the conversion of chaos into beauty. When I first read the story in Hebrew, it reminded me of something Michelangelo had said about sculpting marble. He didn’t add things, he just removed the parts that weren’t supposed to be there. In the creation story, life is art. I will never forget the first time I read the creation story in Hebrew–it completely changed my understanding.
It wasn’t about days, it was about hearts; it wasn’t about structures, it was about majesty; it wasn’t about science, it was about soul. I can theologically argue why I think this text is being misused, but I fear if I do that I become part of the problem.
In Genesis, God breathes into our nostrils, into our souls, makes us special, pointing out that the spirit of life is our spirit, and the poetry of our days remind us that all good things require work. That is just fine for someone like me.