When scientist Bill Nye debated Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis on creationism and evolution, both men were asked what it would take to change their stances. The answers could not be more different: Nye answered, “Evidence,” while Ham curtly responded, “Nothing.”
In other words, no amount of contradictory evidence would move Ham to accept any creation narrative other than what the book of Genesis presents – and that account is to be taken literally.
Like many people who come to faith in adulthood, my scientific knowledge of the earth was more or less grounded: I certainly don’t understand how everything works, but I understand and accept evolution. Why? Evidence. And because my draw to Christianity had to do with grandiose ideas of ultimate redemption and a personal savior, I saw no need to scrutinize Genesis first to see if I could make my scientific knowledge fit before embracing the Christian label.
Quite honestly, I’m thankful that it happened this way: science first, theology second. I know a few atheists whose journey out of faith began when confronted with the evidence for evolution, and finding that evidence in favor of literal six-day creation came up short. The scientist starts with a hypothesis, and adjusts the hypothesis based on contradictory evidence. People like Ken Ham do the exact opposite: if it contradicts the Bible, they throw it out, no further investigation necessary. This does not seem like intellectual integrity. Furthermore, if the only way to keep your beliefs is to make sure they are never challenged, ever, you have a problem.
If you couldn’t guess it already, I’m not a part of the “God said it; I believe it; that settles it” crowd. I like knowing reasons for things. I like not looking like a moron if someone asks me why I believe what I do. But if I’m completely honest, I have to explain that Christianity won me over on emotional appeals rather than physical ones. And my ability to keep my faith rests more on whether a man who claimed to be the Messiah died and rose from the grave than anything else. Does evolution really mean there’s no way that Jesus rose from the dead? (If it helps sway your opinion, Timothy Keller, theologian and author of The Reason for God, argues exactly that)
To me, that grave being empty after three days is a bigger crux than how the world began, thousands of years before any of the prophecies were written. That is what I take on faith – no one has ever proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the resurrection did not happen. But we do have a plethora of evidence for evolution, and it’s a bit insulting that people like Ham insist we must check reason at the door before we can claim Christianity.
If you have ever had to pit reason against faith, I’m curious to hear your stories.