Last week we were treated to excellent content on the relationship between faith and science, first from Deacon Beth’s column and then the music, prayers, and Pastor Jim’s sermon in worship.
In our youth ministries we spent the month of January examining that same relationship, utilizing the experiences of some of our congregation’s scientists (THANKS Richard, Kathy, & Wally!). Add to that all the response to the recently televised “debate” between Bill Nye (TV’s The Science Guy) and Ken Ham, the young-Earth creationist and president of the Creation Museum, and you wind up with a whole lot of words shared on the topic.
My favorite blogger, Fred Clark has an extensive rundown of the Nye-Ham coverage.
Along with all these thoughts, I want to add an image, a quote, and a thought.
First, an image (from James McGrath) to sum up the Nye-Ham “debate”:
Now, the quote. I don’t always agree with the UMC’s Book of Discipline, but on this topic I find it exactly right:
science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.
The UMC also has a 2008 resolution opposing using “faith-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design” in public school science curriculums.
See, all this faith versus science stuff really comes down to how we understand (or misunderstand) the bible. UMC pastor and blogger, Roger Wolsey has a terrific post on how we read the bible. I think he describes my position very well.
The accounts – yes, plural – of creation in Genesis 1 & 2 aren’t trying to offer first-hand reporting of how the universe was created. That’s, of course, impossible. Also, those accounts were written millennia before the scientific method. It’s unhelpful, unfair, and, frankly, ridiculous to try to impose scientific standards on pre-scientific material. We just end up looking dumb when we do so. For instance, Genesis 1, when read (il)literally like Ken Ham does, would have us believe that plants grew before the sun was there. Even Middle School students know that’s impossible.
But I’m very glad we have the witness of Genesis 1 & 2. They may not be scientific statements, but they are significant in their own right.
They are very significant statements – by real people who lived in a particular time and, inescapably, had a particular understanding of how the world works – about what the world is like (spoiler alert: it’s good!) and what the Creator God is like. For instance – and I believe this is paramount – unlike the creation stories told by basically every other nation around them, our faith ancestors left us a creation story noticeably absent of war and rape. Instead, we have that rare depiction of a god who can create without violence of any kind. It is that rare depiction of a god who is intimately involved in, and related to, the world. It is that rare depiction of a god who wants not slaves, but lovers. And not just any kind of lovers, but lovers “made in our image.” That is, lovers in the image of the Triune God: engaged in mutual, egalitarian relationship.
A loving, egalitarian relationship extended to themselves, each other, all people – confoundingly, even their enemies – and to all of creation.
How’s that for a Valentine’s Day tie-in?