Ever since the Bill Nye-Ken Ham 'debate' last Tuesday night, I've struggled to figure out how I should react to my young-earth creationist brothers and sisters. Setting aside the scientific problems of young-earth creationism, I'm troubled by creationism's unwillingness to engage the biblical text critically and mystically (i.e., in what I consider to be a theologically responsible manner), as well as by its apparent ignorance of centuries of Christian interpretation of the text. Put simply, I don't comprehend the appeal of creationism. I really don't. Nothing about it makes theological sense to me.
This was why I tweeted the following on the night of the debate:
I normally advocate dialogue, but it seems to me that some positions (ie biblical literalism) are better isolated than engaged. Yes? No?Dialogue presumes that the other has something worthwhile to contribute, but it was not apparent to me that creationism has anything of value to say about God, the origin of the universe, or biblical interpretation. It seemed to me that Ken Ham's position was so theologically impoverished that it didn't merit comment, let alone debate.
— Greg Hillis (@gregorykhillis) February 4, 2014
Like I said, I'm not naturally an irenic person
But during the Ham-Nye debate I had a conversation with Michael Dougherty - well, as much as a conversation on Twitter allows - that was very helpful. Michael expressed frustration with the reaction of many Christians on Twitter to Ham and his ilk, noting that there seemed to be a distinctive Luke 18:11-esque "Thank God I'm not like them" superiority lurking behind the condemnatory tweets; he later elaborated on these thoughts in a piece for The Week that is worth reading.
All Christians are called to be "fools for Christ", which I interpret to mean that the logic of the cross for our understanding of God, human salvation, the church, and our way of being in the world will not make sense to the logic of a world characterized by categories of power and domination. Ham and his ilk may be 'fools' for the wrong reasons, but I have to admit that they're on to something.
Photo from Wikimedia commons.