The Person Who Was Missing From The Nye/Ham Debate

The internet has been a buzz after the “Creation Debate” between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis.  The debate focused on the question “is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

Ham is the founder of the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky which postulates the world was created how it is described in the book of Genesis and believes that the world is only 6000 or so years old (this model is known as Young Earth Creationist.)  Nye showed another side stating that science and evolution were the models of creation that should be accepted.

Both people gave their reasoned arguments in a bevy of pictures, graphs and charts.  They had their particular point of view and they were showing the world how they understood the world to work.  Ham is a Christian literalist and Nye is a Scientist.  Both are coming from completely different angles while looking at the same thing.  On one hand you have Ham trying to make the model of Creation found in the Bible fit the world around him and on the other you have Nye who uses the empirical method to be certain about his beliefs.  Both of these men were using their view to be the one that should be seen as true and authoritative.  Here in lies the problem.

Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) articulated the notion of perception when he wrote:

“Just as if A, B and C should each put on different colored glasses;  A puts on green spectacles, B yellow, and C blue; each one of them looks through his own glasses at a piece of white paper and concludes he is right, not remembering that he has his spectacles on.  Thus to A it appears green, to B yellow and to C blue.  They begin to argue on the subject, and it is impossible for any of them to convince another that he is wrong- each one feels a conviction next to absolute certainty that his opinion is right. But D, who has no spectacles on, and who is standing looking on during the contest very well knows that they are all wrong; he sees the spectacles on each man’s face and accounts for the difference.”[1]

Throughout the debate I could not help but to think that one person was missing: the person who doesn’t see religion and science as mutually exclusive.  Where was the person of faith who is OK with a bit of mystery in the world and OK with the notion that the world might not have been created in seven 24 hour days?

The problem with this type of debate is the same problem that people have with the political pundits in Washington: they are too polarizing.  Both sides think they have it figured out.  This is being played out in our society; a Gallup poll stated that 42% of voters claim to be Independent, while 31% affiliate with Democrats and 25% with the Republicans.  People more and more do not like to be “nailed down” in one camp or another.

Some of the biggest complaints I hear from people not in the church or those who recently left is that some churches have “it all figured out” and leave no room for questioning or growing or new ways of looking at something.  Learning, growing, shaping and forming our own ideals is something that we instill in children when we teach them critical thinking.  Why do people in some churches feel they have to become robots of their church or pastor and just spit out what they have been told to believe?

The creation debate more than likely didn’t change anyone’s mind about how the world came to be.  If anything those on either side felt their guy “won” and their view was shown in the best light.  Then there are those who struggle with faith and how the world works in harmony together.

They were left out.

The way I see it is that both Ham and Nye missed the mark.  Ham is using the Bible as a science book– the Bible is a book of faith and people’s experience with the Divine.  Nye did not leave any room for mystery and faith; it was charts, graphs, facts and figures.

There has to be a balance made.  Faith and Science do not have to be at odds with each other.  The debate was too focused on facts and not on mystery.  Where was the presenter who said “I’m not sure how this all happened, but I have faith?”

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


[1] Mark G. Toulouse, Joined in Discipleship: the Shaping of Contemporary Disciples Identity, rev. ed. (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1997), 42.

The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate

My latest article for the Orange Leader regarding the on going Chick-Fil-A Debate


It has been all over the news; talking heads from both sides of the aisle have taken to airwaves to voice their opinion  Argument have started between friends, feelings have been hurt, names have been called.   Hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook posts and Tweets have flown through the internet regarding a particular chicken sandwich company– Chick-Fil-A.

Recently, as you may recall, the owner of the national restaurant chain stated on a Atlanta radio show that his company was “guilty as charged” amid reports that he did not support same-sex marriage.  He further explained that he is running his company on Biblical principles and that society has no business trying to refine “traditional” marriage.

Reports have come out that support this; Chick-Fil-A has given millions to organizations who actively oppose same-sex marriages.  With all of these things combined, a firestorm broke out.  Some people are now boycotting the restaurant because they do not want their money to go to causes that discriminate against a certain group of people. Others however  are actually eating there more believing that the more they eat there, the larger the profit, which then in turn will cause Chic-Fil-A to give more money to anti same-sex marriage organizations.

Jim Henson has pulled their toys from kid’s meals at the restaurant. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have spoken publicly about this issue.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee has even started a “National Chick-Fil-A Day” to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to run their company how they want.  All of this is a gigantic mess.

The problem with the Chick-Fil-A debate is that it is just that, a debate.  People once again are choosing sides and are drawing metaphoric lines in the sand and people are hurling their “points of view” back and forth and back and forth.  No one is actually speaking to one another.  The anonymity of the internet and social media is one of the greatest tools that people have in this or any debate.  Someone can post something online with no regard to another person.  It is much easier to speak your mind when there is a monitor between you and the one you are speaking about.  Since no one is speaking to one another how then will a decent, intelligent conversation ever be had regarding the multitude of issues in this particular story?  The answer- it will not happen.

The hot button issue obviously here is same sex marriage.  This is something that people have been debating for years and still each side is getting angrier and angrier.  Where are the civic leaders calling for a forum?  Where are the church leaders calling for a discussion on this topic?  The answer lies deep within our own hearts, minds and souls.  The answer is most people do not want to hear the other side.  This side believes they are correct while this side believes they are correct.

Some churches recently have taken up the task of having faithful discussion about homosexuality and same sex marriage.  I applaud them for at least having the discussion.  Many more churches and Christians need to have this same discussion.  Too often when people tell me their view about this issue the answer generally is “well I am against it because it is wrong.”  No explanation, no interjection of scripture, no nothing.  It is just “their personal belief.”  Well it is time to have the conversation. I call on all Christians from all walks of life and backgrounds to have faithful conversations about this issue that is dividing the church.

By faithful I mean being open minded, wanting to be challenged, wanting to learn more, wanting to grow.  Not just espousing what you have been taught or what you think the Bible is directing Christians to do and become.  Christians today need to stop telling people what the Bible “says” and focus more on what Bible is calling the followers of Christ to become; let’s stop as Brian McLaren says going to the Bible to support want we already know about God.

The reason why people are not doing this is because to have this conversation means that one has to be vulnerable and accept the fact that what you might have been taught or always believed could be incorrect.  Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts Comics, once drew a comic that speaks to this notion.  Snoopy informs Charlie Brown that he is writing a book of theology; Charlie Brown asks Snoopy what the book will be titled and Snoopy replies, “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Wrong?”  For many people this thought of being “wrong” has never crossed their mind.

In this Chick-Fil-A debate the key here is discussion.  Not rhetoric, not partisan politics, not conservative Christians against liberal Christians.  It is time that the church stops placing people on the periphery, speaking about them like they are outcast in society or that they have a mental illness.  Let’s talk about it.  Let’s actually have a discussion on why homosexuality is or is not a big deal in the church today.  Let’s talk about a loving God creating people and then turning around and hating them.  Let’s throw away the things that we were taught as children and come to an understanding of the love of God in a new and exciting way.

So let’s put down the chicken sandwich, stop the protesting and debating and come together.  You might be surprised what will happen.