A large portion of the Internet is buzzing about tonight’s big debate between Ken Ham, the Answers in Genesis guy, and Bill Nye, the Science Guy… guy. And of that large portion, two swathes of Internet are taking their usual sides and hoping to see theirs prevail tonight. The usual sides, to oversimplify, go like this…
“Six-day creation is literal fact! Evolution is bunk and a lie!”
“Evolution is sound science! There is no such thing as God!”
Basically, the two swathes of Internet engaged in this timeless shouting match have one passionate viewpoint in common: one side must win completely, and the other must lose completely. Either evolution is valid, or God is.
So, these two swathes of Internet might ask me, which one do I hold to be valid? My answer: Both.
To me, saying “evolution happened” and saying “God did it” don’t have to be as mutually exclusive as these two swathes of Internet would have you think. I consider it far more awesome and humbling and mind-blowing to think that God used the intricate processes of evolution, in which everything had to go just so over eons, to arrive at what life, the universe and everything looks like today – knowing, at the beginning of that process, exactly what life, the universe and everything would look like today.
But, you might ask if you’re part of one of the dueling factions, doesn’t the idea of evolution negate the idea of God, or the idea of God negate the idea of evolution? Aren’t they two contradictory answers to the same question? Not in my mind, no, they’re not.
Think of a game of Clue. If I say it was Mrs. Peacock in the den with the lead pipe, I’m not contradicting myself. I’m answering three different questions: who did it, where did it happen, what was the weapon. And all of the questions are important, because I need to answer all three in order to win the game.
Science, like evolution and cosmology, addresses questions like “how” and “when.” Theology, like arguments on the existence and power of God, addresses questions like “who” and “why.” The answer to how does not contradict the answer to who, because they’re different questions altogether. Saying God engineered and used evolution is no more contradictory than saying Mrs. Peacock used the lead pipe.
Now, you might disagree with one of the answers. You might be a Biblical literalist and believe the answer to “when” is “a few thousand years ago.” Or you might be an atheist and believe the answer to “who” is “no one.” But disagreement is not the same as contradiction… and disagreement is where healthy debate comes from, and where passionate faith comes from, and where dedicated research comes from.
So the best outcome of tonight’s Ham-on-Nye showdown, to me, would not be one winner and one loser; it would be two men disagreeing respectfully and two swathes of Internet following that example.
(P.S. If you really must pin me down to picking a side – fine, Bill Nye, because I’m not a Biblical literalist. But pinning me down defeats the point of this ramble. And besides, it totally steals Mrs. Peacock’s thunder, and that’s just not nice.)