The Televised Revolution: Creation vs. Evolution

February 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

I suspect that few people were actually glued to their TV sets on Tuesday night when Bill Nye and Ken Ham took the stage to debate the viability of Creationism. In fact, I would suspect that more people took notice of the hype leading up to the event than the event itself. I am among those people.

In thirteen years I have worked in a wide variety of roles on the campuses of three different Christian colleges. I attended two seminaries. In each of these places the stated “official” stance on Creation was unique. Within the ranks of various faculty members and departments one would find some holding to a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, while others preferred a framework theory. I know godly men and women who believe in a literal Adam and Eve and others, equally as godly, who don’t. I have worked alongside numerous Christian colleagues who believe in microevolution and others who defend macroevolution. I had professors who taught that the creation account was more mythology than fact, and others who suggested that interpreting the book of Genesis rightly was actually a matter of eternal salvation. I count all of them among my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are members of my family.
Unfortunately, the evangelical church (of which I count myself) has often erred on the side of “majoring in the minors,” growing increasingly concerned with peripheral issues of little importance and even less clarity, rather than boldly linking arms to accomplish the work for which the church was called into existence to accomplish. The church was not created primarily to develop and protect dogma (although I do not dismiss the importance and necessity of this task), but to develop and disciple people who do not know God as their Father, and invite them home to their true family.
This week at Toccoa Falls College we finished a three-day World Outreach Conference. On Tuesday night when Nye and Ham were slugging it out on the national stage, we were praying for unreached and unengaged people around the globe who have never heard the name “Jesus,” and certainly do not know how to interpret the creation account of Genesis. The juxtaposition of the two events reminded me of a beautiful sermon preached once by Frederick Buechner in which he imagines a world where God has made his existence abundantly clear by writing messages in the stars, until a day comes when someone, staring into that same sky asks simply, “So what if God exists? What difference does that make?” The stars and their message evaporate, never to return. Buechner continues,

We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof we tend to want – scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubt once and for all – would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all. For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle that we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle we really get.

This is the true revelation the church needs to be televising, and it is the message I am certain a desperate and longing world is waiting to hear.