DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Faith: An Excuse to Not Think?

Written by: on February 5, 2014

Just last night, February 4, Ken Ham (the creationist guy) and Bill Nye (the science guy), faced off in a debate at the creation museum in Hebron, Kentucky that was streamed over the internet.  The debate question was, “Is the creationist view of origins a viable view?”  My guess is that the debate did not change any minds; those on either side of the debate left on the same side they arrived.  I was very disappointed by the debate.  Ham quickly muddied the debate water by using the Bible as a scientific text while Nye attacked the creationist’s brand of science and lack of support from the larger christian community that do not adhere to a literal creationist viewpoint.
My disappointment was that a wonderful opportunity was lost to represent the Bible as the Word of God that tells the story of God’s relationship to all of creation, how sin entered the world, and the redemptive story that continues until this day.  Instead, he used the Bible as if it were a scientific text book, and when it did not suit his need, he reverted to a “blind faith” statement that pointed to the existence of God and that God was the source of his viewpoint.  I have a feeling that C.S. Lewis would have done a much better job as would have Charles Colson.  I am sure there are many more that would have done well.  One of the reporters who covered the debate wrote, “Nye may be the last to understand a point that seems to be circulating more widely these days: creationism is a political issue, not a scientific one, and throwing around scientific facts won’t dissuade those who don’t accept scientific authority in the first place.”*  Actually, Nye was lucky that his foe was only adept at listing the names of phDs who were creationists rather than to answer Nye’s objections.  In my opinion, Ham often resorted to a faith expression when he was unable to answer forthrightly the objections of Nye.  This is not an uncommon practice when unprepared or deficient persons are called upon to answer tough questions.  This is an example of the scandal of the evangelical mind.
Both of Koll’s books, The Scandal of The Evangelical Mind and Jesus Christ and The Life of The Mind, call Christians to take the development of the mind, the pursuit of intellectual excellence, seriously.  The thesis of the former is, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind”  (Pg. 3), and the thesis of the latter, “My contention in this book is that coming to know Christ provides the most basic possible motive for pursuing the tasks of human learning” (Kindle Location 22-24).  B. B. Warfield died in 1921 and few writings, according to Noll, rise to the kind that would put theology and science into “a satisfactory working relationship” by comparison to today’s “heated strife” regarding the question of origins controversy.  (Jesus Christ and The Life of The Mind.  Location 1311).
Noll asserts in his second book “The specific requirements for Christian scholarship all grow naturally from Christian worship inspired by such love: confidence in the ability to gain knowledge about the world because the world was brought into being through Jesus Christ; commitment to careful examination of the objects of study through “coming and seeing”; trust that good scholarship and faithful discipleship cannot ultimately conflict; humility from realizing that learning depends at every step on a merciful God; and gratitude in acknowledging that all good gifts come from above” (Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, Kindle Locations 1656-1659).  It is my contention that his statement that good scholarship and faithful discipleship cannot ultimately conflict is absolutely correct.  Therefore, one need not avoid the hard work of research and study and strenuous discipleship thinking that the former (or later) is in vain!  Truth can be and often is revealed through both channels and without conflict.  Further, it is my contention that the biggest culprit in the pursuit of sharpening the intellect is laziness and the second is the attempt to hide laziness for the sake of pride.  Maybe I am relating too much my own faults, so be it.  The Christian community is obligated to pursue intellectual integrity and excellence precisely in keeping with Noll’s comment, “Evangelical hesitation about scholarship in general or about pursuing learning wholeheartedly is, in other words, antithetical to the Christ-centered basis of evangelical faith” (Mark A. Noll. Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind (Kindle Locations 28-29). Kindle Edition.)

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David Toth

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