Lessons from the Science Guy

Bill Nye “the Science Guy” recently created a lot of hubbub when he suggested that folks who deny evolution and teach kids to do the same are holding back our society. Here’s a snippet of Nye’s comments:

 “And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can — we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”

Nye went on to say that creationism (his exact words: “that worldview”) won’t exist in a couple of centuries since there is no evidence for it.

Guess what. The Science Guy is right … at least about two things. First, as Christians, we must be “scientifically literate” people and increasingly so. When we affirm, admire and explore scientific processes, we might find ourselves in the midst of something sacred. We might immerse ourselves in the infinite mysteries of God’s creation. Even more sacred, we might align ourselves with these mysterious processes, and we might help life to flourish.

Second, and more specifically, Bill is right that we cannot categorically deny evolution just as we can’t and shouldn’t deny the Big Bang theory. When we do, we claim access to Imagination that exceeds the bounds of our understanding. In so many ways, we have forgotten a fundamental principle about our beliefs: that God is transcendently creative and powerful and caring and just such that words like “transcendently” and “creative” and “powerful” and “caring” and “just” are offensive to God’s otherness. What we see before us on a daily basis could be attributed to both the Big Bang and evolution. And the Big Bang and evolution could be attributed to God. In my mind, there’s good evidence for both.

This brings us to where, I think, the Science Guy has missed the mark a bit. Christianity is changing as rapidly as many other facets of our globalized culture. Yes, there are scores of Christians who interpret Genesis 1 literally and affirm that God created the world and humankind out of nothing in 168 hours. And there are also a great number of Christians who would engage the Big Bang and evolution as probable pieces of God’s creative puzzle. While I belong more to the second group, I am more committed to the reality that, as Rich Mullins said, God is right, and we’re just guessing.

Unfortunately, throughout Christianity’s dynamic history, up to our own time, we as Christians haven’t proclaimed, God is right, and we’re just guessing; instead we’ve shouted, I am right … and God is too. That being said, we need to grow as spiritually literate people; people who crave humility; who pray and meditate on God’s word daily; who seek to be changed by Jesus’ countercultural way; who hope to permanently transform suffering; people who, as Bill Nye said, build stuff and solve problems. If we grow in these ways, we might then understand how important and worthwhile it is for us to be scientifically literate. And then, who knows, creationism may not die out. It might evolve.

Thanks to the Science Guy.

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