by Doctor Science
I said that I wasn't sure it was a good idea for Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham. I've thought about it, and I know who *should* debate him:
Fred Clark, the Slacktivist. Fred, an evangelical Christian (though of a liberal stripe), really understands where young-Earth creationism (YEC) like Ham's is coming from, and why it needs to be killed with fire.
YEC, you see, is based on what Fred calls the clobber-text hermeneutic, in which the point is to marshal context-free snippets of Scripture to support your case. This is particularly important when the goal is to argue for ideas that contradict
the trajectory of all the major currents of the mighty stream of scripture. ... the overriding, over-arching biblical mandate of love and justice and love, love, love.Fred argues -- and I agree with him -- that creationism is only secondarily about science. It is really, fundamentally one might say, about *how to read the Bible*: the split is not between "science" and "religion", or even "science" and "the Bible", but between different ways *Christians* interpret the Bible.
And yet there are some verses, a bunch of them, that can be plucked out of that great stream and divorced from the context of that biblical current. And if you set those verses off to the side and allow them to dry off so as to no longer be tainted by all the other verses and arguments and principles to which they were formerly attached, they can be read in such a way that they seem to forbid gender equality in the church[, or acceptance of sexual minorities, or racial equality, or care for the environment].
This process of selecting verses to extract from the rest, elevating them above the rest, and thereby interpreting them to contradict the rest, is what I call the clobber-text hermeneutic. This approach to the Bible is pandemic in America, where it was perfected and popularized because it provided the only excuse that white Christians could come up with for reconciling their defense of slavery with the gospel of Jesus Christ.[emphasis mine]
young-Earth creationism isn't just a consequence of a clobber-text hermeneutic, but a vital tool for defending that hermeneutic and declaring every other approach to the Bible to be illegitimate, anti-God and even "nihilistic."
Thus if we want gender equality to prevail in the church, as love says it must, we cannot be indifferent to young-Earth creationism. If we want all people to be included in the church, as love says we must, we cannot be indifferent to young-Earth creationism. Young-Earth creationism is an ideology that feeds and reinforces the clobber-text hermeneutic that stands against love.
Young-Earth creationism stands against love.
We can't treat it as an inconsequential sideshow — a distraction to our higher calling to love each other and to love our communities. It won't allow us to do that. It stands against our doing that in any but the most sentimental and anemic way.
That doesn't mean we need to attack every individual who has been taught that believing this guff is their Christian duty. That doesn't mean we need to treat everyone who believes in young-Earth creationism as an enemy. They are not our enemies. They are just more of the victims of a deceptive ideology that stands against love.
And we need to kill that ideology. We need to kill it with fire.
And it is other Christians, non-creationist Christians, who have ceded power to Ken Ham and his ilk. They have let a clobber-text hermeneutic be the public face of Christian interpretation of the Bible. They've let scientists and atheists lead the fight against putting creationism in textbooks, and let the YECs' arbitrary, hyper-"literalist" reading become what people (Christian and not) think of as "Bible-based Christianity".
They need to take it back. I honestly believe that Fred would be a great point person for this task -- he has speaking experience, he's not tied to a pastorship, and he could use the speaking fees. If, that is, there's any real demand for an anti-creationist Christian on the public stage -- because there certainly is a need.