I just finished watching, Bill Nye debates Ken Ham Youtube video. Yes, I was late to the party but for good reason. For those who have taken the time to watch the video, I commend you. For those who have not, I encourage you to do so. Why? Because it is a painful wake up call to the tragedy that is the evangelical mind in America today.
I avoid watching debates between creationists and scientists because it’s like a bad magic trick. Creationists are trying to create a diversion so you don’t focus on the real issue: The reliability of the Bible as a scientific document.
Let’s put all the cards on the table. Mr. Nye has a degree in science. Mr Ham has an engineering degree. Neither are theologians. I have two degrees in theology. While the focus of the debate “appeared” to be science, it was actually the authority of the biblical record specifically Genesis which was critical. Both men appeared as fish out of water with Nye not asking the right questions and Ham not providing the right answers to these wrong questions.
Only biblical inerrantists believe in literal creationism. Nobody embraces creationism who is also a scientist and atheist just because it “makes more sense” than scientific findings. Faith leads to creationism not vice versa. Creationists are defending the book that promises salvation. They only care about Genesis because the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is part of the same “Book.”
Bill Nye was up against a lot more than whether the earth is four thousand years old or not. He is challenging the personal faith of millions and everything it provides. It is a matter of the heart not the head. He is bringing a scientific knife to a theological gun fight. He cannot win.
Here’s where I come in. My life’s work has been an exhaustive study of the Biblical text from a skeptical rational perspective. Or to be more precise, the credibility, or lack thereof, of the Bible as anything more than a collection of ancient religious literature heavily propagandized by its writers. To a rational, informed, non biased, educated adult this conclusion is incontestable. Its content makes perfect sense in the context of the ancient pre-scientific world where belief in miracles and the supernatural was not only common but in many ways necessary.
By the way, for about fifteen years I would have sat in that audience with my arms crossed every time Nye spoke.
EVIDENCE. EVIDENCE. EVIDENCE.
Evangelical creationists like Ken Ham will exert enormous energy and time trying to poke holes in scientific theory. They will practice the most rigorous scrutiny on science’s findings where they impinge on biblical inerrancy and literalness. What they won’t do is flex a single muscle when it comes to turning the same searing spotlight of inquiry on their own holy scripture. They venerate a book infinitely more unreliable and unworthy of respect as a scientific document than the excruciatingly well tested and vetted fields of science.
Evangelical faith means not having to know the truth, or wanting to know it.
Evangelical Christians are fond of declaring how “reasonable” or “rational” or even “logical” their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is. It is not. The only word one can ever appeal to in support of this claim is, “Experiential.” The Bible may be used as “evidence” to support its claims, only insofar as when placed under intense scrutiny and objective analysis, it satisfies the necessary criteria to support this claim.
Evangelicals may be conveniently split into two camps. The first camp is by far the largest comprising perhaps ninety-five percent or more of all adherents. These are the uninformed. The second camp are the small percentage of those who have advanced degrees in theology beyond a year or two of Bible college. The nature of faith rests upon trust in Jesus which unfortunately the first group willingly and unconditionally places in those who instruct them. This group is either so indoctrinated as to be incapable of seeing the obvious weaknesses supporting their belief or so invested as to be unwilling to even consider challenging it for fear of what they might discover. A third group are those who simply don’t care because they are in it for political or personal gain. It seems there is no end to these leaders who are frauds, hucksters, charlatans, grifters and sexual predators who prey on the gullible, vulnerable and desperate. Televangelism and megachurches are among their favorite arenas to practice their craft of exploitation.
I have devoted my entire life to analyzing the Bible as a divine book containing predictive prophecy and miracles. I have examined it historical reliability and chronological accuracy. I have vigorously investigated key events like the Exodus from Egypt, Conquest of Canaan and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus for logical consistency and plausibility. I can state with unwavering certainty the preponderance of evidence weighs heavily against any element of the supernatural. And if we take the opposing hypothesis that the source of these are myths, legends, hero stories and sagas devised by human imagination as an attempt to understand the mysteries of the natural world and promote faith in one’s own religion, they make reasonable sense.
There is a mountain of data available to those courageous enough and capable enough to work through it to determine the Bible’s veracity. Few take advantage of this opportunity despite their insistence on loving God and His Word or to achieve intellectual integrity.
I would assume most who are reading this cannot claim to have invested thousands of hours researching the many contradictions, incongruences and errors in the biblical text. Most have not developed skills in textual criticism to dissect the text at its most basic level. Most have not made a thorough analysis of literary criticism as it pertains to predictive prophecy, historical records and poetic content. Most have not availed themselves of archaeological findings relative to those stories in the biblical narrative that purport supernatural intervention. It takes an incredible amount of time, effort, expertise, discipline and desire to properly understand the biblical writings in their context and render a sound interpretation of authorial intent. Reading a few books written by Christian apologists, or going to a Bible study on creationism versus evolution does not constitute theological proficiency.
One could not wander into most businesses and apply for a management job without a formal business degree. An airline pilot has to undergo specific training in order to fly a jetliner. Most people would not go to a dentist who had not gone to dental college even if he said he was an avid student of dentistry. Yet America is full of Sunday school theologians who profess to understand the Bible. Politicians wax eloquent on the Bible as if they were experts. Many evangelicals make outlandish and unsubstantiated interpretations on biblical prophecy purporting to have a monopoly of God’s view of mankind and world events.
When I became an evangelical Christian, I knew almost nothing about the Bible. I was not raised in a Christian home. My mother had an old Bible which I found in a cupboard and tried to read a couple times but it may as well have been written in Martian. Soon after my conversion I started telling everyone I knew about the “good news” so they could share my joy (and escape hell). Of course I received a lot of resistance by those who tried to tell me the Bible was not the inspired Word of God. Science was the most oft used weapon against my faith. I pushed back based on nothing more than the strength of my convictions which were experiential not intellectual. All I knew was, “Once I was blind but now I see.”
I spent the next nine years in theological training because I was certain by mastering the Bible I could defend my faith to anyone. My motivation was an ardent love for Jesus and desire to share the message of salvation. I applied myself wholeheartedly to my theological training (in the best evangelical institutions) but began to have serious doubts about many aspects of evangelicalism. I graduated from seminary and immediately began a deconstruction and reconstruction of my faith using the tools and skills I had acquired to preserve and strengthen it. Ready for the irony? I had no desire to abandon it but unknowingly would because I decided to study the Bible with pure objectivity.
Whether you study the Bible as a devout believer or unbeliever, you should arrive at the same conclusion whether you accept it or not. You do not.
I let down my faith guard for the first time as a believer because I had no reason to think I needed it up. I approached the Bible with the sincerest and most honorable motive of deepening my faith. I had grave reservations about many evangelical dogmas like, The Rapture, dispensationalism, the ordinance of baptism and easy believeism (repentant-less baptism). As I began to destroy each of these “sacred cows” of evangelical teaching, I began to experience a sense of theological liberation and confidence. What I never anticipated was my inability to restrict my objectivity to only certain doctrines. The more I looked, the more I saw and soon other tenets of the faith began to crumble like predictive prophecy, inerrancy and the trinity until eventually Jesus was under the microscope of rational scrutiny.
I never thought for a second when I began my journey to find the truth, I would ultimately abandon Jesus. If I had, I would never had begun. Rationally, this makes no sense. Emotionally, it makes perfect sense. My faith in Jesus was rooted in an emotional connection, a dynamic personal relationship, not in objective fact. I had decided long ago nothing could ever shake my supreme confidence in God. And had I continued in my faith after discovering what I had, it would have qualified as an irrational belief and intellectual compromise.
Most evangelicals do not know enough about the Bible to realize how irrational their faith is. Ignorance masquerades as reasonableness because they do not have the information to suggest otherwise. They sincerely believe the rest of the world is deluded not them. If others were in their religious shoes, they would understand is what they tell themselves and each other.
At some point, evangelicals must face the facts, literally. Far to much is at stake for them to hide behind the wall of faith like cowards while lobbing “Bible bombs” at those who don’t conform to their beliefs. It is time to bring Jesus and the Bible into the unforgiving light of rational scrutiny to be subjected to the most rigorous examination.
An evangelical who devotes most of their time to rebutting science mistakenly believes their own faith does not demand equal scrutiny. Why? It may be they are afraid to confront their own fear of knowing the truth and thereby losing hope for eternal life. It may be they have allowed themselves to be misinformed by other evangelicals through blind trust assuming no Christian would deliberately mislead them. It may be they have too much invested in their faith, e.i., friends, family, career, to even consider challenging it and being socially ostracized. It may be they, like me, have been immersed within the evangelical culture for so long as to not realize they are a product of its powerful institutionalizing. I as well as anybody knows how comfortable it is to remain within the cocooned environment evangelicalism can provide free of the dangers and temptations of the secular and liberal world.
Creationism is one of the many by-products of believing in verbal plenary inerrancy. There are others like miracles, prophetic fulfillment, the resurrection of Jesus and so forth. All of which are historical fantasy. They are stories crafted around actual people and events or myths borrowed from oral tradition as in the case of the Genesis cosmogony. They are all contained in a collection of religious writings fraught with scientific errors and irrationalism. It is tragic we cannot appreciate them for their immense literary value as ancient religious texts because they have been coopted by groups like evangelical Christians who have weaponized them to advance their own moral and political agenda.
If we were to distill Christian belief to its most basic element, fear is what we would find. Evangelicals would protest and profess it is love but this is only because their fear has been subsumed by hope. They have the luxury of no longer having to fear death and the afterlife. However, this is the only explanation for unquestioned allegiance to a baseless faith in a world dominated by science. Evangelicals embrace every benefit of scientific advancement like medicine and technology but suddenly turn skeptical when it comes to those branches which impinge on religious belief. Then they think scientists form a collective conspiracy to deliberately deny God’s role in the creative order. I used to be one of them.
On a practical level, if evangelicals are so passionately committed to the Bible as the absolute inerrant Word of God, why don’t their lives reflect it. The exact same authority ascribed to the creation account of Genesis, which they vehemently defend, is also found in New Testament ideals. Why are evangelicals not equally determined to shun worldliness and its pleasures, or speak out against divorce, pornography, materialism, premarital sex, greed, pride, immodesty and hate? Jesus implored his followers to resist the temptation of wealth and to give generously, not sparingly, to the poor and needy. What about gentleness, humility, meekness and servileness? Where are the preachers exhorting their followers to be more like Jesus in this regard?
The plain fact is, evangelicals pick and choose what they want to emphasize and what they want to ignore based largely on what is convenient and comfortable to them. It is easy to attack homosexuality until your son comes out. It is easy to decry abortion until your teenage daughter gets pregnant. It is easy to attack immigrants, minorities and the homeless but turn a blind eye to buying a new car, bigger house, nicer clothes, expensive jewelry, the latest smartphone or going on expensive vacation. When did God promise Christians prosperity? Evangelicals indulge their own secret vices or re-interpret scripture to condone them in the name of “Christian liberty.”
Hypocrisy is now the hallmark of American evangelicalism. Whatever moral high ground or respectability they might once have had was traded in a deal with the devil when they unequivocally supported the Trump presidency in exchange for political access and influence. Nobody disputes this except for those who try desperately to convince themselves political greed was their only choice. They traffic in the twin lies of victimization and persecution where neither truly exists to somehow sublimate their moral compromise.
Evangelicals are victims of their own ideological prison. Fear locks them in and hope keeps them there. When one considers the enormous number of Americans who profess to be Christians yet churches are sparsely attended each Sunday, one must wonder. Why even bother to call yourself a Christian if you are not going to act like a Christian?
The answer is simple: Heaven.
A Christian will give up many things but the possibility of going to heaven when one dies is not on the table. Evangelicals especially have bought into the unbiblical doctrines of easy believeism and eternal security which they see as a free golden ticket to heaven. Nothing they do or say on earth can jeopardize this future eternal bliss except denying Jesus as their Savior and Lord. With this in mind, they will cling to being a Christian even if in name only to secure their prize. The unfortunate result is a religion that breeds complacency and hypocrisy.
Evangelical Christianity is no longer a personal and private affair. It is public and political with consequences in the lives of everyone. Also at risk is environmental viability and political stability at home and abroad. We must expose Christianity for the fraud it is regardless of the fallout from those who embrace it. The day evangelicalism ran for public office, it became fair game for rational attack.
If it was proven beyond any doubt there was no God or heaven, American society wouldn’t devolve, it would improve. Evangelicalism is not about making the world a better place, it is about giving believers peace of mind. It is time to remove the Bible from its pedestal and replace it with social justice. Mankind not God is at the center of our universe.
Humanism not theism is the future of the planet. God had his chance and squandered it.