Fighting futility: Evolution vs. Creationism an unwinnable debate

Ken Ham - Bill Nye - Promotional poster Creationism Museum
Ken Ham - Bill Nye - Promotional poster Creationism Museum

ANDALUSA, Ala, February 17, 2014 – Last week, celebrity scientist Bill Nye and semi-celebrity Young Earth creationist Ken Ham engaged in a debate about how the world came to be.  According to most atheists, Bill Nye wiped the floor with Ham; conversely, according to most fellow Young Earth theory Christians, Ham annihilated Nye’s arguments.

That alone should tell you that nobody won that debate. 

Here’s the thing about the evolution vs. creationism debate: neither side buys into the other’s premise, so there’s no possible way either side can convince the other of its conclusions. If you don’t believe that God is real, then there is absolutely no way you’re going to believe that he created the world, much less the manner and timeframe in which he did it.

Likewise, if you don’t believe in the big bang, you can’t believe that it set in motion all the events that brought the universe to where it is now. Bottom line – it is a useless argument to have. The ONLY winners from that debate were the advertisers trying to sell us toilet paper and beer during the commercials.

There is something to be said for recognizing futility, and giving it a proper treatment. Christians are commanded to go and spread the word about Christ, to try and bring people to know God. Beyond that, we are, above everything else, directed to love God and love one another. That’s a pretty tall order, and a much better use of one’s time than arguing about an issue that will never be resolved, and isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things anyway.

Given that we have such limited time here, it seems prudent to let go of the futile arguments that don’t help achieve either of those goals.

The Bible tells us that our days are “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, And come to an end without hope,” and that “surely every man at his best is a mere breath.” Over and over, we are treated to verses reminding us of how miniscule our lives are in the big picture. Our time is not only limited, but it is also insignificant to the universe at large.

We matter to God, surely, and we matter to each other, but the idea that we matter enough to argue these things which have no resolution in sight is misguided, not to mention arrogant and self-serving. Let’s let the fruitless stuff go.

Paul tells us in the book of Titus, to “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” The lesson we can draw from that is that all these things that are either unsolvable or just nonessential to our lives and purpose here on Earth should be left alone.

They are indeed worthless in that they don’t help us with the big three – love God, love each other, go and spread the Good News.

We need to let go of the idea that we have to win the debate on creationism vs. evolution. The fact is, we haven’t even got it figured out amongst ourselves as people of faith. Though the recent televised discussion featured a Young Earth creationist, most mainstream Christians don’t believe that theory.

Instead, most Christians subscribe to Old Earth creationism, or Gap creationism, or any of the other theories, assuming they subscribe to any one theory at all. For many of us, it’s just not an issue that matters that much. There’s no gnawing demand to have all the answers, and there’s no egocentric reaction when someone attacks our faith as “blind.”

This isn’t a call for people of faith to stop asking the big questions. This isn’t a cry in the dark for Christians to strap on the blinders and refuse to read science books. Read, listen, google your heart out! But know that this is not a matter of salvation, nor is it an issue we are commanded to go out and use to win the hearts and minds of the world.

If exploring the various theories of how we got here and how the world came to be are interesting to you, then you should explore them, by all means. But remember to temper that exploration with the knowledge that you won’t convince anyone of your evidence who doesn’t accept the foundational elements of your premise.

Twitter @JennyRheaJordan

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  • Marino Mangone

    If humans did evolve, wouldn’t humans be more “in tune” with nature and the universe, instead of the seemingly destructive and warring nature human’s seem to posses.
    Hence a being who was created, would be more inclined to create and utilize any and all resources at their disposal, (as done by “their creator”).
    If humans were evolutionary beings, there would be no need to mention a “God”, as this would not even be in their DNA for the subject to even come up
    And perhaps humans would know more of the past if they were evolutionary being’s, as this would also be built into their DNA.
    If humans are supposedly the smartest being’s on the planet, would one not think they would have taught war/fighting out of their psyche by now and how to work within natures laws?
    Hence if one is created one can be controlled more easily, one only has to look at nature and see that that is much harder to control and truly understand.
    Has any scientist or theologian factored this in their discussions?

    • Rick_K

      And why would a benevolent creator make us murderous and destructive? Why would a benevolent creator make an unimaginably vast universe where 99.99999999999999999+% of it is instantly lethal to life? Why would a benevolent creator design a system of life that depends (thrives) on murder, consumption, death and suffering? Why would a benevolent creator manufacture evidence geological, biological, experimental and physical evidence for evolution if it didn’t happen.

      The simple fact is this: every mystery of nature ever solved turned out to be NOT divine magic.

      This isn’t a debate between religions – it’s a debate about what determines truth: divine revelation or evidence.

      • acmaurer

        Simple. God gave us free will. You don’t even have to believe in your creator, as you clearly don’t.

        • Rick_K

          Nice rationalization. Why is your belief in the face of contrary evidence any better than somebody else’s belief in the face of contrary evidence?

      • Marino Mangone

        Rick, the point I was trying to make is, if humans were evolutionary, would we not instinctively know the truth of our own “evolutionary process”.
        We are supposedly atoms upon atoms thus forming the image of a human, and the human body thus already knows for itself which to combine to form it’s own structures, without any input from “scientists” telling how to construct and combine atoms to from molecules and such.
        Man likes to keep secrets, and creators patent those “secrets”, to stop others from acquiring them.
        And in most circumstances, will go to any length to stop others from acquiring them.
        Nature doesn’t keep secrets, man does.

        • Marino Mangone

          I should also add, that humans in the evolutionary sense, would have utilized all the universe’s hazards to form it’s image in the first place from the beginning of the process.
          And the benevolent creator has done exactly what you have pointed out, plus it doesn’t mind deception (Jacob deceiving his own father, Abraham disinheriting his first begotten, the ever changing holders of a “everlasting covenant”, and the list goes on).
          So the logical answer is, to stay/be “number one” so as to be looked up to, just as it is with empiric minded nations.

          Scientia Est Potentia -Knowledge is Power, and if all had the “omnipotent knowledge” no one could be any more “powerful” than the next.
          Which in turn means no one need to “worship” anyone.
          And If you had all the omnipotent knowledge would you be willing to freely share/give it to all, or would you utilize it for your own self interests?
          A.E.I.O.U – Absolute Energy (=) Input, Output, Utilization and one of anything is the I.O.U of AE for A.E.I.O.U
          As “god” and/or the big bang is just that.

        • GalapagosPete

          “…would we not instinctively know the truth of our own ‘evolutionary process’.”

          Not necessarily.

      • Marino Mangone

        The plains of Shinar, aka “Tower of Babel” tells of what happens when all those get close to the truth.

  • anthony spence

    humans go to war because some idiot tells them to = eg Hitler, Bush, etc,,. Created or evolved, it doesnt matter. We fight, kill and destroy and try to find what little peace that may exist in our family, friends, or pastimes. As an evolved creature we would mention “god” as a way to explain away things that we do not fully understand. As a object of creation we are certainly flawed,

    • Marino Mangone

      Humans must be really stupid then, so it is sounding more like man was created to do someone else’s “dirty work”.
      Nature/Universe is not that stupid, it “listens” to it’s natural surroundings per say.

      I couldn’t truly say which (evolution or creation), but just by observations, if human were evolutionary being’s, man would thus then truly know and understand the processes of evolutionary creation, because man basically created himself (from the beginning), so one would think man would truly know the secrets of the universe?

      Perhaps there was a race of evolutionary humans, but were killed off by their own creations, like I mentioned earlier to do the dirty work, sort of like how AI (artificial intelligence) is sometimes portrayed in movies?
      This scenario wouldn’t surprise me, and the more one reads on genetic modification of nature, this may well actually happen.
      Well in the past race’s were destroyed along with their libraries (knowledge), and there are supposedly hidden secrets in the Vatican archives.

  • acmaurer

    Agreement is simple: God caused the Big Bang to happen.

  • Charles Shaffer

    This is an issue that I talked about with my father when I was very young and he read Genesis to me. And it was easily resolved. The bible is not literally true. When Genesis says “On the first day” it doesn’t literally mean a day, it means a period of time or a phase. The author advocates ignoring the difference between these view points. Not only do I disagree, I consider this attitude dangerous. Science looks for truth and nobody is harder on scientific theories than scientists. Scientists cannot just make something up and claim it is true just because they believe it really, really hard. Scientists have to prove their theories and their proofs have to survive peer review. The idea that science is somehow just an equivalent alternative to a literal interpretation of the bible is a ridiculous lie that amounts to nothing more than superstitious ignorance. Anti-science attitudes like this article are causing the US to fail in a variety of ways. We enjoy the life we have here largely because of science and now we are falling behind. Creationists are free to believe what they want, until they start imposing on other people’s rights. I believe we are at that point now and sooner or later something has to be done to stop the corrosive influence of magical thinking.

    • Jenny Rhea Jordan

      I believe you may have skipped my last two paragraphs, if you’re genuinely under the impression that I’m anti-science. My point was that this is an unwinnable argument, given the belief systems of the opposing sides, and if you’re of a spiritual persuasion, then solving this mystery is less important than carrying out the big commands of your God. Truth be told, I didn’t even indicate where I stand on creationism v. evolution in this article; I just used the debate to showcase how I believe a Christian’s priorities should stack up when dealing with the secular world. If you need to use this article as a jumping off point to call creationists and anti-science people dangerous, then by all means carry on, but know that that’s not terribly relevant to the point of the original piece.

  • Paul Brzeski

    What a frustrating debate. What’s wrong with the idea that the Bible was just a previous understanding of God’s work? I’m an ex-Catholic who went Atheist and then settled for Agnostic with a strong inner spirituality. It frustrates me to no end that religions seem more obsessed with their own dogma instead of paying attention to nature, science, etc. If you’re religious, then understanding God’s creation should be your ultimate imperative – are you going to get it from a book and some dusty temples or are you going to get it from studying the natural world? People are ridiculous.

  • Pamela J. Francis

    Ms. Jordan is on the right track by pointing out that this is not an issue that either side should waste their time and energy on. The Bible is a book about God and his people, and science, history, politics, and many other “human” issues are just not within its purview. There are two creation stories back to back in the first chapters (and I never hear ANYONE talk about this) and their narratives, strictly speaking, or at odds…however, they both talk about God–in one God is powerful, in the other, loving. Catholic doctrine has never had problem with this, and in fact, until recently, most mainstream Protestants didn’t either. The fact that this has become a central issue in any sort of religious/secular debate tells me that both sides are avoiding the real issue–the one that is in EVERY religion, yes, including humanism–how to love one another and treat each other with kindness. Yelling at each other about an non-issue does not, at least to me, seem to be in any way related to that ultimate goal.

    • Pamela J. Francis

      Of course, my main concern is that this argument bleeds over into matters of education. I live in fear of the growing anti-science attitudes that make it nearly impossible to teach children real science (what can creationism teach us about anything? How do you apply it to anything real world? Evolutionary biology helps us with prenatal care, the evolution and elimination of diseases, the interdependence of species, etc…) Already some elected law makers regularly demonstrate complete misinformation concerning how the female body works; we MUST realize that the lack of science education has REAL repercussions in THIS world. Even our cartoons “get it” better than most people. Creationism may (or may not be the “why”–but science deals with the HOW, and that is what we are supposed to teach–and learn–in the classroom. Spending one’s life defending the hexameron does absolutely nothing towards finding a cure for cancer or stopping the spread of influenza.

  • GalapagosPete

    “…there’s no possible way either side can convince the other of its conclusions.”

    And yet, people do change their minds. Currently, there seem to be more changing away from organized religion than to it, a trend I hope to see continue.