Here in the middle, we mostly don’t want to have to choose between faith and reason. See, on one side, there are hard core atheist scientists telling us that there is no meaning and that the universe is just physical forces and genetic replication with blind, pitiless indifference. On the other side, there are fundamentalist religious fanatics telling us that we have to believe in a certain God in a certain way or we will be condemned for eternity. And while they yell at each other, most of us just want to get on with it.
I watched the opening remarks of the Nye-Ham Debate: Evolution versus Creationism but decided that my blood pressure couldn’t handle the whole thing. I do find ignorance about science and how it works to be galling. When I find out that 46% of Americans believe that God created people in their current form within the last 10,000 years, that 42% of Canadians believe that people and dinosaurs co-existed, and that 66% of those polled say that literal creationism is ‘definitely true’ or ‘probably true’, versus 53% for evolution, I despair of the state of the North American educational system. However…
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence. – Richard Dawkins
Secularism, with its moral relativism, is in direct opposition to Christianity and its absolute morality. The battle is between these two worldviews–one that stands on God’s Word and one that accepts man’s opinions. – Ken Ham
The anti-religious atheists and the fundamentalists have, together, set up a rigid dichotomy between faith and science. It is probably the only thing the two extremes agree on: that they cannot co-exist. And they are right; I believe the extremists on both sides cannot find peace with each other.
Here in the middle, we can have knowledge of science and still pray. We’re capable of understanding fossils and the big bang and how chimps and humans are related, while still going to church, or temple, or mosque, or Circle. Some of us decide that divinity guides evolution. Some of us just figure that there’s divinity and there’s evolution, and we will do our best to understand both. And we get on with a life that is neither intellectually impaired (as some hard atheists would say of the religious) nor spiritually lacking (as some fundamentalists would say of secularists).
The fundamentalists on both sides think they are warring for the minds and hearts of the public. They have set up an “us versus them” situation and declared that one side must be right and the other wrong and there is no middle ground. A lot of people, confronted with having to make a choice, will choose the faith they learned first instead of the science they learned later, or will choose the comforting choice that says that there’s a loving God looking out for them instead of an empty heaven, or will choose the story they understand instead of the complex and incomplete reality. Despite advances in scientific knowledge and all the information we now have at our fingertips, the percentage of adult Americans who hold Creationist views (45%) hasn’t changed significantly in 30 years.
Here in the middle, standing on that middle ground that isn’t supposed to exist, we don’t want to be scolded and we don’t need to be educated. We don’t want to be threatened with hell and we don’t need to take every religious story literally in order to take our faith seriously. We find ways to understand what has been explained, to explore the mystery of what hasn’t been explained, and keep our minds and our hearts open. And maybe we don’t feel so righteous, and maybe we’re not always so sure of ourselves, but we can live with that.
End note: I really enjoyed this post on the Nye-Ham debates from the Science on Religion blog and this post on questions we should be asking ourselves after the debate from Under the Ancient Oaks.