For all my adult life, I’ve begun my mornings with a cup of hot, black coffee and a newspaper. I may have to give that up on Sunday mornings. If not, I need to get Donna, my enduring and endearing wife, to pre-read the paper for me and to tell me what articles to skip.
It was a good morning. I was sipping my coffee, just after finishing a deliciously sweet grapefruit—a gift from my mother—and enjoying the Sunday Courier-Journal. The sermon was finished. My sermons are emailed to a group of folks whom I have affectionately named “faithful readers.” All that awaited my attention was the writing of a note which would accompany the emailed sermon for the day.
At 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I hardly ever know what I will write to my faithful readers. I just wait until the breakfast routine is over, go up to my study, sit before the computer, and begin to write. I’m sure, under normal circumstances, I would have written something about the sermon series I’ve begun from the Sermon on the Mount. On this particular Sunday, that was not to be the case.
There was an article in the paper about an upcoming debate between “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and Ken Ham of the Creation Museum, which is located not so very far from where I live in Kentucky. I am so tired of this creation vs. evolution debate. It is not new. It was going on when I was a kid and when my parents were kids and when their parents were kids . . . . Enough already! This love/hate relationship that many Christians have with science baffles me.
We embrace science on so many levels. I’m writing on a laptop computer that amazes my simple brain. Many of you are reading this on a computer or some other electronic device—perhaps your phone. My grandparents weren’t even sure you could talk on a telephone, and you and I carry on business with our phones. We can watch the Olympics live from halfway around the world. With lasers, doctors are now performing surgeries that were unheard of and impossible just a few years ago. Children are living today who, just a few years ago, would never have survived birth. All of this has been made possible by SCIENCE. But when it comes to understanding the beginnings of the universe and our existence as human beings, we don’t want to listen to science. If science speaks truth on one level and we benefit from it, shouldn’t we at least listen to what it has to say about beginnings?
God gave us brains and surely expects us to use them. Finding out the how of our origins and the origins of other things is not a threat to belief and faith in a living Creator God. I am anxious to know what else science can tell us . . . about anything and everything. But I already know what science can neither prove nor disprove: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, KJV). I know this through faith manifested in my walk with Jesus. Oh, I know something else which science can neither prove nor disprove: A “new heaven and new earth is being created, and “behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 22:1, 3 KJV). It’s enough! Science doesn’t scare me or threaten my faith. Science has made and is making my life better.
Why do we spend so much time focused on science vs. religion? Is it because it is easier to affirm Genesis 1 & 2 as literally true than to embrace the hard teachings of Jesus as we find them in the Sermon on the Mount? Perhaps we think if we make enough noise we will divert attention from the hard sayings of Jesus. It won’t work. We are not Christians because we believe and embrace creationism as the only truth of our origins. We are Christian only to the extent we follow the Christ.
As for that big debate coming to my state, skip it. Use the time to read the Sermon on the Mount. Talk about getting your emotions stirred up. You won’t believe some of the stuff Jesus wants us to swallow as being part of the way—his way. He wants us to love our enemies and do them good . . . he wants us to be merciful and to hunger for righteousness. He even wants us to stop calling the people who disagree with us “fools.” For him, it is not enough that I haven’t committed adultery. He wants me not to think about what it might be like. Well, like I said, skip the creation vs. evolution debate, and read something that will really set you off. Jesus calls us to a surpassing righteousness, as my former teacher and friend, the late W. Clyde Tilley, wrote in his book, The Surpassing Righteousness: Evangelism and Ethics in the Sermon on the Mount. (Published by Smyth & Helwys in 1992.)
Some Christians are sidetracked by others; many others sidetrack themselves. It’s so much easier to sound off against evil science, or some other evil, than to embrace the Jesus way. It is, Jesus said, the way to life. As for that other debate, it will still be going when you and I are gone; and it will not have aided us in living or in preparing for where we were going.