This will probably be the last specific post regarding the debate; and even as I write it, the news is still spreading, as the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was featured on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and on Nightline, as well as continuing to trend as a top story on facebook and twitter (thank-you Pat Robertson).
But as was on display Thursday afternoon, other stories are coming into the consciousness of both the clergy and laity, and chances are good that by Monday, the debate will be all but a distant memory, save for Wednesday, February 19th when the debate is scheduled to air on CSPAN.
And as it moves to the back of our minds, what will the lasting effects be? Surely the debate has garnered some financial donations for Answers in Genesis; and no doubt Bill Nye will experience some benefit to his own bank account. Part of me also wonders if we might not see another debate in the not too distant future; perhaps some other evolutionist is out there certain that he can do a far superior job as compared to the lackluster job Nye did.
But that is all for someone else to worry about; the question now is what about those who saw the debate? What about those who sat in church basements and in youth centers and in their own homes? What will they take away from this debate?
One of the residual surprises of the debate was how many LCMS pastors seemed all too willing to sweep the matter under the rug; either by ignoring the debate entirely, or by simply saying that Genesis did not matter as long as one had faith in Jesus.
In response, I suppose it is possible to ignore the debate entirely. The debate was advertised using social media, and it was an internet only event; so if you have a congregation that is elderly and that does not use computers regularly, well chances are good that they did not hear about it, and the pastor could easily shrug the matter off if anyone saw it in the news. And while the estimated numbers of those who watched the debate approach 20 million, it is still a long way from the 111.5 million that watched the Super Bowl.
But the second excuse is more cumbersome. Even Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis will grant that salvation is based on Christ, not on what view you take of Genesis 1-11. And I will also grant that salvation will come to those who believe in millions of years, so long as they have faith in Christ.
But are we to quick to say that? Should we push a little harder that God created the world in 6 24 hour days, and that the earth is around 6000 years old, and not millions of years old? It is especially discouraging to see that many pastors themselves do not subscribe to Genesis 1-11, especially since the ordination vows specifically ask if you accept the Old and New Testament as the inspired Word of God.
In Seminary, at no point was the matter of creation discussed. I can hardly remember an issue of The Lutheran Witness making a defense of Genesis 1-11. Having attended many conferences, and now serving on the planning committee for the District conference, I have seen and heard many people ask for resources and assistance in making a case for Genesis 1-11.
What does this mean? The LCMS confesses a doctrine of 6 day creation; confesses a doctrine of a young earth; but like many other things, it has been read, but rarely marked, learned and inwardly digested.
The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye has brought the issue of creation and evolution to the forefront, but as the memory slowly slips into the background, it is up to those who watched, both pastors and lay, to make sure that the issue is not put back on the shelf and forgotten about.
Remember the troubled and confused look on Bill Nye’s face as Ken Ham spoke; that is the look on the faces of many people who do not understand Genesis 1-11. Do not allow another generation of clergy and laity to fall into the trap that Bill Nye and the rest of the evolution crowd has laid that Genesis does not matter; Genesis does matter. Why does Genesis matter? Because God determined that it was important enough to have Moses write down; and if it is important to God, then it should be important to the rest of us to.