Yesterday on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson was asked to weigh in on the Young Earth Creation debate that’s getting ready to take off at the Creation Museum next month between Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy. In another one of his unscripted responses to a viewer question, Pat had a surprising reply to all of the blogging buzz when he said:
“As much as it pains me to side with a couple of liberal heretics like Dr. James McGrath and Rev. Benjamin L. Corey, I have to admit that in this case, they’re completely right– the Young Earth Creationism espoused by Ken Ham is just plain ole’ silly. All you have to do is pick up a hand full of dirt, and you’ll see that it’s old.”
Pat went on to say:
“I’m sure Ken is a nice guy in real life, and I hate to sound pretentious, but I’m just not comfortable getting my science or my theology from someone who only has a bachelors degree. I realize Mr. Ham has a bunch of honorary doctorates, but let’s be honest, they call them ‘honorary’ for a reason.”
Angry with Pat’s response, a Young Earth Creationist from the audience shouted out the go-t0 question they typically ask of: “were you there??” To which, Pat replied:
“Clearly you have underestimated how old I am, just like you’ve done with the age of the earth.”
Ok, well, maybe he didn’t exactly say all that, but he might as well have…
I’ve often been critical of Pat, one time publicly calling him a Jackass (sorry Pat, but my adopted children aren’t “weird” for being adopted and I like that my family looks like the “united nations”), so I thought it would be fair to point out something he said which I think is praise-worthy and relevant to the current discussion on the upcoming debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.
A little over a year ago Pat was asked a question from a reader regarding the interpretation of Genesis and Young Earth Creationism, and actually gives a surprising answer: young earth creationism is not biblical.
In his answer, Pat points out as I did the other day, that young earth creationism is based upon a guy named James Ussher adding up some birthdays in the Bible and using that to date the earth– in spite of inconvenient things like, say, fossils.
Pat says that when Ussher claimed the earth was 6,000 years old he “wasn’t inspired by the Lord”. Speaking of scientific evidence, Pat says “don’t try to cover it up and make it look like it was 6,000 years! ”
And, perhaps the wisest advice of all, he says “if you fight revealed science, you’re going to lose your children– I believe in telling them the way it was.”
Which, is exactly correct– and exactly why I oppose Ken Ham even though we’re both Christians and both creationists. Young Earth Creationism is so silly, that our children will realize we’re feeding them a bunch of nonsense. If we do this, we risk the possibility of them rejecting the faith entirely– a potential outcome that should grieve us.
I believe God is beautiful, and I believe the message of Jesus is hands down, the greatest story ever told. However, when we misread ancient Hebrew poems and instead side for the poor theological math of a guy in the 1600’s, we risk losing a whole generation of Jesus followers by way of our own refusal to embrace revealed science.
There need not be these two sides– we can embrace revealed science AND follow the Jesus in the Bible. This isn’t a “choose this day whom you will serve” kinda debate– at least, it doesn’t need to be.
And, until we learn that, we become willing to risk the faith of our children over our own ignorance and stubbornness.
As Pat stormed off the set he was heard saying “if you want to believe that the creation process was quick like going through a McDonald’s drive through, that’s fine by me. I’m just telling you that it was more like waiting in line at the DMV.” He then said the entire discussion had him craving a Ham on Nye sandwich, as he let out his classic chuckle.
You can watch the original (and real) Pat Robertson answer here: