If I live till 2041, I will be seventy-one. My teaching career will be long over, my health declining.
If the peak years of one’s working life are between 25 and 70, it is interesting to note that the three titans of the ID movement will all be over 80 in 20 years. Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and Michael Behe.
Also the New Atheist titans too.
Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins (he will be 100), Lawrence Krauss, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson (I don’t know if he is a New Atheist though).
If they all live.
Henry Morris as the founding father of organized young-earth creationism has been dead some time, and I am not sure about the state of his sons.
Staring death in the face regularly I have discovered is a great way to make daily decisions about what is really important. Rick Warren says the average life is 25,000 days. That’s age 68. I am at 18,000 days at age 51.
I wrote last time I spent 20 years in dogged pursuit of the science-faith question. 7,300 days. Now my books have been put away until some stunning reason comes along to look at them ever again. My Millenial pastor Bill has not yet given me a reason, but the Gen X Christian professors I meet might.
Now what about 20 years from now?
If all the major famous Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier titans are dead or in the retirement home, then what?
The history of the controversy in my experience as a minority male is extremely white and male. It is just an observation. Plus it is very Protestant versus atheist.
This nation in 20 years I think will be made up mostly of minorities. And 38% of the Millenial generation has no religious affiliation I seem to remember.
What will our legacy be to the Millenial generation which will be at the height of career life in 20 years, when they are over 40?
I have a feeling the Institute for Creation Research will be as peripheral to and disconnected from Millenial church life…at least in the cities as opposed to small towns…as the Amish are to the life of urban Pennsylvanians today.
I already cannot find a campus ministry of any affiliation or denomination which is pushing young-earth creationism. It just has no visibility in the typical university.
The Discovery Institute is different because it has a political and economic focus not just a science-oriented one. Given its visibility on Fox News and its status as a major think tank in American life, Discovery has enough young blood to keep a national profile. But will it even be known in circles that are not white and Protestant?
What is our call as Christians toward the young before we find out through death if the invisible world the Bible speaks of actually exists? Is Dawkins right, that our brains shut off like light bulbs and we cease to be forever?
We are teaching these young people to organize their private lives based on a 2000-year old faith which claims its Founder to be resurrected from death. A faith that has had to confront the rise of modern science after the year 1800. Science which some read to mean its rise has shown the invisible world of divine agents to be the product of premodern ignorance.
Bill Nye confronted Ken Ham and walked away baffled. All of my students knew Nye from PBS.
Something tells me that both creation science and intelligent design as movements will be seen as quaint by future generations of Americans. But evolutionary creationism may be as well.
Somehow we have to both love young people and give them confidence supernaturalism is a viable idea in a scientific world.
The Baby Boom, it seems to me as a Gen Xer, is today’s core of support for the work of ICR and Discovery. Once that generation is gone, it is hard to say whether the ideas behind those two organizations will find new ground in which to plant.
A final anecdote
Tonight I went to one of the only Saturday night services in Dallas I know of, at a megachurch called Lakepointe. They are using themes from movie clips to talk about the faith. The church had maybe 1,000-1500 people show up tonight.
There is a class afterward I attend. 20 years ago after 9/11 the class had 100 people in it.
Now it is about 12 people. People died, quit, or moved away.
The church can still turn out a lot of people for the service but how many stay an extra hour to meet face-to-face in a class?
It took a national catastrophe to turn people out in droves at church in 2001. But then people settled back into their comfort zone at home.
One thing I have noticed is that a lot of alienation occurred between Christians and atheists during the creationism court cases between 1981 and 2005. The evolutionists won in the public schools, but the creationists continued homeschooling and Christian education at the high school level.
I see cultures drifting apart from one another into echo chambers. Waging culture war against nonbelievers in court because of fears about children has come at a terrible price.
I am glad BioLogos exists to answer the question, “Are science and religion at war?”
But my deeper concern now at day 18,000 in my life is when will we, given the uncertain number of days we have left, be able to answer the question, “Has science made all religion irrelevant and unnecessary to the daily life of people?”
Where do you think the science-faith issue will be for most people in 20 years?
Here are my thoughts gleaned over the last 20.