“I’m not saying you’re a heretic. Just that you’re a heretical promoter of heresy.”
That, in a nutshell, is the gist of Ken Ham’s latest post addressing Pete Enns. (You might say Enns is Ham’s theological arch nemesis.)
[Background: Enns is an evangelical theologian who accepts the scientific consensus on evolution and has written extensively about its implications for the Christian faith — namely, the possibility that Genesis 1 is not a literal, scientific depiction of human origins and the overwhelming likelihood that the human race did not originate from a single primal couple, i.e. a literal Adam and Eve. Ken Ham is a longtime advocate for young earth creationism (YEC). He believes the very integrity of the gospel is at stake if you dispense with a literal, 6-day creation and a literal Adam and Eve.]
Ham is no stranger to controversy. In his recent post, he reminds us how a couple years ago he was disinvited from a homeschooling conference for being uncharitable toward Christians who disagree with him. (That was the explanation offered by conference organizers who largely share Ham’s interpretation of Genesis.)
But more damaging is Ham’s use of the nuclear option to shut down any honest conversation. He does so by forcing an impossible (and false) choice on his audience: either you accept what I tell you about creation, or you undermine the gospel. Sure, Ham won’t quite say you’re going to hell if you believe in evolution. But who wants to be accused of “undermin[ing] the authority of God’s Word and the gospel,” as he puts it?
In short, Ken Ham is a bully.
The irony is that Ham’s false choice is almost certainly doing more to drive people away from faith than toward it — because fear cannot nurture faith.
But Ham isn’t the only one who’s tried this tactic. I used to be that guy… constantly getting into arguments with my more moderate college friends over evolution, women in ministry, homosexuality… trying to make each disagreement a “gospel issue” so they’d have to choose between agreeing with me and renouncing the gospel.
I was never big enough or strong enough to be a physical bully. But theological bullies can do just as much damage.
Now that I see things from a different vantage point, I can appreciate what I put my friends through. (And, quite frankly, I’m amazed they put up with me.)
So for all those who’ve been bullied into conformity by threats of denunciation, allusions to some inevitable “slippery slope,” and declarations of heresy . . . let me say:
Human origins is not a gospel issue.
Women’s ordination is not a gospel issue.
How you vote is not a gospel issue.
Homosexuality is not a gospel issue.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what you believe. Believing certain things about God is part of the Christian experience, which is why many of us reaffirm our faith every Sunday using the words of the Nicene Creed (while others do so in other ways).
And I do think the gospel has profound implications for how we see the world, for how we vote, and for how we treat women, gays, lesbians, and other historically marginalized groups of people.
But when defenders of the theological status quo try to make you choose between their view on [insert hot-button issue here] and apostasy, they are getting the gospel wrong.
There is something that can undermine the gospel. But it’s not evolution. It’s not questioning the church’s posture toward gays and lesbians.
For the apostle Paul, the only thing that could undermine the gospel was this:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…
Not “if the earth is more than 6,000 years old, your faith is futile.”
Not “if there was no historical Adam and Eve, your faith is futile.”
Not “if you let a woman preach, your faith is futile.”
And not “if you welcome gays and lesbians into your church, your faith is futile.”
Christianity is so much more than a belief system, but the one belief it does hinge on is resurrection — that is, belief in Jesus’ resurrection, which makes possible the resurrection and renewal of everything else.
To make the gospel dependent on anything else is to get the gospel wrong. And to do so in order to advance your own agenda and to pressure others into conformity is to become a theological bully.
The thing is, most people won’t sit around and take the abuse. They’ll just walk away.
Which is a pretty high price to pay for “winning.”
38 thoughts on “How not to be a theological bully”
I was just pondering whether or not to rehash a sermon from back in March on my blog on a very similar theme. In my case, it came out of a discussion about whether or not house church or “institutional” church is biblical…whether or not there is one “right way” of forming as a church body… the other guy hasn’t gone so far as to accuse me of heresy with my stance of “there’s nothing inherently wrong with either one” but he has gone so far as to say, “Well, if the Spirit was leading the early church towards house-church model, shouldn’t we be aiming the same way?” The implication is that anything OTHER than house-church model is, OBVIOUSLY not spirit led…
For me, as I pointed out in my sermon, while we can talk about this stuff… it’s all rubbish (to borrow the more POLITE translation of Paul’s words in Philippians 3)… There is only one thing that matters… the declaration of Jesus as King and the gospel of the arrival of the King and the inbreaking of the Kingdom (can you tell I’ve read Scot McKnight recently?).
Thanks, Ben, for reminding us to keep the One Thing as the One Thing.
Your argument might be more persuasive, and I think you make some very valid points, if you didn’t start out by attacking Ken Ham and demonstrating that you consider him to be something of a fool. You even managed a snarky meme. If you take away the first few paragraphs and the meme you have the makings of a decent place to have a discussion about an important topic. Your blog, your rules but if you start a post being partisan and inflammatory it kind of undermines your point about bullying.
Arthur, I would agree with you if I had insulted Ken Ham’s intelligence or his faith, but I did neither. Bullies and their shameful tactics need to be called out for what they are. I do not question the sincerity of Ham’s faith, only his behavior.
You use language like “tirade”, “crusader”, “self-promoter”. You post a meme which clearly is mocking Ham. You turn what he actually says “I explained that to compromise Genesis is not a salvation issue per se (salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ—not what one believes about the age of the earth or days of creation).” into “Sure, Ham won’t quite say you’re going to hell if you believe in evolution.” when he is not only not quite saying that, he isn’t saying it at all. I get that you are trying to take the high ground here but if you aren’t seeing the harsh and ad hominem nature of your opening, all you are likely to encourage is comments that agree with you. If that is your intent, again it is your blog, but if your intent is to have actual dialogue then I think you might want to think again.
What Ken is pointing out is that if someone doesn’t believe one part of the Bible, how can they believe the rest of it? God’s Word is inerrant. We are told to be discerning of false teachers, which Ken is doing.
Also, there are dire consequences for those who follow the following lifestyles (sins), no matter if they call themselves Christians: I Cor. 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Becoming a Christian isn’t just praying a prayer….it’s about obedience.
Bethany, I believe it’s important to take the Bible on its own terms, not ours. Which, for me, means not treating it as if it were a scientific textbook. It’s not. Insisting on its scientific accuracy (something it never aspires to) and then building our theological house so that if this one card collapses, everything else collapses too is a dangerous proposition, in my opinion.
I would also add that, even if we take an “inerrancy” stance, “inerrancy” is not dependant upon literalist interpretation. What are we looking for in “inerrancy”? Theological truth? If so, even if Genesis 1 reads as a poetic song, almost, describing the “forming and filling” of the universe by God, it is still inerrant. God formed the universe. God filled the universe. Poetry or oral tradition genre of the literature means that “scientific fact” is not as important as “theological truth”.
Robert, wholeheartedly agree. Though in some circles “inerrancy” seems to have become a codeword for “literally true from a modern scientific or historical standpoint.” Which is to impose a Western, 21st-century interpretation on the text, rather than letting the text speak for itself. By focusing on the mechanics of creation, we miss the theological point the author is trying to make in his poetic description. I think when we try to make the Bible be something it’s not, rather than letting it say what it has to say, we inadvertently end up with a lower view of Scripture, however much we may have set out to “defend” the Bible.
BTW, one of the best books I’ve read on the theological significance of the creation account is The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton.
That book by Walton is on my “to-read” list… one of over 300 on that list…
I think that you make an excellent point. We sit here in the world after the Enlightenment which brought to the modern thought process the idea of literal and factual. Statements are made and are entered as literal fact. They are then subject to proof or disproof. And the scientific method then builds upon previous “discoveries” so that, if a former “discovery” is disproven, all “facts” based upon that must be re-examined. Very Enlightenment… and it is this kind of thinking that those who go out to discredit the Bible use as well. Because they, too, are in that Enlightenment model of proof and disproof, when the evidence is presented that “disproves” one assumption (the Bible is literally true) then all other assumptions must be thrown out (Jesus was the son of god).
If, however, we strive to read the Bible as it was intended by the authors of the books themselves, we suddenly find an amazing array of beautiful texts, all speaking to the amazing story of God and his interaction with the world. This does not discredit the Bible, but instead shows it to be the amazingly inspired revelation that it is, that God spoke truth to so many different people in so many different ways and in so many different situations and it all flows together to the pinnacle that is Jesus. This does not negate some of the more direct commandments (“Thou shalt not kill”)… it just means they are read as a different genre.
But you know, back to my original comment… does it REALLY matter, at the root of things, whether or not it took 6 literal days or if the 6 days was a literary construct to give poetry to the story? No. What MATTERS is that God is the Creator of the universe who made man as his representatives and subject rulers here… we broke that relationship and God has been pursuing us ever since to woo us back to his rule.
I think you are missing and/or ducking the point Bethany made. if Genesis 1 doesn’t really matter then why do the teachings of Jesus really matter, why does the resurrection really matter, what do the later teachings in the Epistles really matter and furthermore why should we believe them? I mean the same “scientific” community that rejects that an omnipotent God is capable of creating the universe in six days would also say it is impossible for Jesus to heal people, raise them from the dead, walk on water, talk to Satan (or even that Satan exists), cross the Red Sea, knock down the walls of Jericho with merely a shout and of course that Jesus could die on a cross and rise from the dead three days later. If we let scientific consensus reign we are left with a pretty thin pamphlet of moral teachings and lose entirely the miraculous and supernatural nature of the revelation of God. I understand the danger of wooden literalism but I would point out that there is at least as much danger in a cafeteria style model of interpretation.
Arthur, I never said Genesis 1 didn’t matter…just that reading it as a poetic piece of prose expressing the deep truth of God’s creative power and our purpose in that creation yields the same theological weight…additionally, equating Genesis 1 with the teachings of Jesus in the accounts in the gospels or Paul’s more Greek like treatises in his epistles is ignoring genre. You don’t read a Psalm the same way you read the Gospels…you don’t read Ezekiel the same way you read Paul… Different genre’s of writing use a different hermeneutic…this does not diminish the importance of the writing at all any more than reading the parable of the sower as a teaching story diminishes it in comparison to Jesus’ Olivet Discourse…different genre’s of “writing” even in the gospels require different means of interpretation… it’s all “God-breathed”…and it’s beautiful that God breathed truth both through logical treatise and poetry, historical accounts and oral tradition…
As for “cafeteria style” model of interpretation… I assure you, such is not the case. I’m “standing on the shoulders of giants” when it comes to this view point… so many people have done so much research and scholarship to the types of writings in the OT and NT that I’m extremely humbled to even mention how much I’ve learned. So, no… this isn’t a pick and choose…it’s a matter of remembering what’s important…
As for discounting miracles… I honestly don’t think either Ben or I are doing that… God is God, I am not. To be honest, I am PERFECTLY happy with the possibility of the 6 day Creation. I’m cool with that. I, really, have no axe to grind to prove it one way or another. The same theological truth holds sway: God formed the universe, God filled the universe, God ordered the universe, God brought man into being in that universe, and God gave man a role to be God’s image bearers in that universe and be representatives of His sovereign rule. That is the theological implications of Genesis 1, whether taken literally or taken as oral tradition. When it comes to understanding what Jesus did, that is what is important. Whether or not it was a literal 6 days does not change the fact that Jesus came as God incarnate to restore the universe back to the original plan…
Yes, Arthur! When we pick and choose what we believe to be literal in the Bible, where does it end? It ends with us deciding what we want to believe…so we might as well tear out the pages we don’t like, which is why the church is such a mess today.
Arthur, your stereotyping the scientific community, which includes people like Francis Collins, lead scientist on the human genome project and a devout evangelical Christian.
Bethany, then do you believe that everything in the Bible is literal?
Jesus told parables which were meant to be illustrations, but he clearly said he was telling a parable. But Jesus took the Old Testament literally, and his disciples took his commands (which became part of the Bible) literally. Who are we not to do so as well? If we make ourselves the judge of what is literal or not, we put ourselves above God.
Again, the difference is in the genre… Sit down, sometime, with a Native American when they tell their tales… they tell “teaching stories”, stories that are not meant as literal “this is the scientific step-by-step how things happened” but stories that say “Here is how we understand the universe”… Buntu bushmen in Zimbabwe do the same. When they introduce the story, they don’t say, “I’m going to tell you a fictional story to tell a theological point” they just say, “Here is the story of the ”
That is what “oral tradition” is. This is what some of the early parts of Genesis are as well…they are the writing down of the oral teaching tradition of the Hebrew people… Prior to the writing, that is how things were taught. And oral tradition isn’t as much about presenting “scientific fact” (again, consider the cultural setting) but in telling the stories that teach the underlying truths.
Meanwhile, in the gospel accounts, we have a different kind of narrative which tells stories about Jesus. Remember this… they are stories about Jesus so, naturally, in a story about Jesus you would have the narrator saying, “And Jesus told another parable” or even Jesus saying, “Here’s another parable”… because that’s how you tell a story about someone… Again, a different genre…
NONE of this detracts from the inspiration and authority of Scripture. And, honestly, NONE of it detracts from its inerrancy. It is STILL inerrant when it comes to the truths about who God is, what his plan is for us, who Jesus is, what Jesus did, etc. That is all, still, inerrant… but inerrant DOES NOT MEAN literal.
It helps, really, to remember that what we have as a single book (The Bible) is actually an anthology of writings… a collection of various books, scrolls, letters, official historical chronicles, poems, etc., collected over quite a long period of time, deemed by MANY men and women as writings that contain divine truth and revelation. If we remember The Bible as a collection and not as a single book, then it is easier to remember that the collection is made up of a lot of different KINDS of books.
It is still inspired. It is still authoritative. It is still Scripture and useful for teaching. It is still “God-breathed”. None of that changes. To restrict our reading of it to a “literal” reading is to ignore the thousands of years, many different cultures, many different people, that passed down this book over the centuries… a “literal” reading is only a construction of the past 300 years. There are THOUSANDS of years before that in which the more genre based reading was the more accepted reading.
I’ve had a lengthy conversation with my husband who has a Ph.D. in Physics and is the director of a scientific research laboratory with 25 worldwide patents to his name. The reason why some question the biblical six-day account of creation is because some think science has something true to tell us about origins, and that’s why this conversation is taking place. However, the scientific method requires repeated experimentation and observation. Thus, the scientific study of origins is outside of science because we CAN’T recreate the universe at will to verify the Big Bang nor anything dealing with origins, for by definition an origin only occurs once. The Big Bang is shot full of observational and theoretical holes, and even if we had a theory that explained all that we see today, we would still be no closer to the truth….because we couldn’t conduct the experiment to create the universe to prove the Big Bang is necessary and sufficient to create the universe.
Therefore, Ken Ham is perfectly free to challenge science and it’s perfectly sensible to do so. You’re taking a firm stand against Ken Ham, but it’s fine that he’s taking a firm stand as well.
Did the sun literally stand still in Joshua 10? (Which, among other things, would seem to imply that the sun moves, if we are meant to read this as a literal statement of what actually happened.)
Also, Ken Ham is free to say what he likes. I just think the evidence proving him wrong is overwhelming.
To Joshua (and to us for that matter), it DID look like the sun is moving. Of course we now know it’s the earth that moves. But since God created the universe, he definitely could have slowed the rotation of the earth, just like he had Jesus be born of a virgin and raised him from the dead. Shouldn’t Christians believe in faith that God can do anything, rather than trying to disprove the Bible?
As far as scientists, probably 90% or more (a guesstimate, but an educated one) are atheists who are trying to disprove the existence of God. How can we then believe their “consensus” and any “evidence” they have?
Wow…really? 90% of scientists are athiests trying to disprove God? Wow…who knew…
Srsly, though, such blanket statements are unfair and unjust towards all the good, faithful, Jesus following scientists out there…which, I’m pretty sure constitutes more than a 10% minority… But then, 85% of all statistics are made up on the spot…
In any case, as you pointed ou with your own physicist husband, being a scientist does not mean you are not a believer in God. For me, it’s quite the contrary…the more I learn about the intricacies of our universe, the more I marvel at the creativity and all-encompassing power and wisdom of God, the more I marvel at his amazing creativity, the more I marvel at how WONDERFUL things are and how they all fit together in such intricate puzzles and formations and systems….for a human being to consider replicating the human nervous system…we’ve tried and we STILL haven’t gotten very far at all… God is amazing and I don’t have to be a YEC Biblical literalist to marvel at Creation.
No, I didn’t make up that statistic on the spot, Robert….my husband worked with Ph.D. level scientists for years and the statistic I stated is quite accurate. No need to get snarky.
My apologies for the snarkiness. That was uncalled for. However, knowing the hundreds of students graduating in the sciences every year, many, MANY of them Jesus followers, entering fields of science and research… I find the statistic EXTREMELY weak. I’d love to see specific evidence of this because experiential evidence on my part and that of MANY Christian scientific minds around the world seems to point to that statistic as unlikely…
..that is, unless the definition of “Christian scientist” is narrowed to a very specific set of criteria in which case that statistic is in danger of the same critique as Ben is making of Ken Ham…that being that if you don’t agree with a particular set of specific doctrines, you aren’t preaching “the gospel”.
My point, and Ben’s, is that the gospel is not contingent on believing in a 6 day Creation. The gospel has a lot more grace in it than that.
Just to add a little bit more to this conversation.
The Jewish Bible as we know it (what we now have as the Old Testament, did not exist until AD 100. There were various collections that folks referred to and different synagogues had different copies of various books (not all of them had all of the books). So, for most of the first century of the Christian church, even the Jewish believers did not have a “Bible” per se. As for the Gentile believers, since the Jerusalem council, many of them didn’t depend upon the Jewish texts to begin with but conducted themselves based upon the teachings of the apostles and rote memorization of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 being one of the earliest “creeds” and the gospel according to Mark being a written form of an early catechism). It wasn’t, really, until AD 300 or so that there was any “accepted” collection of Scriptures… and even then, they weren’t necessarily gathered together into a “single” book.
So… what this means is that for close to 300 years, followers of Jesus were able to preach the gospel, live the Christian way, do the “church” thing, be faithful followers of Christ, etc., etc., without ever having a book to tote around and refer to. This is not to say the Scriptures aren’t important (2 Timothy 3 kinda makes sure we know that) but we have to remember that, when Paul wrote that, there was no Bible, not even a canonized Jewish one yet… So when we say “The Bible is the ultimate authority” we have to recognize that such sentiment started in the 1500’s with Guttenberg…but the early Christians understood that the revelation of God was not a book, but a person…
Yes, but it was more than that. The language of Joshua reflects a particular view of cosmology that was held by nearly everyone in the ancient Near Eastern world, including the writers and recipients of the Bible. They sincerely believed the earth was fixed and the sun moved (except under extraordinary circumstances like those depicted in Joshua 10). So if we demand literal scientific accuracy from the Bible, then we have to conclude that Joshua 10 falls short. Which is why not just the Catholic Church but also Martin Luther and John Calvin vigorously opposed the scientific discoveries of astronomers like Copernicus, who they viewed as a threat to Christian faith, in much the same way that Ken Ham wrongly views evolutionary biologists as a threat to faith today.
So when you need medical advice, do you only listen to doctors who profess faith in Christ? When you need legal advice, do you only go to Christian lawyers? If not, then why subject scientists to such a litmus test to decide whether they’re worth listening to?
Many Ph.D. level scientists “go along” with evolution in order to get funding and tenure. They aren’t allowed to “join the club” otherwise. This is a fact, not conjecture.
I’ll ask the question I asked above: Shouldn’t Christians believe in faith that God can do anything, rather than trying to disprove the Bible?
Again, the assumption that we’re trying to disprove the Bible… or that scientists are doing so… or that even talking about evolution or a millions of year old earth somehow “disproves” the Bible. I, and quite a few other folks out there, say “pish posh”. In my opinion, the poetic forms of Genesis 1 are an amazing expression, succinctly, of the immense beauty of God’s Creation… it is not in conflict with science. Science helps tell us how things work, how the universe functions, how systemic processes in the universe pull together to do amazing things like form stars, galaxies, planets, etc… And the faith that comes from Genesis 1 tells us who the master artist is behind the beauty and why he did it in the first place.
Yes… God can do anything… but the same God who could, possibly, create the universe in 6 days is the same God who could build and guide and intimately mold creation over thousands of years. God can do anything God wants to because he is God… I am not.
Again, please note, neither Ben nor I nor any Christians who see Genesis 1 as less than literal are trying to disprove God or disprove the Bible. Nor do we see any conflict in holding a non-literal view of Genesis 1 with the larger gospel message. The focus of the gospel is not on Genesis 1 nor is it dependant upon the book we call the Bible. It is focused solely, completely, utterly, and only on the person of Jesus. Start with Jesus… and everything else kinda falls into place.
I would also suggest that your “fact’ of those who “go along” may also, while truthful for some, not the case for all…nor even a majority. Go read up on BioLogos or other Christian science web sites/organizations to find out how extensive Christian scientists are and how accepted they are within the science community. Again, if the criteria is detailed enough, we can exclude any number of people from being “Christian”…but I’m not sure Jesus really taught that much in the way of minutia…
First you’re accusing scientists of being blinded by atheism, then you say they just “go along” with the evolutionary consensus b/c they have to. You can’t have it both ways.
I fear you are forcing a false choice, much in the same way that Ham does. To believe in evolution is not to deny the belief that God can do anything. Those of us who are Christian and accept the evidence for evolution at face value worship God as the almighty creator no less than you do.
Ben, I DID say many scientists are atheists and that is true…but when Robert said he knows many scientists who are Christians, THAT’S when I said that a lot of those Christians “go along” and don’t admit they are creationists. I know whereof I speak. Two different groups, and I’m not trying to have it both ways so please don’t twist my meaning.
Evidence for evolution? Well, it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creation….
The Bible and science are not incompatible. God created science, after all. But he also created the universe and gave us his Word. I choose to believe Him.
As do I. As does Ben. We choose to believe him and the Word he gave us… and keep in mind, when John 1 talks about “The Word”… it wasn’t written. It was incarnated as flesh and blood in the person Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus, historically (as noted above) does not require the presence of the extensive written word we have today… it requires discipleship to the person of Jesus.
As for those Christian scientists I know… quite honestly, I don’t know ANY who have just “gone along” with anything… I know Christian creationists… and Christian evolutionists… And both sides are quite comfortable with their stance without any prevarication or dishonesty.
If we’re going to make personal experience the basis of our argument (not an entirely illegitimate thing to do, so long as we’re all careful to recognize the limits of our own experience), then I could point to many Christian scientists who I know and/or have read who embrace evolution as the means of creation because they are fully convinced by the scientific evidence, not because they are just “going along with it.”
Again, this is not a choice between evolution and creation. That’s a false dichotomy. I believe in creation, as does Robert. Where I disagree with you is on the mechanism of creation and on whether evolution is compatible with faith. (I believe that it is.)
What scientific evidence for evolution? You keep saying that but there isn’t any. Something coming from nothing is only possible by creation.
I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine, so there is no point in continuing, but I always enjoy a challenge.
Agreed… something coming from nothing is only possible by creation by a Creator God… no one is arguing that. Scientific evidence, in astrophysics, quantum physics, biology, etc., all points to natural processes and formations as mechanisms by which this happens. These are the tools and rules by which the universe does stuff and operates… but no one is arguing about the “who” uses the tools and “who” established the rules. As Ben said… it’s not evolution vs. creation… It’s a matter of the mechanism…
Personally, as mentioned before, I lean either way… Could be evolution… could be “poof, look! A man!”…. I’m not God, I wasn’t there… so, to that extent, there’s a faith component on BOTH sides. But I AM convinced that it is GOD who did it… no matter HOW he did it… and when I look at the Genesis story, that is confirmed…
Exactly….God was there at creation and he’s the only one who was. So we need to accept his account of what happened.
That is assuming God dictated verbatim the account to Moses… Or… could it be that God, knowing the Ancient Near Eastern culture and mindset, revealed a creation account that would make sense to the ANE mindset and worldview? After all, they thought the Sun went around the earth, right?
Could God have created everything in 6 days? Yes.
Are there (literally) MOUNTAINS of scientific evidence that suggest He did not? Yes.
Could He have created everything in such a way as to make it appear to be MUCH older than it actually is? Sure.
If He created everything by simply putting atoms and particles and energy and who knows what else in motion, and then guiding that motion, does that make Him any less a creator? No.
If you examine the order in which Genesis says God created everything and put it next to the order in which science leads us to believe the universe, planets and life developed – are there any similarities? Well, they only almost match perfectly.
Do most scholars agree that Genesis is written in the style of an epic poem? Yes.
Are there common themes and threads that run through the Christian creation story and the creation stories of more cultures than I can name? Yes.
Is it ok if a Christian wants to believe 6 days means a literal 6 days? Yes, although they risk adding to the misconception that to be a Christian is to be anti-science or anti-intellectual.
Is it ok if a Christian accepts the scientific evidence for evolution and the earth being billions of years old, while still acknowledging that God is the Author of Life? Yes, although they risk adding to the misconception that Christians don’t believe in their own Holy Book.
Does it serve any good purpose for Christians to bicker among ourselves over who is right or wrong? No, in fact it can hurt (to whatever extent humans are able to stand in its way) the spreading of the Gospel.
Atheists love to take the Bible 100% literally, because they find it easier that way to poke holes in it, find fallacies, inconsistencies, etc. An atheist looking to disprove the Bible will always read it as a history or science text, because they know it will fail tests on those grounds. It is a Holy Book, and it is meant to be read with an open, earnest heart that desires to be moved and informed by the Holy Spirit upon its reading. Christians who choose to read it as a science or history text (while I may personally feel they are making a mistake) have the right to do so. And Christians who take a less literal approach, seeking simply and sincerely to be filled with Truth from the Word – we have that right, too. And you’re right, Ben, neither kind should be bullying the other.