Friday, February 7, 2014

First Reactions to the Bill Nye-Ken Ham Debate on Science vs. Creationism

I was raised in a fundamentalist church where I was taught from the cradle the things that Ken Ham presented a few days ago in his online debate with 'Science Guy' Bill Nye. About 45 years ago, at the age of around 17, I rejected that fundamentalist worldview and have never turned back. Everything I have learned since then--in college, in seminary, in graduate school, and in my personal study as a Methodist pastor for 35 years--has only reinforced that rejection.

Illustration presented by Ken Ham and the Creation Museum
Which means that I accept the results of 'mainstream' science, in all of its various forms, whether biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, archeology, geology, or whatever.  The universe was created billions of years ago in the Big Bang, not thousands of years.  Likewise, sometime in the almost unimaginably distant past, life developed on earth and over millions of years has evolved into the biosphere that we experience today.

To the contrary, as you can see from the illustration presented by Ken Ham during his creationist presentation, he believes that his fundamentalist interpretation of the first 11 chapters of the biblical book of Genesis somehow trumps all the knowledge that modern science provides to us.  The pictures he shows there could have taken directly from my Sunday School class in 1st grade.  (We used the flannel-graph kind, colorful cutouts stuck to a flannel board on an easel....those of you who grew up back in the 1950s and 60s in fundamentalist Protestant Sunday School will know exactly what I mean!)

This boggles my mind.  The notion that the story of creation as given in Genesis should be taken to be a scientifically and historically accurate account of what actually happened some 6,000 years ago leaves me speechless.  It's hard to know how to counter such a weird thought in this day and age.  To me, it's akin to trying to prove to Mormons that the Book of Mormon is not historically and scientifically accurate.  (In the Book of Mormon, Jews came across the Atlantic Ocean in big boats thousands of years ago, were the ancestors of the American Indians, and welcomed Jesus when he paid a visit to Missouri after his resurrection.)

Poor Bill Nye.  He tried very hard to be nice and fair and balanced to Ken Ham in his presentations and responses, and I give him credit for that.  But this was a mission impossible, because as Ken Ham openly said toward the end of the 'debate', there is no evidence of any kind that would change his mind about 'creationism', because it is a basic religious conviction for him, and to concede anything would be to (for him) deny his faith in Jesus Christ, which of course he will not do.

Now, I'm not saying that Ken Ham isn't a smart man.  He clearly is quite intelligent, and very pleasant and courteous as well.  The problem, of course, lies in the nature of his basic religious presuppositions: namely, that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are historically and scientifically accurate and infallible. Why does he believe that?  Because--as he said several times during the debate--they are the Word of God, and obviously God cannot be wrong.  With those starting points, you pretty much end up where he ends up, modern science be damned.

I've got more to say about this whole thing, but I'll put it in a followup post.

1 comment:

  1. Jesus resurrected, having risen from the dead in his now immortal body he was seen to ascend to return to his father ,God is a celestial being Jesus so became .an experiment in USA on light particles concluded that light was not governed by time or space ,Moses after speaking with God his face so glowed with light he wore veil to protect the people ,God spoke from what appeared to be burning bush, Joseph Smith first vision saw God an Jesus as resurrected beings composed of light.celestial beings composed of glorious body's of light ,could they have same properties IE not being governed by time or space , imagine God saying to Jesus my beloved son take two companions an create the earth the only course he would have is to move back in time an create the earth, report back to his Father an back again he would only be in Gods presence 6 days but million of years would pass as he organized an created the earth.setting the building blocks of life in motion , moving forward millions of years tweaking the evolutionary life forms moving forward further millions of years adjusting the earth.evolution an creationism all part of the same job, no problem , this is a very contracted version , plausible unless disproved . now if my feeble mind can come up with this idea do you really imagine God hadn't figured a thousand more plausible ways , never a problem between creationism or evolution both part of the same proses just stand further back to see the whole picture (this takes up many pages in my mind but shortened you get the jist of what I'm getting at) no its not Mormon Teaching lol