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Bill Nye Debate #1

I finally got through most of the three hour Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate about creationism vs. evolution and why we shouldn't teach creationism in schools. It was interesting.

I have been to churches that had lectures on intelligent design, but I've never heard much discussion from the new earth creationist side of things, I think they're in a definite minority. Ken Ham had lots of examples of people who have done very smart things, yet believe the earth is only 6,000 years old, and I wasn't sure what to make of it. I think that rather than be impressed with the intellectual prowess on that side of things I was a little concerned and mostly confused.

Bill Nye brought up some very convincing evidence about why he believes the earth is older than 6,000 years old. Easy to understand stuff. Ice layers. Tree rings. Fossils that show a path of evolution that don't mix with one another. There was basic math involved - how big was Noah's arc? If it wasn't the size of a small state, how quickly would the animals have had to evolve to make the number of species we have today?

Ken Ham didn't seem to have very good responses for these things, except to say that he could never be convinced the bible wasn't true, and that if we didn't believe in the Bible all our kids would grow up into gay abortionists.

Bill Nye, on the other hand, said he could totally be convinced that evolution wasn't true, if presented with the right evidence. Science is full of papers just waiting to be torn up, he said. Make a discovery, shake up the world, be a star. I feel like he was really speaking to kids there... do you want to pick a side that is sure it has all the answers, just does research to find evidence to support them? Or do you want to be able to find anything?

I think the debate has changed me a little bit in that before, I was kinda with Ken Ham in thinking this topic was not terribly important. I'm an engineer, do I need to know how the earth is made? Do I care?

Bill Nye said yes. Everyone needs to care, because there's this idea floating around that there are two kinds of "science" - the kind you can observe and see with your eyes, and some crap people just made up. Evolution is not some crap someone made up. There's evidence for it that can't be ignored, and it was arrived at just like all other scientific discoveries. You can't divide your life and say some days I'll do research, some days I'll just read the Bible, it's gotta have all the answers.

It's a dangerous idea, that we should just shove certain issues off to the side and say "Religious people disagree with this, let's skirt the whole topic."


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched it but a friend of mine did and she was saying it would have been more powerful if the science side had been someone who wasn't atheist.

Most scientists in this country are not atheist (only ~7% are, if you only look at those who were born and raised here; I think the number jumps to 14% if you include people who came from other countries). Science and religion are not necessarily at odds.

What do you think?

Also: could you clarify this:
There's this idea floating around that there are two kinds of "science" - the kind you can observe and see with your eyes, and some crap people just made up.
it seems like this is important, but I'm not sure what you mean

Edited at 2014-02-20 10:12 pm (UTC)
Feb. 21st, 2014 12:05 am (UTC)
As a Christian, I disagree that I needed to hear Christians debate this. Nye made it very clear he was out to prove science, not out to disprove religion, he's got nothing against religion. All he did was lay out his evidence.

Ken Ham also said that any Christian who didn't believe in his interpretation of the Bible - that the earth was created 6000 years ago in 7 24-hour days - has their Christianity wrong. So what's the use of having someone who claims to be Christian debate this topic, if they could be written off as "not a real christian"?

Also - damn, this entry, I meant to keep working on it but it auto-posted :)

So a big topic of the debate was that Ham said there's "observational" and "historical" science - two branches. The Bible is his history book, basically, it's a science to study it, because it fills in this stuff we can't possibly observe.

Nye argued that no, we need to depend ONLY on observations. And even though you weren't there to "observe" the dinosaurs you can observe the dinosaur fossils and how they're on different layers than lower ordered fossils, that's an observation, we've got to use all the same methods whether we're testing out a cure for cancer or digging outside in the dirt. It was very convincing.

It was like Ken discounted the value of scientific method, really, and Nye said that was his clue that this should not be taught in schools.
Feb. 21st, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
Where do you get those numbers? Pew has different numbers.

While I agree that science and religion are not necessarily at odds (I personally have friends and relatives well-known in their fields in the science community who are religious), what Ken Ham was doing throughout that debate was very anti-science. Instead of using observations to tell him about how the world works, he shoehorns observations into his own theory, whether or not it makes any sense.

I don't think Bill Nye being an atheist had anything to do with the audience response. Every review seemed to think that if you went in believing in Young Earth Creationism you would come out on the same side. Likewise, if you went in believing in Evolution (directed or not), you would come out on the same side. I can only imagine where people without a preconceived idea would have come out, but I think (and hope) it would be on the side of science.
Feb. 21st, 2014 06:27 pm (UTC)
The trouble with that pew survey is the way they asked the question. If you probe a little deeper, those who are atheist is a much smaller subset. If you include those who consider themselves spiritual the number is much different.
Feb. 21st, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
I have not seen the debate. I was, however, raised Catholic and grew up to be a woman in science who is all about research. In school, it was never a debate... I remember learning (whether because they told us, or because I came to my own conclusions on the matter) that God created the earth, and He did it through the process of evolution, and the Bible gave us lots of information about God, but was not necessarily 100% accurate in terms of time, and how people measured time back then was not necessarily how time is measured now.

I got it. It was a non-issue for me. God created the world. It happened through evolution, and we can learn more about that by studying evolution and the universe in general. Done.

I considered myself someone who believed in both. I was stunned when I got to University and learned that there were people who took sides, and who DIDN'T believe in evolution. I didn't know those people had existed (yes, I know I was sheltered).

I still don't understand why it's so bad to believe in both, and to believe in God yet believe that the Bible is not 100% accurate.
Feb. 21st, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)
that's pretty much where I'm at. I don't think the Bible was meant to be a science text.

Back before we were such an information-rich society, generations passed down stories for everything. You see it with things Jesus said a lot, someone would ask him a question and he'd say "Let me tell you a story..."

And the people weren't like "REALLY what was the prodigal son's NAME?!" because they didn't care. it's just now that we're so excited about proving everyone wrong, we're trying to use the Bible to beat everyone up with.
Feb. 21st, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)
very well said :)
Feb. 21st, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
I kind of wish I could mail this sensible entry to my parents, but it would just make them unhappy rather than lending them a clue.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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