“Ham on Nye” and Creationism, Evolution
There has been quite a stir over the recent “Ham on Nye” debate. If you’ve not been following, the debate question was, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” (as posed by moderator Tom Foreman of CNN at the debate). It was held at the Creation Museum (in Kentucky) of Answers in Genesis, started by Ken Ham, the debater on the “yes” side of the question.
Now actually, I only watched the introduction, not the debate itself. However, I have high interest in issues surrounding religion and science and related areas. So I’ve checked in on how the debate generally went, how it’s been responded to, etc. I imagine, as I’ve seen noted, that this debate (or any similar one) has done little to change people’s minds. But that doesn’t mean it is unimportant. At the least, it is an interesting glimpse into the American scene and how the perpetual tensions between religion and science are being played out in one large segment of our society. There are practical implications, among them the nature of the science education your kids or grandkids will get (particularly involving evolution and potentially the biblical literature or “creationist” views about evolution and creation).
One objection from the evolution side (represented by Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”) to the debate itself is that even holding it might lend undeserved credibility to the creationist side. It should be noted here, for those unaware, that Ham’s and the museum’s version of creationism is the “young earth” variety, requiring an interpretation of both Genesis and all scientific data that fits with an age of the earth and universe of only 10,000 years or less. This is not as fringe a belief as many might suppose. Gallup polling seems to indicate, over many years, that 40-some percent of the American public holds to it. (I’ve seen estimates that whittle down the actual likely percentage to around 10, but regardless, it is a large enough minority to be of note, and of at least some local if not state or national political significance.)So, did you watch the debate, or do you plan to? (just “Google” it.) Your impressions? Interesting observations? To me, perhaps as important as anything is that such a debate was staged and that it had a sizable following, either watchers or interested parties such as reporters, bloggers like me and other “second-hand” observers. Many of us are discussing it on blogs and social media… and probably around the metaphorical water cooler. I’m sure it’s a big church topic in certain circles as well. But… Does it really matter? Does a debate that involves a clearly “matter of faith” view of important science subjects (age of the earth, e.g.) that does run counter to mountains of evidence in any way advance productive discussion? Does it lead to anything positive, either for Christian faith or for the advancement of our understanding of the world and life? I also wonder whether it advances understanding and mutual respect between people on the “sides” of the debate. This, I believe is a core issue, and my tentative answer is yes, at least in this case, it may have. If you saw the debate, please chime in, but from summaries of it, it sounds like both debaters were respectful and generally polite. It did not have a spirit of acrimony. If true, it hopefully will decrease rather than increase hostility and polarization around this important issue. If so, it could be at least a small help in decreasing the sense of being embattled and threatened that fundamentalists tend to live within. Do you agree? What else do you see?