In case you missed it, Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Science Museum in Kentucky, and Bill Nye (of Science Guy fame), will debate “Is Creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”
You can catch the debate on 2.4.14 at debatelive.org.
It sounds like a great event. The chief apologist for Young Earth Creationism versus the most popular television personality in the realm of science. What’s not to love? Maybe someone will tune in to the debate and learn something. Hear an argument from Ken or Bill they’d never heard before. Decide to do some research on their own. Grow a little in critical thinking skills.
That’s why I felt a little dismayed when I started to read blog posts about the event:
Patheos: “Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: Giving Credibility to Nonsense or Walking Into an Apologetic War Machine”
Internet Monk: “Bad Idea. Very Bad Idea. Horrendously Bad Idea.”
Dangerous Minds: “Get Your Popcorn Ready: Bill Nye the Science Guy to Debate Idiot Creation Museum Founder Ken Ham”
Richard Dawkins: “Why Bill Nye Shouldn’t Debate Ken Ham”
Evolution News: “Regarding that Creationism Debate Pitting Bill Nye Against Ken Ham, Here’s My Guilty Admission”
Huffington Post: “As a Reformed Creationist, I Hope Bill Nye Doesn’t Underestimate Ken Ham”
The last article shows why everyone is so upset about this debate: not just because it’s a media event, but because there’s a real chance that Ken Ham will run circles around Nye, and to folks who hold to Evolution, that’s a train wreck.
What you don’t see in this list of articles is any explanation as to how Ham could walk away with a win if Young Earth Creationism is built on snake oil and pseudo-science as its opponents suggest.
The Missing Link
In the list above, there’s a missing link: the link to an article which fairly represents the strongest positions on both sides and invites readers to judge for themselves. I couldn’t find one.
It troubles me that bloggers are willing to warn people away from this debate, call it a freak show or a media circus, without returning to the fact that it is a debate between two camps who interpret the same facts differently.
It’s a debate, and viewers can decide for themselves if Ham seems like a quack or if Nye comes off sounding like an expert.
But it seems that everyone has already made up their minds as to what they believe, and no debate is going to get in the way of their presuppositions. Many bloggers–certainly the ones listed above–are already fossilized in their opinions, and there are few transitional bloggers to be found.
Author and blogger Rachel Held Evans (who I normally admire as a tenacious thinker), tweeted that anyone who believes in Young Earth Creationism, in order to be consistent, “must also believe that the earth is held up by pillars and covered in a firmament.” This is unfair and actually wrong. Young Earth Creationists do understand metaphor and differences in literary genre. And by “firmament” Rachel probably means vapor canopy, because we all believe the world is covered by a firmament. Firmament means “sky” or “heavens.”
So why would Rachel, normally a clear thinker, belittle Young Earth Creationists in ways that make them sound ridiculous by using terms which aren’t even accurate? And why would no one in her Twitter feed know enough—or care enough—to point out the error?
I think it’s because when it comes to Creation vs. Evolution, the battle lines are already drawn and reactionism replaces reason.
When Bloggers Act Like Congress
Rachel wrote a book about her own journey out of Christian fundamentalism and how she evolved as a thinker (Evolving in Monkey Town – a great read). The Young Earth Creationists trigger her because she grew up believing that was the only possible interpretation of scripture, which left her feeling foolish and betrayed when she heard other perspectives. So she reacts strongly against anyone who tries to show the merits of Creation Science today.
I can understand that, because I do the same thing. I often react to the area of spiritual authority because of my own background in a Bible cult. I also sometimes mock folks who seem to farm their thinking off to other people, because that’s what I used to do. But that doesn’t make my mocking correct, and it certainly doesn’t make it Christian.
That’s why it troubles me when popular bloggers, instead of listening in order to understand the best arguments of the other side, have instead led the charge in the “no thinking and no questions allowed” campaign with Creationism vs. Evolution.
If you’re a Creationist, you’re an idiot. If you’re an Evolutionist, you’re going to hell.
It sounds a lot like Congress, actually, where Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of idiocy and nefarious motives, listen to each other without hearing the substance of the conversation, and try to overcome each other with blunt force. They also try to keep the other side’s arguments and proposed bills from the general public via denial of service attacks (filibustering) and snarky rhetoric which is heavy on accusation and scanty on facts.
So that’s working pretty well for our government, right?
If not, then why do we think similar scare tactics and reactionism will promote understanding in the Creation vs. Evolution debate?
But we do it. Bloggers have already told everyone why this debate is such a bad idea and what a freak show it will be. The content of the debate? Irrelevant. Why? Because for many bloggers, the debate itself lends credibility to Young Earth Creationism as reputable science. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is apparently intolerable.
Asking the Big Questions
This concerns me. If Young Earth Creationism is based on “junk” science as some of these bloggers suggest, then a debate seems like just the place to expose it.
But it’s not that simple, and the Young Earth arguments are not that easy to dismiss. This is because Young Earth Creationists have their own stable of experts and Ph.D scientists who write journal articles and use footnotes and draw diagrams and use calculus and physics and hydrology and quantum mechanics to back up their interpretation of the data. It’s actually pretty impressive.
Young Earth Creationists, for their part, add their own shrill voice to this polarized arena. Ken Ham is well known for calling this issue a culture war and using militaristic language to describe the controversy. Evolutionists are ridiculed, pamphlets are churned out by the hundreds, children are taught to fear the mainstream educational system and to believe that a person cannot hold to evolution and still be a Christian.
I was taught these things in my former church. We attended a “Creation Vacation” in 1994 and I learned some of the questions to ask about evolution:
- Why are there polystrate fossils?
- Why do human footprints appear with dinosaur prints in Glen Rose, Texas?
- Why is there such discrepancy in dating methods?
- How can evolution defy the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
- Are geological patterns best explained by Uniformitarianism or Catastrophism?
- Why does Jesus refer to a literal Adam and Eve if they never existed?
- What about irreducible complexity?
- Where are the transitional fossils that evolution demands?
If you’re an Evolutionist, you already have answers to most of these. I, however, believed that anyone who did not subscribe to Young Earth, six-day Creationism was going to hell.
Later, after exiting my cult, I decided to do some research on the other side of the debate. Look into some of Evolution’s best questions for Christianity:
- How is it that we can see light from stars which are billions of light years away?
- Why do rocks and fossils appear to be millions of years old?
- Why does the fossil record appear to show evolution from simple to complex organisms over time?
- Why are there similarities in genetic material between apes and humans?
- Do the days in Genesis 1 and 2 refer to literal 24-hour days? How can that be if the first several days had no sun?
- Why did God give T-Rex and lions sharp teeth if they ate only vegetables?
- How could Noah fit all the animals onto the ark?
- Where did Cain get his wife?
If you’re a Young Earth Creationist, you already have answers for these. But each question certainly deserves serious study and could involve reading widely from conflicting sources, don’t you think?
Where are the transitional bloggers—those who are willing to hold in tension data which appears to be in conflict? Where are the voices of reason and moderation? Where are the critical thinkers who avoid ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments?
When a blogger says that a debate is a bad idea before the debate has happened, he or she displays a troubling bias. Don’t think about these issues, they might as well say, just believe. Trust the scientists. Trust the Evolutionists. Ken Ham is an idiot. It will be a freak show.
But maybe the freak show is happening on blogs which refuse to seriously consider alternative viewpoints or let readers and viewers decide for themselves. Is Creation a viable model of origins, or is it dead on arrival? Bloggers have already expressed their set-in-stone opinions.
I hope you can think for yourself and work it out in transition.
Maybe you can be that blogger who provides the missing link.
Thanks for the link to the live debate. I look forward to watching it with an inquiring mind.
Actually, firmament does not mean “sky” or “heavens.” Some modern English translations render it that way, but that’s not what it means. The Hebrew word, “raqia,” does suggest solidity, being derived from the root Hebrew word “raqa,” meaning to hammer or “beat” out like a piece of metal (cf. Exodus 39:3 and Numbers 16:39 for biblical examples of the most common use of this word).
The context of Genesis 1, where the firmament is said to “hold up” “the waters above” and “hold in” the sun and stars and moon within it, also suggest solidity, as do the other times the word “raqia” is used in the Old Testament. Job 37:18, for example, asks, “Can you join [God] in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” and the Genesis flood account and several Psalms mention the firmament having floodgates (you know, like a dam).
Genesis 1:6-7 is not talking about the sky as we understand it today, with its multilayered atmosphere of nitrogen, oxygen, argon and trace gases being all that stands between us and endless space. It is talking about an impermeable dome, strong and solid enough to hold up a whole mess of water and complete with floodgates that God can open for the rains whenever he chooses. Anyone who reads the passage and comes away with any other interpretation is not really reading it literally.
I do not wish to hijack your post, and I appreciate appreciate the overall point you were making, but I do believe you are incorrect on that matter for the reasons above. Thanks.
Nice! So we’re already having some helpful discussion. Thanks for adding this comment, Tyler. You know, that helps me understand Rachel’s tweet. Other interpreters translate raqia as “sky” or “heaven” based on the context and how they understand the genre. I guess if we have a wooden literalist who cannot ever interpret a word poetically, then Rachel’s commment rings true. But not all Young Earth Creationists are wooden literalists, and many do interpret raqia as “sky” or “heaven.” I think it’s an unfair comparison, but your comment helps to show that Rachel’s tweet is at least internally consistent. I stand corrected. Thanks =)
Thank you for your gracious reply. I appreciate your open-mindedness 🙂
Hi, thank you for a well articulated post on an extremely important subject. However I would like to respond to the claim by Tyler Francke that a literal interpretation of “raqia” means a solid structure complete with flood gates. That simply is not true, since raqia is not that specific of a word. Additionally, the root word “raqa” could also just as easily be interpreted to mean “spread out” and not necessarily include the beating of brass principle as stated was the only meaning. I would love to know exactly for sure what raqia is. It could be interpreted to simply mean the present atmosphere and space beyond and some have speculated that it could be a water canopy. For me that is part of the fun of learning the Bible, since I believe God left things in his word for us to discover.
However the above teaching by Tyler Francke illustrates the effort by some to make the literal interpretation of Genesis look absurdly fantastical. That is so sad especially now when that occurs between individuals that claim the same faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you again for your article and I hope you have a nice day.
Hey Jim, thanks for the response. One question, for clarification: In OT scripture, how often does the Hebrew word “raqa” refer to something solid, like metal or tent canvas, and how often does it refer to something gaseous, like the earth’s atmosphere? Thank you.
Hi Frank: Raqia is an interesting and mysterious word but there are many mysterious words in the Bible, which is one of the things I love about it. Translating a word like raqia into another language is where mis-interpretations occur. In Genesis 1:8 it says that God called the raqia “Shamayin” or heaven (no indication of hardness) and I will take his interpretation of the word over any others. Also the modern translation of the Hebrew word raqia is “sky” with no indication of hardness. There are at least five scientific interpretations of Genesis 1:4 where raqia is first mentioned. Building a teaching on the non-scientific pre-assumption that raqia means metal dome is possible but it is not authoritative at best.
Raqia is translated in Genesis 1:6 as firmament which some have interpreted to mean as hard. However it could just as easily mean something that is spread out or “expanse” as stated in the modern translations. As previously mentioned the root word raqa means to spread out or beat out as in the metal gold. There are many characteristics to gold and it is speculation to pre-suppose that it is referring specifically to the hardness instead of, for example, the way gold can be beaten to spread outward. In Genesis 1:14 the raqia word is used to describe the expanse of space where the stars exist. In Genesis 1:20 raqia is used to describe the space where the birds fly. I do not know of any other uses of the word.
Hey Jim. I’m aware that “raqia” refers to the sky. That’s not what I asked. I had asked about its root word, “raqa,” the uses of which you can find here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/nas/raqa.html. Since you didn’t answer my question, I’ll answer it for you: Although the word can be translated “beat out” and “hammer out,” as well as “spread out” — as you mention — it is always used to refer to solid objects, usually metal, but sometimes things like dirt or the earth. It never refers to something gaseous or otherwise comprised of air.
The one possible exception is the sky, the “firmament.” However, given the context in which the sky is discussed in the OT, and particularly in Genesis — holding up water, having floodgates, being spread or “hammered out,” having the sun, moon and stars fixed upon it — it strains credulity to imagine that the original authors bucked the common cosmological thinking of the time and used a word that always referred to solid objects to describe something vaporous. That is what you’re asking me to believe.
To be clear, I’m not denying that God could have given the original authors special knowledge in this regard. I’m simply saying that it’s painfully obvious that he did not. And if he did not give them special knowledge about the composition of the sky, why would we presume that the Bible is a storehouse of scientific truths, when its primary desire is obviously to be a theological one?
Hi Francke; I think we have established that the wondrous word, raqia, cannot at the present time be interpreted with any specific final authority. I have said that it is possible to make the interpretation of a “metal dome” and you have said it is possible to make the interpretation of “sky”. That means as a creationist I am free to speculate the meeting per my hope in Jesus Christ and his desire for us to ponder these things as I have stated. Also, as an evolutionist, you are free to speculate the meeting per your hope that the Genesis account is not scientific as you have stated. I have enjoyed my conversation with you and I hope you have a very nice day.
Hi Francke: I would also like to add that my regional response was primarily to your original statement that “firmament” (raqia) does not mean “sky” or “heavens”. I believe it is proper to call raqia heavens according to Genesis 1:8–And God called the firmament Heaven.
Thank you, Jim. If “raqia” meant “heavens,” then Genesis 1:8 would be translated, “And God called the heavens ‘heavens'” (or “sky ‘sky'”). Clearly, this does not make sense. But at any rate, my point — which I believe I made obvious in my original statement — is that “raqia” does not refer to any conception of the sky that we would recognize today. The ancients — including those who wrote Genesis 1 — had a different view, and that different view is reflected in the very language they use. Here is a link to an article in Westminster Theological Journal by OT scholar Paul H. Seely, affirming that my view (“raqia” refers to a solid dome) is correct, and your view (either that it means a gaseous atmosphere, or that we really have no idea what it means) is incorrect: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/01-genesis/text/articles-books/seely-firmament-wtj.pdf. This is just one man’s opinion of course, but Mr. Seely certainly knows more about the topic than I, and he seems to make a very strong case. If nothing else, it refutes your earlier point that my perspective expressed here is nothing more than a reflection of “the effort by some to make the literal interpretation of Genesis look absurdly fantastical.”
Hi Tyler: I am familiar with Paul Seely and do not agree with his arguments and conclusions. As stated previously, I am content to leave our discussion with the conclusion that raqia is a mysterious word. My main concern is the teaching with authority interpretations of texts that are not intended to be that specific or from another perspective could mean something completely different. Also, as is this case, teaching that God did not really mean what He said.
I have built my mechanical engineering company from the ground up, http://www.robertsonairsystems.com ,when I design equipment I use many different materials and when describing or specifying an aluminum assembly,for example, to an architect I might say, “I called the aluminum metal” and it makes perfect sense. To me also it makes sense when God called raqia shamayin (heaven).
I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss these things with you further. My wife and I are situating ourselves in the Seattle area as she completes her PhD at UW and teaches critical thinking and writing. I realize that it is obvious by now that opposites attract since I’m not very good at writing and she is. We are also attending the second Sunday morning service at Mark Driscoll’s church in Bellevue WA. If you are ever in the area come on by. I will treat you to some espresso.
That is a kind gesture, and I live near Portland, Ore., so it’s actually not outside the realm of possibility that I may be near your neck of the woods someday. I’ll keep your offer in mind. Thank you.
No problem. Thanks
Hey Steve, I appreciate your good thoughts here. I wholeheartedly agree that reactionary responses are unfruitful. However, I think the problem with this debate is the representatives selected not the fact that the debate exists. I am a creationist and have a hard time taking Ken Ham seriously. This topic is much more deserving of critical debate than I think these two can offer.
Hi Lisa, I can understand that perspective. But few folks on Main Street USA will take the time–or ever hear about in the first place–a debate between two Ph.D. scientists talking at an esoteric level. This debate, on the other hand, promises to be popular, and it might just cause people to think. If Bill Nye does a great job expounding why evolution is the best model for origins, people can take that and process it. If Ken Ham explains well why Young Earth Creationism is a viable model, people can learn about that. I just don’t see why this is worthy of shouting down before it has even happened. Really, what is there to fear? I just don’t get the harsh rhetoric. The bloggers who have responded in such a shrill manner have only increased people’s interest in this debate.
To be consistent, shouldn’t you then be grateful for their increasing the level of interest in this debate?
Steve, great thoughts.
As a moderating voice, who takes both the biblical witness and modern scientific evidence (especially findings from cosmology) seriously, I would recommend the work of William Lane Craig. He holds a double PhD in both philosophy and theology, so he is well-equipped for these and related issues. In his “Defenders” Sunday school class, he covers the topic of evolution and creation very nicely. Here’s the link: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/s9
Also, I find the terms “creationism” and “creation science” to be problematic, because most people seem to automatically associate these with a young earth interpretation. But young earth is just one view of many within creationism; many Christians (I would include myself) hold to an old earth view that adequately (but not perfectly) reconciles scriptural revelation and scientific discoveries. When bloggers or polemicists on both sides (not you) present this debate as creation vs. evolution, that is really a false disjunction or dilemma. One can believe in creation ex nihilo via a Perfect Being and also an old earth and evolutionary processes over time. I would guess this is the moderating open-minded position you are calling for us to at least consider.
Thanks Ben. Helpful comment.
My thoughts on this topic won’t mean much for I have not studied creation to the extent as these bright minds who have posted here- 🙂
One thing though that did catch my attention is that of Genesis 1:2 “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” I have now come to think that yes there is an old earth (of course, I need to do more research on this). It is my opinion that the earth was already there for God to mold and create to His liking. It is likely that He had created the universe eons ago and the earth was just a uninhabitable planet like mars or jupiter. It seems as if it is stated in Genesis that the earth was already there- formless, empty, watery, and dark. Now, however, I do not think it likely that it took over thousands of years just to create life.
Thanks for adding your thoughts, Faith. Your theory is held by a number of scholars, also. See what company you keep? 😉
I keep in very good company here- 🙂 Great people that post who I wish I could meet personally over a cup of coffee.
another question too- How long was Adam and Eve in the garden? What if animals and plants were being created in and within that time they were inhabitating it? These are just some interesting concepts that have been swimming up there in my noggin’. I have to say I do not look at what others say regarding different theories as “stoically” or legalistically as I use to.
I must admit I’m surprised by this post. I’m also surprised you would comment on the firmament without knowing what ANE scholars have understood (and have been saying for all of us with ears to hear) for years.
I do not think it will be an honest debate, because neither party will listen to, attend to, or respect the other’s position. Each has their ideology to *protect and preach*. It’s too much a part of their identities (not to mention Ken Ham’s livelihood.) Do you honestly expect Ken Ham to sit back and think about Bill Nye’s evidence? Maybe to make a few changes in his museum? Then you are not merely a moderate. You are wishful in the extreme.
Would you support a debate between Michael Pearl and a liberal who regards children as miniature adults with the full rights afforded adulthood?
I have prejudged, and I hope I am mistaken. I will also be watching the debate. But I witnessed a debate between Ken Ham and Peter Enns, a man who conducts himself in real life humbly and intelligently. And when Pete says this is a big mistake, I side with him.
No, I do not expect Ken or Bill to change their positions one iota. Public debates never have this result. The purpose is to expose a broader audience to the best ideas from both sides and for them to think about what they believe and why. That’s why I dislike a host of popular bloggers telling their readership why this is a stupid idea. I dislike information control and the fear behind it. That’s why I wrote this post.
While I am no fan of Ken Ham, he has many arguments that need to be heard and answered. Posts like Rachel’s which make YEC look like fools when in fact they have an understanding of genre and science, are unhelpful to the dialogue.
The reason this debate continues is because neither side has been able to trump the other. Despite the assertions of these bloggers, evolution is far from a proven theory. And YEC has some enormous gaps and problems to address as well. Both camps must continue to dialogue and push each other to provide better answers. Bloggers may dislike Ken Ham, but he nevertheless is the face of YEC. Perhaps this debate will precipitate many secondary debates. That in itself is a worthy accomplishment.
Sent from my iPhone
Great post. Great comments. So much to think about!
I don’t know if these qualify as transitional bloggers, but here you go:
Some feel it is important to point out that there are more than two options. The Ham on Nye debate only presents two options, and so does your article. Biologos promotes a third way, rejects the extremes, and thinks great science and Biblical faith can go hand in hand:
Tim Stafford points out how damaging it can be to all parties when the extremes are emphasized:
Be sure to ponder his last two paragraphs.
I posted an article from Tim Stafford here earlier. Again, I don’t know if this qualifies as a transitional blogger, but here you go:
Hi Scott, I read the articles and I love the more moderate and respectful tone. That is so helpful. I agree that creating a binary choice between faith and science is unhelpful.
What’s lost by each of these articles, in my opinion, is that YEC would argue that the science supports their position. They would argue that this is not a “Religion vs. Science” debate but an interpretive debate where both sets of scientists are working from the same data and coming to different conclusions. If there’s one thing I learned from being a part of the YEC movement back in the 1990s and early 2000s, it is that everyone comes to the data with a set of presuppositions, and what those presuppositions are helps to determine how one interprets the raw data.
I still haven’t decided where I fall on the whole spectrum (my expertise and focus in this season of life is on spiritual abuse and promoting critical thinking, not on origins issues), but as someone who read his fair share of YEC technical journal articles back in the day, I think it is inaccurate to say that this is a Religion vs. Science debate. Both sides will martial scientific arguments.
I, like you, would like to see respect for the whole spectrum of Christian belief on this topic, from YEC to Theistic Evolution to Intelligent Design and everywhere in between. While I may dislike some of the YEC tactics, I can’t deny their right to voice their opinion in the marketplace and to not be shouted down by the collective disgust of the blogging community. Between 33 million to 144 million Americans believe that the world was created within the last 10,000 years, depending on the poll you look at and how the question was phrased. That alone merits a debate on the topic.
Is Creation a viable model of origins? We may not come to a conviction based on the Nye v. Ham debate, but no doubt the interest generated will spawn heated discussion across the nation. And that, I think, is a worthwhile result.
Well said, Steve!
Thank you for being the ONLY fair, open minded response to this I have read at all.
I grew up in an evolutionist-atheist family, attended theistic-evolutionist school & church, got a secular feminist uni degree, and was converted to Christianity as an adult largely through young Earth creationist apologetics – which was introduced to me by a close friend with a postgraduate university applied science / engineering degree.
Do I know which one of these ontologies I was introduced to and educated in is the be all and end all of truth? No, I don’t – but I suspect that each has flaws and problems and also great insights. I hope to stay open minded about the possibility that maybe everyone has a little bit of the truth, and that it’s okay for Christians to study the possibilities from a place of kindness and acceptance. The comments about Ken Ham’s appearance by some Christians were offensive and not in the spirit of love for fellow disciples (despite different opinions about origins). Critique his ideas, for sure, but accept the possibility that he is entitled to speak about his interpretation of the Bible (aren’t we all?).
I am so glad to read this article. It’s the first time I haven’t read a bunch of “open minded” progressive types get on their high horse about how evolved their Christianity is compared to the other “ignoramii” (whose only real crime, so to speak, was to suggest that it’s possible that maybe an ominpotent God could actually make a world).
Hurray! Thanks for sharing your journey, fikalo. A great reminder to keep an open mind and give and receive charitable thoughts when we disagree with brothers and sisters in the faith.We can discuss without hating those who hold strongly to alternative viewpoints. And perhaps in that discussion we’ll learn a thing or two about mystery =)
Surprise! Leave it to NBC News to write the most moderate piece about tonight’s Nye v. Ham debate: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/evolution-debate-plays-out-creationisms-home-turf-2D12044727
It can be done.
And this just now from CT: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march/do-celebrity-debates-help-christian-persuasion.html
Ah! Now the moderates come out to play. Jonathan Hill says that there may be a lot more nuance on the spectrum of origins than was previously thought: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/february-web-only/rethinking-origins-debate.html
Stephen that was not a bad article from NBC- quite good actually.
Hi Faith! Yes, I agree. I wasn’t being sarcastic this time =) I just thought it was truly amazing that NBC News would have the most neutral article about this debate compared with what I would have expected/hoped for from the Christian blogosphere.
Well now, that wasn’t so scary. I thought both Bill and Ken did a fine job and were more or less civil to each other. I took 10 pages of notes and learned stuff I hadn’t heard before. Plus–and this is exciting–I now get to follow up with personal study on several items that each man presented which challenged my presuppositions. I hope everyone else can walk away with questions to ask, discussions to engage, and research to pursue. Now let’s wait for the blogocalypse to follow.
Steve, I believe your perception was and is the right one to take. I first caught wind of this debate after the fact. I was watching MSNBC when Lawrance ODonell interviewed Bill Nye. Praising Bill for his apparent victory over the ignorance displayed by Ken Ham. The edit of the debate was a clip of Noah’s Ark, to reassert intelligence over fairy tales. I went on to watch the recorded show on an online source to judge for myself. I seem to land where your post has stated…. I also caught a response by Pat Robertson on his 700 Club show, subtly but openly berating the efforts of Ken Ham and his interpretation of young earth going on to give the “million year theory” some backing. What troubled me most was the lack of a benevolent, supportive response to at least keep the bigger picture of the Gospel message afloat, rather than something from Pat that was arrogant and demeaning. Though these days I now anticipate this from Robertson. Myself, I was rather impressed by Ken Ham exposing other creation type scientists who are working at the top of their fields, their discoveries and inventions being proven works of modern technology. These intelligent men of faith who also trust in fairy tales.
My friends, I was a Christian Minister for over 15 years. I have a PhD in Religious studies. The conundrum for me has less to do with whether Creationism is true or not, and much more to do with whether scripture is a viable source for the creation debate. My studies of many religions and their origins have led me to conclude that the bible is no more credible than other religious texts, many which are much older than the scriptures. Many of the statements attributed to Jesus for instance, can be traced back to earlier religious texts from different ideologies. I have since left religious ideology and come to believe that each has truth, but not all truth. The scripture for instance states, “The wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood.” This is not only true, but can be proven. However, many of the miracles and stories of the old testament cannot be proven. Therefore, it’s stands to reason, as with many sacred texts, that much is left to faith and belief. Therefore, I believe it is good to exercise debates such as this to challenge our own beliefs and processes. But I believe it is also good to exercise caution when speaking in terms of ultimate truth. The right to believe and the positive effect it can have on one’s moral compass is undeniable. In the same vein, those who choose not to accept these ideologies as facts, have just as much right and should not be judged by believers as those who are immoral, evil , wish ill on others, or are “hell bound.” No one really knows, and may never know, but we must be honest enough in the debate to recognize that.