Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Science Smackdown


An all too serious Science Guy
Sad to say, but it looks like Bill Nye took a hard one on the chin in the Debate of the Decade the other night.  I watched a little bit of it on youtube.  It was like watching paint dry.  Gone, was Bill Nye's trademark humor.  Instead, he seemed to take the topic seriously, and tried to argue that the acceptance of Creationism by so many Americans has held the country back technologically.  Ken Ham was ready for that one, as he cited leading technological innovators who accepted the Creation myth.  Nye never recovered.

Science will probably never trump faith.  Even Dostoevsky said if he had to choose, he would take faith over reason.  Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, noted in his wonderful book on Dostoevsky that faith and reason can coexist, but they shouldn't be put at odds with each other.  He believes that since the Age of Enlightenment, we also shouldn't view the Bible as a literal text.

Ham apparently believes dinosaurs weren't invited on the Ark
In fact, this is the general Catholic and Anglican view, but many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, which means taking the Creation myth, the Flood and other supernatural events described in the Old Testament at face value.  Nye tried to point out scientifically that if there had been an epic flood that covered the entire earth for a year we would have seen fossil records of it.  But, what is a geological record in the face of hardened beliefs?  He should have mentioned the recent decoding of this Mesopotamian cuneiform, which casts new light on the Flood myth.

Bill Nye was forced to learn the hard way in front of muted audience, which politely applauded at the end of his little lectures, but wasn't in the least swayed by his arguments.  So, Nye desperately pleaded, if not for yourselves then for your children keep Creationism out of science!  Come on, Bill, you can do better than this.

The Trial of Galileo
It probably would have helped if the Science Guy had taken the time to read Genesis and note the many holes in the Biblical "unification theory."  For one, the Creation myth clearly places the Earth at the center of the Universe, which Copernicus and Galileo later corrected, much to the chagrin of the Holy Roman Church, but the church came to accept these findings, and even pardoned Galileo some 400 years later.

Another, is that it seems that the plants and animals that initially covered and roamed the earth were pretty much the same as we see today.  There was no mention of mastodons, saber-toothed tigers, much less dinosaurs.  However, this has stopped Ken Ham from including them in his playful dioramas at the Creation Museum.

However, dinosaurs seemed to be pets at one time
At the very least, Bill should have shown some sense of humor like Randy Olson did in his documentary Flock of Dodos.  These guys aren't stupid, just locked into a very simple view of the origins of the universe, probably because they don't give much thought to it, like Bill Nye does.

Unfortunately, the Science Guy became overly obsessed with geological layers and animal sexual habits, losing whatever sympathetic ears he had in the audience.  It really was painful to listen to, especially when you consider that Nye made the ultimate mistake of giving Ken Ham credibility by choosing to participate in this mock debate and taking his claim that Creationism is a viable model seriously.  Even if only 900 persons tuned in for the live stream,  100s of 1000s more are picking up the recaps on a variety of media outlets, ranging from Huff Post to National Geographic.  For Ken Ham this is a major coup.


1 comment:

  1. I see NPR weighed in on the Debate of the Decade,

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/02/09/274335382/dear-mr-ham-you-can-t-have-it-both-ways

    Ken Ham has to be loving all this attention.

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