On Feb. 4, creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye ‘the science guy’ attempted to answer the question, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”
Ham (president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetics ministry) and Nye (everyone’s favourite T.V. science geek) went brain-to-brain at Ham’s Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. in front of an audience of 800. The debate was also available for live stream via Answers in Genesis’ website, and can still be found on YouTube.
Nye, dressed in his signature bowtie and yielding a Macbook adorned with nerdy stickers, presented his information with humour, grace, and humility, while an arrogant Ham frequently stumbled over words and danced around questions that he preferred not to address.
While most of the debate consisted of Nye pitting scientific data (read: hundreds of thousands of years of layered snow ice in the Antarctic, 6,800-year-old trees in California, layered rock in the Grand Canyon) against Ham’s tales of animals marching two-by-two onto a 450-foot wooden ark built by eight people who lived nowhere near the ocean, the more troubling part of the debate came when Ham challenged the semantics of the word ‘science.’
Sidewinding the real topic of the debate, Ham attempted to redefine the connotations of the word by suggesting that there are in fact, two varieties of science that need to be separated: observational science and historical science.
Nye argued that there was no differentiation made between historical and observational science in the history of, well, science. (And, let’s face it, do you really think you’re going to argue with ‘the science guy’ about what science is?)
Nye answered questions like ‘Where does human consciousness come from?’ and ‘How did the first atoms come to be?’ with an almost excited ‘I don’t know,’ rejoicing in the fact that science allows us to embrace the continued search for answers.
Ham, however, literally responded to the same questions with the condescending line, “Mr. Nye, there’s a book out there…” while waving around the bible.
While Nye stood by science and allowed for room to change his mind in the future if new evidence ever arose to prove the stories of the bible, Ham wouldn’t budge, and insisted that the educational model in public schools be changed to teach creationism instead of evolution.
By suggesting that the entire human race change the way youth are educated based on a book translated from language to language over thousands of years, you are effectively telling people to step back into time instead of moving forward.
Science allows us to continue to explore the possibility for more conclusive answers, so why shouldn’t we?
Should we believe the religious teachings of one ancient book that depicts the stories of one small portion of the world, or should we believe the studies and research published by thousands from all over the world?
We can choose to believe in scientific fact, or we can attach ourselves to a completely unscientific system that is plagued with doubt and inexplicable situations.
Accepting the fact that some things in nature are counterintuitive, instead of claiming that we already have the answers and are content to teach these beliefs as history, allows for greater innovation and opportunity to learn more about the planet and the universe as we know it.