Photo credit to skepticmoney.com
Is Creation a viable model of origins?
This was the question addressed early this month at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, a question that has always generated fierce debate, from the dinner table to the University. Bill Nye, better known as Bill Nye the Science Guy from his PBS television series, took up the torch of traditional evolutionary science, squaring off against his opponent Ken Ham, who represented the creationist side.
Ken Ham is an author and founder of the apologist organization Answers in Genesis, the sponsor of the Creation museum. The organization holds a literal view of the Genesis account, stating that the universe was created in 6 24-hour days and is about 6,000 years old, differing greatly from what most scientists would estimate.
Nye, aside from hosting his famous children's show, is an engineer hailing from Cornell University, where he was taught by the late Carl Sagan. He is the president of the Planetary Society.
Ham, having won the coin toss, delved into his argument, decrying the "religion of naturalism" present in the public school system, lamenting what he called the hijacking of science by secularists. There is a difference, he said, between Historical Science (speculation about the past) and Observational Science (what we see in the present). What evolution deals with is the unobservable past, whereas the science we can be sure of lies in technological advances such as medicine and aircraft. No one was there to observe evolution, but there is a book (made by God) that describes what really took place.
Nye came out swinging, discussing evidence of the Earth's old age, from ice core samples in Antarctica to the Kentucky rock layers that lay beneath the audience's feet. He brought up the fact that we see stars whose light would have taken millions-up to billions-of years to reach our eyes in the night sky. How could that have happened in a mere 6,000 years? He also pondered how exactly kangaroos managed to make it to Australia (Ham's home country) following the global Flood described in the Bible.
So how did they fare? As Ham was fond of saying, that depends on your interpretation. His argument was generally more philosophical, relying heavily on appeals to scripture. We all have the same evidence, he said, but interpret it in different ways. Our starting assumptions-where our worldview begins-color that interpretation. It is difficult to accept that the logical laws of nature could have come into existence by chance. A divine creator appears more likely. Despite making a sound case in many regards, some of his claims wandered into the fantastic, a notable one being that all animals (including, presumably, sharks, leeches, and polar bears) were once vegetarians, because there was no death before humanity's first sin.
Nye gave an earful, presenting evidence from every branch of science you can think of. He seemed to relish the chance to do so, and frequently pleaded with educators to keep science in the US moving forward. His argument was much more to-the-point and detailed, showing off everything from intermediate lungfish to the faint hiss left over from the Big Bang with a teacher's enthusiasm in his voice.
So is Creation viable? That is up to each of us to decide. No single debate can persuade someone to give up a lifelong belief, whether it involves religion or even politics. I found one of the questions from the audience insightful. Look at your beliefs: what, if anything, would change your mind?