Thursday, February 6, 2014

My thoughts on the Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate.

So the other day Bill Nye had a debate with creationist Ken Ham. Now I'm a man of faith, but even as a Christian guys like Ken Ham embarrass me. You see, despite being a man of faith I'm also a man of reason. In fact a major reason I came to faith in Christ was examining the evidence for his resurection and concluding that it seems this man did indeed get up out of his tomb. And when someone does that, it's time to take his claims about himself seriously. And in much the same way I am an evolutionist, because that's where the evidence points. Some like Ken Ham might ask how I reconcile the two together, for that answer I could go on and on but the short version is ultimately I don't know. And I'm frankly OK with that. I'm a finite creature with a finite mind and I am perfectly content to accept the fact that I don't know everything and while I can grow and learn I never will know everything.

Now it's not as if creationists don't bring up valid points, and there are certainly a lot of things evolutionists have a hard time explaining, but there was one statement from Ken Ham that really sums up why I don't, and really can't take him seriously as a scientist or even frankly as a man. When asked what kind of evidence would or could ever change his mind Ken Ham admitted that no amount of evidence will ever change his mind.

That my friends is not science. That is not even faith. That is delusion.

25 comments:

  1. How is it rational to accept some parts of what the Bible teaches as truth (Christ being God, and resurrected from the dead) but not others (the creation account)? Is God's word inerrant and infallible; is all of it 'God-breathed', 'useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness', or are only some parts; and if some parts are not, how do you know which parts to trust, and which parts not to?

    What about the Fall of Man into sin? If you hold to the evolutionary account, how could all humans come from two parents without inbreeding problems, as conventional biology would predict, from empirical observation of what indeed does happen with offspring of incestuous relationships? If humans evolved from other ape-like creatures, could there even be said to be a single Adam and a single Eve? And is Scripture therefore deliberately misleading us in teaching that God created Adam directly from the dust, and Eve from Adam's rib? But then, if the creation account is merely allegorical, why trust that the Resurrection is real, and not an allegorical story itself? On what basis?

    I wonder whether you have thought through all the rational implications of holding that some parts of Scripture are literally true but others are not.

    If Ken Ham doesn't accept the world's 'evidence', and never will, is he really just a delusional fanatic? Or merely logically consistent, within his frame of reference? I propose the latter is the case, whatever one may think of creationism. (And yes, I hold to creationism.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does anybody hold that every part of scripture is literally true? Most people seem to assume much of the book of Revelation is metaphorical in its imagery. And as for the resurrection, as I said it was the historical evidence for it that lead me to initially believe in it.

      And as I said, I don't know how it all fits together. But I'm not going to shove my head in the sand and ignore evidence simply because I can't fit it into a neat little philosophical or theological box.

      Delete
    2. Aurini had an interesting video on Adam and Eve that's pretty close to how I view it, and he puts it better than I'm likely to.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZKLgmYA_lA

      Delete
    3. Well, Revelation was a vision that appeared in a dream, so certainly it's metaphorical, yet we hold that the basics of it - a Judgment Day, the Resurrection of the Dead, the New Heaven and the New Earth - are all true things to come; that has always been the position of the church.

      No-one is asking you to shove your head in the sand and ignore the evidence, such as it is. But could it not be that, just as Adam and Eve were created as adults, already grown up even when they had just come into existence, so too could the planet Earth, and the universe itself for that matter, already appear 'grown up', 'old', even if quite young?

      I can believe that to be possible. And thus, all the empirical evidence, if considered on its own, could well point to an old Earth, an old universe, but still be wrong - if God created everything as old - or if sin's effects aged the world (or the Flood's - assuming, as I do, that a worldwide flood did in fact occur).

      Thus, I can both accept that all the empirical evidence such as radiocarbon-dating points to an old earth, and fossils to macroevolution, etc., and nevertheless disagree with the conclusion taught by those choosing to only go by the empirical evidence, and not willing to accept what Genesis teaches as the account of how the universe, Earth, and life came to be.

      Delete
    4. Here's the biggest problem I have with the appearance of age argument. When I look into the night sky, especially if one uses a telescope, you can see stars and even galaxies that are hundreds of thousands, millions, and even billions of light years away. Now if I am to accept that the universe is a mere six thousand years old, than what I'm seeing must be light created mid way between use and the celestial body in question, in other words I'm seeing "footage" of things that did not happen. One could very easily argue that that is a lie. It's one thing to make things in an already mature state, it's another to fill the sky with pictures of events that never occurred.

      Many creationist seem to argue I am calling God a liar by taking Genesis as an allegory, but the appearance of age line of thinking seems to do the same, I would say to an even greater extent.

      Delete
    5. I understand your objection; I have considered it before, myself, thinking of the apparent age of the stars, and how far away they are, and the implications therein. And I have to admit, I don't necessarily *like* the conclusion I arrive at, that God seems to want us to either trust Him in spite of all the evidence seemingly suggesting differently from what His Word teaches, or to disdain what His Word teaches in favour of what empirical observation suggests, but I see no other way around it.

      But, even so, I wouldn't call it a lie; I'd call it a test. Photons are just photons, packets of energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. We can either trace back light from stars more than six thousand light years away and say the stars are older, or we can go with what Scripture teaches, despite the empirical evidence: we have a choice. I used to be an evolutionist, a believer in the Big Bang Theory, and the rest. But I came, in time, to perceive a rational incoherence; it felt like cognitive dissonance, and so I became creationist to resolve it. Just as you came to accept the Resurrection because you were persuaded of the truth of it, so I became creationist because I could not continue being evolutionist. Now I have a different discomfort, because I don't like all the implications of the view I now hold - but at least it makes more sense to me than what I previously believed.

      To each his own, of course.

      Cheers.

      Delete
    6. I'm curious what evidence is there for the Resurrection.

      Delete
    7. There's no body, if that's what you're after; by definition, there couldn't be, could there?

      Instead, we have accounts from witnesses, recorded in some writings. The then-equivalent of a modern newspaper's interviewing people about what happened. Believe them or don't; up to you.

      Delete
    8. There's a number of things LunaNekoa, in fact I might do a whole post of the subject, but there are also some really good books on it you might want to check out, The Case for the Resurrection by Lee Strobel is pretty good, especially given he originally started his research looking to disprove it.

      Some of the more compelling pieces in my mind where that many of the men who claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ first had were tortured and martyred and never recanted. I know of few men who lay down their lives for things they made up. Also Rome was no fan of the early church, nor were the Jewish leaders, so it seems parading the body up and down the street would have squashed it if they had a body to produce.

      This may indeed require a whole post down the line however.

      Delete
    9. I'm a bit dubious of Lee Strobel, after something I read about him, in terms of his methodology.

      Click through from here to the original post.

      Delete
    10. I'll have to look up that book. As far as the leaders parading around the body I'd say that's only if they can find it.

      Delete
    11. Hmmm I may have to resind my Strobel recommendation then. Figures that a guy who was so cozy with the likes of James Dobson would be slimy. I will need to go back and do some research on the topic.

      Delete
    12. Well LunaNekoa, the Romans kept very meticulous records, so I have a hard time imagining they wouldn't know where a high profile executed prisoner was buried.

      Delete
    13. I was more talking more about the body being moved at some point. Of course this does have its problems with the guards at the tomb.

      Delete
  2. If a Roman guard failed in their duty, they could all be executed. They'd have little incentive to allow anyone to steal a body willingly.

    It also seems unlikely that a bunch of Jewish shepherds and fishermen could overpower an armed Roman guard.

    Taken together, it just seems so unlikely...

    ReplyDelete
  3. True, however a man being resurrected is pretty unlikely as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed it is. Hence why we call it a miracle; ultimately, when all is said and done, no matter how much rational supporting, corroborating evidence may be marshalled in favour of believing in it, a leap of faith is still required. :)

      Delete
    2. Unless you stop when one is required.

      Delete
    3. Refusing to consider the supernatural even when the evidence points that way strikes me as every bit as close minded as Ken Ham's head in the sand approach.

      Delete
    4. Not when a leap is required to do so. Usually someone uses a leap of faith when they have no evidence to draw from.

      Delete
    5. Ultimately all believe systems, religious and irreligious a like require a step of faith at the very end. It's kind of an over simplification of it, but Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem shows that even math can't ultimately prove math.

      A leap of faith is always required to take the final steps reason just can't, but ideally those steps of faith are in the direction that reason pointed you and not just in any direction you prefer. That would be the difference in my mind of a faith one comes to from evidence and Ken Ham's "Noah rode a t-rex because fuck you you weren't there how do you know" kinda faith.

      Delete
    6. I guess that works. I've come to associate the word "faith" with the second kind you mentioned.

      I think I was trying to say something along those lines.

      Delete
  4. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1

    Scripture teaches that faith IS evidence, of things not seen. You just have to be willing to, like a judge, permit the evidence in the courtroom of your mind. Will you accept such evidence as admissible, or will you rule it out of order? Again, the choice is yours.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Creationists DON'T have any valid points. It is all overly complicated unconvincing HOGWASH. I believe in God and I believe in the moral and philosophical messages behind Christianity but I'm not a big enough denier to substitute reality for a group created fiction. I am a big fan of CS Lewis and McGrath's writings in general but I am also a Dawkins supporter. All I can say is I believe in Hope and morality. I HOPE, and I just have to trust to faith it will all work out. I'm not deluded enough to think evidence to the contrary was put there to test me like dinosaur bones, and geological evidence. Take off your blinkers people.
    True Christianity evolves with scientific knowledge. In the Dark Ages the Benedictines preserved the words of the Ancient Greeks and spent centuries copying out old knowledge, philosophy and yes scientific learning, in order to preserve the light of knowledge in a world that was fragmenting. Indeed the Christian Church SAVED the Western world as we know from obliteration and built the world we live in. But it did not do so by closing its eyes to the facts, indeed it did the opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We creationists do not close our eyes to the facts; we just interpret them differently than you do.

    A Dawkins supporter and somehow also a fan of C.S. Lewis and Alister McGrath, and you find us incredible? I don't know how you can pull off THAT kind of Orwellian doublethink, but whatever... If you think the Bible is group created fiction, then you're not a Christian. Yet you believe in God; on what basis, given that you don't believe His Word? Some other? Or just a sense that without God, nothing makes sense? Yet you apparently don't think God could reveal Himself to people, and give them His Word?

    Who is irrational, here? Not me.

    ReplyDelete