The debate on evolution vs. creationism by
Bill Nye &
Ken Ham on 2014-FEB-04
Would a different debate structure
have been be better? (Cont'd)
Questions believers in creationism
answers by evolutionists.
Would a different debate structure have been be better? (Cont'd)
Perhaps, a better debate might have involved the addition of at least one other person: perhaps a mainline Christian, who believed in Theistic Evolution. That is, a person who believes in an old earth, accepts Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and believes that God used natural selection as a tool to guide the evolution of species.
One of the reasons of the current rapid loss of older teens and young adults from the conservative wing of Christianity is many are taught young-earth creationism when they are young and find the belief difficult to accept as they mature. A second problem is the teaching about human sexuality , homosexuality, transgender persons and same-sex marriage which they also find difficult to accept -- particularly since many have gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and sometimes transgender persons as friends. If a theistic evolutionist had been added to the debate, the viewers might have developed a broader understanding of all of the major belief systems connected with origins.
Scott Ventureyra, a PhD Theology (candidate), at Dominican University College, in Ottawa, Canada submitted a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star newspaper which was published on 2014-FEB-10. He criticized the debate because only two extreme positions were presented:
"It's Science Guy vs. creationist, [on] Feb. 4
Despite the debate’s hype, it failed to deliver. Although Bill Nye is a gifted science educator for children and Ken Ham a well-meaning Christian, the debate seemed to be more counter-productive than anything.
The media thrives on pinning polar opposites against one another, as is seen between the views of Nye and Ham. They pit Christian fundamentalism on one side and atheistic materialism on the other, while ignoring all the more nuanced positions that exist in between these two polar opposites.
It should be pointed out that, in order to be a Christian, one need not accept a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis nor a young earth. However, the debate was fixated on the age of the earth and universe.
Nye provided some good arguments for accepting a universe and earth of billions of years, whereas Ham missed his opportunity to discuss and provide evidence for the various signposts to the design of the universe itself, the laws of physics and chemistry, the first self-replicating system, consciousness and other such indicators.
Ironically, it was Nye defending big bang cosmology, one of the most compelling arguments for design and creation. Mr. Ham did make a couple of valid points though, namely that one need not necessarily be an evolutionist to be a good scientist and that the term evolution (there are at least six viable different meaning to the term) is often conflated.
In my humble opinion, these two represent extremely narrow views in terms of the science-religion debates. According to their presentations neither of them seem to have been keeping up with advancements in science, philosophy, nor developments in the science-theology dialogue. 5
Who won the creationism vs. evolution debate:
MSNBC's web site conducted a poll of its readers, asking: "Who won the creationism vs. evolution debate?" There were 2,983 votes. The results were:
- 68%: Bill Nye, his scientific facts were irrefutable.
- 20%: Ken Ham, he made a compelling argument.
- 12%: There were no winners. 6
margin of error was: ±1.8%. Unfortunately, the individuals who responded to the poll were self-selected among those who were motivated to answer the poll. A random selection of U.S. adults might produce a significantly different result.
There were approximately 900 people who attended the 2014-FEB-04 creation vs evolution debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham in the
Answers in Genesis Creation Museum near Cincinnati, OH. Matt Stopera from BuzzFeed.com persuaded 22 creationists who attended the debate to write a "message/question/note" directed to persons who accept the theory of evolution. 1
The resulting 22 questions are listed below, along with a possible response written by the webmaster of this web site. The responses may or may not match how Bill Nye might have responded to the same questions. We are certain they would not have matched Ken Ham's responses.
1) “Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?”
Yes. He teaches children how science works, how it is self-correcting over time as more evidence emerges, how students can approach questions analytically, and always be open to new discoveries that alter present beliefs. All of these are positive influences on young people.
2) “Are you scared of a Divine Creator?”
Bill Nye would probably answer "No." He is an Agnostic -- a person who has not seen convincing evidence for either the existence or non-existence of God. Thus he probably feels that his only honorable position is to remain undecided whether God exists. But if God does exist, it would not be clear which religion, if any, teaches about the true God. Religions teach very different beliefs about God. Individual denominations, faith groups and sects within each religion also teaches different beliefs. Only one faith group within one religion can have the fullness of truth; perhaps none have. Probably people who believe in God should worry more about whether they have chosen the faith group within the religion that teaches about the real God or not, more than Bill Nye should worry about whether a God does exist.
3) “Is it completely illogical that the Earth was created mature? i.e. trees created with rings … Adam created as an adult ....”
That belief system appears to be compatible with the creation stories in Genesis. However, the fossil record indicates that newer species evolved from older species over very long intervals of time, and that none of the species was the product of special creation.
4) “Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?”
No. Within the solar system, the sun is winding down even as natural selection and the other processes involved in evolution are resulting in increased complexity on Earth. If one considers the Earth-Sun system, on average entropy (disorder) is increasing, even as entropy is decreasing on Earth. This is totally compatible with the second law of thermodynamics.
5) “How do you explain a sunset if there is no God?”
Bill Nye would probably explain a sunset as due to natural causes: the rotation of the Earth causes the Sun to appear to rise in the East and set in the West. If you are referring to the beauty of a sunset, and not the sunset itself, then this is obviously a function of processes in each person's brain.
6) “If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?”
They don't debunk the Big Bang Theory. The laws of thermodynamics do not necessarily apply to components within a large system.
The person who asked the question appears to believe that the Universe must have had a Creator.
William Paley wrote a book in 1802 CE that discussed what is now called the "watchmaker argument." He wrote:
"... suppose I had found a watch upon the ground. ... There must have existed ... [a person] who formed [the watch] ... who comprehended its construction, and designed its use." 4
Similarly, "stuff" that we use, from computer programs to TV sets, to automobiles must all have had one or more designers. By that reasoning, the universe itself must have had a creator/designer. However, at the start of the "Big Bang" the entire universe was so small that the laws of Quantum Mechanics applied. Under those conditions, things can come into existence without having being created. Existing without a cause is just one of the many mind-stretching mysteries of Quantum Mechanics. Thus it can be argued that the universe had no Creator.
7) “What about noetics?”
According to Wikipedia: "In philosophy, noetics is a branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind and intellect." A hot topic these days is the scientific study of the brain, consciousness, and mind. Scientists do not often dabble in philosophy and prefer to observe and analyze reality directly. Since this branch of science is in its infancy, not much has been concluded yet.
8) “Where do you derive objective meaning in life?”
Bill Nye, as an agnostic, might possibly answer that live has no inherent meaning. It is rather up to each individual to develop their own meaning to their life. Some scientists find meaning from their pursuit of science. Others see much injustice and cruelty in the world, For them, meaning comes from their personal efforts promoting justice, love, and acceptance. There are as many meanings of life as there are people.
9) “If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?”
At least to a degree, chance probably did play a major role. According to Wikipedia:
"The science of Abiogenesis or Biopoiesis is the natural process by which life arose from non-living matter such as simple organic compounds." 2
The Theory of Evolution of plant and animal species assumes that they all developed from a single-celled organism. But how that organism developed is not part of the theory of evolution. It is a separate branch of science.
10) “I believe in the Big Bang Theory … God said it and BANG it happened.”
You are restating part of the creation stories in Genesis: God spoke the earth and the rest of the universe into existence. But since many scientists have found no hard evidence for or against the existence of God, they do not base their theories on God's existence.
11) “Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-God believing people reject the idea of there being a Creator God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?”
Actually, this belief is rare among evolutionists, secularists, humanists, and people who don't believe in God. One reason is that it doesn't answer any fundamental questions. It merely leaves the person with the question of how how these aliens or ETs developed. Until there is some hard evidence that such ETs exist, scientists cannot usefully study them.
12) “There is no in between … the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an 'official proof’.”
Lucy is a member of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Scientists have found many partial skeletons from many different members of her species. They have also found the remains of other species that both proceeded Lucy and followed Lucy.
13) “Does metamorphosis help support evolution?”
Not really. It doesn't contradict evolution either. Evolution is supported and proven by other forms of evidence. Metamorphosis is a real puzzle and scientists do not yet understand it fully.
14) “If Evolution is a theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as a fact.”
There is a problem with your question. The word "theory" has one meaning when used in science and a very different meaning when used in ordinary life. Scientists typically start with a hunch, develop experiments to test whether the hunch has any validity, and gradually repeat and refine the process. If the hunch is shown to be invalid at any stage, it is dropped. The process is then restarted. But in cases like evolution, more and more evidence of it having occurred has been gathered. It is now regarded as a "scientific theory:" a proven model that is accepted as fact by essentially all biologists, geologists, cosmologists, etc. Thus it should be taught as a fact in schools. Meanwhile, in popular life, theories are just someone's guess.
Webmaster's note: Personally, I would prefer that evolution be taught in science classes as a proven fact. However, a young person is not fully educated unless they have a working knowledge of all of the main religions in the world, and knowledge of how they developed; how they interacted; how they have contributed to humanity; the atrocities they have committed, etc. The history of religions should be taught in schools, including the many creation stories that have been taught by different religions down through the millennia. But the history of religion should be taught in religion class, just as evolution is taught in science class.
15) “Because science is 'theory' -- not testable, observable, nor repeatable, -- why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?”
In reality, science involves testing, observing and repetition. Also, this process often predicts other leads which eventually become theories themselves. Creationism and intelligent design have never been tested and may well not be testable. As is answered in Question 14, I think that both should be taught in school, not as fact, not as a scientific theory, but as a group of conflicting beliefs from different religions.
16) “What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?”
Increases in genetic information can and does occur when a given gene is duplicated within a species' DNA.
17) “What purpose do you think you are here for if you don’t believe in salvation?”
The debate over evolution vs creationism deals with events and processes in the distant past. Salvation is a religious concept that is treated very differently by different religions and by various denominations or traditions within each religion. Even within the Bible it there are passages teachings that personal salvation is dependant on good works and other passages that teach it is dependant on proper beliefs. It is not really a part of the study of origins.
18) “Why have we found only one ‘Lucy,’ when we have found more than one of everything else?”
You have been misinformed. Parts of multiple skeletons from different members of Lucy's species -- Australopithecus afarensis -- have been found.
19) “Can you believe in ‘the big bang’ without 'faith'”?
Yes. By observing the universe now, and studying its processes, we can extrapolate backwards in time and predict what it looked like some 13.82 billion years ago when the Big Bang happened. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) allows scientists to compute how long ago the big bang happened.
20) “How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It’s amazing!!!”
We are faced with two basic explanations about origins: either God created the universe and its life forms, or it all came about through natural processes. Unfortunately, the idea of creationism simply leads to the question of who created God. Over time, scientists have been able to fill in many of the missing parts of a naturally evolved universe. What they find leads to other studies and other findings. To me, It looks like a better bet.
21) “Relating to the big bang theory … Where did the exploding star come from?”
There was no star. According to Space.com:
"The universe began as an incredibly hot, dense point roughly 13.7 billion years ago." 3
The point was so small that the laws of quantum mechanics applied. Quantum mechanics allow such very small points to come into existence and disappear at random. Knowledge about the origins of the big bang is still being developed.
22) “If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”
First of all, humans did not evolve from monkeys. This belief was started by a comment by a book reviewer who was discussing one of Charles Darwin's book back in the 19th century. The reviewer's error has been seized upon by creationists and is still being spread by them. Darwin said that humans and monkeys had a common ancestor a long, long time ago. In fact, any two species on earth have a common ancestor.
Humans still exist because they have been able to adapt, form groups, form communities, cooperate together, develop technology, etc. Monkeys still exist because they are well adapted to living in jungles without technology.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Matt Stopera, "22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution," BuzzFeed, 2014-FEB-05, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/
- "Abiogenesis," Wikipedia as on 2014-FEB-04, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- Denise Chow, "The Universe: Big Bang to Now in 10 Easy Steps," Space.com, 2011-OT-18, at: http://www.space.com/
- "Watchmaker analogy," Wikipedia, as on 2017-MAY-28, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
- Scott Ventureyra, "It's Science Guy vs. creationist, Feb. 4," The Toronto Star, 2014-FEB-10, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- Adam Serwer,"The Creation Museum wants your children," MSNBC, 2014-FEB-04, at: http://www.msnbc.com/
Copyright © 2014 to 2017, by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2014-FEB-08
Latest update: 2017-JUL-10
Author: B.A. Robinson