Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Creation vs. Evolution (Part 2)

This post was written on the occasion of the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, which my wife has just blogged about and which you may view here, for a limited time (forward past the 13-minute countdown at the beginning). The image above was captured during Ken Ham's presentation.

Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) created some waves a few months ago, when he made a video bashing Creationists and stating that a belief in evolution is required for scientific advancement, invention, and discovery. To this day, I have yet to see him explain his reasoning. Needless to say, this drew a lot of attention from the Christian community and ultimately led to an invitation from Ken Ham, to debate evolution with him at the Creation Museum, in Kentucky.

This was the thesis statement for the debate, as composed by Answers In Genesis: “Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era.”

I did not really expect either man to make an open-and-shut case (after all, this has been a hot-button issue within the science community long before the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial”), but was looking forward to hearing what they both had to say.  Now that it’s over, I wish to present some analysis of the debate here.

First, let’s put the terminology used in the thesis statement within the context of the debate.

While there are several plausible interpretations of the Genesis account of Creation, Ken Ham subscribes to the most literal of these, in which, about 6000 years ago, God took 6 literal, 24-hour days to speak into existence the entire universe, all earthly life, and humankind. Because of this, the debate pretty much devolved (pardon the pun) into an argument over the age of the earth and the universe, instead of its origins.

Only Viable Model
This was perhaps the most ambitious portion of the thesis. While the scientific community-at-large dismisses Creation and Intelligent Design as unscientific religious propaganda, Ken Ham went out to completely reverse that opinion. In order to do this, he would have had to not only prove that this model stands up to every rigorous test that has ever been proposed, but also that Evolution, the Big Bang, and all other theories have undeniable holes. This was an impossible task, given the time constraints of the debate and the limited knowledge of both men.

Historical and Observational Science
A pillar of Ken Ham’s argument, vehemently but inadequately disputed by Mr. Nye, was the difference between “historical” and “observational” science. Mr. Ham pointed out that Creationists and Evolutionists usually agree on the causes of events currently observable (hence “observational science”). But analysis of past events, particularly ones that occurred long before there was anyone around to record them, is subject to a great many assumptions, which depend upon the scientist’s point of reference or worldview.

Modern Scientific Era
This seems to me to establish a timebase for Observational and Historical Science, as well as, possibly, refer to the vast knowledge and observational capability that present-day technology affords us. This terminology wasn’t referenced much during the debate, but I find it interesting that Ken Ham thought it important enough to make it part of the thesis statement.

To be continued…

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