I recommend Ham on Nye with Beer. The only possible way to engage in the recent debate is to start early in the morning with beer and all other substances allowed, available, or at hand. After five days of self-loathing I decided to crack a couple for breakfast and watch all 2 hrs and 45 minutes. Usually, I like debates but this specific topic left me nauseous, not wanting to see modern humans humiliating themselves with inane arguments.
Startling in its complacency and civility, should I say social morbidity, I was left less revolted than I expected but nevertheless quite terrified. It is difficult for me in my wildest imagination to believe a 6,000 year old Earth can be taken seriously by anyone. In a normal world this would be suspicion for sanity having lost a firm grip on reality. After Ham one understands…denying man landing on the moon, the previous inhabitation of the planet was by aliens, the Earth is really flat, or Deepak Chopra claiming his Deep meditation caused a seismic earth quake–all seem more plausibly sincere. We can imagine anything!
Usually, crazy people have a harmless outlet. They become the Forest Gumps, the Chances (Being There), the common idiot-wise person from whom we learn acceptance and insight from low sight. Sometimes simple cuts through the noise. But these are exceptions. Without doubt it is better to be well educated, well trained, and accurate in observation. I want to go to Australia and demand accountability from Ham’s teachers!
Listening to Ken Ham I am left amuck that he thinks 6,000 years is a lynchpin in his creation model and the cornerstone of the bible. Ken is paradigmatic of the failure of education. How is it possible to be educated today and think the world is 6,000 years old? It is such a deep disconnect that I cannot help but wonder if it is not mendacious. The kind of mind-boggling stupidity that allows other to feel good about themselves because after all there is at least one person out there who is way more stupid, and yet who can speak a coherent sentence. Yet, I have sat with others and been told that the chair I am sitting on doesn’t really exist. I have also been told that I can do anything including be president of the United States. I have been told that I am actually a Native American or a Woman in a white western dude’s body.
All Catholics and the vast majority of other Christians long ago realized the Earth was more than 6,000 years old. Nye’s arguments of geology were repeated almost daily in the news way back in the 1800′s when geology was exploding as a field and our geounderstanding of the Earth was growing by orders of magnitude.
There are probably better examples of this debate in the records of the various museum and science institutes of the Victorian era–or the literature and public debates that arose from the Scopes trial.
The difference between inductive and deductive logic seems to elude Ham who espouses two types of science. What we see now and what we can’t see in the past. This is effectually a kind of radical empiricism where unless you sense it it doesn’t exist. So I suppose as history rolls along suddenly our knowledge of the past switches dramatically. In particular the time warp and the matter warp. But an all powerful god can do anything, right, even speed up eons to be days? We could all be in the Matrix too? Were you there? The problem is Ham is stuck in early science fiction while the rest of us kept reading and watching.
Ham continued on with the “two sciences” which has become prevalent and spent no time (the popular were you there? argument) on the design aspect making a lot of Christians angry as they see that as the main proof that some design must have occurred. An intellectual wedge that allows them to continue with if there is design it must be this designer and this bible. What about the other mythologies of creation? It would have been good to have a panel with maybe a Native American and a Hindi and a Buddhist to better circumscribe the mythology of creation.
Yet, the bible is mostly inference with very few statements that are said to be the literal word of god. While Ham does speak about how some parts of the bible are poetic, parables, historic, etc Nye doesn’t know enough to actually pin point those parts of the bible and how they relate to a creation myth. Indeed why does Ham not follow the some 600 laws Jews follow. Because he discounts the old testament where useful. God says not to eat Pork but that doesn’t count as something that must be followed?
Nye counters that Ham belongs to a very small group of people. Perhaps, young-earth creationists are the smallest of all sects. The Genesis museum is going broke and expansion to save it costs money and may not work. Ham could be out of a job soon and the debate may rustle up enough money to keep him and the museum going.
What’s important socially to the public is the spectacle. If science and reason are so effective, why can’t it cut through this insane BS? Where is the effectiveness of the rhetoric in science?
I don’t agree that debates further entrench people’s views and no one changes their minds. They do in many ways. Just not in that “aha, you must be right, thanks for telling me” kind of way. It doesn’t take a radical view to get how opinions become cement that needs to be chipped away, because dynamite is both illegal and destroys the speaker(s). Idiocy this deep takes time.
What scientists don’t get is how to debate. Most scientists didn’t take humanities and arts classes where the rules of social engagement and even professional proof are different. Bill Nye and others are changing this but it’s really anathema for scientists to abandon plain spoken evidence and talk about argument, structure, and aesthetics of conversation. They hate that looking good, speaking trivialities, and being casually social has more effect than the content of the words, the evidence at hand. Nye tries it with a few jokes and allegories (the bow tie story) but it’s not a comfortable style for him and he has to warm up to the debate.
At one point I was reminded of how children arrive at either a disbelief of Santa or not. How does Santa get down the chimney, make so many gifts, and travel the world in a night? You can either respond with I don’t know, magically, or shut it all down with it’s a myth. Most people can’t stand to throw to all out.
In strong favor of the debate, a friend for the first time in years listened to a secular-oriented program. In trying to talk about this touchy subject to a religiously accommodating friend it became clear that she agreed it was an issue of religion itself and not the institution of religion.
My daughter who loves Bill Nye is finally getting that the argument between religious and nonreligious people is not politically trivial. Up to now, age 13, my daughter has tried to allow everything. Everything and everyone is correct. Part of what Carl Rogers called unconditional positive regard–always praise what’s good and ignore what’s negative. It hasn’t worked work well in therapy–though it is an antidote for hypercritical people seeking balance in anger management–and it hasn’t worked in science.
Some commentors noted the appeal to authority is really the lynch pin of religion. Scientists should not let this pass as being support of their egalitarianism. The astounding and absolute authority of scientists to the scientific process is no less absolute than asserting the bible is the final authority. What is being confounded is the changing aspect of truth and wisdom as we learn more versus the process scientists insist we must use period. It is not that reality is changing it’s our understanding of it. Cutting open a body to see what’s inside may change the view of what a body is (it’s got organs and tissues and other cool stuff, not solid) but it doesn’t change the body. It certainly doesn’t change the insistence that a body be cut open to know.
Biblical absolutists change their authority. How many different bibles are there? How many different sects? How many different versions of a story? What is different here is hero worship. Religions enshrine animals, people, and gods as being the special delivery of magical truth. Science enshrines a process of observation, verification, and consensus. Both change their minds. The bible is full of people and a god that changes his mind just as science seems to change its mind as discovery progresses.
The conflation of science and religion in enlightenment scientists is more easy once you realize they saw science as evidence of eternal truths which were godly. They saw no disagreement with religion and science to the point of discounting religion, yet. They blamed a pope, a preacher or a church, and not the veracity of their work. God was directly accessible and if he was puzzling so be it.
Now that the evidence so strongly disagrees with particular creation myths the compartmentalization becomes a caricature. It used to be that being holy consumed every aspect of one’s life–you can’t so easily tease apart science from myth in forager societies.
The two times Ham insisted that people just need to let God’s word reveal itself to them and they would know, Ham looked beatific, happy, fulfilled. That was the argument right there. You don’t sell the steak you sell the sizzle. Be like him and you can be as happy. This closure of dissonance must be nourishing. There are no contradictions, all is for the best, and it’s all about us.