The Problem I Have With Modern Creationism
Several folks have shared the following +BuzzFeed
link, which contains pictures taken by +Matt Stopera
of people who attended the recent debate between +Bill Nye
of +The Planetary Society
and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-from-creationists-to-people-who-believe-in-evolutio
Most of the instances I've seen these shared has mostly been to ridicule the questions. That's easy enough to do, since nearly all of the questions are remarkably simple to answer with just a general understanding of the science and logic (reasoning based on a set of principles). I think it's actually more difficult to answer these questions without
resorting to ridicule, and to provide serious explanations. So here I am, attempting to provide 22 answers to the 22 questions/statements from these folks who attended the debate.__________________ 1. Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?
This is a pretty subjective question that depends on your feelings instead of some kind of objective measure. However, if we were to choose a measure that's based on Nye's intentions as he's explained them over the years, we can kind of reach an answer. According to Nye's own website ( http://www.billnye.com/about-bill-nye/biography/
), his mission in life is "to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life." Considering Bill's work ranging from his television shows to his work with organizations like The Planetary Society to his lecturing as a professor at Cornell University, the evidence is pretty strong that Bill Nye has contributed quite a lot to his mission. Is that positive? That depends on whether you feel that scientific literacy and being entertained while learning new things is a positive thing. Most people, including most Christians and people of all types of religions, tend to view that as as positive. Even during the debate Ken Ham spoke positively about lots of Nye's body of work, so it's safe to say the general consensus seems to be a resounding "Yes" for this question. 2. Are you scared of a divine creator?
This is another subjective question, but it's fair enough in that one of the two sides in this debate rely completely on the existence of a divine creator. I can't speak for Bill Nye, to whom this question was probably directed, but I can answer for myself and at least guess for most others based on commentaries I've seen elsewhere. For myself, quite the contrary I'd be incredibly interested if anyone could ever come up with some actual evidence of a divine creator. Finding something new would be exciting to me! Also, since there are so many different accounts of a divine creation from so many different religions around the world, the possible variations of which divine creation account might be the right one is fascinating! If someone could present proof that the divine being Atum gave birth to Tefnut and Shu, who gave birth to Geb and Nut, who created the four forces that create life... That would be amazing! Perhaps someone might find evidence of the divine force we only know as The Way (Wuji), who gave birth to Unity, who gave birth to Duality, who gave birth to Trinity, who gave birth to all of the creatures of the planet... That would be fantastic! However, I'm pretty sure the person asking the question isn't referring to these types of divine. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the version these other versions of creation are viewed as ridiculous and impossible by the person asking the question. I'm pretty sure that most folks are no more afraid of the concept of the modern Creationist (westerm Christian protestant) divine creator than they are of the concept that Brahma joined with Vishnu and Shiva to create the universe. Perhaps there are people who are genuinely scared of these stories, but I haven't seen that kind of fear in Bill Nye's behavior or from pretty much anyone else who has discussed the topic. 3. Is it completely illogical that the Earth was created mature? i.e. trees created with rings... Adam created as an adult...
This is an interesting question because it implies that the first things that were created were created as if they went through a seed/birth process but didn't actually grow up and mature on their own.
This suggests that everything on the planet was created to look like
they came about by some other means than a creator, and done so intentionally. Radiation and light from faraway stars and planets would have been created completely separate from the stars and planets themselves, so it would look like
that light had been traveling for hundreds or thousands or millions of years. The simple answer to this question is: if you can construct a logical reason for using such deception and some kind of testable hypothesis to provide evidence supporting such a willfully deceptive process, then the suggestion wouldn't be illogical. However, since no such logical (as in logically consistent) explanation has surfaced at this time, then we have yet to see a logical version of this concept. By all means, get cracking on building that hypothesis so we can test it! 4. Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?
This one is easy: on the contrary, the laws of thermodynamics (including the second) are required for evolution and all life in general to exist. Most of the time, people who ask this question tend to not understand the laws of thermodynamics in general and the second law specifically. Since we're talking about life on Earth, the unspoken assumption of people who ask this question is that the matter and energy and atoms here on Earth are all that have been here and all that will ever be. This isn't only demonstrably mistaken when taking into account the actual matter from outside that finds its way onto the planet regularly, but also by just walking outside during the day and looking into the sky (at least in good weather on a clear day). There's this huge, massive, (nigh) unimaginably powerful source of various forms of energy that's buffeting the entire planet all the time. The Earth only receives a small fraction of of the energy that this central energy source in our local planetary system, and in return out planet gives off some of that energy while converting or absorbing the rest (all following the second law). This is all measurable, and it's measured regularly by many types of scientist. As cool as all that sounds, it's still waaaay more of a simplified version of the actual physical science on the subject that you can find out there from others. Even more exciting is that we're constantly working on better and better technology to measure and observe this constant system of change because it gives us better and better information to make even more precise technology and learn even more about our universe. How cool is that? 5. How do you explain a sunset if their
[sic] is no God?
The short answer can be summed up in one word: Heliocentrism. Basically, this means that the planet spins on an axis while it orbits around a star at the center of the solar system. In our case, the Earth spins on an axis that we know exists and the Earth orbits the Sun. This is why the sunrise and sunset moves each day according to a predictable set of parameters, which means you can know when and where the sun will rise and set tomorrow based on where you are on the planet. Amazingly, we (humans) have been able to do this with a pretty good level of accuracy for nearly 2400 years! 6. If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?
In short, see my answer to #4 for a basic explanation. Basically, the laws of thermodynamics help us to understand how things work the way they do and inform/explain how concepts like the Big Bang most likely worked. Those laws are part of the math used to measure and record the effects of the Big Bang today, as well as predicting those effects tomorrow and next year and ten years from now and longer. So far the math has been pretty consistent and confirming. So the laws of thermodynamics don't debunk the Big Bang Theory or evolution. Hope that helps! 7. What about noetics?
What about it? It's a new word for "magic", basically. For those who never saw that word before, it's basically ESP, meditation, seeing the future, and things like that. Noetics consists of what is called pseudoscience, which is presenting a belief or practice as if it were scientific but using no scientific method to test for evidence or provide repeatable conditions for people that don't believe to confirm the results. 8. Where do you derive objective meaning in life?
Another interesting question! The most interesting thing is the use of the word "objective" here. The question asks about the meaning of life which is a philosophical question, but the emphasis is on objective in the question and the debate was about science. Objectivity in science means a method for measurement or a manner by which to avoid observational bias. So to that end objectivity is reached by having as many other people review and critique scientific work that's done in order to see if the results remain the same. This includes having people who might disagree on what the outcome might be having a go at it. Objectivity in philosophy,
however, is going to get you tons of answers. The reason for that is because there's never been one singular "objectivity" that's ever been discovered in philosophy. People much smarter than I am have certainly tried, and other people much smarter than me have also argued that there is no such thing. I'm pretty sure that "objective meaning in life" in this question is actually a stand in for "religious purpose" in general instead of the scientific or vague philosophical question. Since that's asking about religion and not science, the answer is going to be different depending on the religious beliefs of the person who is asked (which isn't very objective in the scientific sense). 9. If God did not create everything, how did the first single celled organism originate? By Chance?
So far nobody knows exactly how
the first and simplest organisms came into being. But based on what we know of how things develop so far, "by chance" is a more reliable explanation for the first single celled organism as saying "God did it", due to one major difference: we have actual evidence for what things were like when the first organisms existed, but we currently have no evidence for any God or other divine being (faith isn't evidence by its own definition). However, if someone can come up with evidence not only of a divine being (maybe Brahma?), but of that divine being existing in the primorial environment that gave us the first simple organisms on the planet, then we've got the beginnings of a workable theory that said divine being (Popol Vuh?) created the first organism on the planet. 10. I believe the Big Bang Theory... God said it and BANG it happened!
That's very clever use of words! Now if you can define in a scientific manner how "God said it" worked that provides a testable, repeatable hypothesis from which we can build working physical science on, then you may be on to something! By the way, "God did it because this book said he did it and God wrote this book" isn't testable or verifiable in any way. It's servicable as a religious belief that involves faith, which is the belief in something without evidence, but science requires evidence. Let me know when you've got that theory ironed out! 11. Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non God believing people reject God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra terestrial
This question is less than interesting because it's basically a rewording of the old "why do you people
<insert stereotype here>?" type of question. The reality is that most humans don't believe that aliens or anything else created life. However, from a practical point of view based on evidence there is exactly as much evidence of an extraterrestrial creating life on Earth as there is of a divine being creating life on Earth. That amount of evidence being zero. 12. There is no inbetween... the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds neccessary
[sic] for an "official proof".
This is not an accurate claim, but more to the point this is an example of what's called arguing from the gaps. Say we have a point A and a point Z. If we discover a point N between point A and Z, arguing from the gaps would demand that N is insufficient as evidence for a connection between A and Z because it's only one point, and now there exist two gaps (the one between A and N as well as the one between N and Z)! Add another point, say point E, and arguing from the gaps would expand to claiming that there's still no evidence and now there are more gaps! The funny thing is that the "hundreds necessary" is pretty close to the number of hard anthropological pieces of evidence we've found supporting just the recent evolutionary process of mankind alone. If we include the number of pieces of evidence for all life, the number is in the hundreds of thousands. It's interesting that the person making the statement chose such a small number as the goal for "official proof" when we passed that number long, long ago. 13. Does metamorphosis help support evolution?
This seems like a leading question to me, implying that there is some kind of link between metamorphosis (like a larvae to a butterfly) and evolution. I would answer that it's mutation
that supports evolution, since metamorphosis is a process of maturation. It would be like asking "does puberty help support evolution?" or "does gestation help support evolution?" Actually, the development of zygote to fetus to infant does
provide a fascinating insight for evolutionary science. Here's an example: http://www.exploratorium.edu/exhibits/embryo/embryoflash.html
Click that link and see if you can guess which embryo is a human one. Bonus challenge: explain why the human embryo begins with both female and male sex identifiers, and one can only approximate what physical sex a baby will be after months of gestation. Examining why so many different animals follow so similar early development designs is pretty difficult to reconcile with differing "kinds" as Ken Ham likes to use in place of the word species. Just saying. 14. If evolution is a Theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact.
Actually, evolutionary science
is taught as a process. However, the use of the term "theory" here is probably tripping up the questioner. You see, the word "theory" in scientific terms isn't the same as someone who just thinks up an idea and throws it out there. This video by PBS ( https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/11/2/e_s_1.html
) provides some detail and example on what a scientific theory entails versus how we use the word in everyday regular conversation. In short, a scientific theory (like evolution) requires that it meets several specific criteria regarding predictions that can be proven or disproven, is supported by multiple points of evidence instead of one observation, is consistent with itself and with other scientific theories that have met similar standards (this goes back to the thermodynamics topic), and is succinct (excluding unnecessary steps). Under the criteria that evolution meets to be considered a scientific theory, creationism fails on pretty much every point to be considered a theory. It's not even a workable hypothesis. 15. Because science by definition is a "theory" -- not testable, observable, nor repeatable" why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?
I'm not talking about the punctuation or grammar here, but everything about the sentence that ends with a question mark is wrong or makes no sense whatsoever. Science, by definition, means that something is testable, observable, repeatable, and
from which we can make predictions. Evolutionary science involves the study of things which are testable, observable, repeatable, and from which we can make predictions. Creationism is none of those things, and intelligent design is just a two word way in which to say creationism. The point of science classes in school is to teach people science, so teaching things that are not science in a science class seems to work against the goal of teaching science. 16. What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?
This question is mind blowing, because I'm wondering if the person meant to answer their own question with their question. The answer is easy: Mutation. We have discovered mutations in human and other animal population that increase the diversity
of information, which in effect is an increase in that information. This is why we know definitively that two human beings are not sufficient genetically to populate the entire planet on their own, and that diversity must be introduced in order to sustain a population. In relevant recent news, we found out that we humans contain a (statistically) significant amount of neandertal DNA, but not everyone has the same type of DNA traces of neandertal and some humans don't have any trace. The information this provides is confirmation of hypotheses that evolutionary biologists and anthropologists have made regarding how human beings spread out to different parts of the world and how we interacted with other species (in this case, neandertals). But the short answer is within your question: mutation. 17. What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?
I won't speak for others, but my purpose is to learn new things and meet new people and in the process pass on what I can in the most socially positive manner possible. Lots of other people, including people who also believe in "salvation" (by which I'm assuming you mean "are Christian"), believe similarly to what I do. I'd counter with this: why is that such a moral problem for you? 18. Why have we found only 1 "Lucy", when we have found more than 1 of everything else?
Good news! We've found way more than one "Lucy" so far, if by "Lucy" you mean Australopithecus specimens! In fact, in just 2011 we found a new specimen of the same type as "Lucy". What's even cooler is that these different specimens have all been found between 1974 and today, meaning ongoing work looking for more information is actually giving us more information!
Pretty good to know that there's more than one "Lucy", isn't it? 19. Can you believe in "the big bang" without "faith"?
I'm pretty sure I can't explain all of the physics and mathematical concepts in every last granular detail as well as some others, but the whole point of trusting scientific theories is specifically because they've been subjected to rigorous testing over a period of time. In fact, the concept of the Big Bang has undergone some significant adjustments as scientists have repeatedly tested and retested it, as well as observed modern data based on what the theory predicts. That's what's so great about science: if the data doesn't match the theory, then either the theory is altered to form new predictions or another theory is tested. It's also why creationism fails at being a science: it predicts nothing, there's nothing that can be tested (no prediction means nothing to test), and the only "science" it practices is looking for ways to explain a conclusion. With science, a conclusion is based on results; in creationism, results are based on the conclusion (which is itself based on faith). 20. How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It's amazing!!!
I agree, the world is pretty darned amazing! It's so amazing I always want to learn more about it. I want to know as much as can possibly be known, not only about how things are right now but how we got to this point and where we might be going in the future. The excitement I feel when I start thinking about that stuff really is awesome. The thing is, it's not about whether or not I believe that there's a divine being or not. There's zero evidence of a divine being and nothing about what we know of the universe requires
a divine being, but I actually have no problem at all with someone having faith in a divine being (or state of being). But unless you can show how that faith has anything to do with studying science I'm not at all convinced that it should be taught as if it's a science. If you have evidence then by all means share it. But until that time you may as well be asking why I don't believe sea anemones should play in a mariachi band at Venice Beach. (the answer is I've never seen a sea anemone play guitar in a sombrero) 21. Relating to the big bang theory.... Where did the exploding star come from?
Since I've never heard that version of the Big Bang theory, I'll have to go with "I don't know." However, if I were to hypothesize what award winning and Nobel prize winning scientists in physics and other specialties would say, I can predict with almost 99.99999% assurance that just about every one of them would say "I don't know" as well. Actually, some of them probably wouldn't say it in English, but the meaning would be the same. You see, not only don't we know what was there before the Big Bang, we're still not 100% sure of everything that was present at the precise moment of the Big Bang. Currently, science has managed to get pretty close to that moment but we still can't quite get to the point of the actual bang. I bet you're wondering how we're able to see things back in time. Have you ever heard of the Large Hadron Collider? Maybe you've heard it called the LHC? No, it's not a time machine. We're able to look at what is called the "background radiation" of the universe, and we're able to look at light from distant stars and galaxies and planets and stuff that began making its way to us millions and millions of years ago. On top of that we also are able to look at really small things that are here on the planet right now. On top of that, we're able to predict that certain Very Big Things happen when we make elements of different types smash together really fast (like how we made nuclear bombs and cup'o'noodles). Well, based on these things we can observe now we've been able to make some guesses as to what the moments just after the Big Bang looked like. The LHC is one of the places where we can actually test
these guesses, which helps to strengthen those guesses into workable hypotheses and even scientific theories! So far we're finding some very neat things about what the conditions were like, and it's helping us to better understand what the universe is like today and what the universe will look like far into the future. Isn't that great? 22. If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?
Very clever! The simple answer is that "common ancestor" isn't the same as "we came from". According to evolutionary science human beings and monkeys and apes and other primates share a common ancestor from which we diverged millions of years ago. Some primates diverged much further back than other primates, which is why there are some types of primates that share more similarities to humans than others. Respectively: why do Christians no longer allow for slaves or require their young men to not cut the hair that grows in front of their ears (Pe'ot) or require the brother in law of a widow to marry the widow? Is it perhaps because the beliefs have evolved? __________________
I watched the debate, and all I saw was Bill Nye being cordial with someone who would make contradictory statements in a single argument and not bat an eye, then follow up with a challenge that fails to recognize universally accepted definitions of words and terms and still managing to not string them together in a way that was consistent. Everything about the argument that Ken Ham made requires us to assume that the universe was made whole 6000 years ago, but was intentionally made to look as if the universe was an order of magnitude older than that and any search for evidence would come up with intentionally planted falsehoods.
I'm rather shocked that any Christian, let alone any person who holds any religious faith that is different than Ham's very narrow interpretation, can even take this man any more seriously than society takes folks like Fred Phelps and his family. I've known plenty of people of faith who believe in a God that wouldn't lie to them and who expects them to treat every other person on the planet with empathy and sympathy and love. Ken Ham seems to believe in a God who has no problem with supplying lies and expects his followers to treat every other person as a target to be either assimilated or dominated.
Even as appalling as I find Ham's religious views, I still don't care whether he holds those views or not. I simply don't see why his religious views have any place in the realm of scientific education at all. As far as whether his views are relevant to religious education, I strongly feel that it's a decision that others in his religion can choose to accept or deny. Given that, though, I can't imagine why most people who tend to predicate their faith and beliefs on inclusion and acceptance would find his message of exclusion and suppression at all palatable.
Ken Ham (and at least a few of the messages in the BuzzFeed link) seems to be a moral nihilist and prescribes dominionist ideology (conveniently administered by himself) as the solution. Doesn't that book he constantly refers to say something about people like that near the end (having read it, I'm pretty sure it does)?
Image credit goes to Monty Python (via http://youtu.be/buqtdpuZxvk
) and +Craig Froehle