From FSS: Science and religion go head to head in creation debate

This is a modification of a post I wrote on my other blog, Freshly Squeezed Science, and I mean modified in the sense that I got a bit wordy in the original. I’d like to take this time to point out my inherent biases as a scientist and atheist, but I feel that discourse about and between conflicting sides is vital to constructive thinking. Here’s the shortened version.

I had all intentions of watching the creation debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, but the combination of a Spanish paper and the YouTube page crashing my computer prevented me from watching it and thus covering it until now. I’ve since caught bits and pieces, and in addition to seeing other commentaries on it, I’d like to address a few things that I feel make this discussion worth having. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to the people on Nye’s side as “evolutionists” and Ham’s side as “creationists.”

  1. Evolutionists are more willing to say “I don’t know,” and creationists create an explanation for everything. This was made apparent in this Buzzfeed article that was in my news feed, in which the author asked creationists at the debate to pose questions to the evolutionists. The lady in photo number 9 illustrates this point very well in her question, “If God did not create everything, then how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?” Evolutionists would say yes, and creationists would say no, hence the position of God as creator of these organisms.
  2. Evolutionists are more open to changing their outlook, and creationists are solid in their beliefs. Part of the scientific process is revisiting old hypotheses and changing them if outcomes or observations refute them; as such, scientists would be willing to accept another hypothesis were evidence to arise that disproved evolution, whereas no amount of evidence supporting evolution would change a creationist.
  3. Only a minor thing, but the creationist side can’t really claim persecution in education when the educational systems that do teach it only look at the Christian story. Other beliefs are snubbed, as demonstrated by a quick Google search of “creation story.”
  4. This is probably the most important, but science and religion aren’t completely separate. I know people who are comfortable in their faith and still accept evolution as more or less fact, and even though the church system seems to be anti-science in some respect throughout the ages, some of the best science has come out of it. Take Mendelian genetics for example: without it, we wouldn’t know how inheritance works, yet Gregor Mendel was a monk.
As always, I’m open for discussion. What are your thoughts on the debate, evolution, or creationism?
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3 thoughts on “From FSS: Science and religion go head to head in creation debate

  1. I was interested by Ham’s strategic withdrawal. He admits Evolution, and the observations of Darwin’s finches, but does not accept that this indicates one tree of life, but an “orchard”: God created animals by their “Kind” which Ham identifies as Families of species. So he admits evolution, but denies Darwinism.

    Ham had a slide he showed more than once of a couple looking, puzzled, at a fragmentary skeleton. Too little evidence: how can we know? So engaging people with vignettes of how we can know might be a way forward.

    • I tend to think of evolution and Darwinism as joint forces because genetic change will happen even without outside forces, but natural selection and consequently adaptive radiation will help push it along, so it’s interesting that he’ll concede to one (the longer-term one, in fact) and not the other.
      As for evidence, your bird example might be a good one to illustrate it. If all birds come from the same tree in the metaphorical orchard, why are some flightless? Why are some gigantic? Why are some miniscule? There had to be some force that turned that initial bird that God designed into all the birds we see today.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Roundup – 8 Feb 2014 | Amanda Hutchinson

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