Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Debate

I got home yesterday just in time to catch just the last of the live Internet streamed debate between Bill Nye "the science guy" and Ken Ham "the creationist guy".  It is still on line and here is a link to the complete debate if you are interested. (They said it would be up for a few days for viewers who didn't see it live)
I don't think it was a matter of who won or who lost the debate, what I loved about it was the civilized approach each man took.  Unlike Political debates there was no yelling, no personal attacks and no mean spirited comments.  It was a straight forward organized debate from two people who have radically different views on how the world came to be. 
In this world of athletic contests where we need to have a clear winner it is difficult for us to evaluate the results of an intellectual debate like this one. 
I am not a fan of Mr. Ham but thought he stated his beliefs with dignity and poise. However, in my opinion he was at a disadvantage because his "proof" was based on one book, the Bible. 
There are plenty of people who believe that no other book is necessary besides the Bible. I get that. I have several translations of the Bible, and by this time in my life I have read every chapter of the King James version. It is interesting reading and inspirational if viewed for what it is.  But there is no question as to the fact that the Bible is not a scientific text book.  Even Mr. Ham stated that for him the Bible is part metaphor, part poetry, part Jewish tradition, part genealogical history and mostly parable. He said he knew which part was which and the parts he believed to be fact were fact. That approach is certainly not a "scientific" approach. I am sure we would disagree on the parts of the Bible I consider poetry.
Trying to discover the origin of the earth from stories in the Bible is like trying to become a Shepard by reading only "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or singing "Old McDonald" believing it stated everything you needed to know about farming. 
Before I get a thousand nasty comments about comparing the Bible to Mother Goose, that is not what I am doing. I am not diminishing the value of the Bible, I am just saying that it is not imperial evidence of geology, history or origin of the species. Even books that do claim to be such evidence can be proven wrong with the next discovery or latest experiment. The fact that the Bible still seems relevant today is a testament to the metaphoric nature of its message. 
The Bible is a highly edited compilation of spoken word stories passed down through history. Plenty of stories were left out purposely and mostly for political reasons. While I think the Bible contains a lot of truth about the nature of man, it is certainly not a history of man.  It is mainly the history of the Jewish people and the struggles of that ancient tribe. While Moses is spending 40 years in the desert, China is a thriving culture on the other side of the globe with thousands of years of history. This historic fact is never mentioned in the Bible. 
The problems in the middle east can be reduced to one unsolvable disagreement. Jews and Christians believe that God "gave" a piece of real estate to a specific tribe. Other tribes that have shared that land for thousands of years disagree. The Bible is not a land grant document and God is not a real estate agent.
When white man came to America they paid the equivalent of $23 for the island of Manhattan. It was not that the Indians were bad business men therefore they sold Manhattan cheaply. It was the fact that the native Americans had no concept of "owning" land.  How could any human own land, or sky. It belonged to everyone for all to share. I think this is more in line with how I see an omnipotent, omniscient Diety.
On the other hand neither Bill Nye nor any other scientist can tell you why two sub atomic particles will either be attracted to each other or be repelled, but that becomes the very building block of life as science sees it. Who or what lit the fuse to set off the Big Bang? And scientist are obsessed to find the "unified field" which is the one element/process that connects all of the actions in the universe. They even call it "the God particle".  To me that is simply a scientific journey to find a universal creator.
This is the great thing about a civilized debate like we had last night. It makes us think about who we are and how we got here. If the question is should we teach science in school there is no question that we should.  There is also no question that philosophy should also be taught as well.  The two are not mutually exclusive just two different studies and each important to the development of a human.
In the words of Rodney King... "Can't we all just get along?"
As you were,

1 comment:

Pete Biro said...