Nobody Won

Bill-Nye-vs.-Ken-Ham-Debate_f_improf_645x254One would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about the much-publicised debate in the U.S. between Bill Nye (can I not resist adding, “The Science Guy” after that?) and Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis) held February 4th in Kentucky. Well, OK. If you don’t live in North America and you’re not either an Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christian, or an atheist, you possibly don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

But, nonetheless, it happened. “Ham on Nye” as it has become known.

There are numerous clips on YouTube and well past hundreds of search results on Google that will show you anything you wish to know about this event.

But, for me, the sound bites say it all. The answer to the question, “What would it take to change your mind?” was, according to Nye: “A single piece of solid evidence.” According to Ham: Nothing. That’s right. Nothing. Since the Bible is obviously literally (according to Ham’s interpretation of it) fully accurate in Science and History, he needs no other evidence. Nothing will change his mind that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and created in 7 literal 24-hour days (albeit, several of those days did not have the time-telling benefit of the sun–go figure!).

How does he know the earth is less than 10,000 years old? He’s done his Math and added up the generations found in the Bible’s genealogies. This is what he calls the “historical science” method. Since his literal understanding of the Bible is correct in all matters historical, then so is his guess of the earth’s age.

And here’s where the debate is unwinnable: the basic underlying world-views of these two men couldn’t be further opposed to each other.

To those of fundamentalist ilk, Ham was the hero, standing for the truth, defending the faith, and holding fast to sound doctrine and a literal reading of Genesis 1 against the tide of the Satanic theory of evolution.

To atheists and more progressive Christians, Bill Nye won with his solid evidence and logic, his proven hypotheses and superior intellect. To the atheist, the foundation of Ken Ham’s argument was as shaky as that of a flooded beach: how could one trust a book written by men of an ancient tribal culture (see *Note) with the aim of proving their deity was superior to those in the lands around them? After all, every culture has its own creation myths.

To the more progressive Christian, while claiming the sacred text to be inspired by God, it is seen to be, still, as bearing the indelible imprint of humanity with all its tendencies to interpretation in the light of current culture and the desire to prove tribal superiority. Progressives care not so much about the “how” of the universe’s origin as much as the “why” and the “what does this mean for us now?” So, while this event aroused cursorily, it held no real sense of consequence.

In the days following, source after source declared Bill Nye as the hands-down winner (even Christianity Today’s poll showed a 9-1 lead). However, in my opinion, “Ham on Nye” proved to be a fizzer, a debate which was more of a publicity stunt to showcase Ham’s Creationist exhibit and the organisation he has created to promote his own views.

Surely the church has learned from its own dealings with scientists such as Galileo or Copernicus. Surely they cannot take as historical fact a creation account that was written from the perspective of a flat earth, a fixed ‘dome’ (or firmament) and a sun, moon and stars that orbited over and under this flat earth. But this variant of the Christian Religion still prefers to remain staunchly opposed to proven scientific theory and overwhelming evidence. Its adherents see no need for science and evidence except when it bolsters their own interpretations of the world. The simplistic answers to the complex questions of origins are comical and, as one blogger states, takes the Jesus Movement back ten steps in its respectability and relevance.

Unfortunately, the wide brush of dogmatism has splattered the rest of Christianity with its ignorance and stubborn refusal to consider the evidence thousands of earnest scientists have uncovered since the dark ages.

Nobody won. Unless, of course, we have learned that debating those who choose to remain in the dark ages is futile, in which case good sense has won the day.

____________

*Note: This is a huge flaw in reasoning that I see in many creationist writings: they assume the reader will accept “The Bible says” as authoritative evidence when, in fact, many would see ‘The Good Book’ as having no more authority than a Superman comic. Even when I accepted their teachings, I cringed every time I read their work because I knew it would carry absolutely no authority in the secular world. They are indeed preaching to the choir.

#Nasuli

I am still amazed at the wonders of technology.

You may say that statement dates me as one who is ‘older’ and perhaps not up-to-speed with the marvels of electronic gadgetry and the like.

Au contraire! I am well-known for my love of gadgets and my fascination with all things that buzz, whistle, flash and hum.

keyboardBut I still stand in wonder at how I can see something happening around the world instantly, how I can listen to a song streaming from a server thousands of miles away as if I’m sitting in a concert hall in front of a full orchestra, how I can communicate with friends and see their face on Skype any time of the day or night.

Technology shrinks our world and brings into our life places and people from across the span of our lives: memories, sounds, videos, pictures, smells . . .

Smells? Well, not exactly. But sometimes I can almost smell and feel as if I have been magically transported back to a prior time in my life. So powerful is the sense I perceive as I leaf through these memory-triggers.

Nasuli is one such place.

I have fond memories of holidaying here with my family when I was quite young. We stayed in a guesthouse which, from memory, was on the grounds of a MAF mission base in the city of my birth: Malaybulay in the province of Bukidnon in the Philippines.

Rambutan trees with ants crawling all over them. Once you peeled off the ants and then the spiny skin, the fruit was delicious.

Houses whose walls were made of some sort of woven bamboo.

The American church where they had a real choir and a pastor who wore robes ( and where I first heard the amazing hymn This is My Father’s World.)

King Roly Poly. (OK. It was a book I found in the toy box where we were staying. He was so fat they had to build special furniture for him and a special table with a cut out for his stomach. Talk about politically incorrect! But we were children of the 60s.)

And then there was the spring.

nasuliCool water. Deep. Calm. Surrounded by trees that smelled musty, like the flowers of what we call a mavis bush.

I loved the spring. In my tyre-tube I would happily float around for hours. I even would venture to the other side where there were reeds and where ( so I was told) they would find water snakes.

I didn’t care. The cool water around me and the safety of my tyre-tube flotation device was enough.

I still love floating in water. Pool, beach, river . . . don’t really care. I think I thrive in that sense of calm and flow.

“So what does Nasuli have to do with technology?”

I’m glad you ask.

I was on Instagram the other day and one of the folks I followed posted a photo of a bus on the way to #Malaybulay (those of you who get the hashtag know where this story is going).

So I went to ‘Discover’ and searched on #Malaybulay. I came across quite a few photos of #Nasuli, some of them geotagged ‘Nasuli Spring.’

I followed the links, found the photos, was redirected to Google Earth and discovered myself back in the late 60s under sunny skies, floating in the peaceful, cool spring water straight from the central Mindanao mountains.

How an iPad can bring to my mind the smell of a mavis bush, the feeling of cool, clear water on a hot day, and the security of my tyre-tube (that apparently protects me from even the snakes), amazes me.

braintechI would imagine this is another incredible element of my humanity that takes an image of a place and recalls instantly everything of my life–good or not so–that relates to that location. I would go so far as to say this is our natural technology, our created memory system that, miraculously, transports us in time and space to places that have come to define who we are.

I would suggest that this inbuilt, intuitive and infinitely capable technology is far superior to any gadget, gizmo or thingamajig I could ever get my hands on.

The Miracle of Creation

I have been following The Hidalgo Grain Company blog for a while now and, having come from much the same place as the author, I can understand his ravings against fundamentalism and Biblical literalism. I understand. Sometimes things that well-meaning (but ignorant) people say can be very hard to swallow, especially when they claim that their reasoning is “scientific.”

This brings me to this post and a look at Creation a la Hidalgo Grain Company where he explains (from his point of view) what is a “creationist” and questions that have arisen in his mind about their understanding of divine revelation.

In the summer of 1976, my dad bought me a telescope at Sears and I spent multiple hours peering through the eyepiece. Like astronomers of old, I tracked the four major moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, peered at Saturn’s rings (the most distant planet I could clearly observe) – I even had an adapter to plot sunspots moving across our own nearby star. Then there was the Moon; a dry, dead world that came alive through my telescope’s eyepiece, especially when viewed as a waxing crescent on a clear evening. Eventually I learned most of the stars, their class and their distance, also the locations of various nebulae, clusters and galaxies. It was a time when Psalm 8:3, 4 became very real…

stars3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 what is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

It was this part of the verse, “…the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars…” which still causes me to go back to Genesis, Chapter One and re-examine the creation account –

And, invariably, I come up with questions…

Day 1 – the Earth was formless (no shape) and void (empty) – God said, “Let there be light.”

– Before “Let there be light”, what was there? Dark? But, you can’t have “dark” without light, so is this formless, empty pre-Earth dwelling in some unknown plane of existence?

– At no point is it recorded that God said, “Let there be time” – but somehow we already have literal 24-hour days? (Not to mention there is no Sun, Moon or stars, yet.)

– Speaking of Time, what is it? Why do we perceive it? Why is it asymmetric?

(Read the rest of this post here.)