There was quite a lead-up to Tuesday’s debate between Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and Ken Ham of “Answers in Genesis”. Onlookers from each side expected their guy would mop the floor with the other guy, and I’m sure there will be plenty of postmortem on the debate itself.
But since one of the recurrent themes in such exchanges is the accusation that Christians (or Creationists generally) let their beliefs get in the way of science and impede it, let’s answer that accusation.
Before I do, though, let’s get something clear. Christian belief is monotheistic, but not monolithic. Within orthodox belief, you can have a range views on various things. This includes the details of Creation. We will all agree that God, Himself, did the creating, but we might vigorously debate things like time scale.
Some Christians believe the Earth’s age is measured in thousands of years, others believe it to be millions. Lobbing insults about time scale (in either direction) does little to address the real question of whether the claims of divine agency are actually true.
Similarly, whether you are describing belief, or unbelief, you can find a range of people whose convictions are connected to evidences, and others who are driven by emotion. That accusation is true of both camps. The question that needs answering hasn’t changed, for either side. Both sides have to supply an answer when their critics ask, “But is it true?”
Sometimes, especially in a forum where one is “speaking to the choir”, the rhetoric can become heated, and ridiculous things can be said.
For example, in Psychology Today, William Hirstein, Ph.D, once wrote an article claiming that Creationists should not fly on airplanes. He took his time developing his idea, citing the interconnected-ness of scientific research, and that objecting to the findings of one discipline is a rejection of such developments that are connected to it. He makes the following quote:
“To be consistent, extreme science skeptics such as creationists should not trust any existing technology. They should not use computers, drive modern cars, fly on airplanes, or have an MRI done, since the same science that tells us that animals evolved created these technologies. But of course these are reliable technologies. The best explanation for this fact and the fact that our cars go, our bridges do not fall down, hospital patients get better at ever-improving rates, and so on, is that the science behind these achievements correctly describes the world.”
His choice of examples is interesting, and makes one embarrassing error. I will let the Inventor of the MRI explain it in his own words, in this 30 second clip.
Perhaps Dr. Hirstein, to be consistent, ought never to use an MRI, since it was invented by one whose scientific credibility he so publicly doubts. If we wished, we could even turn the argument backward on itself, since a Creationist’s reliable technology accurately describes the world, Hirstein’s Neo-Darwinism might need a re-think.
But, fortunately, I have sense enough to know that assertions (made by either side) will need something sturdier than this bumper-sticker logic to establish it.