Earlier tonight, Bill Nye debated creationist Ken Ham on the viability of Creationism as a model to be used in science. I found their discussion interesting to watch, and have/had these thoughts:
Why does he always keep going back to god? Ham claims that he is merely offering another perspective, and is not trying to inject religion into schools. However, this very premise is fundamentally flawed. Perhaps the argument can be made that creationism can be treated as science (I, personally, do not believe that this is the case, but regardless…), but it is not possible to separate creationism from religion. Unless you can separate the arguments for creationism from the Bible, Genesis, and the so-called word of god, it will always be based in religion. Ham focused too much on knowing things because they are the supposed word of god. This argument works fine for people who believe in god, and for them, this is a perfectly reasonable way to think. And they are certainly entitled to that, but Ham failed to acknowledge what creationism means for the millions of people who do not believe in god, or those who believe in a different one than him.
Furthermore, Ham never actually proves anything, or provides any explanations other than “Well, there’s this book. Called the bible, and it explains it all.” This is, in my opinion, a complete cop-out. Just because something is unknown or uncertain does not mean that we should just jump to conclusions about it. I was reminded of discussions that we have had in my Biology classes at school. Life is inarguably complex. Tiny molecular processes happening inside all of our cells collectively make life work, and make us actually alive. However, just because something is complex does not mean that we should immediately give up and stop trying to figure out how it works.
Instead, we should endeavor to try and discover more. We should try to work out why things work they way they do, or how they even work in the first place. I am fascinated by the intricate cellular processes such as photosynthesis, metabolism, etc. And we can study and examine these things and try to figure them out. We may not have all the answers, but acknowledging the unknown is better than turning to a supernatural explanation.
Besides, turning to the supernatural may not lead to the answers that creationists want to hear. For one thing, if there was a designer for life, he/she certainly was not intelligent. Most living organisms are not at all “perfect” or efficient at what they do. Most biological processes are simply “good enough”, but happen to work out in the long run. I’ll use an example that I remember (mainly because we studied it recently). In humans, only approximately 50% of sperm is actually healthy–that is, able to swim and properly fertilize an egg. Only 50%! That means that half of the sperm we produce is for all intents and purposes useless. What does that mean for us? Well for one thing, it means that humans are not perfect. But more importantly, it means that we don’t need to be perfect. This 50% efficiency has worked out well enough (I mean, here we all are), so I’m certainly not complaining. (Though it is interesting to consider the fact that because humans are not perfect, would that then mean that if we were created in god’s image, that god him/herself is not perfect as well?)
The same thing applies to all other aspects of science. The pursuit of discovery, knowledge, and the great unknown is one of mankind’s greatest challenges. We are unique in our ability to look at the world around us and try to figure out how it works, how it got here, and what might happen next. Who knows what we’ll discover? Maybe there is a god-like being that created it all, or maybe we’re alone in the universe. Regardless, we’ll continue to look for evidence, and that evidence will serve to explain what’s really going on in the world. It’s better to seek out truth, knowledge, and explanations instead of copping out and simply claiming that “god did it because the bible said so.” Don’t be satisfied with what someone else has told you. Go out for yourself, and discover.
I agree completely with Bill Nye – we need more curious scientists, researchers, and engineers to lead the next generation in the pursuit of knowledge. Tonight’s “debate” may not have changed many opinions, or reached any meaningful conclusions, but maybe, just maybe, it convinced at least someone, somewhere, to continue trying to figure out our world.
And maybe one day we, as a species, will know just a little bit more about our place in the universe.
“If we stop looking for the next answer for the next question, we, in the United States, will be outcompeted by other countries, other economies.”
– Bill Nye