I watched with interest the Bill Nye versus Ken Ham debate at the Creationism Museum yesterday.
Mr Ham tried resting his #Creationist position on what he called ‘historical science’ and asserted, though poorly, that because you weren’t there, you don’t really know.
If he had taken the time to unpack this argument, it does have some traction to it because it goes into what we think is causality and how we come to conclusions. However, he might have realized this as a poor strategy because what science does is assert the best answer to something until a better answer comes along.
For example… there are crazy circles in the crop. Some people (non scientists) will readily jump to “it is aliens”. Scientists will not automatically dismiss that idea, but will first ask “what is the more plausible explanation” and then test against it. In the case of crop circles… its hooligans with planks and rope.
Now, what Mr Ham has seriously erred with his stance is that his fall back position cuts both ways. If he says that all claims by science as to the age of the Earth are ultimately suspect because nobody was there to see this happen, and then he turns around and says that his position of creationism and a young earth did have someone there to witness God) (though not that one, ze is pretty cool) there is simply NO PROOF that 1: God exists, and 2: that we have proof of a record of such.
This is where he falls back onto his ultimate position, that “there is this book that tells…” Now, the question is, how do we know that this book (the King James Bible, as was referenced in the debate) is accurate? The paper it is written on, how do we know how old it is? The text it comes from, with historical accounts (witness statements) of it being transcribed under the command of King James, how do we know the earlier translations were correct? Is anyone from then alive now? Why should I take someone’s word? It isn’t like anyone has ever lied to maintain power and control before? Pardon my skepticism. Going further back, how do we know the Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Egyptian, and so forth, texts… that were a varied collection of texts by different authors, with different versions, with different ideas about the nature of God and Jesus and Mary… how do we know that any one of them is legit and which one, of all the variations and differences and disagreements between the texts, is correct? Nobody alive now was alive then? And how do we know any one of these texts that are transcribed are more than a hundred years old?
The error in using the ‘there are no living witnesses to verify an old Earth hypothesis” also work against the Creationists idea. I say it is an idea, because it does not fulfill the requirements of a ‘theory’.
The truth is that there was no one Bible that was created, but many different texts with different spins, authors, errors, viewpoints, that were consolidated 300 CE, which have been translated and changed since then. There is no proof of any great flood, many other mythologies have a myth of a great flood (read Ovid’s Metamorphoses, check out some African myths, and others), there is no proof of the Christian God, there is no proof that any portion of the Bible is anything other than written by men. Period.
What would convince me otherwise? Evidence. Creationism has no evidence. It is a myth. As long as some Christians continue to treat it as a word-for-word account, they are actually stunting their spiritual growth. Mythology has a deeply important role in the human psyche (or soul if you wish) to the extant that facts and figures do not. It is a great impoverishing to cut down the mythic themes in the particular set of myths known as the Bible (one of MANY sets of mythic realms around the world).
You can call it ‘truth’ all you wish… but it doesn’t make it so. Truth is not merely an emotional state of certainty… there are schizophrenics who are absolutely sure that bugs are crawling under their skin, or the dog is talking to them, but this does not make it true. There are people who are absolutely sure, feeling deep conviction, that their government is corrupt or noble, and this conviction does not mean that it is true. Conviction does not equal knowledge. The streets are filled with firmly convinced people of ignorance.
Many of the convinced Christian believers would be, if born in a Muslim country, be devout Muslims, or Hindus, or whatever. There is GREAT pressure to socially conform to the normative beliefs and behaviors of those around you. It ‘feels’ good when one fits in… it ‘feels wrong’ when one is outside of this system of beliefs.
Try it sometime… tell a complete stranger that you are something that is opposite your beliefs. For many of my friends who say that their anti GLBT bigotry is “just an opinion”… if this is the case, then it should be easy to show that opinion to a stranger. Tell a stranger that you are gay and notice how you feel. That feeling is the emotional pressure to conform. That is the basis of your belief… not rational thought. But don’t take my word for it… study psychology for a decade and come to your own conclusion using rational thought.
Ask questions, ask for evidence, and that will be a much better guide to finding any truth than trusting the word of one man or group of men in a religious sect. As Bill Nye made clear in his position… ‘we welcome evidence that proves us wrong’. Why? Because we are searching for TRUE knowledge, which is more than a fuzzy feeling.