On February 4th, science popularizer Bill Nye will debate Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The obvious topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins?”
Now, many atheists/anti-theists/secularists have voiced their opinions, debating whether it is a good thing for a science advocate to take on the current anti-evolution heavyweight champion of the world. I’ve read many of the arguments against Nye’s decision, most of them being:
- Nye isn’t an evolutionary biologist.
- Nye may not understand the creationist position entirely.
- Never give a creationist the time or place to publicly display his foolish beliefs.
- This is only a money-grubbing opportunity for the struggling Creation Museum.
I’m sure there are a few that I’ve missed. Not many support Nye’s decision to take on Ham. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed more Christians on Nye’s side, since many feel the creationist position is lush with stupidity and unneeded literalism. I also understand why he probably shouldn’t have readily accepted the debate. I see why many disagree, because they’re all valid points. The anti-evolution movement has no weight; it isn’t supported by the majority of scientific thinkers, no substantial amount of evidence has been presented to support their failed hypothesis, and it is an entirely faith-based claim. Since I first heard this was happening, I was in full objection. Nye remained silent on the subject until recently, explaining his decision to The Huffington Post. I watched the video in full length and reflected for some time.
And now I’m sympathetic to Nye’s decision.
Developing scientifically literate children is the key to our survival as a species. Standing against the opposition is an admirable position. I care deeply for the education of our youth, particularly those who’ve been lied to their entire lives in regards to the evolution of the biosphere. We atheists often say “tolerance is part of the problem.” By ignoring the creationist completely, isn’t that a form of tolerance? Nye isn’t particularly concerned with changing Ham’s mind, but this is what is important:
Creationism is an issue that we must argue and challenge without remorse, for the sake of our future.
In my experience, most who side with the anti-evolution community have never heard any of the arguments against their position. This will offer a great opportunity for Nye to reach an audience that many often fail to. No one is “too far gone” in their faith. Everyone has the ability to comprehend the truth of evolution and the positives of a science-based objective eye. Perhaps Nye is the right person to get that specific job done. How many times have we heard atheists say, “Books like The God Delusion and God Is Not Great got me to think a bit more critically about my faith and I soon found myself to be an atheist.” This could be another one of those instances.
All it takes is for one person to change a 1000 minds. Hell, they may only need to change one mind; a mind that could go on to change the entire world. These are chances we need to take because the fight against this ultimate stupidity is escalating. I have high-hopes for his presentation and I expect him to diligently tear down Ham’s arguments, which isn’t incredibly difficult.
Popular creationists often begin with an objection to our current scientific understanding. By creating a level of distrust, they have the opportunity to sneak in their ridiculous claims with crafty rhetoric. Nye needs to erase this level of distrust by doing what he does best: Promote science in an innovative and exhilarating way. If he can do that effectively, he deserves a nod. As Nye says, he was “challenged to a dual. What am I supposed to do?”
But I could be wrong. Maybe this will make the creationist look more credible than those who valiantly support evolution, and Nye could lose horribly. But I’m not a pessimist about this event.
So, I support Bill Nye.
And I invite you in joining me.
View the live debate on February 4th for free here.