One more thought on last night’s Nye vs. Ham debate…
This one is inspired by Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, and his post-mortem on the evolution vs. creationism debate that happened last night, and the debate at large.
You should read Phil’s whole post, I think he captures the conflict and the solution in one passage:
The conflict over the teaching of evolution is based on the false assumption that evolution is antagonistic to religion. This is why, I think, evolution is so vehemently opposed by so many in the United States. The attacks on the specifics of evolution—the claims about irreducibility of the eye, for example, or other such incorrect statements—are a symptom, not a cause. I can talk about how we know the Universe is old until the Universe is substantially older and not convince someone whose heels are dug in. But if we can show them that the idea of evolution is not contrary to their faith, then we will make far, far more progress.
I still think that last night’s debate was a mistake, but perhaps it was a mistake in execution rather than intent. Bill showed up with a brain-bazooka full of facts, but he came prepared with the wrong weapon for the wrong fight.
Instead we need people like Bill out there (and I’m trying really hard to be one of those people, too, as are so many of my friends and colleagues) to deliver an important message alongside our teaching and inspiration and entertainment when it comes to evolution, and science in general, really:
Despite what people like Ken Ham are telling you, if you are a religious person, you do not need to choose between believing in evolution OR believing your faith. That makes Ham twice the liar: Once for denying our knowledge of reality and the natural world, and twice for telling you that natural wonder can’t complement, enrich, or, for some people, perhaps even become your spirituality.