So, there was a lot of talk about the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham last night. I’ve already discussed my issues with Creationism many times, and these debates never really amount to anything. At least this one remained pretty polite on both sides. I guess Ham is actually somewhat moderate as far as Creationism advocates go; some of his arguments not to use are ones I’ve seen from people like Kent Hovind. I don’t see Ray Comfort’s bananas listed there, though. By the way, why does Australia export so many Creationists? Maybe seeing kangaroos and platypuses makes people believe that not only is there a divine creator, but he was obviously a surrealist. Or maybe it’s that they AREN’T as amenable to Creationists down under, so they all move to the States. Regardless, Ham kept making the point that we don’t know that nature operated the same way in the past as it does now. Technically, he’s right, but I don’t see why that supports the Judeo-Christian origin myth any more than it does, say Bumba puking out the world. It’s true that we can never be too certain about anything, but we have to consider Nye’s repeated point (not in the form of a song parody, unfortunately) that science is predictive. It’s not always right, but we’ve certainly used it to make things worked based on prior observation. With an all-powerful creator, you don’t really get that, because he could presumably change the rules at any time. If we woke up tomorrow to find that the Earth is flat and water flows uphill, it might vindicate the religious faithful in that it would prove miracles were possible, but it would probably mess up their plans just as much as it would those of the secularists. And that’s the whole thing with Creationism as people like Ham present it. They already have the conclusions they want, and they fit things together to fit these conclusions.
Why are they so insistent that the world is only 6000 years old, when so much evidence suggests otherwise? Because, adding up the figures given in the Bible, you get about 3000 years before the founding of the Kingdom of Israel, and for some reason this HAS to be literally true even though: 1) the timeline is cobbled together from a bunch of different books that don’t always agree with other, and 2) the parts in the Bible about the world being flat can apparently be dismissed.
Sure, it’s possible God made all the stars a mere 6000 years ago and just made it LOOK like they were much older than that, but, well, why? Yeah, mysterious ways, but that just strikes me as pointless trickery. Mind you, Ham said several times that he considers the purpose of the cosmos to show the glory of God, which I guess means he made innumerable galaxies just to say, “Hey, look what I can do!” And it’s not like God playing tricks doesn’t have precedents in the Bible. Beth mentioned his telling Abraham to kill Isaac and then saying he was just kidding. And what about Ezekiel 14:9? “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.” So God sometimes makes prophets say things that aren’t true, and this is in a book WRITTEN by a prophet? Obviously Ezekiel didn’t think he was one of the deceptive prophets, but when the infallible Word of God includes the suggestion that God doesn’t always tell the truth, you have a bit of a conundrum.
I’ve also noted Ham’s obsession with “kinds,” although I’m not entirely sure what he means by that. I don’t know that HE knows what he means by that. It’s an English translation of the Hebrew miyn, which is used to indicate a type of plant or animal, as in Genesis 1:24: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” Since many Creationists have been forced to admit that evolution does occur on a certain level and that new species have come into being, they insist that evolution can only occur within a certain “kind,” which is not the same as a species. But what IS it? Well, this page says, “Thus the created kind corresponds roughly to the family level of taxonomic classification, and possibly even the order with the notable exception of humanity wherein the genus is representative.” Wait, why is it different from humans than for just about any other kind of animal? I have to suspect that it’s because it isn’t the mere idea that new species can evolve as it is very specifically that humans have to be something different from all other animals. We can’t be related to apes, because Jesus didn’t die for the apes, apparently not even the ones that know sign language and love kittens. Of course, the Young Earth thing is also an issue here. If Noah only brought between two and fourteen of each “kind” into the ark, rather than that many of each individual species, that means only about 4000 years for every species of a particular family or order to have evolved from its ancestors.
If God is all-powerful, I guess it’s just as easy for him to make a new species as to guide the evolutionary process.
That’s partially why I think the Creationist model actually works best if you assume the creator ISN’T omnipotent or omniscient.