Creation / Evolution Debate
A few days ago I watched a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.
Bill Nye is famous as the host of Bill Nye the Science Guy, Ken Ham is the director of The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The debate between these two didn’t begin at the Creation Museum. It started when Bill Nye made a U-tube video under the Big Think label. Ken Ham later responded with his own U-tube video. The exchange continued until it culminated in a challenge to a formal debate.
My interest in the debate was not so much about learning something new; I am familiar with most of the arguments on both sides. My real interest was in critiquing the arguments and point out the fallacies on both sides. I am happy to say that the debate was pretty straight forward and kept to the main points without slipping into false arguments and name calling.
I have decided not to go into the specifics of the debate, which would be too tedious. You can watch the debate for yourself online. I am sure there are plenty of people commenting on the arguments and who won and who lost. Instead I will comment on the original comments that led to the debate and why we debate these things at all.
Behind this debate is Bill Nye’s stance that Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design are not scientific theories and should not be taught in schools. He takes it even further to say that to teach such things undermines science as a whole and would slow down, stop or even reverse America’s progress as a world leader.
I would like to pose another question.
Why do we teach the origin of the universe, the world, and man in schools at all?
In third grade we spent a great deal of time teaching about dinosaurs, making papier-mâché models and dioramas. If we really care about America’s future wouldn’t that time be better spent teaching the students to read at grade level, or studying the biology of animals living today. Of what practical value is studying dinosaurs? Rather than studying the evolution of man, why don’t we spend the time teaching the anatomy of man? Students in America can name more extinct plants and animals than they can live ones. They know about “millions of years” of rock formations in the Grand Canyon but they have no understanding of the chemistry of concrete or ceramics that they encounter every day. They know about trilobites but don’t know how to treat an insect bite. Maybe the reason we are falling behind the rest of the world in math and science isn’t that we are not teaching enough evolution, maybe it is because we are wasting our time teach evolution rather than real, practical science.
Back to the question, why do we teach origins at all? It seems that it has almost no practical value. In fact it appears to me that it is a total waste of time. So why are people so adamant that evolution be taught or creation be taught? Ken Ham is right is his analysis to this question. The reason that we teach creation or evolution is that they each reinforce a world view. And that world view is the filter through which all other learning takes place.
Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design reinforce the idea that there is a creator God. There is meaning and purpose to our existence; we are not just a complex set of chemical reactions. There is a God who created us and we are responsible to Him. If we are to understand creation then we must understand the creator. The convers is also true we can enter into a better understanding of God by understanding His creation and what it teaches us about Him. Stated differently, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. Following closely on creation is the fall of man. Man is a fallen and sinful creature desperately in need of a savior. Without God and the work of Jesus we are utterly lost.
Evolution reinforces the principles of humanism and naturalism. The universe has come into being through natural means. There is no evidence of a creator, there is no need for a creator as an explanation of anything that we know. Everything that we know and can know is found through what we can observe in the natural universe. There is no spiritual realm at all. Based on the laws of evolution everything is improving and moving toward levels of higher complexity. Mankind is the pinnacle of evolution; we are at the top and we are responsible only to ourselves. God is non-existent or irrelevant. In the words of the humanist, “Man is the measure of all things”.
So that is it in a nutshell. The only reason to teach origins is to establish a world view. The Christian wants to teach creation to establish a Christian World View, where we are responsible to God. The Evolutionist wants to teach evolution, where we are only responsible to ourselves.
What do you think? Should we teach Creation, should we teach Evolution or should we just stop teaching origins at all and let the students bring their own world view into the classroom?