Did you watch it? That debate between Ken Ham, a man who believes that humans and dinosaurs once lived together in harmony while lions munched on grass, and Bill Nye, a man who believes that humans descended from a primaeval slime (and who, on available evidence, made bow ties cool before Matt Smith was even born).
So, did you
watch it? I didn’t, but it probably doesn’t matter: for the next few
months, or years probably, my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed will
fill up with pictures of the two men combined with soundbite quotes from
The Debate, probably with an extra explanatory gloss as a caption.
far, I have gleaned that Nye would change his mind if found evidence
that science is wrong, while Ham would never change his mind even if, if
his words are to be taken literally, God himself came down and said, “I
had nothing to do with it, it was evolution all the way.” Not that
Nye’s apparently reasonable position is much better: if taken literally,
his words mean that if you simply proved, for example, that the stars
are closer than they look, he would reject science and embrace
creationism. The way I always understood it, if scientists were
presented with this evidence, they would say, “Gosh, I am amazed — I
wonder if we can find out what’s causing that?” and come up with an
So, at the end of the day, you have two
completely opposing views being aired once again (having been aired
countless times in countless debates, big and small, that have raged for
years), and at the end of it nobody will have altered their position
one iota or learned anything new; you can bet, though, that both sides
are claiming victory. All it’s done is to give the internet more
ammunition to hurl at itself.
My own position on this is
that Genesis and evolution don’t even belong in the same debate. For the
longest time, Christians in general were quite happy with the idea that
we probably evolved and didn’t think that had any bearing on the
philosophical arguments, allegories and parables in the Old Testament.
That’s all changed, and it’s a spectacularly unedifying spectacle. You’d
think people had better things to worry about, like how best to feed
the starving millions. There’s something religion and science could join
But no. What’s far more important,
apparently, is for people to start arguments that have little point and
don’t even make sense. Those who side with science have their innate
intellectual superiority to counter the imbecilic ramblings of the
creationists, while those who side with religion have the certainty of
the Word of God to smite the delusional blasphemies of the heathen.
is no point to this “debate”; no point at all. It just makes life more
unpleasant for those of us who just want to get on in life and try to be