Wednesday, March 05, 2014

#HamOnNye - One More Thought

What Bill Nye and Ken Ham Should Have Said To Each Other
This Week’s Reflection – And Yes, It’s Old News By Now So Just Ignore This Post

I know the creation/evolution ‘debate’ between Ken Ham and Bill Nye has long lost its buzz. That’s the nature of today’s saturated media: tomorrow’s news is old before it arrives. But I like to ruminate about ‘big ideas’ and #HamOnNye raised some for me. So I thought I’d share.

It also takes me a long time to process my thoughts before I can articulate them clearly. I was the kid on the school ground who had a great retort the next day, but when the insult actually occurred could only reply, “Oh yeah? Well…you’re…not very nice.”

Which is what seemed to be going on between Bill Nye the Science Guy – who never did say ‘consider the following’ which was disappointing – and Ken Ham the Creation Research Guy – who didn’t say much at all, imo. They both sounded like school kids arguing past each other: “Oh yeah? Well, you’re not…paying attention to me!”

And they weren’t. Because the fundamental difference wasn’t their view of the origins of the universe. Theirs wasn’t an evolution vs creation debate. It was a misunderstanding of each other’s starting point. The real issue was their respective sources of authority. Their rambling exchanges about layers of ice and Mount St. Helens were simply random darts thrown at the wrong dart board.

Now I’m not a scientist. I’m a former seminarian with a graduate degree in pastoral ministry with an emphasis in theology. So I won’t address Bill Nye’s starting point (ie, his source of authority, which I assume is the scientific method and its attendant research methodologies). But I can comment on Ken Ham’s source of authority – the bible – since I share his respect for it.

Relative to their discussion of scripture, then, what they should have said to each other was this.

Bill Nye: Ken, whenever you say ‘the bible says’ I feel it’s akin to someone saying, ‘Well, my mom says.’ I don’t doubt you love your mom. But I’ve never met her. So I just don’t trust what you say to be true. If I’m to be convinced of your position, I need something more than, ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it.’

Ken Ham: Bill, whenever you downplay the bible as an ‘ancient text interpreted into American English’ I get the impression that you’re unaware of the science of hermeneutics as well as textual criticism along with source, form, and redaction criticism. It seems you lack appreciation for the variety of ways – other than the scientific method – in which we gain knowledge.

And then proceed from there. For at the heart of the 2 hour interchange which I watched live on YouTube a few weeks back was what one does with the bible. I’m not commenting on whether that should have been at the heart of their talks, but it obviously was (obvious to me at least).

If they’d acknowledged their different starting points (again, not evolution vs creation, but their source of authority as to what is true) then they might have had an interesting discussion. I doubt they would have changed each other’s minds in the end, but their ‘debate’ would have had some meat to it.

And we observers – no matter our position or lack of one on what’s authoritative – could have offered a more intelligent response than, “Yeah…what he said.”

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