Sunday, February 2, 2014

God's QC 11.4: Nye - Ham: Creation Theory

Here I continue my thoughts on the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Feb 4, 2014 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. In this video I'll address the topic of the debate as stated on the Answers In Genesis website: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?"

Unfortunately, this question, like the bible, is so open to interpretation as to be meaningless. In order to have any meaningful discussion on the topic, we'll have to rephrase the question: Does Ken Ham's interpretation of the book of Genesis suggest a viable theoretical model for present-day observations that can be applied to either the origin of the cosmos or the origin of life on Earth?

Note that I say for present-day observations. Ken Ham might not like this qualifier, because he wants to say that his ideas are part of a branch of science that can't be tested because they apply only to the past. But a theoretical model that can't, at least in principle, be tested isn't a model at all and therefore isn't science. Ham claims that evolutionary theory can't be tested for the same reasons. But even if that claim were true, many corollaries of evolutionary theory can be tested, and if any of them turned out to be false, evolutionary theory would be called into question--either the unsupportable corollaries must be adequately explained, or the theory must be modified or perhaps even scrapped. Let's consider some of the corollaries of Ham's theoretical model that demand explanation.

Genesis 1:1-3 tells us that the earth and water existed before light. What does light mean here? Presumably, given that Genesis was written by a camel herder, only light that is visible to humans. But there are other wavelengths of light that are not visible to humans, such as infrared and ultraviolet. There are other wavelengths far longer than infrared and far shorter than ultraviolet. We don't call them light, but they're exactly the same thing as visible light. Some common examples are microwaves, radio waves, and x-rays. The formal term for light across the spectrum of wavelengths is electromagnetic radiation. Your body produces ER in vast quantities, because it's warm. So does the bag of chips you just devoured. So does liquid water. This is testable. It has been observed.

An explanation is needed. If "Let there be light" called the electromagnetic force into existence, then how was there liquid water before the magic incantation was uttered? Alternatively, if the electromagnetic force existed before the spell was cast, how is it that this tiny sliver, the human-visible portion of the spectrum was missing?

Ham tells us that there was no death before the Fall, and according to him, a corollary of this claim is that all animals were vegetarians. But when you eat a plant, death occurs. Even if you don't kill the whole plant, you're killing living cells. Now if you dig around on Answers In Genesis here and here, you'll find the claim that plant-cell death isn't really death, because plants aren't really alive, because they don't have the “breath of life” in them. But plants do breathe--they use oxygen to process their food in the same way that animals do. No, they don't have lungs, but neither do insects and most fish. Would Ken Ham claim that fish and insects aren't alive?

If I get a chance, maybe I'll post these questions to the Answers In Genesis website and report back the preposterous answers, if any are forthcoming. That's 11.4. Thanks for watching.

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