Monday, February 17, 2014

God's QC 11.7: Nye - Ham: Hijacked

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 consider some more examples of superstitionists hijacking terminology. Let's start with one of my personal favorites:

“...kids aren't being taught to think critically...we're teaching people to think critically...”

One aspect of critical thinking involves asking questions. For example, questions like, “What does that have to do with anything?” When Bill Nye said that we have ice cores representing winter/summer cycles going back 680k years, Ham's response was that some 50-year-old airplanes were once found in Greenland under 250 feet of ice. But what does that have to do with what Nye said? Nothing. If Ham had said something about 250 winter/summer cycles forming in 50 years, that would have been news. But he didn't say that; he said 250 feet. He didn't say a word about whether anyone, qualified or otherwise, had taken a core sample to learn about the nature of the ice and how it came to bury the planes.

Another question useful in critical thinking is whether consistent reasoning is being applied.

“observe...we observe things in the present...what we observe...”

Ham drills the necessity of direct observation into our heads, but he accepts speciation among finches, dogs, cats, elephants. Has anyone ever directly observed speciation in birds or mammals? Ham uses a video of the spinning Earth shot from space. He accepts this as evidence of the earth being spherical. But did he observe the Galileo spacecraft shooting this video? He accepts that Charles Darwin kept notes on evolutionary theory that are available for us to review – and misrepresent – today. But did he observe Charles Darwin writing out his thoughts? Ken, were you there?

See if you can spot the word Ham has hijacked here.

“...you don't observe that; that's belief...what you believe about the past...we're willing to admit our beliefs about the past...to indoctrinate students to accept evolutionary belief...”

If you come home from a long vacation and find that your refrigerator has failed, you could be said to believe that some of your food has spoiled. But note that your experience with food spoiling when it's not refrigerated properly could be considered a scientific law, that is, observational science, and your inference that the food will have spoiled is historical science at its best. Your inference can rightly be called a belief, but it can also rightly be called knowledge – your knowledge that the earth is spherical is in the same category, being based on experience and inference, and best of all, open to correction when faced with conflicting evidence. This belief is not the same as a belief that leads you to eat the food because you found a note on your front door assuring you that a deranged leprechaun has watched over your refrigerator in your absence. This kind of belief would be more accurately called superstition. It is also not the same as a belief in which you vehemently assert that the food is edible because you've been told that if you don't “confess with your mouth...and believe in your heart” that the food is edible, you will be punished. Eternally. In fire. This is the superstitionists' ultimate hijacking of the word belief, which they use when they really mean to say obedience.

That's 11.7. Thanks for watching.

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