There is a subtle but effective argument that Xian apologists and Creationists like the Ken Hams and Ray Comforts of this world are deathly afraid of: “Appeal to the Intelligence of Your Audience“… and Bill Nye used it.
Bury them with evidence and appeal to their intelligence and common sense of what’s likely and what isn’t. Even Ham’s sympathizers all know and use science every day and despite being hornswaggled by Creationist claims they can still absorb new knowledge and hear things they have never heard before, and maybe eventually understand how unlikely it is all this science is wrong.
It is getting harder and harder to deny the oceans of evidence for the age of the earth and evolution. Heck, even Pat Robertson is on board!
Consider Ham’s audience, even if mostly hand picked local Eastern KY die-hard Creationists: good Baptists, Church of Christ fundies, sympathetic Evangelicals of any stripe, they still are among the most scientifically exposed, if not literate generation on earth due to all modern technology and the constant barrage of scientific information and advance that makes up our daily news…
and then there is the NET!
And in their hands… smartphones. Scientific information, data is everywhere. Every word Bill NYE muttered, every data point, every fact, every explanatory theory… they can verify in an instant or at least look up later on their home computer…and read for hours.
A Xian apologist friend of mine once replied very thoughtfully and sincerely after a moments reflection to my question that if he encouraged his charges to read and listen to the rational arguments for Xianity from the prominent apologists and popularizers like Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Stroebel, Greg Boyd, Rob Bell and the like, would he also ask them to consider the “other side” and read Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Dan Barker, etc.
And he carefully and most plainly replied: “No.”
He elaborated that as his students spiritual guide, he wouldn’t expose them to that, tacitly (blatantly) admitting his students weren’t stupid and if they were exposed to conflicting data, might have a hard time hanging onto their faith.
Rachel Held Evans, the Evangelical author and blogger I have referred to often in this blog, weighed in already with her preliminary comments at the behest of her readers:
On the creation debate…
Since I’ve been asked: I’m with Nye in that I don’t believe young earth creationism is a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era. I’m also a Christian who loves the Bible and believes it to be inspired by God and authoritative in the Christian life. My view is that Genesis 1, having emerged from an ancient Near Eastern context, assumes an ancient Near Eastern cosmology and addresses theological concerns, not scientific ones…
And I believe that church leaders who teach that Christians have to choose between the Bible and science, faith and reason, are doing a huge disservice to the Church, essentially setting believers up for failure.
So the “Great Debate” didn’t do Creationism any good, and the diehards at least had to hear just the tip of the iceberg that has to be denied to make Creationism work. They at very least realize there are lots of reasons, tons of data that compel the rest of us to believe the science. Science didn’t get hurt and Creationism certainly didn’t win or buffalo anyone as expected, especially as feared by the secular community that really gave Nye a lot of heat for doing it. He gave science one helluva good hearing. Thanks, Bill!
Consider this: Even if NONE of Kens audience of 900 or so or his minions eagerly watching at home changed their minds, they ALL heard more science in one evening than they might hear in one sitting anytime, anywhere. Bill may have planted a seed of discord or two and for many they may yet realize just how much science has to be thrown away, how vast the web of science is that stands in opposition to Creationist claims.
Appeal to their Intelligence… what a concept.
There’s only one source of all this delusion and it needs to go, we can outgrow organized religion just like we jettisoned slavery, and burning at the stake, and bloodletting. Primitive ideas eventually die of new information. This one may take a few decades or centuries longer but we could put Xianity, Islam, and the rest in the dustbin of history where they belong.
It wont happen overnite or without concerted effort, but who in their right mind would have predicted, dared to predict 400 years ago towards the end of the Renaissance, just prior to the Age of Reason and the birth of modern science that Northern Europe would now be 80% non-believers? The bombasity and blasphemy of that claim in the 1600’s would be outrageous (get you beheaded… after torture) yet here we are! Even the pervasively Xian US is at 20% (at least) non-belief in less than a generation and growing.
People aren’t stupid and the only way someone gets sucked into the scam that is Creationism is that they don’t have enough information to see what patent bullshit it truly is. Education is the key.
Information Kills Religion.
And Bill wrapped Ham up in thick slices of it!