David MacMillan wrote an op-ed on tonight’s Nye/Ham debate. It turns out he’s exceptionally well qualified to write about creationism.
This debate is more than academic for me. I grew up steeped in creationism. I was homeschooled with creationist curriculum, my family took us to creationist conferences, and I was deeply proud that I knew the real story about evolution and the age of the Earth. I was taught there was absolutely no way the universe could be explained without creationism. Evolution was a fairytale based on faith; creation was good science. I was taught that Christianity wasn’t consistent without creationism… that all “Bible-believing Christians” rejected evolution and long ages in favor of a six-day creation and a global flood.
My proudest teenage achievement was mowing lawns to earn $1,000 so I could help build the Creation Museum. My donation earned me lifetime free admission, a polo shirt and my name engraved in the lobby. I wrote back and forth with many prominent creationists and hotly debated origins with anyone who dared argue in favor of evolution. On two occasions I even wrote featured articles for the Answers In Genesis website — a high honor for a teen.
And then, gosh darn it, he did what every Jebus-lovin’ parent dreads: he went to college. He got a degree in physics. He started reading the scientific literature and comparing it to what the creationists claimed. Before you knew it, he was…lost to Satan!
Because so much of what I’d been taught was flatly false, I had to re-learn practically everything about biology, geology and the history of science. I’m amazed by the amount of evidence I systematically ignored or explained away, just because it didn’t match creation science.
Creationism isn’t just one belief; it’s a system of beliefs and theories that all support each other. We believed that unless we could maintain confidence in special creation, a young planet, a global flood, and the Tower of Babel, we’d be left without any basis for maintaining our faith.
So he learned some science, and now he isn’t a creationist anymore? Ken Ham may have just allowed a serpent to slither into the midst of his flock. MacMillan is much more optimistic about the outcome of the debate than I am.
In a debate like this one, demonstrating even the most elementary facts about evolution and the age of the universe would be a great success.
And that is a very good point. Creationists are very thorough about closing the doors and living in incestuous ignorance, trying to limit access to real scientific information — perhaps the virtue of debates, despite my intense dislike of the format and the implicit bias, is that they are one of the few avenues in which scientists are allowed to speak to the fanatically faithful.
I’m going to have to think on this. Zack Kopplin is also giving the debate his stamp of approval.