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Ken Ham: Why I'm debating Bill Nye about creationism
Bill Nye and Ken Ham will debate the origins of life Tuesday at the Creation Museum.
February 3rd, 2014
01:15 PM ET

Ken Ham: Why I'm debating Bill Nye about creationism

Editors note: Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye on February 4 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, with CNN's Tom Foreman moderating. The debate will be livestreamed at CNN.com at 7 pm ET, and Piers Morgan Live will interview Ham and Nye on Tuesday at 9 ET.

WATCH TUESDAY NIGHT'S DEBATE HERE: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/cvplive/cvpstream1.html

Opinion by Ken Ham, special to CNN

(CNN) - Public debates on evolution and creation have become increasingly rare. Several hundred well-attended debates were held in the 1970s and 1980s, but they have largely dried up in recent decades.

So I look forward to a spirited yet cordial debate on Tuesday with Bill Nye, the "Science Guy" of television fame.

I also look forward to the opportunity to help counter the general censorship against creationists' view of origins. While we are not in favor of mandating that creation be taught in public school science classes, we believe that, at the very least, instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution.

Even though the two of us are not Ph.D. scientists, Mr. Nye and I clearly love science.

As a former science instructor, I have appreciated the useful television programs that he hosted and produced, especially when he practiced operational science in front of his audience.

He and I both recognize the wonderful benefits that observational, operational science has brought us, from cell phones to space shuttles. But operational science, which builds today’s technology, is not the same as presenting beliefs about the past, which cannot be tested in the laboratory.

For students, the evolution-creation discussion can be a useful exercise, for it can help develop their critical thinking skills.

MORE ON CNN: Bill Nye: Why I'm Debating Ken Ham 

Most students are presented only with the evolutionary belief system in their schools, and they are censored from hearing challenges to it. Let our young people understand science correctly and hear both sides of the origins issue and then evaluate them.

Our public schools arbitrarily define science as explaining the world by natural processes alone. In essence, a religion of naturalism is being imposed on millions of students. They need to be taught the real nature of science, including its limitations.

Nye, the host of a popular TV program for children, should welcome a scrutiny of evolution in the classrooms.

As evolution-creation issues continue to be in the news - whether it relates to textbook controversies or our debate - there is an increasingly bright spotlight on the research activities of thousands of scientists and engineers worldwide who have earned doctorates and are creationists.

On our full-time staff at Answers in Genesis, we have Ph.D.s in astronomy, geology, biology, molecular genetics, the history of science, and medicine. Yes, creationists are still a small minority in the scientific community, but they hold impressive credentials and have made valuable contributions in science and engineering.

I remember the time I spoke at a lunchtime Bible study at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington. I was thrilled to meet several scientists and engineers who accept the book of Genesis as historical and reject Darwinian evolution. They shared with me that a belief in evolution had nothing to do with their work on the Hubble Space Telescope. Why should our perspective about origins be censored?

Our young people and adults should be aware that considerable dissent exists in the scientific world regarding the validity of molecules-to-man evolution.

It’s an important debate, for what you think about your origins will largely form your worldview. If you believe in a universe that was created by accident, then there is ultimately no meaning and purpose in life, and you can establish any belief system you want with no regard to an absolute authority.

Ultimately, I have decided to accept an authority our infallible creator and his word, the Bible over the words of fallible humans.

Ken Ham is founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis (USA) and founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The views expressed in this column belong to Ham.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Culture wars • Evolution • Opinion • Science

soundoff (4,336 Responses)
  1. Joel

    Bill Nye may as well debate a Flat Earther, someone who believes the moon landings were a hoax, a Holocaust denier, or any Conspiracy Theorist for that matter. In any case, the opinions of the opponent debater to Nye comes from a lack of understanding and ignorance of the scientific facts that are known via rigorous scientific review.

    Ken Ham is one of the kings of the scientific ignorant crowd. He relies on the scientific illiteracy of many Christian fundamentalists to keep his "ministry" afloat. He epitomizes the modern day snake oil salesman or con man. Unfortunately he does his "work" in the name of Jesus. Mainstream Christianity tries to distance themselves and are embarrassed by the follies of people like Ham and other Creationists who rely on dishonest and misleading tactics to keep their flock in line and ignorant.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
    • Colin

      Well said. Hit the nail on the head. The USA is the only country in the World where one man's ignorance is to be valued as highly as another's knowledge.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
      • Science Works

        Saw this fly by recently ?

        Ken Ham Noah’s Ark Plan Threatened by Iraq
        Added by Bernard O'Leary on February 2, 2014.
        Saved under Bernard O'Leary, Religion, U.S.
        Tags: Ham

        http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/ken-ham-noahs-ark-plan-threatened-by-iraq/

        February 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
    • Paul

      Bill Nye understands there are a vast number of people in the US who do not believe in evolution. It may seem strange for a mainstream scientist to participate in a debate between science and a pseudoscience and potentially confer legitimacy upon the pseudoscience being debated. But as a public speaker for science I think he wants everyone to know that "Young Earth Creation Science" is a force to be dealt with in the educational circles here, unlike the other forms of pseudoscience. If the debate was with "Old Earth" Creationists like Dr. Hugh Ross, it would be not as interesting and for some reason not as many Christians do not subscribe to that Bibically based theory. This is probably why Ken Ham was chosen among the creationist crowd and the largeer pseudoscience crowd.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
  2. Rainer Braendlein

    Imagine a carpenter who would discuss with somebody about the origin of his hammer. Wouldn't we expect a carpenter to use his hammer, and to built a useful roof?

    We are not expected to discuss about the origin of the world (the origin is clear anyway) all the time but to live a life of love and righteousness.

    That is the actual issue: How can we live in love and righteousness on this planet despite the weakness of our flesh? That is the great challenge. That is what we should talk about.

    Jesus is the one who can give us a new life. In Jesus we are able to overcome our natural selfishness. That is the real thing.

    I am from the ecclesiastical side, and I claim that we need a supernatural encounter with Jesus in order to get changed, and this is the sacramental baptism including infant baptism. Our reason is too small to grasp the divine. Only by a marvel we can get in touch with the divine, and that is sacramental baptism.

    It is high time that we understand the meaning of Jesus sacrifice and baptism at last because our world is about to enter a state of crisis. Everybody of us needs God's protection. We have a right on protection only if we are reconciled with Him.

    A further great challenge is it to believe that God created the world through Jesus – that is the real faith. That man who died and rose for us is the God who has made heaven and earth. The most mighty being of the universe is also the most loving being. That is astonishing.

    The Muslims also believe that God created the world but that is not the real faith because they do not understand that God's great foreman was Jesus. Their Allah is anyway a hateful demon.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
    • Dez

      Rain, Allah is the God of Abraham. Allah MEANS God.
      You may not like their religion, but you're dissing the same God you worship. First Catholics, and now Muslims?
      Really, it is time for you to get over your religious bigotry. It's got to be tiring.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        Mohammad could not work miracles but Jesus could.

        Jesus proved his divine origin through the miracles he worked.

        Jesus cured people, Muhammad killed people – that is a great difference.

        Jesus has confirmed the Old Testament, and yet there it is written that God exists in three persons, and that we can approach God only through His Call which is sacramental baptism today.

        The belief of the Muslims is complete delusion. Islam means bloodshed and destruction.

        February 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
    • Alias

      Please tell me where i'm wrong here –

      So, an all-powerful being wanted one garden with a Minnie-him and a woman, so he made billions and billions of stars.
      He also made a heaven and hell, because he was all knowing too.
      He put a tree of knowledge in this garden, just to tempt Adam who he had created without the will power to resist it.
      When Adam ate from the tree, god threw him and his woman out of the garden and put a sin on everyone who had not been born yet, because he is just and loving and fair.
      Several centuries later, after he drown almost everyone, he got a married virgin pregnant and tortured the child to death.
      He did this because he had to.
      There was no other option for this all powerful creator of everything and maker of the rules.
      If god had not done this, there would have been no way for god to have forgiven us or judged us fairly when we died.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
    • richtz

      "We have a right on protection only if we are reconciled with Him". Ok, so those who aren't Christian simply because of geography are doomed? Bravo, sounds like a wonderful god. "Hateful demon" is the word I'd use to describe a being with the power to save everyone but who discriminates based on geography, not to mention a being who, by a creationist's argument, gave us free will and the intellectual power of reason, yet would punish us for applying that power to decide for ourselves.

      Long story short: you either have to concede that there is no god and that religion is a fairytale, or reconcile with the fact that god is a vengeful and hateful belligerent, no different to say... a dictator. The kind we send thousands of promising young people to fight (and to die, if necessary). Am I the only one who thinks this is completely absurd?

      July 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
  3. Dan Foreman

    Genesis: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    Evolutionist: In the beginning science says we evolved from something 😉

    February 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • Tarzan

      🍝 → 🐒 → 👫

      February 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
    • Joel

      Which "god". There is just as much evidence that the Norse creation story from the Saga's is the "Correct One". After all, Odin said he'd get rid of the Ice Giants. Are there any around today? QED.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
      • Alias

        Oh yeah, well where are all these polar vortexes coming from if not the frost giants?
        I have PROOF of which religion is the truth!

        February 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
  4. sly

    Who really cares?

    We got here somehow – none of y'all know for sure.

    We'll all die. After that, none of y'all know for sure.

    Let people enjoy their personal opinions. Heck, there are even likely a few Seahawks fans here who think their team has class, while obviously most of the rest of us think they are a bunch of thugs. To each their own.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
    • L

      Atheists are very controlling people. Winning debates is all they care about as most are egoistic. They have to win a debate in order to stimulate their ego. It's not about "science", it's all about their ego.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
      • Alias

        Nope.
        christians are all up tight because we know their bible is wrong and they are desperate to keep their religion going.

        February 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
        • L

          Nah. Atheists don't have superior knowledge as most aren't experts LOL😃😄😀

          February 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • Alias

          That would imply that christians are experts.
          I love following the logic in your posts.

          February 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • Happy Atheist

          You are right, I am not a scientist or a geology expert. I do however believe in the work of scientists and geologists who have done the experiments and have no reason to lie about their findings. Even then the science is subject to rigorous peer review and if found lacking or fraudulent is quickly exposed and publicly rejected. Can religion say the same? That is why I have a greater amount of trust in science than I do in theology. If you want to call my "trust" by another word, that of "faith" and claim we are on equal terms then please do present evidence of your religion continually peer reviewing their theology and rejecting those bits that are found to be in conflict with the evidence. From what I have seen religion tends to do the opposite and dig in their heels as the evidence mounts against their theology until some breaking point when they suddenly shift position and claim they never supported whatever it was be it slavery, Hitler, inquisitions, witch hangings, abortions doctor shootings, suffragettes, apartheid and the Jim Crow laws, bans on interracial marriage and more.

          Science earns my trust. Religion demands it and yet gives me no other reason to believe than "You'll burn if you don't!" I gave in to the extortion for more than 30 years of my life, I will not give them a moment more.

          February 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
      • Salero21

        $$$$$$$$$$$ L must be an atheist. No true believer could be so stupid!! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$

        😀 😀 😀

        February 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
      • Dez

        internet troll
        In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response ...

        L is a troll.

        February 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  5. ME II

    @Ken Ham,
    So many questions so little expectation of a reply...

    "... considerable dissent exists in the scientific world regarding the validity of molecules-to-man evolution."

    1) evolution does not include "molecules-to-man", so, phrased that way, of course, there would be dissent. It's like asking, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

    February 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
  6. ME II

    @Belef Blog Editors,
    Thanks for posting this article.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • Alias

      Yes.
      This isn't quite enough to forgive them for all the censorship, but credit where credit is due.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It makes a nice change from Pope Francis again.

      February 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
  7. Science Works

    L4H ???

    A US Premiere – next stop Minnesota Science museum – will it be making a stop you know where ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weKbmaMwrgQ#t=0

    February 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • Chris m

      I work there. It will be interesting.

      February 4, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
  8. The Great Manzzini!!

    "For our first trick I will make my assistant disappear! See here I will stand her on this trap door, put a curtain in front of her and Ta Da! She has vanished! Why did I point out the trap door? Well I just wanted you to see it but I promise that it wasn't used, it was real magic that made her vanish."

    This is the problem I have with creationists, they don't deny fosils exist, they just believe them to be tricks of some kind. They don't deny the mountains of evidence for the earth being billions of years old, they just think all that evidence could have been faked using real magic. They don't deny what science has shown us about human origins, they just think God or Satan faked any evidence we see that points away from a divine origin with magic.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Mazzini: this is the problem with a debate of the extreme positions – you actually think there is only an either/or.

      Ken Ham is a young earth creationist – but there are plenty of so-called "old earth" creationists, too. and even among "young earth" creationists, there are varying opinions on fossil records.

      for an example of 'old earth' creationism, see Biologos.org. here's their article on this debate (and why they think it needs another voice)...
      http://biologos.org/blog/ken-ham-vs-bill-nye

      February 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
  9. Dan Foreman

    Our young people — and adults — should be aware that considerable dissent exists in the scientific world regarding the validity of molecules-to-man evolution.

    Well said!

    February 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
    • Alias

      Well said, but still only correct in a very specific context with carefull chosen definitions.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      Only is you redefine the word "considerable" to mean "few in number, of little or no weight".

      February 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam

      considerable? He meant to say negligible.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
    • Skeptical_Canadian

      Wrong. There is no dissent among scientists in the world regarding evolution. If there was, we would see it at conferences, papers, blogs, etc.

      February 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
      • Jer

        http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

        February 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • Jam One

          Non peer reviewed rubbish is your best retort?

          February 5, 2014 at 6:00 am |
        • flagguy

          3 scientists isn't "considerable".

          February 5, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • Chris m

      "Our young people — and adults — should be aware that considerable dissent exists in the scientific world regarding the validity of molecules-to-man evolution."

      Except that there isn't. And Abiogenesis and evolution are two different issues.

      February 4, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
  10. Shadowflash1522

    FWIW, I think lots of people (Ham included) conflate two distinct camps of non-evolutionism: the first camp is people who aren't convinced of evolution as a standalone idea, who generally don't make any claims of "knowing what really happened", who think "hey maybe we shouldn't get so excited, there are clearly some holes I wish you would explain". These people have a valid, scientific point and should be educated instead of ridiculed.

    The second camp is of people who actually, genuinely believe in creationism and blindly oppose anything else. They think that the gaps in evolutionary theory and/or it's failure to explain everything that ever was, is proof of its inferiority. Though they often make the same arguments as the first group, they draw vastly different conclusions and can't necessarily be reasoned with. The latter group gives the former a really bad rap.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • Think for yourself

      Very well said.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  11. Rynomite

    "Ultimately, I have decided to accept an authority — our infallible creator and his word, the Bible — over the words of fallible humans."

    Accepting the authority of the Bible is accepting the words of fallible humans.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      In other words – I'm not open to facts or debate. So why have a debate, when he's said that God is right, the Bible represents God, and he isn't going to believe anything else.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
  12. Cal

    I think the biggest problem with creationist arguments is that they try to make it theism vs atheism. Many people of all religions are ok with evolution as God's mode of getting us here.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      In many religions the vast majority believe in evolution. Almost all Hindus, Buddhists and Jews in the US do.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        To be fair, even the vast majority of Christians don't have any problems with Evolution.

        February 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Except in the United States.

          February 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • Rynomite

          The Catholic Church even accepts it. Granted they say its god guided, but they don't deny the science. Only the funditards do that...

          February 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
    • saysame

      Fundies hate that. They try to ignore that those Christians exist. It devalues their "us against them" mentality.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:29 am |
    • autumn

      Absolutely! Why shouldnt God be logical? A logical universe, a logical God. Maybe scientists will turn out to have more in common with God than the fundamentalists do?

      February 7, 2014 at 7:01 am |
  13. Saraswati

    "While we are not in favor of mandating that creation be taught in public school science classes, we believe that, at the very least, instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution"

    Sure, let's have teachers in history class take up class time explaining why they think the Holocaust is a fraud, too.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
  14. Trpljmp

    Why is no one presenting the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory of creation?

    February 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
    • Alias

      It is a conspiracy by the invisible Pink Unicorn goddess.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
  15. Darwin

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LzSX37C5J4&feature=player_detailpage

    February 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
    • Master

      That was very convincing. 😉

      February 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I liked the Simpsons episode where the school changed to a creationist agenda and Bart becomes top of the class because the answer to all questions was "god did it".

      February 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
    • Barcs

      Funny I was just thinking about this. The episode was on just a few days ago. Good stuff.

      February 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
  16. tmo

    The notion of evolution as the origin of life on earth misses the point of evolution. Evolution is nothing more than survival of the fittest, on an historical scale. In response to external forces, a species, as well as an individual, can adapt, or die out.

    There is no debating this. Anyone who wants to argue, should perform the following exercise:

    Another precept of evolution is that the simpler an organism is, the faster it can adapt to these external forces. For instance, microbes exposed to toxins, but not killed by them, develop immunity to those toxins, and pass that immunity on to their offspring.

    So if you continue to insist on evolution as a "theory", I invite you to go any major hospital in any large city in America, stroll down to the multiply-resistant tuberculosis ward, enter without any sort of safeguards or protections, and tell the patients there that their slow, miserable death is nothing but a "theory".

    You should not be surprised, however, when the scientists manning the ward refuse to let you back out again.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  17. Russ

    @ Dyslexic: as I said to you a few days ago... you make an even larger leap of faith:

    **********

    @ Dyslexic: you say existence is "NOT" an accident.
    you say the principles/processes brought order about (from chaos?).
    but where did the underlying *principles* come from? why are they ordered at all?

    it certainly stands in stark contrast to a quote like this:
    "In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."
    -Richard Dawkins

    you are still left with the same quandary that has Hawking guessing (and as a result being heavily criticized) in "Grand Design" – how do you get order from blind chaos?

    your central premise is self-refuting.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Russ: you made no sense then and you make equally little sense now.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
      • Russ

        @ Dyslexic: you can't feign ignorance after advancing a sophisticated attack.

        1) you have said we are not an accident (order)
        2) your underlying narrative assumes everything is random
        3) how do you get order from random? at the outset, it appears to make your premise self-refuting.

        February 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          Your argument of, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, [the Christian] god must have caused it – does not make sense to me. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to me, much less the Judeo-Christian god. I feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. I'm crazy aren’t I?

          February 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Dyslexic: no, you aren't hearing my critique. I'm not talking about "what came first?" temporally. I'm talking about the underlying *principles* you assume in the entire system. it's not just causation in question here. if you really believe everything is random, EVEN logic itself is up for grabs. but long before the question of *our* logic, upon what basis are there scientific principles that work *at all*?

          the central tenet of naturalism is its greatest leap of faith. you start by talking about order of events ("what came before that?"), but that's NOT my criticism. you've already taken as a given in your response the problem to which i'm pointing: namely, that there is order AT ALL – not within science, but underneath science.

          a naturalism which claims everything is random at the outset cannot begin by presupposing order. it is self-refuting. it's your leap of faith. and it's of a higher order of magnitude than those you criticize – because your position *begins* with a self-contradiction.

          February 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • igaftr

          Russ
          You have a basic misuderstanding.
          Firts...not random...entropic, in as much as no other factor acting...but since you have gravity, attraction of electrons, and many other forces acting on objects, order does come from entropy. We see it daily. Every single day more meteors crash into Earth, making Earth just a little bit bigger. At some point, our sun will go nova, or we will crash into the Andromeda galaxy...both systems will be ripped apart, huge incredible forces will throw matter and energy everywhere...and then gravity and the attraction of electrons will begin to work again and start forming solid objects.

          You idea of randomness is very incomplete and wrong.

          Here's one you can try at home....take a bowl of water...sprinkle some pepper on the top...entropic right? now stir it, in a circular pattern....the "entropic particles come together in the central vortex don't they...but how is that possible? Other forces( in this case kinetic energy) acting on seemingly random (but not random) particles.

          February 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • G to the T

          Russ – I feel you have a misunderstanding about "chaos" vs. "order". "Order" is only a matter of perspective. Zoom your minds eye down in scale or up in scale and you'll eventual find what looks like chaos again.

          If I deal cards to 3 other people and we each end up with all of the same suit (one diamonds, one spades, one hearts and one diamonds) we would call it remarkably ordered. But the chances of this happening are the same as any other possible set deals. We just percieve one as being "order" and the others as "random".

          February 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
        • Russ

          @ igaftr & G to the T:
          let's run w/ G to the T's poker hand illustration. It's exactly that analogy that Alvin Plantinga used to refute Daniel Dennett on this appeal to entropy just "looking" like order...

          *********

          Alvin Plantinga shows how irrational it is to live upon such a possibility. He asks us to imagine a man dealing himself 20 straight hands of four aces in the same game of poker. Everyone would assume that he was cheating, that it is impossible that he would get 20 straight hands of four aces by random chance.

          But what if the man then said, “I know it looks susp.icious! But what if there is an infinite succession of universes, so that for any possible distribution of possible poker hands, there is a universe in which this possibility is realized? We just happen to find ourselves in one where I always deal myself 4 aces without cheating! Couldn't that be the case?”

          Here's the question: though you couldn't prove the man's thesis to be impossible (i.e. that the 20 hands 'just happened' without intelligent intervention), is it rational to live as if that incredibly remote prospect is true? But the “fine tuning” of the universe is *far less* probable by accident than 20 straight winning hands of 4 aces! While all the necessary elements for organic life could have "just happened" without an Intelligent Creator, is it rational to live as if that remote chance must be true?

          February 4, 2014 at 1:52 am |
        • igaftr

          russ
          your poker analogy falls flat. In poker we have a set of cards...hard defined...we can calculate the odds of a given thing happening.

          In the case of the universe, there are things we do not yet know how they work, why they work, for example dark matter. We know there is something that is causing gravity like effects, but we cannot locate the matter, which we believe to be needed. It is an unknown variable. Once you start throwing unknown variables in, your calculations start to lose their accuracy. Nothing like calculating the luck of the draw.

          The natural forces acting on matter can create order from entropy, and we see it all the time.

          February 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
        • igaftr

          russ
          " is it rational to live as if that remote chance must be true?"
          Pascals wager again.

          as far as remote chance, the idea that YOUR god created this universe is a one in infinite chance.
          is it rational for you to commit to that remote possibility that YOU beieve to be true, and that belief based on a book written by men with no knowledge of how the universe works?

          Just as likely that Zeus created everything..same likelyhood that your god did it, so on that off chance are you going to worship Zeus...and the other thousands of gods?

          February 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • Russ

          @ igaftr:
          1) at no point did I raise Pascal's wager. science thrives on mathematical probability. if something is highly improbable, it is highly unlikely. that has been the primary criticism of the miraculous/supernatural advanced by naturalists for centuries. (ironically for them, chaos theory & quantum physics take an exact opposite approach.) plantinga is not making pascal's wager. he's simply holding your feet to your own fire.

          a) don't dodge the point by raising a non-sequitor. the mathematical *odds* within a scientific framework (not a philosophical one) are the point. hawking gets this critique. it's why he felt compelled to write "Grand Design" (though many panned his book). if Hawking considers the criticism valid, maybe you should too.

          b) your appeal to "unknown variables" fails to hear my critique of your underlying principles. it's not simply whether or not the math works in practice, but that there are even mathematical principles *in the first place* that is contrary to the central premise of naturalism. it's self-refuting.

          2) ironically, you appeal to a naturalists' version of the "god of the gaps" fallacy in defense of your position. ("god of the gaps" being, basically: "whatever science can't explain within nature, god did.")
          a) i am in no way advancing a god of the gaps argument (b/c it's thoroughly flawed)
          b) you seem to be saying "well, we don't know yet but one day we will") – a naturalistic version of "whatever i can't explain, one day my 'god' will." the same fallacy applies here.

          3) philosophically & theologically speaking, your final argument (regarding Zeus) fails to understand the nature of revelation. once you change disciplines (from science to philosophy), we are no longer talking about odds. in fact, the "odds" are infinitely against any subjective discovery of the Objective. that appears to be your criticism. the problem is: that's not what's being claimed. if the Objective has revealed him/her/itself to the subjective, odds are NO LONGER a concern. the Infinite has made itself known in comprehensible ways to the finite (an event, however improbable, that is being dealt with). it's no longer a mathematical discussion of probability. it's a matter of revelation.

          February 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "how do you get order from blind chaos"

      What you perceive is order is still chaos.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • Russ

        @ GOP: that's honest according to such a naturalistic view – but are you equally honest about justice, love, etc.? is that what you tell your children? i've encountered very few who actually consistently apply that – maybe Hitchens was close... but he still expressed "love" to his brother (notably, an evangelical Christian).

        bottom line: is justice a farce? how about love? do you tell your children they merely your contribution to gene pool optimization for survival and any & all emotions/feelings you have toward them are merely constructs that contribute to the ultimate purpose of your existence: survival of the species?

        February 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          you can smother the basics with as much blather and philosophy and postulation as you like but the basics remain. There is zero evidence for your god existing and you can't provide any. You believe in something with zero evidence, and as such you have lost any credibility. Why should I argue with a 4 year old about Santa or the easter bunny?

          February 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • G to the T

          All of those things are "real" because we have the ability to conceptualize. You sound like your back to "if there's no god then there's no purpose in life" but even that is a flawed assumption if "god" made the universe and then walked away.

          "Love", "Justice", "Hope", etc. These have value because we are human beings who place value in these things. Just because our emotions may boil down to chemical reaction doesn't mean they aren't "real" to those feeling them.

          February 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Dyslexic: i'm not smothering. i've directly challenged your premise above. I was addressing GOP's response here.

          and to your point: existence itself is an enormous piece of evidence for the existence of God – but that runs directly back to our above conversation.

          February 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ G to the T:
          1) i do not have a deistic conception of God (watchmaker who walked away). that does not apply here.

          2) your position is a cat chasing its tail (if not outright question begging).

          if all we have of justice is our own construct, then you must concede that what some label "evil" could necessarily be "good" later in the process. is there nothing you would say is *always* wrong (pedophilia, racism, etc.)? on the basis of your position, you have no moral grounds to object to such moral atrocities. anything you raise as an objection is just your construct – and why would that be any more valuable than another construct?

          3) you seem to assume set things about what is "real" – and yet that is the very thing i'm challenging here. are you a naturalist? upon what basis do you claim something is real? that is the leap of faith we're talking about.

          February 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • Dez

          Russ, you're the one who brought up love, Justice and hope in the first place, implying that they are God given. Why are you questioning them being brought up? You make little sense.

          February 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Dez: read the whole string. Dyslexic was claiming i was smothering his original point (as though i was dodging) when i addressed him directly above. i was answering GOP here. that was my point. yes, i raised those issues, and i'll gladly run with the discussion on love, justice, etc.

          February 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • G to the T

          "3) you seem to assume set things about what is "real" – and yet that is the very thing i'm challenging here. are you a naturalist? upon what basis do you claim something is real? that is the leap of faith we're talking about."

          "Reality" in a truly objective sense is unavailable to us. What we call "reality" is a matter of consensus. And your right, in some societies at some time just about everything you or I might consider "wrong" or "evil" has been condoned. Morality is something that has evolved along with human society over time.

          February 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
        • Russ

          @ G to the T: i'm glad you're honest enough to admit the logical outcome of a purely naturalistic morality. and yet i strongly disagree (as does most of the planet pragmatically – even other naturalists).

          some things are *always* wrong: pedophilia, racism, etc. there is such a thing as justice – and it is not a moving target (the ultimate case of "moving the goalposts").

          of course, as a theist, I am making a completely different appeal to the nature of "reality." you want it to be completely subjective (or at least functionally so, since you regard objective reality as inaccessible). but the theist readily concedes that reality is defined by God – since reality is contingent on God.

          now, that probably sounds like crazy talk to you – or at least some ridiculous leap of faith... which goes back to the original point of this thread: namely, that naturalism is *at the outset* a qualitatively greater leap of faith than theism.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:04 am |
        • Saraswati

          Russ, you are really deeply confused. Just because something like love is evolved for survival makes it no less "real".

          February 4, 2014 at 7:09 am |
        • Russ

          @ Saraswati: on the contrary, we must have the honesty to admit the fundamental differences in naturalism's view of love and a theistic view (much less an explicitly Christian one).

          In naturalism, love is merely a foil for the ultimate goal of survival.
          In theism, love is a reflection of Ultimate Reality.
          In Christianity, God is love – so there is *nothing* more real.

          You can use the same word (in this case: "real"), but practically and philosophically we mean *very* different things.

          February 4, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Russ, your god is invisible, undetectable, and irrelevant, and you dishonor him by treating him otherwise. Your arguments all boil down to nothing more than blank appeals to emotion that serve just as well for Islam or any other religion that pretends to have "truth" on such human ideas. Why can't you understand that when your argument "works" equally well for any belief of any metaphysical cult, it's just not any practical use to you? Keep beating your head on that brick wall, I guess.

          February 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cpt Obvious:
          1) your response here makes it clear that you are not hearing what i'm saying, if even reading what i'm writing. the above string speaks directly to the contrary. you merely assert your opinion ("your god is invisible, undetectable, and irrelevant") without basis. not only does it directly ignore what i've said above, but it is unsubstantiated in your own remarks.

          2) while i definitely disagree with Ken Ham on substantial things (as an old earth creationist), he gets this much correct: the issue here is NOT science vs. religion, but naturalism vs. theism. your failure to understand that is the reason you continue to mock my metaphysical underpinnings – as if you don't have any of your own! it demonstrates a complete lack of self-awareness at the most fundamental level.

          3) you claim my position is not practical – but the primary pragmatic argument i've made above (not the philosophical or theological ones) is that such a loss of any objective basis for morality (e.g., Dawkins' "no justice... just blind, pitiless indifference") fails for virtually *any* long-term, practical use.

          again, despite your claim, it's not emotion to point out that naturalism has NO consistent basis for objecting to racism, pedophilia, or any like atrocities. it's simply the logical outcome of naturalism. it necessarily must allow for such atrocities as potential tools in the evolutionary chain and therefore equally legitimate to any other action regardless of perceived morality. and that's my point: morality is merely a foil for survival in naturalism. that is a devastating *pragmatic* problem for your position (which again, is only *one* of the arguments i'm advancing here).

          February 5, 2014 at 12:36 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    I am yet to hear an evolutionary biologist claim that they accept Darwin's Theory of Evolution because:

    1. They had an experience one day and now feel "born again" after Charles came into their lives.

    2. Evolution is written about in a 2,000 year old book of late Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Jewish mythology.

    3. It makes them moral and good.

    4. "Well, how else could it have happened."

    I guess we rational people just hold ourselves to a higher standard than the sky-fairy believers.

    – Colin

    February 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
  19. Lars Hampton

    We have the concept of separation of church and state for a reason. Church is based on unquestionable faith and belongs only in private schools at the expense of the faithful. Science is based on doubt; it is encouraged as an exercise for those capable of well reasoned arguments; and it belongs in state funded education. The word doubt has origins in double – that is, having two(or more) minds, or opinions on a given subject matter. Anything taught in science is subject to doubt, re-investigating and re-evaluating. Anything taught by faith must never be questioned, less one face excommunication and isolation of the eternal soul.

    February 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • Salero21

      Actually we have seperation of church and state because we don't all believe in the same god.

      February 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
      • Lars Hampton

        Jefferson writes: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
        We don't want to make laws establishing the teaching of religious beliefs. We want to leave the choice of your beliefs up to you. We don't want you to impose your beliefs on anyone who chooses not to believe the way you do. We don't want to pretend that faith based religion carries any scientific merit. We don't want to have to pay for anyone's misguided beliefs.

        February 4, 2014 at 11:03 am |
  20. K-switch

    Here's my idea to teach both in schools:

    "ok class there are 2 theories about our origins. The first is that God did it. Now for the rest of the school year we will learn about evolution."

    February 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • Live4Him

      And why evolutionists feel they must fabricate evidence to get new converts to their beliefs.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
      • No Evidence

        That's already been explained.... dishonest much??

        February 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
      • No Evidence

        And what exactly is an "evolutionist" ??? kinda like an "electrictionist" some one who believes in electricty?

        February 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
      • Andrew

        Please specify what evidence you think is fabricated and maybe I can explain why you are incorrect. And remember, just because you do not agree with something that doesn't mean it is incorrect.

        February 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        Let it go L4H. Your community is full of charlatans and worse, too.

        February 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.