I’m unfortunate enough to be related (by marriage, lol) to somebody who is just in love with Albert Mohler. Well, by “in love” I certainly don’t mean in a gay way, because he’s all kind of against anything LGBTQ, but… well you get me. Supposedly Mohler is one of the brightest minds in the US and even leading secularists respect and admire him. Um… I haven’t been able to find anything to support that assertion, and his articles certainly don’t support it.
Mohler felt the need to weigh in on last night’s “debate” between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. Well, let’s be honest here: it was really a fund raiser and a desperate attempt to resurrect (ha) the failing Creation “Museum”, which will probably succeed, at least in the short term. Anyway, here’s a link to Mohler’s article, followed by my response:
Ken Ham’s creationism is indeed a very narrow and literal interpretation of the Biblical account, and is rejected by all but the most fundamentalist Christians.
Ken Ham basically stood and preached for the entire debate, while Bill brought the fact train. One example was how we measure the distance to different stars. The method is actually very simple and uses basic geometry. Ken’s response was essentially “nuh-uh”. We know that there are stars that we can see that are further away than 6000 light years (including many that are millions and billions). We have no reason to think that the fundamental laws of the universe have changed, so unless we ever find such evidence, the idea that the universe is 6000 years old is done. Game over.
We don’t need to “defend” wild assertions that have no basis in fact. I think, as it appears Bill also thinks, stating facts that can be backed up by evidence is sufficient.
As Bill pointed out, creationists use the term “historical science” in a way that no other scientists do, and they do it to muddy the waters because their claims have been shown to be wrong, so they resort to word games and redefining terms.
But again, when cornered, creationists resort to attacking reality itself. Suddenly we can’t know anything at all, and have no “intellectual authority” without a god.
Bill did indeed answer honestly when there were questions to which we don’t have solid answers. This is what intellectually honest people do. We don’t just assert things as fact that are (to borrow from AronRa) either not evidently true, or evidently NOT true. Even if you believe the Bible, you should probably go find evidence to support it. As I’ve said many times before, and as Bill Nye said, we would be happy to change our thinking given evidence.
But Ken Ham’s answers were indeed telling. He repeatedly rejects reality where it conflicts with his interpretation of the Bible. This is mind-boggling and intellectually dishonest.
Near the end of the article: “Nye seems to believe that he is genuinely open to any and all new information, but it is clear that his ultimate intellectual authority is the prevailing scientific consensus”.
This is just plain wrong. It’s not “the prevailing scientific consensus”. It’s evidence. Now yes, given evidence then scientific consensus will follow, but that is because of the evidence, not because everybody else thinks some particular thing. We do have great confidence in science and reason and evidence because they have been shown to work.
Then Mohler missed the point of Bill’s illustration of billions believing in something other that Ken Ham’s hyper-literal interpretation of the Biblical creation story. The point was that people like Ham want everybody to believe that it is impossible to believe in a god while accepting evolution. That’s not correct. Many, many, many people manage to understand and accept evolution, and still believe in a god. That was the point.
Then we come to more attacks on reality and reason itself. Suddenly we can’t be reasonable without a god. Apparently we can’t count on evidence. I would ask how, then, we would be able to reasonably conclude that the Bible is true if we can’t use reason? Seems self-defeating to me.
The central issue last night was exactly about facts like the age of the Earth and sediment layers and and fossils, but creationists WANT it to be about something else, because then they can act like it’s just a “clash of worldviews” so we’re on equal footing. Well, I suppose when your worldview involves denying reality that can be demonstrated with evidence, then maybe Mohler does have a point.
As a funny side note, Ken Ham is too crazy even for Pat Robertson. When you’re too crazy for Pat Robertson, you got problems: