I didn’t watch the debate last night between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham the Creationist Guy. Based on today’s reactions, however, it sounds like the results were what you would expect, no minds were changed and both camps retreated to their respective corners feeling they’d won.
I have a lot of respect for Nye and his valiant attempts to take the science versus creationism battle directly to the enemy, but I have to agree with the large number of scientists who oppose these kinds of events as they only lend unnecessary credence to those who believe in the supernatural origins of the universe.
There really can’t be a traditional debate between scientists and creationists because they have two fundamentally opposing viewpoints that prohibit any form of agreement about anything. The creationist’s one and only source for their position is the bible, which they believe is divinely inspired. If I, as a scientist, don’t believe the bible came from a supernatural source, we are debating from different universes that have none of the same touch points. From the scientist’s standpoint, you might as well be basing your arguments on Aesop’s Fables or Mother Goose stories. And if you’ve ever tried to engage the cheerful Mormon robots who knock on your door, you know they’re coming from a far different galaxy than the one in which you live.
The always brilliant Dr. Richard Dawkins has this to say about debates with creationists. "Inevitably, when you turn down the invitation you will be accused of cowardice, or of inability to defend your own beliefs," Dawkins wrote in a 2006 article entitled Why I Won’t Debate Creationists. "But that is better than supplying the creationists with what they crave: the oxygen of respectability in the world of real science."