Creation-evolution debate on the way

Written by Peter Smith on .

If you haven't had enough of high-stakes conflict following the Superbowl, here's another reason to put out the guacamole and chips: To watch a debate over evolution versus creationism.

Bill Nye the Science Guy, the media-friendly teacher of scientific concepts, put it bluntly in a recent viral video post when he said belief in creationism is not just wrong, it's harmful to children:


"I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your ... world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers."

Now he's facing some criticism among his fellow scientists for agreeing to debate creationist Ken Ham in the latter's home turf, the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which promotes belief in a literal six-day creation and worldwide flood and depicts dinosaurs co-existing with humans in the garden of Eden and on Noah's Ark. 


Ham invited Nye to debate, saying people often lose their faith in Christianity as a whole when they start to question the literal reading of any portion of the Bible, beginning with Genesis.

It's hard to remember a time when two such high-profile champions of these viewpoints got in the same room for a debate. Maybe when Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan (or at least Spencer Tracy and Fredric March) met in the courtroom? 

Some evolutionary scientists refuse to debate creationists. “Framing it as a formal debate, you’re saying there’s controversy to begin with. And there’s really no controversy in the scientific community,” Dan Phelps, head of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, told The Courier-Journal of Louisville

But Nye hopes to change some minds. The debate will be livestreamed.

Americans are still sharply divided over human origins, although surveys give different measures for the divide.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of Americans believe humans and other living things have evolved, while 38 percent believe they've stayed the same since creation. The Pew Forum has a slightly larger amount believing in evolution. In both groups, those believing in evolution are divided between those who believe God was or was not involved in it.

But according to Gallup, 46 percent believe God created humans in their present form, 32 percent say God guided evolution and 15 percent say evolution occurred without divine help. 

It's no surprise that white evangelicals and black Protestants are the most likely to believe in creationism, Catholics less so and mainline (mostly white, often liberal) Protestants and the unaffiliated are even less so. And like everything else, there's a political divide. Republicans are more likely to believe in creationism, Democrats in evolution.


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