The False Dichotomy of Science vs. Religion

Kudos to Science Guy (and Newhart nemesis) Bill Nye and Creation Museum founder  Ken Ham.  Many of those who disagree on the question of how the Earth was made don’t talk to each other.  These guys went the other way.  (And they got into it, too, the video at that link is almost three hours long.)  At the very least, that shows that both are sincere in their science-based approach to problem solving.

But there is a problem when this type of debate is played out.  Folks like Ham says the Earth is just 6,000 years old.  Folks like Nye says our world couldn’t have been constructed in six days.  Interlopers like to say this is science versus religion.  

So what’s a year, and what’s a day?  Those are pretty relative terms, since they are based on a single astronomical relationship: the Earth’s motions around the Sun.  Days are shorter on Saturn, and years are longer on Venus.  For a God who created the universe, these are small measurements.  

We do know that there are laws of physics.  When the crap hit the fan during the Apollo 13 mission, NASA was able to calculate a plan to use the gravitational forces of the moon to slingshot the spacecraft home.  The moon’s forces, though not completely understood, behaved in a predictable way.  The busted tin can with three astronauts on board reacted to those forces in a predictable way.   Astrophysicists call that science, but if you sit back and think about it, it’s a miracle.  (And not just because they math they got right was really, REALLY hard.)

We know that moons orbit planets, and planets orbit stars, and stars orbit giant mysterious centers of galaxies.  We know those galaxies stretch out over incomprehensibly vast expanses of the cosmos, yet form patterns as well.

How miraculous is it that those forces and reactions are intelligible?  How amazing is it that out of the black emptiness of space came the forces of gravity and dark energy that created suns, planets, galaxies, moons, asteroids, quasars, black holes and a bunch of stuff we haven’t even figured out yet?  

Read the first passages of the Book of Genesis, then read a scientific account of how planets are formed.  It’s great that Ham and Nye had a civil and good-natured, discussion about the origins of the universe.  But did they really have anything to disagree about?


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