Does the sun rise in the east?

Recently there was this debate,… well two people talking anyway. Bill Nye and Ken Ham talked about the question ‘Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?’

Reams and reams of 1’s and 0’s are going on about it. So here are a few of my own dregs.

I didn’t fully realise the seriousness of this issue in the US until I found out about the pressure in some parts of the country to teach creationism as science. I fully admire Bill Nye’s passion and vision in trying to counter this. As a Christian I don’t want my daughters to look at the Bible that way and I don’t want them to shut themselves off from all that science has to offer. (Whether they do or not is a different matter.) I think I would like them to explore and experience and come to decisions themselves. My job as a parent is to give them tools and as they grow they can either use them or find better ones.

In one way the ‘debate’ (I don’t know why I find it hard, but I just can’t take the word seriously) was about truth. Ken Ham and the creationists seem to think that if 7-day creation didn’t happen then the bible isn’t true. So since the bible is true then the 7-day creation did happen! Or so goes my caricature of the creationist thought.

For many, creationists and atheists alike, science is truth. So you have creationists pile driving science into texts and using texts to prove science doing violence to both. Then you have the certain atheist who can only accept evidence. For both science is the only truth.

Hence the title of my post. Does the sun rise in the east? Scientifically no. The sun doesn’t rise at all. The earth spins and this causes day and night. But is the question valid and a yes answer correct? This is where our contexts come into play. The question of the sun rising in the east can be useful in a geography lesson where maps are involved. In a physics or astronomy lesson it becomes a completely different question.

Similarly if my daughter says, ‘look daddy, a rainbow in the sky!’ I’m not going to turn around and say ‘no you unscientific beautiful thing, it’s just a visual phenomena of a dispersal of light due to refractive properties of water.’ And not because I don’t want to disappoint her, but because as humans we see rainbows in the sky and refer to ‘rainbows’ and ‘skies’ as objects even though neither of them exist as physical entities.

Again a discussion of rainbows and skies will vastly differ if you’re in a literature or physics class. Literature and physics do different things. But they both have access to truth. What Ken Ham does is drive physics into literature and spectacularly ruins both. I think this is a problem that runs through many societies. We don’t give science and art their proper dues and we come off much worse as individuals and communities. Hopefully we’ll evolve soon. 🙂

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