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Answers in Genesis and some not

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Despite the apparent lack of any established need to interpret Genesis literally, Ken Ham made an extraordinary effort, and the "Science Guy" Bill Nye joined the debate on the opposing side typically known as "evolution."
The need to interpret Genesis literally is not found in any established religion mostly because it is not found in Genesis or anywhere else in the Bible. The notion that the purpose of Genesis is to guide humanity in any material science had been abandoned long before Darwin. The Bible does not explain how to make soap although the "work of the apothecary" it does mention probably included soap. Although Bible times included copper, bronze and iron ages there are no details on those arts either.
The serious debate lately is not the origin of species, but the origin of life. The important difference is being ignored for political reasons. Leading scientists have long agreed that Darwin might explain one but certainly not the other. Totally defeated as "spontaneous generation" the origin of life has returned to the debate as "abiogenesis."
In the famous case of Kitzmiller versus Dover the judge decided that intelligent design was really creationism in disguise. The truth is that abiogenesis is really spontaneous generation in disguise, and that evolution never made any case for either.
Creationism versus evolution is not the debate today.
That is with the remarkable exception of Ken Ham and Bill Nye playing a game designed not by any scientist nor any theologian but by a judge.
If you enjoy watching two people not prove anything for well over two hours you might enjoy the debate. You can find it online.
Ham does successfully challenge the precision of many of the claims the Earth is older than would appear the case if the Bible is taken literally. He is fascinating and quite scientific. He does not by any means "prove" anything either however. It might serve to consider the difference between exact science and statistical analysis in the previous article in this column.
When asked whether he took the whole Bible literally Ham answered that indeed it contained "poetry" in some parts and not others, and that it was obvious to him that Genesis was not poetry. He did not mention how few others, especially theologians, see it that way exactly.
The question was not pressed and he did offer to answer where, if Genesis is "history," we might find the Garden of Eden on Earth. We especially would like to see the angels with flaming swords. A rather common understanding has been that the story concerns a spiritual dimension. A spiritual dimension is something that would require the Bible to not be literal. If we try to explain the color green to someone blind from birth there is no way to do that literally. We can only be literal in describing things others have already experienced. That is the longstanding reason no established religion requires a literal interpretation of Genesis.
Let us not forget that Ham did assemble a list of successful scientists to support his claim of a young Earth. Remember also that is argumentum ad verecundiam or perhaps argumentum ad potentiam. None of those scientists proves their point either. We are merely asked to accept their opinion based on the success of their work not connected to the science at hand.
When asked about the large numbers of profoundly faithful people who do not take Genesis literally Ham said they had a problem. A serious problem with Ham's personal decision that Genesis must be literal could be that deeper meanings get ignored. It is commonly asked by atheists if there is a God why isn't the Earth like the Garden of Eden. Atheists aren't known for their knowledge of scripture. It isn't likely Young Earth Creationists will be either.
Several organizations like "Answers in Genesis" lauded by Ham and other organizations like it have been used by atheists to take the argument for a literal interpretation of the Bible because no established religion will. It makes their agenda rather easy. It confused the judge in Kitzmiller v. Dover.
Although the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Intelligent Design were very briefly mentioned in the debate in the questions section at the end, Ham allowed Nye to get away with the same poorly formed arguments in wide use before Kitzmiller v. Dover.
While Young Earth Creationists might indeed be more clever than people who believe tornadoes in junkyards might assemble anything ever, it appears the first order of business is to settle whether tornadoes might assemble anything in junkyards, and perhaps stop telling people who believe in such assembly they should be scientists.

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