The Great Debate.

On Tuesday, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” debated Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum…you know, the place featuring dioramas of Adam and Eve sharing the Earth with dinosaurs.

I give credit to Ham. Not only did he pay Nye’s substantial speaking fee for the event. He risked exposing his supporters to a dose of reality. Nevertheless, I doubt Nye changed any minds. That’s the problem with trying to debate the faithful…they accept things based on faith and ignore anything that would contradict their beliefs, including actual scientific evidence based on centuries of observations and objective data.

For example, Ham and his followers believe the Earth is 6,000 years old based on the book of Genesis in the Bible. Ham says that the Bible trumps scientific research. “I find there’s only one infallible dating method,” said Ham. “It’s a witness who was there, who knows everything and told us, and that’s from the word of God.”

Ham fails to consider that the Bible is a written account of Judeo-Christian traditions and that it’s not necessarily any more accurate than the creationist accounts of other tribes – accounts such as the Chinese belief that humans came from a cosmic egg; the Tibetan belief that humans are the offspring of a monkey and a great demoness; the Egyptian belief that all creatures were created on a potter’s wheel; the Mayan belief that humans were created from wood; the ancient Greek belief that humans are the progeny of the Earth and the sky; the Hopi belief that man emerged from a hole in the Earth; and the Navajo belief that the first woman was created by blue and yellow clouds and the first man was created by black and white clouds.

All of these deserve as much credibility as the Judeo-Christian account. Moreover, unlike Ham, many civilizations believe the Earth is far older than 6,000 years. Indeed, Hindus believe that the Universe is 4,320,000,000 years old, a figure that more closely aligns with the dating of modern science.

But other traditions and science don’t matter to people like Ham. Ham believes the Judeo-Christian creation story is the only one that matters. He believes that the Bible was not written by man. He believes it is the actual word of God and anyone who contradicts anything in the Bible is simply wrong. It’s a matter of faith. The only one who could possibly convince him to accept the evidence supplied by historians, geologists, anthropologists, astrophysicists and archeaologists is God.

And the Judeo-Christian God hasn’t yet authored a sequel to the Bible.

Do You Believe In Magic?

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has reported from war zones and written a number of powerful books about our culture. I was fascinated by his recent interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, during which he addressed some of the cultural idiocy that exists in the US.

Hedges decried the media’s tendency to cover sensational stories over substance. He also discussed unfettered capitalism, domination of US media by a half dozen corporations, and the Christian right’s use of the despair created by the Great Recession and lasting unemployment in order to drive Americans into a non-reality-based belief system.

“I think we have powerful proto-fascist movements in this country,” said Hedges, “and I look at the Tea Party, the militia and the Christian right, where they celebrate the language of violence, they celebrate the gun culture, and they channel what I would describe as a very legitimate rage, and a legitimate sense of betrayal towards the vulnerable; towards Muslims; towards undocumented workers; towards homosexuals, intellectuals, feminists, liberals…they have a long list of people they don’t like. And I think that remains a very powerful and frightening undercurrent in American society.”

“What you get when you enter that kind of ideological belief system, you no longer deal with reality. You believe in magic,” Hedges continued. “You believe that Jesus will intervene to protect you and promote you, and then it becomes impossible to have a kind of rational discussion, for instance, with people who believe that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.”

To make the point, Hedges noted that he visited the Creationist Museum where dinosaurs are displayed alongside Adam and Eve in a representation of the Garden of Eden. In discussing his tour of the park, Hedges recalled a guide saying, “I suppose you wonder why the T-Rex had such big teeth.” She explained that it was because “Adam and Eve needed the T-Rex to open the coconuts.”  When a child asked how Noah had managed to get the dinosaurs onto his Ark, the tour guide responded that “Noah only took the dinosaur babies.”

Hedges stated that this kind of walking away from science is what allows totalitarian systems to thrive. One of the concerns is the Christian right’s lust for apocalyptic violence. He said, “It’s almost a celebration of the destroying of a world that almost destroyed them.”

As for the state of our government, Hedges stated, “We have the facade of the democratic state, and yet we’ve undergone a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion.”

For more insights from Chris Hedges check out his weekly column at