The goal is not to defend the absurd idea of young-earth creationism, but rather biblical literalism, the ideology from which fundamentalists draw their strength.
To be honest, I think that we need to have a very different kind of a conversation about "origins" than what was had Tuesday night. I think that the entire conversation needs to be focused on what the Bible is and is not.
Faith is a personal matter, and should never be a cudgel to stifle inquiry. We tried that approach about 1,200 years ago. The experiment was called the Dark Ages.
Many atheists, myself included, have been overly optimistic that a rational argument will be sufficient to change minds. I now think the best we can do is make good points in a reasonable and pleasant manner.
Way before Einstein's insights and equations, religion was all about light. Religious iconography depicted light in the figurative sense while mystics experienced light in literal terms.
Every time we appreciate science, whether it's being debated or moved forward with research, we should remember that we owe a great deal to this ancient philosopher, who opened up a new way in which to see the world.
No one wins the "debate" between science and creationism because they are incommensurable, like comparing an apple pie with Moby Dick.
I know which of these two men I want my daughter to emulate -- if not with regard to faith, then with regard to intellectual inquiry. One of these two men was there to nurture curiosity. The other was there to stifle it.
Nye, not a theologian, again got the point across when he noted that millions of Christians, and other people of faith, do not agree with Ham, do not deny evolution and do not see evolution as somehow opposed to God.
As long as we view ourselves as "higher than" or "qualitatively different from" the other animals, we will continue to make assumptions about them that promote abuse and exploitation. The Scala Naturae gives us license to exploit other animals because they are seen as being further down the ladder.
Many, including members of the Baha'i Faith, look forward to a future when science and religion -- and faith and reason -- are reconciled and no longer opposed.
Bill Nye and Ken Ham will be debating creationism on Feb. 4, and it's a bad idea for both scientists and Christians.
No matter what side of the creation-evolution debate you are on, your partisanship costs you dearly. Why? Because it costs you the ability to read the Bible on its own terms. What do we lose by straightjacketing the Bible with the creation-evolution debate?
Seventeen years ago, on a rainy day, I was sitting in a Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles with close associate and fellow traveler, Carlos Castaneda. We had been discussing the near impossibility of, somehow, freeing oneself from the mind . . . the ego centered self or me.
People who hold marginal positions love debates because it makes their position seem credible -- after all we wouldn't be debating this question if it wasn't a real question would we? We wouldn't "defend" evolution unless it needed defending would we?
Extending too much love to others can leave us lacking in love for ourselves. We must walk the fine line of attending to others and tending to ourselves, all the while never falling second to the needs of another. Because to love ourselves is to know ourselves, and to know ourselves is to recognize the full spectrum of our powers.