Creation debate prompts strong feedback from SHS students

How did we get here? Is creationism a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era? This was the question debated by Bill Nye the “Science Guy” and Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum on Feb. 4.

The debate took place at the Creation Museum, and approximately 75,000 people accessed the streaming video online. Many of these viewers were SHS students, who dedicated two and a half hours of their day to watching the debate.

“The debate was amazing. It was a good idea not only to prove right from wrong, but I educate everyone who is watching and possibly help decide the future of our nations education,” said Aditya Roy-Chaudhury, 12.

As a result of the debates, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter erupted in a series of opinions from both sides.

“During the debate I was on Facebook and noticed that many Sycamore students were posting and getting pretty into it. I’m sure it was the same on twitter,” said Miguel Palacios, 11.

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The debate between evolutionist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham, which was streamed online on Feb. 4, aroused many strong opinions among SHS students. Ham’s arguments emphasized the differences between observational and historical science, whereas Nye’s creationist arguments were primarily based on an advanced age of the Earth; he presented compelling evidence, for example, that could be found in the layers in the Grand Canyon, or the rings in trees. Photo courtesy of Joseph Ahn.

One Facebook post by Jonathan Weng, 11, prompted a discussion between SHS students that lasted for approximately three and a half hours, resulting in a total of 194 comments.

“A significant byproduct of the debates materialized in the form of online discussions, as post-debate passions brewed over. My Facebook post exploded into an interesting conversation – a post-debate debate. I really enjoyed the openness and willingness of everyone in discussing the topic, and I thought it was very thought-provoking. However, Facebook debates always get messy, and this one was no exception. This Facebook discussion was a good starting point, but it was rather counter-productive at times,” said Weng.

Likewise, on Twitter, the hashtag #creationdebate became extremely popular during the course of two and half hours.

“Twitter was definitely blowing up with the opinions from both sides. It was a huge factor in publicizing the event to others though some did get annoyed by it,” said Roy-Chaudhury.

To some students, the creation debate and the resulting discussions were not as productive as they had hoped.

“The actual debate didn’t really accomplish anything, since each participant often avoided the other’s points, and both sides clearly (and perhaps understandably) went in with very hardened attitudes – clearly, they weren’t going to change their minds. I also found that the viewers often heard what they wanted to hear – that is, those supporting Ham’s viewpoint thought he had the upper hand, while those supporting Nye found his argument most compelling,” said Weng.

“The debate did nothing but reinforce the student’s convictions. In a general sense, viewers pretty much interpreted their side to win,” said Patrich Co, 11.

   However, most agree that the debate and the post-debate discussions on various social networking sites were productive in the long run, as they prompted deep discussions and thoughts.

“It was cool to see that so many others were watching it. I loved the wealth of discussion that came with the debate,” said Anthony Popenoe, 11.

“This proves yet again that Sycamore is very diverse and full of people with different ideas that makes our school more unique,” said Palacios.

“I think both sides debated well and mostly without acrimony,” said Weng.

For more information, go to debatelive.org, where a recording of the debate is also accessible.