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Evolution Debate: What Can Both Sides Agree On?

<p>The debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham revealed a huge cultural gap over evolution. Here's a way to bridge it.</p>
Image: Charles Darwin
Late in life, Charles Darwin struggled with the deep implications of evolutionary theory.Spencer Arnold / Getty Images file

This week's evolution debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham revealed the wide gap between the two sides. Are there ways to bridge that gap? Well, there's a weekend for that.

We're now heading into Evolution Weekend, an annual event aimed at promoting discussions about science and religion. Evolution will be on the agenda at more than 500 places of worship this weekend. Check out the eight-year-old project's schedule to find a sermon near you.

"We've built up this idea that creationists are stupid, or evolutionists are immoral. But when you actually meet people, they're people. We're all the same," Josh Rosenau, projects and policy director for the National Center for Science Education, said on this week's "Virtually Speaking Science" podcast (hosted by yours truly).

Rosenau said "talking across religious lines is important."

Antony Thomas, the filmmaker behind the HBO documentary "Questioning Darwin," also thinks the gap is bridgeable. "That's really what I was very keen to achieve in this film," he said during the podcast. "I just wish that this film sets a tone which could have some influence in the future."

Some people have gotten the mistaken impression that Thomas' film, premiering Feb. 10, is critical of Darwin. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's an honest look at modern-day creationists and evolutionists that also recounts how Darwin himself dealt with the deep questions raised by his research.

Among the resources mentioned during the podcast:

Update for 3:40 p.m. ET Feb. 6: University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne and Dan Arel, a writer for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, were among those who said Bill Nye was making a big mistake by debating Ken Ham. Now both Coyne and Arel have posted post-debate commentaries. Their bottom line? No harm was done to science, but it still wasn't a good idea.