The recent debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye received unprecedented attention. One writer suggests that it received the most attention for creationism since the Scopes Trial. He may be right, and if so, we are thankful that Biblical truth received this kind of exposure.
Reactions have been varied, from all over the spectrum of beliefs. Some are extremely positive, some negative (often depending on one’s presuppositions going in). Doctrinaire evolutionists have had the most virulent reactions. It behooves us, as creationists, to think about the debate and its aftermath. What was achieved? What could have been done better?
In this post, we offer two reactions from FBFI board members as well as links to other reactions from around the web.
- Doug Wright: Faith is still the Foundation
- Kevin Schaal: Points Not Taken
- Other Links: a special edition of the Eclectic Web, Nye/Ham edition
The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky hosted a debate between Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Dr. Ken Ham (Creations in Genesis). I was involved in meetings with Atlanta with the AACS, so I didn’t get to watch until around 7:40. That meant I missed Ken Ham’s opening argument. I am, therefore, at a little bit of a disadvantage as I comment. In addition, there were times that I lost connection to the webcast. Fortunately, I heard the majority of Bill Nye’s statement and the whole question and answer session – which gave me a good feel for the tenor of the debate.
I am certain I will be a minor player among the armchair quarterbacks reviewing the debate. In spite of that let me make a few basic observations in no particular order:
- Bill Nye proved to be much more proficient at mustering multiple arguments. Ken Ham tended to make one significant point in rebuttal, but lingered on the point. It often seemed as though he was stammering and short-handed on information. I do not believe that is true, but he gave that impression.
- Bill Nye displayed ignorance of Scripture and made repeated theological and interpretational blunders that cast doubt on his credibility to most believers.
- Bill Nye was factually incorrect in several of his arguments against Creation. He repeatedly said that Ham’s model allowed 4000 years for creation. That number is wrong by several thousand years, but his repetitious use was well played tactically. Perhaps someone corrected him, but I didn’t hear it.
- Bill Nye is a much better debater and is a much more polished debater – no doubt due to his life as a television personality.
- Bill Nye was much better at turning his opponents arguments on his head – I am not sure if that is a complement. It means Ken Ham was too nice.
- Bill Nye certainly came across to me as better prepared to challenge the views of the Creationism.
- Bill Nye was successful at the critical juncture of making evolution the point of comparison. In other words, he left his audience with the impression that evolution was right and had to be proven wrong. I was disappointed in this because I have heard the Creationists often put Evolution on the defensive.
- Ken Ham had very sound arguments, but was less skilled at making them understandable – again attributable to Bill Nye’s occupation.
- Ken Ham was definitely better at connecting with the audience – on several occasions, Bill Nye attempted humor and failed miserably. He did not read his audience well.
Most of those observations don’t really mean a lot. If I were grading the debate and had to declare a winner, I would have to say my point card would give the debate victory to Mr. Nye. That, however, does not mean that Evolution won over Creationism. In fact, a careful observer would come to the same conclusion that we always come to.
- Both arguments are Faith-based religions. You either believe (by faith) that God created or that there was a “big-bang.”
- You base your worldview on either the account of Scripture or the outcome of science (ever-changing) and man’s reasoning (notoriously subjective).
- Neither side can prove their position. Your worldview determines which view you accept – by faith. The only eye witness account we have is Genesis 1:1.
Evolution is at a complete loss on how to explain the existence of life. Bill Nye admitted that there is absolutely no explanation for the existence of matter, or for how consciousness came into being from matter. That deficiency is significant!
During the debate, Mr. Nye said he would need evidence to change his mind. His dilemma is that science is always discovering, and may well discover one of the things he demanded. He also consistently challenged Dr. Ham to “predict.” He seemed to think that the creationist has no capacity to predict future happenings. This is where his biblical ignorance leaves him bankrupt. Creation does predict, and more importantly, God’s words has always and continues to accurately predict the future. This Created universe will one day be consumed by fire, and those of us who, by faith, trust in the finished work of Christ will have our faith rewarded by sight as we worship for eternity. We are on solid foundation as we rest in the preserved Word of God.
Doug Wright is pastor of Keystone Baptist Church, Berryville, VA.
My wife, the science teacher, was frustrated by Ken Hamm’s unwillingness to correct Nye on the most basic aspects of the debate.
- The presumption that evolution is science and creationism is not—with no proof whatsoever.
- The complete disregard for the fact that a huge amount of scientific discoveries were made by creationists including: Copernicus, Newton, Faraday, Pasteur, and many others. Even Einstein presumed intelligent design.
- That many creationists are being excluded from teaching and research today because they are creationist even when the realm of work is in no way impacted by their creationist views.
- Nye’s assertion that creationists have not been able to make accurate predictions based upon a young earth model is false.
- Nye’s constant questioning of the historical accuracy of the text of scripture. Nye simply brought into question textual critical issues without any understanding of the subject and Hamm let them stand unanswered.
Here is the issue. A public debate is a publicity stunt that will not answer for anyone the real issues of creationism vs evolution. The science is so wide spread that nothing of substance can be reasonably addressed. While this is a scientific field of study, it is also a spiritual battle. Christians must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Dr. Kevin Schaal is the pastor of Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. He is also the Chairman of the Board for the FBFI.
An Affirmation of Biblical Creation | Bob Jones University
A “pre-action” – issued before the debate began.
Four Things to Learn from the “Great Debate” | Rooted Thinking
This link serves to introduce a new blog we are interested in – several of the writers have been posted here on P&D, we hope to see them occasionally in the future. The blog is worth following.
In this piece, Joel Arnold offers four lessons from the debate: Unbelievers — even atheists — can be very nice, likable, articulate people; When did science become the only way to knowledge?; Everyone thinks he’s a reasonable man; The ultimate (and answered) question of the debate was one of authority.
Some secular reaction:
Canada – the National Post: Bill Nye the ‘Science Guy’ debates head of Kentucky Creation Museum on evolution, Earth’s origin | National Post
USA – the Washington Post: Bill Nye: Bible doesn’t tell Earth’s true history – The Washington Post
AIG reacts: Bill, There Is a Book Out There – Answers in Genesis
In response to a question about what they, more than anything else, base their beliefs on, Ken offered the clear explanation that the Bible is the unique religious text of the world—and that it explains the origin of everything. Nye, on the other hand, bases his belief firmly on man’s fallible ideas about where we came from—despite the clear inconsistencies of the evolutionary worldview.
Creation Ministries International: Clash over worldviews
With links to many published answers to Bill Nye’s baseless charges against Creationism.
The central issue last night was really not the age of the earth or the claims of modern science. The question was not really about the ark or sediment layers or fossils. It was about the central worldview clash of our times and of any time — the clash between the worldview of the self-declared reasonable man and the worldview of the the sinner saved by grace.
Nye on style; Ham on substance.
Ham easily won the debate. Why? Or, How? He met and surpassed the burden of proof necessary for their pre-agreed debate subject. How can I make that judgment? Nye hardly answered, or even attempted to answer, Ham’s arguments. Ham had little time to make many arguments, but when he did, and when he asked Nye questions, Nye didn’t answer them. On the other hand, Ham answered every one of Nye’s arguments. And he only needed to give a viable alternative to what evolution says. He did. It’s certainly possible that Nye and others didn’t like Ham’s answers or responses, but he answered, and they were viable answers.
Publication of links in The Eclectic Web feature does not imply endorsement of the viewpoint or contents of any of the websites linked. The links are provided as a matter of interest to Christians.
The Eclectic Web is compiled by Don Johnson. Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.