Thousands of people watched the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate last night. Seventy news and media reporters were present at the debate and the event has brought international attention to the issues at hand. What should we make of the debate?
It is always problematic (and unnecessary) to declare a “winner” in these type of debates. Each candidate has areas he can improve arguments and oratory skill. My point with this post is not to declare a winner, but to point out some important elements of the debate. Here are some reflections for consideration:
- Regardless of what you think of Mr. Ham, I think it is fair to say he demonstrated that six-day Creationists are not just from backwaters of Louisiana. There are credible, award-winning scientists who believe that God created the world in literal 24-hour days approximately 6,000 years ago. These creationists have worked on projects such as the MRI scanner to NASA technology. Mr. Ham resounded the gong that creationism does not equal stupidity. You can be a good rocket scientist and hold to Mr. Ham’s position.
- Mr. Ham also is a very bold man. He did not shirk away from hot-topics and he stood his ground. I want to be like him and stand on the Word of God.
- Mr. Ham’s position should also be seriously considered by theologians. It is unbelievably problematic to argue that death was around before Genesis chapter three. This is the deal breaker for me in theology. If the fossils have cancer and death in them, then this is actually a theological issue. Theologians who ignore this reality are setting the church up for failure. Mr. Ham is right – the age of the earth does matter. (I am thankful Mr. Ham pointed out that although it is a significant issue, it is not directly a salvation issue).
- Mr. Nye is a good communicator and fun guy. He appears to love science and I would like to hang out with him sometime.
- It became clear that Mr. Nye has serious issues with Christianity as a whole. He was the least convincing when he journeyed into theological territory. He repeatedly brought up the issue of the Bible being translated repeatedly through generations into “American English.” It seems his knowledge of the textual criticism is deeply lacking as well as his knowledge of the Bible (he readily admitted that he was not a theologian). His statements about genre and how the New Testament relates to the Old show that theology is not his field.
- Perhaps the most unexpected moment of the debate for me was when Mr. Nye was asked two deeper philosophical questions. 1) Where did the atoms come from to start the big bang? 2) Where did the human conscience come from? Mr. Nye was unable to answer these questions and urged younger people to pursue scientific investigation to find these answers. This was the most heartbreaking point in the debate. Mr. Nye was unable to answer life’s most important theological and philosophical questions. Although he would not admit to it, science has failed him. “Science” simply cannot answer the questions he was asked. I submit that this is because Mr. Ham’s argument holds water- it is in the category of “historical science” which is determined by worldview.
- Mr. Ham starts with God’s revelation to mankind. Mr. Nye starts with man’s understanding of the world around him. This is where the action is. This is where their worldviews collide.
Unanswered questions during the debate (or questions that needed more time)
For Ham from Nye:
- Can your model predict any scientific discoveries for the future? (partially answered)
- Can you show me one fossil that is mixed with smaller organisms? (not answered)
- What about all those who disagree with you? (answered)
For Nye from Ham:
- Can you show me one instance of new information being added in a mutation? (not answered)
- Can you explain why there are natural laws that are dependable if God does not exist? (not answered)
- Why are you excited about new discoveries if there is no life after death? (partially answered)
I want to encourage you to watch the debate yourself. It will be available for a limited time on debatelive.org and is also available for purchase.