The Ken Ham – Bill Nye Debate: What Happens When You Bring A Bible To A Science Fight

ham-vs-nye-debateLast night the highly publicized debate pitting evolution defending Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Creationist defending Ken Ham took place on Ham’s home turf at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It was entertaining, informative, and as indicated in my previous post heavy on “brand” promotion.

The Debate

The debate itself was a general overview of each participant’s perspective. Aimed at a high school understanding of science,  both Ham and Nye attempted to influence average Americans to their understanding of “the beginning”. However the debate quickly focused on Ham asserting Creation as “the only viable option” and Nye’s attempt at debunking that viability.

Realizing he had only brought a Bible to a science fight Ham spent a bit of his opening statement introducing us to a number of actual scientists who support his viewpoint. There was a lot of, “And here is Dr. So and So from Nasa who helped build the thing-a-ma-jiggy that allows us to do such and such.  He also believes in Creationism so, look, I’m not just making this stuff up.”

Although I was not surprised by Ham’s somewhat arrogant suggestions to Nye that “there is a book (the Bible) Bill that answers your questions” and ” see, creation is the only viable option” I found Nye saying some rather dumbfounding claims as well like “sunlight is responsible for making lifeforms more complex.”  Really? The unbelievable complexity of creation is happening with sunlight as its causation?  (100 people surveyed top answers on the board, ‘What is sunlight responsible for?’ you said ‘complex lifeforms’. Our survey said? STRIKE.  Sorry Bill, cancer…cancer was the number 1 answer)

Ken Ham’s Albatross?

As I watched the debate, I quickly discovered what keeps putting Ken Ham on the defensive.  He promotes a supernatural agent (God) in the natural order of the universe but then attempts to answer critique with natural scientific explanations.

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For example, when Bill Nye asserts that light from star reflection as well as other dating methods prove the earth has to be billions of years old, Ham relies on rather flimsy examples of some dating errors or troubles with the celestial horizon in using astronomy to determine age.

But if God is an active supernatural agent, isn’t he the more likely answer?

I mean why suggest God’s hand created everything, has been actively involved in supernaturally altering the natural (the flood) and then rely exclusively on natural answers to support it.  My immediate thought is if God created the stars, wouldn’t he have already made the first light already have reached us?  So, lets say, 30 minutes after creation, with the light from the stars visible from earth, is the universe 30 minutes old…or 30 million?

or both?

Or lets, for the sake of argument, say God created the man Adam.  30 minutes after Adam is created he gets a physical exam and the doctor estimates the adult man to be between the age of 25-30 based on his medical checkup.  But is Adam 30 minutes old…or 30 years?

or both?

Natural science would give one estimated age, supernatural theology would give another.

And you could argue both…but not using the same tools!

Because Ham attempts to use scientific natural answers to supernatural theological assertions he often comes across as appearing “off”.  But as he’s trying to offer a scientific alternative to evolution he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.  (no pun intended)  At some point faith has to come in and that’s where the natural arguments he often suggests fall short.

Unfortunately for Ham, has staked so much importance to his understanding of Genesis that its near impossible for him to climb down.  This became apparent when he was asked what evidence he would need in order to change his view and his answer is essentially “none”.

Nothing will change his mind.

This answer immediately made him suspect because now his faith becomes the foundation of his science…and I don’t think anyone is going to accept that.

Conclusion

My thoughts?  Personally I think evolution is the best natural explanation for how humans arrived here.

I just don’t think its a very good explanation…

I actually agree with a lot of Ken Ham’s premises for our origins…but I prefer to live in Bill Nye’s world of scientific exploration.

I believe there was a literal Adam and Eve but I don’t believe in using the Bible as a scientific textbook of our origins.  I don’t really think we evolved from lower forms of life, but my faith in Christ will not be threatened if some ideas of our beginnings are not what I thought they were.

In the end I don’t know if the earth is 10,000 years old or 4.5 billion but I do know my Christianity is not dependent on the former being so.  What I will say to both Bill Nye and Ken Ham is something my good friend William Shakespeare said in Hamlet;

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Here endeth the lesson!

 

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  • That debate happened not far from where I live so it got a fair amount of press in our local media. The very Bible Ham used to “defend” creationism is full of passages that would explain why I don’t have to do any of that — “the Heavens proclaim the glory of God” comes to mind. So appreciate your words here, especially that events such as this are not going to change anyone’s mind.

    A simple life of following Christ? That just might,

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