I'm sure most of you probably heard about the debate between Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham and Bill Nye, "The Science Guy", which took place on February 4th. A lot of you have probably even watched it online. If you haven’t (shame on you), you can do so Here - and I strongly recommend that you do. As in, go there right now and don't finish reading this post until you have.
Are we good? Good.
My work schedule prevented me watching the debate live, but I was able to
see it the next day. Since then, quite a few people have asked me for my
thoughts about it, so I decided I might as well write up a post on my opinions
and put it up here. Enjoy! : )
In talking to people about the debate, one of the most common things I've
heard is disappointment that Ken Ham wasn't bold enough or aggressive enough in
his presentation. Honestly, I was floored the first time I heard this. Set
aside the fact that, in general, accusing Ken Ham of not being bold is roughly
equal to calling Ronald Reagan a liberal; looking specifically at the scenario
of the debate, I saw no difference. Ken Ham was assertive in his presentation
and gave no ground to Bill Nye's arguments, but he did so while remaining
completely respectful and professional about it.
The trouble is, there is a very fine line between "Bold" and
"In-your-face," and all too often people with good intentions and a
lot of passion inadvertently cross that line, making themselves seem extremely
obnoxious. When that happens, people stop listening. Proverbs 16 tells us that pleasant words are persuasive,
and 1 Peter tells us to defend our faith with gentleness and respect. Ken Ham's
presentation and conduct were pleasant, polite, gentle, respectful, and
considerate... and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Even atheists who
watched the debate have posted comments on Facebook and Twitter commending Mr.
Ham for his professional and polite behavior.
I found this to be especially refreshing when put in contrast to Mr.
Nye's attitude of mockery and condescension. I must admit that I was a bit
bewildered by his multiple insinuations directed not just towards creationists
specifically, but towards Kentuckians in general, telling them in one case that
they should be very concerned that no university in their state offered
such-and-such a degree. As if just having the Creation Museum and (in the near
future) the Ark Encounter in their state has somehow already set them on a path
of scientific decline. Mr. Nye is not the first to suggest that the mere
presence of AiG's facilities on Kentucky soil is having detrimental effects on
the state, and I am certain he will not be the last, but honestly it's a very
shoddy argument--if it can even be considered an argument at all.
I was also very annoyed by Mr. Nye's
incessant referrals to "Ken Ham's creation model," "Ken Ham's
flood," etc, as if Mr. Ham is the first person in history to believe these
things, or just makes them up while the rest of us fall blindly into line as
his little cult followers. In the first place, Mr. Nye should review his
history books: mankind believed in a divine creation first, long before anyone
ever thought of evolution, and that belief has never disappeared despite any
and all efforts to extinguish it. And while naturalist theories of origins are
not as new as many people believe, they’re still the new kids on the block by
Furthermore, although Ken Ham has definitely become a figurehead of the
creation science and apologetics movement, it’s not because it’s all his idea. With all due respect and admiration for Mr.
Ham, I would believe in biblical creation with or without him. My belief is
dependent on the word of God, not on anything Ken Ham or anyone else says or
does. Yes, Ken Ham has been an immense encouragement to me in my beliefs and
ministry; I have learned more from him about science, theology, witnessing, and
apologetics than I can say, and I know many others can say the same thing. But Ken
Ham is not the reason I believe in a literal six days, a roughly-6,000-year-old
earth, or a global flood. I believe it because the God Who cannot lie said it,
clearly and explicitly.
It was obvious from statements made
throughout the debate that Mr. Nye enjoys thinking of himself as “a reasonable
man” whose beliefs are based entirely on logic and facts rather than faith.
This became very ironic when, in response to one of Mr. Nye’s repeated
assertions that creationism is detrimental to scientific progress and
discovery, Ken Ham pointed out various scientists responsible for wonderful
inventions and discoveries—such as the MRI machine—who were also devout
young-earth creationists. Now, a man who was truly reasonable would look at
this evidence and rightly deduce that creationism doesn’t actually impede
progress and discovery after all. But that was not Mr. Nye’s response. He
completely ignored this devastating rebuttal of his assertion and kept right on
repeating it, going so far as to say that if creationism is allowed to propagate,
science in the United States will deteriorate to the point that we lose our
position as a world power and a leader in technology.
His patriotism is commendable, but once again, he needs to check his history
books. America rose from being a collection of half-starved colonies to being a
major world power long before the ideas of evolution were generally accepted.
Granted, not all of those who helped found and build this country were
creationists or even Christians, but those people were the minority. The
United States was founded on Christian principles by a majority of people who
believed the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. So how is it that those same
beliefs are, according to Mr. Nye, going to be America’s downfall? It would
seem he is not quite as reasonable as he likes to believe.
When you watch the debate, make sure
you stick around for the Q&A at the end. In my opinion, it does more to
reveal the true nature of the overall creation/evolution debate than any other
part of the production. I won’t discuss the whole thing here—this post is
way too long already—but I will point out a couple of things that really jumped
out at me.
1. Throughout the debate, but
particularly towards the end, Mr. Nye begged Ken Ham for examples of the
creation model of origins accurately predicting a scientific discovery. Besides
ignoring the order and function in the world that could not exist were nature
all that exists, Mr. Nye is exposing an enormous blind spot in his ideas. He
can’t see the forest for the trees, as it were. The fact that we can predict anything, the fact that we can know
anything, the fact that laws of nature and logic and physics exist, can only be
explained if the Bible is, in fact, true! If nature were all there was,
there would be no laws of logic. If the laws of nature were the only force
governing the matter in the universe, that matter could never have randomly
arranged itself via chaotic processes into orderly, functional forms. The only
reason science is possible is because there is an order, a design, and
unchanging laws of nature and logic, set into place by an orderly, creative,
unchanging and logical Creator.
2. In response to the question “What
would make you change your mind?” Mr. Nye stated the following: “We would need
one piece of evidence. We would need the fossil that swam from one layer [of
sedimentary rock] to the next. We would need evidence that the universe is not
expanding. We would need evidence that the stars appear to be far away but
they’re not. We would need evidence that rock layers can form in 4,000 years
instead of an extraordinary amount... Bring on any of those things and you
would change me immediately.”
That sounds great on the surface—Mr. Nye, that “reasonable man” he loves to
call himself, is just following the evidence where it leads him, open to the
possibility of being wrong—but if you take his statement apart and look closely
it’s a different story.
“We would need the fossil that swam
from one layer to the next.” This deserves a discussion unto itself, one we
don’t have time for here. For now, suffice it to say that there are fish fossilized across multiple
layers of sediment, not to mention polystrate trees that, while they aren’t
living creatures that would try to swim out of the layers burying them,
certainly won’t last for thousands or millions of years to be fossilized
“We would need evidence that the
universe is not expanding. We would need evidence that the stars appear to be
far away but they’re not.” These are both very telling statements. Both the
universe’s expansion and the distances of the stars are well-established, so by
implying that one cannot believe in both these and in creationism, Mr. Nye is
bringing back the age-old accusation, “Creationists deny the facts of science!”
The truth is just the opposite. There is no reason whatsoever that a
young-earth (biblical) creationist cannot believe that the universe is
expanding or that the stars are very far away. The Bible itself alludes to the
universe’s expansion when it describes God “stretching out the heavens” and
there are solid scientific answers to the question of how starlight reaches the
earth within a 6,000 year timeframe, even from such great distances.
“We would need evidence that rock
layers can form in 4,000 years instead of an extraordinary amount.” The Mt.
Saint Helens eruption of 1980 provided all the evidence any “reasonable man”
should need to believe that. Rock layers were formed over periods of hours,
days, and weeks that, according to evolutionary timescales, should have taken
thousands of years or more to appear—irrefutable proof that, given the right
catastrophic conditions, it only takes a little while.
So why, then, has Mr. Nye not
“changed immediately” as he said he would if given this evidence? The
answer is simple: his problem with creationism is not an intellectual problem,
or an ignorance problem. It is a heart problem. The truth of creation
necessarily means the existence of a Creator. The existence of a Creator equals
moral accountability for the creation, and that is something that few people
are willing to accept. Evolution is not the problem, it is a symptom, and a
shelter that lost souls can run to for assurance of safety without having to
acknowledge the lordship of Christ.
I would encourage all of you to pray earnestly for Mr. Nye, that his heart
would be softened and that he would be willing to swallow his pride and
acknowledge the Creator and Savior Who loves him very much.
So what? What did this debate (which
has been referred to as everything from “The Debate of the Century” to “Scopes
2”) really accomplish?
Quite a lot, my friends, quite a lot. Of
course there is the tremendous outreach value it has had and is still having.
In addition to the 900 who actually attended the event live, millions have
watched online and on the new DVD. Major news channels broadcasted coverage and
excerpts of the debate. One way or another, untold millions have seen and heard
a skillful presentation of the evidence for creation and of the gospel, the
reason creation matters at all.
Additionally, a topic that has been
challenging to get discussed in public forums has suddenly hit the mainstream
and gone completely viral. The debate was the number one trending topic on
Facebook and Twitter for several hours before and after it took place.
Countless blogs and other social media pages have hosted discussions and
subsequent debates. Personally, I have had total strangers hear me mention the
debate and want to talk to me about it. This is a current event, a hot topic
that people are interested in and want to talk about. Don’t let that go to
waste! Christians, an incredible opening has been created for us. Watch the
debate, then go out and start talking. Don’t waste this awesome opportunity.
Questions, thoughts, comments? I'd love to hear your take on the debate and get some discussion going. (hint-hint)