My Reaction to the Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, February 5, 2014 1 comments

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:5

What is the best book in the Bible for the purpose of helping us understand the non-believer’s thought process? You might suspect I would say Genesis, because it lays the foundation for all knowledge, according to a Biblical worldview. Or maybe you would suspect Romans because of its explicit description of human depravity. Perhaps you would take the most obvious route in answering my question by concluding I have 1 John in mind as evidenced by the above quote. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. These books are wonderful in helping us to understand the world and the people of the world through the eyes of one with faith, but I believe there is only one book in the Bible that shows us, through the eyes of a worldly person, how a person of the world thinks. This book is Ecclesiastes.

“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:17

What a horrible thought that is so contrary to the real message of the Bible! But when it is considered from the standpoint of a secular humanist it is horrifyingly true. If you confront someone of this frame of mind and attempt to speak truth into his or her life you will have much difficulty because this person’s heart has become hardened and cynical. For a Christian to share John 3:16 with this person is as gratifying to them as raking your fingernails across a chalkboard: Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech! It sounds so good that it is annoying. On the other hand, if you share with them the secular mantra that when you die, “that’s it,” they are strangely satisfied. How bizarre and twisted is such reasoning that one would rejoice over bad news and decry good news?

Last night I listened to Ken Ham debate Bill Nye at the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in St. Petersburg, Kentucky and these were some of the thoughts that went through my head at its conclusion. The topic was “Is creationism a viable model for science?” Bill Nye’s famous assertion has been that creationists cannot function as productive and innovative scientists. He seemed to define one’s productivity and innovative abilities as a scientist that can develop a functional model through which future discoveries and results could be predicted. At the end of the debate he strongly denied that Ham had succeeded in providing any evidence that the creation model fulfilled such criteria and, therefore, was not a viable scientific model. But did Ken Ham really fail to provide evidence that creationism meets such criteria or did Nye simply refuse to acknowledge the evidence that he so clearly provided?

I would not be writing this if I did not espouse the latter view, so let’s talk about what Ham provided. I don’t recall the order in which he provided his examples, but they really were compelling. Directly from the Biblical text he drew examples of mankind’s descent through one (two) common ancestors and the fact that animals only bring forth offspring after their own kinds. The Bible did more than predict such a conclusion, it tells us that it was established this way by Divine decree. Science would not dispute these points because it has actually been observed as being true. But maybe you would say that this is not good enough to establish creationism as a viable scientific theory. To humor this argument, let’s suppose that a Divine decree is not really a prediction and does not provide a model through which the scientific method can be employed.

Ham actually sees such an argument and trumps it by providing testimonies from living, breathing, real life scientists who also happen to be creationists. Did I mention that these scientists are innovative? Forgive me for not including their names, but let’s look at their accomplishments. The first one was a microbiologist who has been published in credible, secular research journals as many times as the number of years the earth is old, according to atheists. He has debunked the notion that E. Coli is evolving new functions. This, of course, would be predictable through a creationist model. Second, he presented the inventor of the MRI, who also happens to be a creationist. Furthermore, this particular scientist passionately insists that evolutionary science is not needed, nor used, in the process of operational science. How does the MRI relate to predictability? Well, you would not mass market a sophisticated piece of medical machinery if you could not predict through your scientific method that it was going to work. What is more, the MRI is used at just about every major hospital in the United States. This man was not hindered by his belief in creation and even claims that it aided him in his innovation. Thirdly, and subtly, he mentioned a portion of the team of scientists who contributed in putting together the Hubble Space Telescope. He said that both the creationists and the secularists on the team all agreed on the functionality of the telescope but not on the interpretation of the data it collected. Personally, if I were one of the creationists involved in its development, I would be insulted at how NASA, the Federal Government, and the popular media have pretended that creationists play no part in improving this country’s understanding of science. Clearly creationists can be as intelligent and innovative as scientists who hold to a secular model.

And yet at the conclusion of the debate, Nye was still insisting that creationism is a hindrance to science and essentially that creationists cannot be scientists. How is it that he missed all of those examples that Ken Ham provided, not just of information to support creationism, but of real, living, breathing, PhD scientists that approach their work with the Word of God at their starting point? Could it simply be because the modern scientific community has defined science as being inherently atheistic? Although Nye attempted an emotional plea with Ham by stating that other religious people of the world don’t espouse creationism, he hinted that those people are dunces, nonetheless. And what of our Intelligent Design friends? He hinted that they merely insert God when they cannot explain a particular phenomenon, which means that they are just as foolish as their fundamentalist peers. To Bill Nye, if you want to believe in God, leave that belief at the door when you enter the lab.

To those who tuned into the debate who already agreed with him, I’m sure Bill Nye was the clear winner. The evolutionists have a strangle hold on the definition of science (as Ham pointed out) and refuse to let go. Whenever a person comes along and meets their criteria with a different model, they conveniently change definitions so that the new model is disqualified. After all, it was not until Ham presented creation scientists that Nye introduced the idea of predictability into the equation; and even then his definition of predictability was manipulated enough that nobody really knew what he was talking about and Ham’s examples of innovative creationists that operated from a creationist model just didn’t make the cut.

Granted Bill Nye’s failure to recognize the scientists cited by Ken Ham as being credible examples, it is only fair to point out the weaknesses of Nye’s argument. Some of these things will appear as harsh criticisms, but my intent is not to be harsh but to be frank. I think for those who were not familiar with the creationist side of the argument, it would have been very easy for them to believe that Bill Nye cornered Ken Ham with some of his questions. This leads to his first weakness, that also served as a strength: he did not stick to the topic of the moderator’s question and did not respect Ham’s obligation to do so. There were at least two instances where Nye went on a tangent where he posed at least five questions and then expected Ham to respond to those questions, on top of answering the question the moderator chose to ask. At the end of Nye’s questioning the moderator would then announce, “Mr. Ham, you now have five minutes to reply,” or my favorite, “Mr. Ham, you have one minute to reply.” Fortunately, Ham eventually replied to Nye by informing him that he would use his allotted time to answer the moderator’s question.

Weakness number two: I am convinced that Bill Nye was almost entirely unfamiliar with Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis website. In his long line of questions that were left unanswered, Nye mentioned the fossils in the geologic column, the fossils of “primitive” humans, the speed of light in relation to the distance of stars from earth, ice layers, tree rings, and quite a few other examples that he claimed were problems that were ignored by creationists. But if anybody were to go to, they would be able to find answers to these questions in the “Get Answers” section of the website. I think it was entirely unprofessional of Nye to ignore the website, or worse, maybe he posed those questions because he knew that Ham would not have the time to answer all of his questions. Such a strategy would be quite devious and I would like to think it would be below Bill Nye.

Thirdly, Bill Nye proved, to those who are familiar with their Bibles, that he had very little and possibly no understanding of what the Bible says or how it is composed. Ken Ham was asked the question, “Do you interpret the entire Bible literally?” His response was that he interprets it “naturally” because with how the Bible is written certain parts are clearly not meant to be taken literally and other parts are clearly written to be taken literally. Anyone who has studied how the Bible was written would be able to tell you there are different genres of literature inside of the Bible. In Bill Nye’s rebuttal to Ham’s answer, he said that he has made the observation that Ken Ham picks and chooses what parts of the Bible he takes literally and what parts he does not. I do not think that Mr. Nye should have commented on that question at all because he simply was not educated enough on the topic to attack Ham in such a way.

Finally, there were a few instances when Bill Nye admitted that he did not know the answer to certain vital questions. For instance, “Where did matter come from?” Of course, the secular premise is that if we are given more time, we will eventually find out how matter came into existence. But the problem would not end there. Cells were once thought to be very simple organisms but are today found to be more sophisticated than the satellites in outer space. Even though we know a lot more about cells than what we did one hundred years ago, we have learned that there is possibly an infinite amount of information about cells that we still do not know. I suspect that if anything more is discovered regarding the creation of matter, it will open up new questions that will yield even more questions. There was also the problem regarding, “Where did life come from?” Bill Nye conceded that he does not know the answer to this and that it is a great mystery. This was probably the weakest point of the debate for Mr. Nye because it validated Ken Ham’s claim that there are certain abstract concepts, like information, logic, and consciousness that have no material basis from which they can evolve. Why and how could something inanimate all of a sudden become a living creature? Mr. Ham asserted that there is a book out there, called the Bible, which answers these questions.

Wouldn’t you think that a worldly person would welcome the possibility that there is something more to life? Is it not worth it to entertain the possibility that there is something to look forward to after death? Shouldn’t it be comforting that many intelligent people actually espouse such a worldview? If you answered “yes,” you are mistaken, because the person who rejects God has been sent a strong delusion (2 Thessalonians 2:11). This delusion is defined by the futility of Ecclesiastes where the only comfort to the toils of this world is death. In a similar fashion as Solomon, Bill Nye realized that he can find some consolation in embracing his life’s work, which he expressed in terms of discovery (Ecclesiastes 3:22). Unfortunately for Nye, he rejects Solomon’s wisdom by rejecting the other half of the equation that leads to a fulfilling life. This missing variable is nothing less than embracing the Creator (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13-14). Because of this, Nye does not see John 3:16 as good news, but as bad news. To his secular ears, John 3:16 expresses bigotry and exclusivism. But in his spirit, he knows that it spells out his condemnation as one who does not believe the Gospel.

Sure, most people’s minds were already made up before the debate. If anyone out there is like me, I was looking for a competition that would satisfy me more than the Super Bowl did this past Sunday. Mission accomplished. In fairness creationists, on the whole, were as satisfied with Ham as secularists were with Nye; commending, applauding, cheering, and thus is displayed the divide between believer and non-believer. Aside from this reality, some people’s minds were changed. But let’s say a person was convinced that Nye was correct. What would be gained with such a victory? It would only result in one more person to lament the futility of life. As Solomon wrote (minus God), “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from the dust, and to dust all return” (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20). But what if a person accepted the Gospel that Ken Ham presented? For each new convert, we have snatched a person from the flames of hell, provided purpose for their lives, and have gained a brother or sister; for the Bible tells us that there is much rejoicing in heaven when even one person, who was lost, becomes found (Luke 15:10).

This is what the whole debate has boiled down to: an open discussion has been established. The fears of the atheists who opposed Nye’s decision to debate Ham have been validated. It is possible, and very likely, that there will be more open discussion between atheists and creationists if for nothing else, to at least determine who won this past debate. Although it is possible that public schools will discuss the debate, I don’t know that much will come of it in a political sense. Odds are evolution will still be the only acceptable explanation for origins allowed in the science classroom, but who knows what backlash this debate might bring? Maybe students will finally start thinking outside of the box of the public school system. Maybe they will investigate Ken Ham’s claims for a young earth and the authority of the Bible. For better or worse, Bill Nye may have opened up a Pandora’s Box of creationism that will wreak havoc on the currently accepted scientific model.

Bill Seng is the author of the book “The World That Then Was


Myron Shank, M.D., Ph.D. said...

Bill Nye denies the possibility of a creatinonist scientist, because he insists that science and creationism are antithetical. Absurdly, he denies even the possibility of technological advances by creationists.

It should be remembered that "the Science Guy" is not a scientist, by any stretch of the imagination. His Ph.D.'s are honorary (not worth the paper they are printed on), and he has never published a single scientific paper.

Since I have only been able to watch small portions of the "debate," I have no opinion on the "winner," but I do have an opinion that the evidence will not be affected, in the least, by its outcome!