Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

I was asked about my response to the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. I will admit I had mixed feelings about the debate which apparently is what most of the web felt. You have some that loved it, some that hated it and many that were ambivalent about it.

My initial response was wow, what a setup. It was an elaborate stage with a wonderful technology and a professional setup. But looks aren’t everything…

My response quickly changed to one of disappointment.  A definition of a debate is “a structured argument.  Two sides speak alternately for and against a particular contention usually based on a topical issue.” The topic at hand was “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Neither side seemed to focus on the topic. And while the debate seemed structured, the arguments were not.

Mr. Ham started in a good way by putting forth a definition of the term “science”. He posited two kinds of science, observational and historical.  Observational is the current method of exploring the universe. Historical then takes the observational and extrapolates it back to origins. He continued by speaking of secularists hijacking the word “science”. They define science as naturalism and outlaw the supernatural. Ham then defined “origins” as creation vs. evolution. And that was what the debate was really about.

Mr. Nye opened with a story about his family and bowties.  Entertaining but completely unrelated to the topic.  Then he brought up science as shown on the popular TV show, CSI, an entertaining show, but with little to do with real-world science. He continued with a series of disjointed statements about the flood and billions of non-Christian’s religious beliefs about creation. This debate quickly became unstructured.

What followed were both sides giving good decent presentations of their particular model of origins.

Mr. Ham had the more cohesive presentation.  He started with the need for defining science and evolution and stayed with that mostly.  He strayed a bit with questions to Mr. Nye about where naturalism gets logic, and which technology requires a naturalist belief. He came back around to his two kinds of science argument from his opening. Then he focused on “evolution” as another hijacked word.  The definition of evolution has changed over the years. He finished by stating that naturalism and evolution are just another type of religious worldview. In the middle, he had teasers of evidence of creation origins (see his website for more information).

Mr. Nye’s presentation was at best disjointed and, at worst, very confusing.  Even when he had valid scientific points, he put them together in an awkward way. His arguments centered on the short time frame in the creation model. He went from layers of ice to tree rings to number of species to working at Boeing to large boulders lying around the state of Washington. This jumping from point to point was hard to follow.  Then he talked about how Noah’s ark wouldn’t work and they wouldn’t be able to feed the animals based on the National Zoo which was imaged from a satellite in space which would baffle his grandfather (more head scratching). If you could hang with his line of thought, there were some evidences given that should be considered as one has time.

Now to be fair, this is a very difficult topic to debate.  There are a lot of complexities involved with origins that can’t be explained adequately in one or two hours. That is why many people think it is a waste of time trying to debate topics of creation/evolution.

You see, creation as defined by Ken Ham has the earth created in 6 literal 24-hour days about 6000 years ago with God guiding the entire process. Bill Nye defines origins as about 4.5 billion years ago with evolution guiding allowing life’s changes from slime to humans (and everything else alive today).

Let’s just look at the timing.  How long is 6000 seconds?  If you do the math, 60 seconds per minute and 60 minutes per hour you get just under two hours (actually 1.667 hours).

Now how long is 4.5 billion seconds? Continuing with the math, it comes out to be just under 143 years.  This is the difference you’re trying to make scientists believe.

Two hours compared to 143 years.

If I hold to the young earth model, I cannot even come close to discussing spiritual needs and how God’s love works with most scientists. The young earth model becomes a stumbling block for them hearing the gospel. So in my circle, I steer towards spiritual discussions and the gospel rather than origin debates.

dsb

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David Brooks

Associate Professor of Biology & Nursing at East Texas Baptist University

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3 thoughts on “Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

  1. As simple as it may sound, your explanation that we are talking in terms of two hours compared to 143 years is helpful to me in understanding the chasm between the two theories. Granted, 6,000 vs 4.5 billion should have the same weight, but your bringing it down to hours and years somehow makes it even clearer. Thanks for the input. (Glad I suggested it) :)

  2. This is a very interesting approach to the ongoing discussion, David! I would really like to read more about your take on it! Have you written more about this elsewhere? Your ending point about the stumbling block is great, also! Something for all of us to seriously consider! Thanks for making me think!

  3. Pingback: Biblical Creationism |

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