I was finally able to finish watching the debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham the Creationist Man, which aired live Tuesday night, and can be viewed here. Ken Ham won. Period. No two ways about it. He was the clear winner of that debate. It really wasn't even close.
Now, you're going to say, "Well, yeah, you're a pastor, who believes in the Biblical account of Creation, so of course you're going to declare your guy the winner. You're biased!"
True. I will not even attempt to deny that. I do believe in the Biblical account of Creation. I believe what God reveals to us in Genesis. I am a young-earth Creationist. So, yes, I am biased.
But, even though you won't believe me, that's not why I'm declaring Ken Ham the clear and decisive winner of the debate. In fact, I don't think he proved his position anymore than Bill Nye proved his, which is understandable, since neither can actually prove his position. I doubt that Mr. Ham changed a lot of minds. At best, he simply held his ground and presented his case. So did Bill Nye. The debate itself was a little disappointing, since it wasn't really a debate, but a mere presentation of positions that are already well known. I would have liked to have seen the two men actually debate one another in a back-and-forth series of questions and answers to one another, which would have been far more interesting.
Even so, Ken Ham won. Period. No two ways about it.
1) Mr. Ham knows Mr. Nye's position. He has studied it for years. He knows the ins and outs of the theory of Evolution, where it came from, how it's changed over the years, what's happening now in the secular scientific community, and so on. He is a scientist himself. He knows what Mr. Nye believes, where he's coming from, and why he argues what he argues.
Mr. Nye, on the other hand, showed very clearly during the debate that he hasn't the first clue what Mr. Ham's position actually is, what he believes, where he's coming from, or why he argues what he argues. Further, he doesn't appear to have the first inkling of interest in learning any of that. He simply dismisses it all out of hand as unreasonable and ignorant, which is par-for-the-course within the secular scientific community today, along with its devoted followers in the liberal media, most of whom couldn't give you a summary overview of what the theory of Evolution actually entails, but never tire of insisting that anyone who doesn't accept it as fact is ignorant and/or insane.
That reason alone is enough to declare Mr. Ham the winner. You cannot honestly engage in actual debate with a person whose position you don't know, and don't even care to learn. But, that's precisely what Mr. Nye tried to do.
To his credit, he readily admitted, "I'm no theologian," although making that admission was wholly unnecessary, since it was made painfully obvious every time he opened his mouth about anything Biblical or theological. He kept repeating, as a sort of mantra, "the bible as translated into American English over thirty centuries," evidently believing this to be the spurious and ridiculous basis upon which believers like Mr. Ham base their beliefs. In fact, at one point, he even referenced the old game "Telephone" to poke fun of those who believe in "the bible as translated into American English over thirty centuries," which only really served to poke major fun at himself, since it showed his utter ignorance regarding the mountains of manuscript evidence we have for the Bible, as well as the scientific process involved in producing a Bible today that is extraordinarily accurate (does Mr. Nye not understand that we possess thousands of manuscripts written in the original languages?). His suggestion that Mr. Ham and other believers are trusting a book that has gone through translation after translation after translation, so that, like in the game "Telephone," the message has been altered and changed and is no longer reliable, is something he could have easily avoided had he spent just a wee bit of time researching this before the debate. As it is, he sounded like a pimply-faced teenaged atheist with a blog. It was less than sophomoric.
The same is true of other statements he made, like when he claimed that referencing the New Testament was "out of the box," since the Creationist position is "based on the Old Testament," further showing his utter ignorance about the Bible. Or like when he asked Mr. Ham if the fish and other animals sinned, since the fossil record shows evidence that some were afflicted with disease and so forth, clearly revealing that he hasn't the first clue regarding the Christian doctrine of the Fall, as recorded in Scripture. Or like when he compared Mr. Ham's recognition that the Bible contains different genres of literature (narrative prose, poetry, prophecy, etc.) to "picking and choosing which parts of the bible to take literally," which doesn't really show a further ignorance of the Bible, but an ignorance of language itself. It was all rather embarrassing.
In short, what I witnessed in Mr. Nye during this debate was a man completely disinterested in trying to even begin the process of learning where a person like Mr. Ham is coming from, why he believes what he believes and argues what he argues. It seemed like his sole purpose for participating in the debate was to try to highlight how ignorant he believes people like Mr. Ham are, and how dangerous it would be for our country if we didn't abandon wholesale the Creation model espoused by him. Indeed, he kept repeating how voters and citizens in Kentucky and around the country needed to recognize that America would fall behind economically and lose its ranking as a world power if it didn't do so (yeah, he said that - many times!), but it was an epic fail, for the only thing he really accomplished was further proving that secular scientists like him haven't the first clue what Creationists actually believe and, again, aren't the least bit interested in learning what they believe.
2) Mr. Ham readily admitted several times that he cannot prove his position regarding the origin of the universe. Mr. Nye, not so much. There were a couple of occasions where Mr. Nye admitted that he didn't know something. When asked where the atoms came from that caused the Big Bang, or where consciousness comes from, he said he didn't know, giving the impression that he believes science will one day reveal those answers to us. But, as far as everything having to do with the modern incarnation of the theory of Evolution, he gave the impression throughout the debate that it's all based on scientific fact.
Mr. Ham pushed the point that there is a difference between observational science done in the present and historical science dealing with the past, but Mr. Nye refused to differentiate between the two. For him, science is science. What we observe today tells us everything we need to know about the past - well, everything but where the atoms came from that caused the Big Bang and where consciousness comes from. But, we can confidently date the age of the earth, know with certainty that all life evolved from some primordial form, and so forth. It's all so neat and clean and factual. Except, it's not.
There are plenty of secular scientists who believe wholeheartedly in the theory of Evolution, but who readily admit that it's not actually verifiable and provable. In fact, most of them would readily admit that. If they're actual scientists - real, true-blue scientists - they must admit that. And, most do. But, you don't hear about them. They're unnamed. They remain behind the scenes, since they don't write books claiming that anyone who doesn't believe as they do are ignorant and not worthy of attention. They don't appear on television shows pushing political agendas and attacking the beliefs of others regarding the origin of the universe. They're not the Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye types. They're honest scientists, who recognize that science has its limits when it comes to answering questions regarding the origin of the universe. So, they postulate, guess, estimate, and theorize, based on what can be scientifically observed, but they go no further than that in their conclusions. That's not to say that they're not convinced of their conclusions. They are. They would vehemently disagree with Mr. Ham that present-day observational science cannot be extrapolated to explain the past. They would vehemently disagree with Mr. Ham that many of the dating methods they use are unreliable. They would posit confidently that the evidence suggests that the universe is billions of years old, and so forth, but, in the end, they would acknowledge that they cannot prove that their extrapolated conclusions are facts, since, well, they're not facts. They're best guesses and theories and postulations based on multiple assumptions.
At the end of the day, that's the truth that is being ever more suppressed by the public face of the secular scientific community, supported as they are by the liberal media. The theory of Evolution is no longer presented as a theory, but as established fact, and if you're not hip to jump on that bandwagon, you're a problem.
So, Mr. Ham won. Not because he put forth more convincing arguments (even though I think he did). Not because he believes what I believe. Not because he did a better job at presenting his position. Not because he tore apart Mr. Nye's arguments (there were many times when I was hoping he would challenge Mr. Nye regarding his obvious ignorance of the Bible, theology, and the actual position of Creationists, but he seemed content to stick pretty close to the vest and simply present his case). Not because he was more engaging with the audience (I actually think Mr. Nye was more engaging). But, solely because he knew his opponent's position and was honest about not being able to prove his own, in direct contrast to his opponent, which would have been blatantly obvious to anyone familiar with both sides of the debate.
All of that said, I do think Mr. Ham stumbled a bit during the questions from the audience part at the end, especially when asked, "What, if anything, would ever change your mind?" He answered that by saying that he's a Christian and that no one is ever going to convince him that the Word of God is wrong. In his defense, that is an answer to the question, since it included, "if anything." His answer was basically that there isn't anything that would change his mind. Fine. But, as I listened to this, I couldn't help but think that this would have been the perfect time to say, "Show me Jesus' remains. That would change my mind. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, my faith is futile" (1 Cor. 15:12-34). It was the perfect time to launch into the best historical defense we have for our Christian faith - the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ - and to challenge Mr. Nye about it.
It was a missed opportunity, which was made even more evident when Mr. Nye answered the question masterfully and without hesitation, citing a litany of things that would change him immediately if evidence was provided, and then challenged Mr. Ham to tell him what he can prove. I think it was both Mr. Ham's worst moment and Mr. Nye's best moments of the night.
Oh well. Can't win 'em all, and it's easy to play Thursday morning quarterback, I suppose. But, it doesn't change the fact that Ken Ham won. Period. No two ways about it.
Unless you ask Lawrence O'Donnell over at MSNBC, who not only thought Bill Nye was the decisive victor, but was absolutely baffled as to how he kept his composure in the presence of someone as ignorant as Ken Ham:
Of course, Mr. O'Donnell knows even less than Mr. Nye does about the Bible, Christian theology, and the actual position of Creationists like Mr. Ham. That, and he probably couldn't pass a junior high quiz on the theory of Evolution. So, I'm thinking he might not be the best judge of things here.
A while back, I had a family member ask me why I had so many Evolution textbooks on my bookshelf in my home study. My answer was that I cannot intelligently speak against something that I don't understand, so I've spent time reading and studying what Evolutionists believe over the years, and still do. Had I seen this debate prior to being asked that question, my response would have been, "I don't want to be like Bill Nye."
You wrote about Mr. Ham: " He is a scientist himself." This is not true - he is an evangelist, with a BS in Applied Science (equivalent to Engineering in the US).
Dear Pr. Messer,
Thank you for this article. But, I have to disagree on a point you make. I don't think Mr. Ham won the debate. The premise of the debate was whether or not Creationism is a viable model of origins. I don't there is any possible way to "win" a debate where the very premise of it implies that creationism, in order to be "viable," must be testable and falsifiable.
From the very opening of the debate Mr. Ham went into Fundamentalist "Chick Tract" mode of discourse. He was trying to win a debate within the realm of natural reason through appeal to understanding the Scriptures, which is revelatory truth. I may be wrong, but I don't think rationalists and secularists are terribly interested in appeals to revelatory truth in development of a model for the origins of the universe.
I don't think Mr. Ham won. I think Nye made Mr. Ham look like a redneck bible thumper, ignorant of modern day science. Of course, that isn't true, but as I sat and watched the debate, I knew that all my old pagan friends were probably laughing at Mr. Ham, since they are secularists who rule out any appeals to the supernatural in explanations for the origins of the universe.
I would have liked to see Mr. Ham stick it out with arguments from natural reason like we see with the Intelligent Design guys. There are so many reasons why the neo-Darwinism of Nye fails where I don't think Mr. Ham would have even needed to bother with a 4k year old earth argument.
Thanks for reading and blessings to you! :)
Lucretius argued, in Latin, for the "reality" of evolution -- with no greater convincing evidence (or "proof") than has the "Science Guy," at his disposal. I presume Darwin knew of the Roman's meanderings, which may well have suffered some two thousand years or so of Victorian English, "Telegraph" distortion.
Lucretius huffed and puffed and postulated from appearasnces, however ... which throws the "Inteiliigent Design" cabal uncomfortably and perilously close in intellectual kinship, with the incorrigible pagan lyricist.
In the end, dear Lutheran, FAITH is the evidence of things not seen, not a calculus of complexities or statistical odds-making ... and truth is, neither Bill Nye or Jim Pierce were around to eye-ball the Word at work ... the precious Word, by Whom all things were made. NONE of the aforementioned gentlemen were around to witness the Creation's instant. That includes Mr. Hubble, or at least his telescope, that thing out there reaching back into time (supposedly).
The written Word's purpose is not to provide us with a textbook of mechanics or biology, but to point to the Word Incarnate. The blessed Creation account does just that, and gloriously so (as does all of Scripture) ... if you have the ears to hear, and the eyes to see. What the fundamentally flawed, 3000 years of cerebral deductions by the likes of Messrs. Lucretius, Darwin, Teilhard and Nye are, should matter but little to us in whom Christ tabernacles ... except for the sake of personal amusement, perhaps ... which venue of hilarity far exceeds that of bungee-cord jumping by a mile, or however deep the Grand Canyon is. True examples of Baconian scientific rigor, the deuctions simply are not.
Based on their shared seriousness, I suspect that all the overly strained-thinking "Intelligent Design" guys wear bow-ties, in cahoots with Mr. Nye ... which occurrence, if it be true, is a grievous slight to a much-loved personal affectation, along with pipe-smoking.
Rest assured fellow redeemed, that I do eschew the monocle, however.
Your (unworthy) servant,
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