So, in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated Creationism vs Evolutionism at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
I was a little curious about it – but mostly I tuned in because I rarely miss the opportunity to hear an Aussie talk. And let’s face it. There aren’t that many non-liberal Aussies…
Before I start on my opinion of the debate, in the interest of full disclosure, let me just say – I tend to shy away from such topics. I never miss an opportunity to *not* discuss religion on the internet. Aside from “I’m a Christian and believe the Bible”, I don’t discuss my personal beliefs. The fundamental stuff, (homosexuality, lying, cheating, modest clothing, etc etc etc.) No problem. Stuff that is not black and white amongst Christians of various denominations, (how baptisms should be performed, certain aspects of the Garden of Eden). Nuh-uh. The internet, in my experience, just isn’t a conducive environment for Biblical debates. I’ve seen it stumble those who observe such a debate, and that’s just not a good thing.
In the interest of length, I’m covering win/lose over all. I’ll be doing a follow up post to discuss my opinions of their individual talking points.
First, I’ll summarize their talking points for those who didn’t watch or watch that closely. (which is long, sorry, if you watched, feel free to skip the summary) Then I’m just going to lay it out the same way it pops in my head. So… Godspeed. lol
The question being asked, and debated, was, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”
Ham walked to the podium to begin his 5 minute opening. He gave a small, but noticeable pause, and began explaining the differences in Historical or Experimental Science – what we learn based on clues – and Observational Science – what we can see and observe. He quoted John 3:16 and asserted that both Historical and Observational Sciences support creationism.
Nye walked to the podium, counted the number of bow ties in the audience, told a story/joke, talked about TV shows that use science, and stated his concern that the billions of religious people that are willing to acknowledge the differences in Observational Science and Historical Science will be harmful to America – the leader in Science.
Then the 30 minute presentation began. I’ll be honest. The 30 minute presentations were most exciting to me. I wanted to hear what Ham would use to support his belief in the Scriptures. I wanted to hear Nye give an explanation of why evolutionists believe evolution. What were either of their points based on?
Again, Ham walked to the podium, gave a small pause and then began his presentation. He talked about how creationist could also be scientists and had a few of them speak – via videotaped interviews. Raymond Damadian, Danny Faulkner and Stuart Burgess – even Bill Nye.
Damadian talked about his beliefs and explained about how he invented the MRI. Faulkner stated his credentials and then explained there was nothing in astronomy that contradicts creation. Burgess, who invented a satellite arm of some sort, stated many of his colleagues believe Science supports creation but fear speaking up because of criticism from atheist scientists and the media.
The video with Bill Nye showed Nye talking to Larry King explaining that the same religious people who won’t accept evolution do accept antibiotics, use airplanes, computers, etc.
To support his original statement of there being two types of sciences, he showed how textbooks state there are two types of sciences. What they can observe and prove and how they use that to make decisions about the past.
Ham acknowledged that their was no ‘proof’ that supported either claim because they were both using the same information, just interpreted differently. But he showed the evidences he based his beliefs on. Those evidences came from both Science and the Word.
Darwin, Ham asserted, even interpreted data because in a diagram shown, Darwin wrote “I think” at the top. He offered further support of that claim with a quote by Darwin, “Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.”
He explained the “Creation Orchard” and how it is similar to the “Evolutionary Tree” that Darwin illustrated. The “Creation Orchard” shows the same tree, many times over. One for each kind of animal. This, according to Ham, explained how all species of dogs ‘evolved’ from a dog – but not something else altogether – which genome sequencing confirms.
He talked about the Human Genome project attempting to determine how many different races there were. Darwin claimed there were multiple races and that some races were better than others – with Caucasians being the supreme race. The Human Genome project discovered that multiple races do not exist. There is one race, the human race.
He explained that there were claims the Bible made that could be supported by Scientific data. The fact that the Human Genome project confirmed we were one race supports the Biblical view that we were all descended from the same two people.
From there, Ham got a little off topic when discussing public school systems and religious liberties. While I didn’t mind it and appreciated the information, I felt it wasn’t really on topic.
But then he came back to it. He wrapped up and, as he left the podium, the moderator asked the crowd to applaud.
Then, Bill Nye went to the podium and began his presentation by discussing the many layers of fossil filled rocks there were in Kentucky and how those layers had to have more than 4000 years to form.
He talked about how long ice rods known as ‘Snow Ice’ takes to form and a 950,000 year old tree.
Nye showed a chart of various skulls, stating that none of them were gorillas and asked if Ham were correct, where in the chart would he put modern humans. He talked about the number of species, bacteria, and germs there were in existence and pointed out those are just the ones we know of because there were species in the Rainforest not yet discovered.
Nye then shared when worked for Boeing he helped on 747s stating “There’s a hydraulic resonance suppressor ‘Quinke’ tube on the 747 horizontal stabilizer drive system that I like to think of as my tube,” and then discussed the rocks on top of the ground where a lake once sat. A lake known as ‘Lake Missoula’. He interrupted his momentum shouting, “Oh, just let me say Go Seahawks!” and then asked how the rocks could be there after only 4,000 years.
He compared the Ark to the Wyoming. He said it wasn’t believable that Noah, an unskilled builder, build a boat that would hold up when the Wyoming, which was smaller than the ark and build by skilled builders, was smaller and fell apart. He explained the impossibility that 8 zookeepers could maintain the 7,000 animals on the Ark when the National Zoo keeps 400 species on 163 acres.
He taught about the mating habits of Topminnows and how they produce less germs in the gut when they reproduce sexually instead of asexually. He pointed out that it wasn’t lions, tigers and bears that would ‘get you’ it was germs.
Nye then put up a picture of a sign from a church in Danville, VA that said “Big Bang? You’ve got to be kidding me, God.” and how that proves that people believe in the Big Bang. He explained that the constant moving apart of the stars is why those in the outside world believe in the Big Bang and that “Conventional Science” was a whole other way to listen to space.
He talked about how heart conditions were once treated through surgery, but are now treated without surgery because of the discovery of rhodium in the remains of Mount Saint Helens ash and in the interest of full disclosure, informed everyone he was on the Mount Saint Helens Institute Board of Directors.
Nye then interrupted himself to make an aside on the fact that there is no place in the state of Kentucky that you can acquire a degree in nuclear medicine and how it was troubling that KY residents would have to leave the state in order to obtain a degree in nuclear science.
He continued on to explained how they measure how far away the stars are from earth, and each other, and asked how billions of stars could be more than 4000 light years away.
He stated Ham’s proposal was untrue and ended with a plea for the residents of Kentucky to elect officials that would offer more science programs in the state. The crowd immediately began to applaud.
*End of Summary*
Ham’s presentation was well thought out and informative. It was also organized and you could see there was a clear point he was trying to make. He did stray, in my opinion, off topic a couple of times, but mostly he was on topic. He set out to explain why creationism can be valid and provided all the reasons he thought so. On the downside, he quoted Scripture about Salvation more than once. Some may not see that as a bad thing, but I think bringing Scripture about Salvation into it only pushes those who don’t believe further away.
Nye’s presentation was informative and interesting. It was also choppy, on and off topic, not very well organized and the point was in and out of focus many times. His focus was on disproving the age of the earth more so than creation. It was like he was using the age of a tree to disprove how the apples grew on it.
If I were a new being, just showed up here with no information on science, God, creation or evolution – completely slate free – I may not have understood everything Ham explained, but at least it was on topic and presented in an order that could be followed. If needed, I could go back over his notes and statements and research more of what he said. He cited other scientists and gave references. He seemed genuinely interested in explaining and teaching something he believes in.
As that same new being, Nye’s explanation would have confused me because it was all over the place. He stated what science knew, but not how it knew. He didn’t stay on topic. He was refuting the earth’s age, not creation and appeared to be there for no other reason than to boast about his accomplishments and insult creationists.
Based solely on the information they gave, who won?
I don’t know. Based on polls, Nye won. (Though, voters didn’t have to show an ID to vote, so it may not be accurate…) In my opinion, in order to find who actually won, you’d have to find the people who changed the belief they held before the debate to their once opposing belief and count them up.
And well, I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’re going to find any. I think the debate only solidified what each already believed and based solely on the information given by each, no one won.
Who won based on basic dos and don’ts of debate? Ham did. He spanked Nye big time. Hands down.
Over the course of the debate, Nye committed several logical fallacies, went off topic (many times) to congratulate the Seahawks, boast about his accomplishments and point out the inadequacies of Kentucky’s scientific programs – or lack thereof. He would not acknowledge Ham, or other scientists who believe in creation, as ‘scientists’. He referred to them as “Ham and his colleagues” or “Ham and his followers”. It was clear Nye didn’t consider Ham a colleague.
And here’s the thing… Nye presented all this data, facts and evidence as absolutes. He maintained that Creationism wasn’t correct because carbon dating, fossil records, elements, processes, etc. prove the age of the earth older than the account in the Bible.
Then he said something that, I feel any rational human being would realize, undermined every piece of evidence he’d just shared. (Sadly there just aren’t that many rational human beings…)
“For us, in the scientific community, I remind you, that when we find an idea that’s not tenable, it doesn’t work, … We throw it away. We’re delighted. That’s why I say, if you can find a fossil that has swum between the layers, bring it on. You would change the world.”
Wait. Did he just say if someone discovered new information, that would change the information he has?
Yeah. He did.
Not only did he surmise Creation Scientists weren’t a part of the scientific community, he admitted that all this information, facts and evidences he’d spent the last half hour presenting to us, were *not* absolutes. When he inferred information could and would change – if new evidence was ever found… Every bit of ‘evidence’ he presented was no longer fact. No longer absolutes. He admits they’re assumptions based on the information we have at our disposal NOW.
See, that’s a big problem for me. And it should be for you too…
Humor me a little bit… Let’s say it’s 1932 and Ernest Rutherford made the statement that the atom was not the absolute smallest unit an element could ever be because he believed it could be broken down further. Well, some other scientist, we’ll call Joe Smith, got wind of this statement and called it poppycock. Smith would maintain the atom was the absolute smallest because of all the evidence stating so (Which is true, they did think that at the time.) and because some scientists had already tried to split the atom and failed.
So, a debate is arranged. They each come and present their sides and why they believe what they believe. Each having different and some of the same proof. The people watching the debate left believing whoever they felt made the best case.
Then the next day… some students, working under Rutherford, split the atom showing that protons, neurons and electrons are the smallest unit of an element.
Uh oh! Now what?
Well, the night before, in that moment, Smith was right. The atom was the smallest unit an element could be. But ultimately, he was wrong.
It doesn’t matter how much proof you have when you admit your proof is evidence that could change from one day to the next, your proof no longer has weight. It is no longer absolute. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying, as Nye seems to think, that I don’t believe in Science. I do believe in Science. But Science is fallible. Right now, today, maybe Bill Nye’s information and evidences are right. But ultimately, he could be wrong – and I believe he is.
Call Christians kooky if you’d like, but at least they’re consistent in their beliefs. We choose to put our trust and faith in God, not man. It’s been hundreds/thousands/millions/billions of years (whichever makes you comfortable), and we’ve maintained our belief in creation. That belief doesn’t change every time the wind blows some of this so called ‘evidence’ in front of us.
God doesn’t fail.
Scientists fail daily.
God doesn’t change.
What we know about science is ever changing.
God never lies and is trustworthy.
Because Scientists’ understanding is ever changing, how can it be trusted?
People seem to want to *see* proof. In order to believe in God, they want something tangible that proves to them that God is real.
See, what it boils down to is faith. Do you put your faith in an omnipotent Creator or do you put it in the limitations of man?
For me, the complexity of the human eye and how no two sets are the same, or how the distance between planets double as you go further out into the galaxy, the amazing way Fibonacci numbers are found in all of nature, how no two strands of DNA or fingerprints are the same… I look at those things and know that some higher power had a hand in it.
Having faith in a Creator making all these things so perfectly, that’s not hard to do. Believing that all this perfection was some cosmic accident emerging from some primordial goo… Well, Brother, I don’t have enough faith to believe in that…