The 'Science Guy' and the Creationist

The Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate over evolution was less than a triumph for the creationist view.

By Alan Rudnick

What do you get when you put a children’s-educational-scientist-teacher with a Bible-believing-Christian-creationist?

Lots of confused adults.

I just finished watching the almost three-hour debate between humanist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham and I’m truly confused. I’m confused not because of the content, but how a Christian answered and responded in a formal debate.

Bill Nye (B.S. degree in engineering) and Ken Ham (B.A.S., applied science) decided to meet in a debate format in Kentucky to discuss the merits of each of their positions. Except Ham seemed to follow an illogical process for his argument, which relied on a handful of scientists and his website. Nye, on the other hand, relied on a body of evidence and scientific method that is affirmed by both secular and Christian scientists.

What was clear from this debate is that Ham gave a poor argument for a creationist theory of the formation of the earth. Creationists believe in the creation of the Earth that occurred over a period of six days. Nye countered that the earth is much older and we know that through carbon dating and stellar age estimation. Ham tried to discredit dating methods as conflicted evidence. Even if you discount carbon dating, Nye used examples of dating by core samples and tree rings.

How did the rest of the debate go?

Ham often had trouble answering direct questions. Nye answered questions directly. Ham danced around direct questions such as, "Is the Bible 100 percent literal?" without giving an answer. In another question-and-answer section, the following was posed: What would change your mind on your position? Ham deflected the question. However, Nye admitted that more compelling proof would change his mind. At least Nye was willing to consider he could be wrong.

To discredit an old earth belief, Ham took specific examples of the science community reversing itself as proof that secular science cannot be trusted. In reality, those examples were isolated situations. Perhaps what was most troubling was Ham’s claim that this creationist vs. scientific communities is about a greater agenda of secular science trying to change Christian belief and authority or morality. Ham claimed that there is secular agenda over the minds of our children. What nonsense!

Regrettably, Ham had to keep referring to his website for more information. Is this a debate or a plug for page clicks? Also, Ham explained larger scientific concepts with thin theological ideas that were taken out of context. Perhaps Nye’s most compelling argument in reply to Ham was:

“I just want to remind us all there are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion. But these same people do not embrace the extraordinary view that the Earth is somehow only 6,000 years old.”

I was embarrassed to watch Ham cherry-pick scientific methods, selectively use logic, present weak rebuttals to reasonable observation and choose not to respond to direct questions. Since all truth is God’s truth, it is perfectly acceptable to believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. It’s reasonable to believe that the Genesis account is not literal because the measure of a 24-hour “day” was not created till day two. It’s also reasonable to believe that God did not suspend the laws of gravity, matter and nature to make it look like the earth was millions of years old, when in fact it is really 6,000 years old. At the same time, I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. My faith is not threatened by evolution.

There are other methods to defend an alternative belief, but Ken Ham did not present his argument well. When we Christians enter into serious discussion, we must present the best of our critical thinking. If you are going to treat the Bible as a science book, then you have to play by the laws of science and not create your own.

In the end, the Bible explains the “why” of creation and science explains the “how.”

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.