My apologies, as I’d meant to publicize the Ken Ham – Bill Nye debate on this blog but got wrapped up in other things and didn’t get to post the past couple days. The family did, however, make time to watch it live. You can still see the whole event here.
As a former competitive debater, it was difficult to be a mere observer — a part of me wanted in the ring. That said, here are some impressions:
The long-form opening presentations were much more informative/effective than the multiple shorter rebuttals. I thought Ham’s opening was more traditionally methodical on definitions and premises, but it had to be, since Nye could assume audience understanding of what is now the prevalent naturalistic worldview. This was where I thought Ham was most effective, exposing some of the hidden assumptions people now accept without questioning the underlying chain of logic (or lack thereof). Ham’s overall performance would have been even stronger had he continued to hammer at this aspect.
Both presenters became more scatter-shot as time went on, jumping from point to point instead of fully exploring what had already been introduced. I’m probably more annoyed by such because I’m used to the tournament rules where “you can’t introduce a new argument in rebuttal.” That this wasn’t followed allowed Nye to take the traditional atheist approach of constantly shifting ground in order not to be pinned on a particular point.
Mr Ham’s opening presentation was on the debate resolution, whereas Nye’s approach throughout was increasingly to make the question one of why people should accept Ham as an authority. Had I been Mr Ham, I would at some point have noted this scoffing ad hominem by saying “you keep asking why people should accept my interpretation of things, with the implication I am a radical cultist or some such. But creation is not my theory or invention; it is God’s Word, the authority of which I accept and which many people have accepted over centuries — including the scientists I’ve noted today. Part of the reason I accept it is that the account it records explains the world around us, from the majesty of creation to the frustration of sin and tragedy and the hope in something larger than this earthly existence. I admit this as the starting point of my worldview — my assumption, if you will. We all have these. You, on the other hand, actively exclude any role of a Creator in creation, assuming a self-existent universe that in the words of your mentor, Carl Sagan, is “all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Those words are a religious worldview of secular atheism, no more falsifiable by observational science than my own belief in the authority of Scripture. So on what basis are you asking us to accept your personal choice of a starting assumption that there is no God?
That would have been an interesting turn to the discussion, I think.
I also think Ham should have pointed out Nye’s dismissal, without discussion, of the distinction between observational and historical science. Nye kept asking Ham what predictive models creationism could offer that could be tested. All Ham had to say is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death,” then ask Nye to point out any demonstrable examples of one “kind” of animal becoming another, as macroevolutionary theory demands. While Ham did point out more than once that mutations involve a loss of information or a switching on/off of existing genetic info, I’d wager most of the audience lost the point that evolution is falsifiable because there are no examples of mutations ADDING genetic information in the way “molecules to man” would demand. Asking Nye to provide such an example could have been telling.
There was much to appreciate about the event (to include the fact my three kids willingly watched the entire thing and even had comments afterwards!), and much I would have liked to have seen gone differently. It goes without saying that it’s easier to be a commentator and Monday-morning quarterback than a participant, so I tip my hat to both men for getting in the arena for an event that devoted a worthy amount of time (2.5 hours!) to the topic. In the end, I was humbled to watch a Biblical worldview explained clearly to a very large potential audience. It is my prayer that this will challenge people to earnestly seek after truth, because I know to Whom such an honest search leads. Any of us who seek to testify to the truth are merely flawed vessels being used by a Holy God. So I thank Mr Ham and his AiG team for the obvious preparation and prayer they put into this opportunity to present what Scripture has to say.
May it generate more such opportunities!