THE DEBATE OVER ORIGINS: Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

The Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate conducted Feb. 4, 2014 at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, was anti-climactic at best.  Although the two men were evenly matched as to their general scientific knowledge, their lack of technical expertise in any specific scientific field was also glaringly evident.   Both men were able to argue various evolutionary or creationism viewpoints only up to the level of their understanding.  I doubt that either man would be considered qualified to teach science much beyond the high school level.  As a result, I suspect that very few who witnessed the event became better educated or were convinced to change their minds one way or the other.  In my opinion, the debate ended in a predictable draw.

View debate here.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/NGC_2023_-_Horsehead_Nebula_%28edit%29.jpg
Horse Head Nebula
NASA/Hubble image

That said, the debate did show that the argument over the two main theories of how the universe came into being, or one’s idea about the origin of everything, including life itself, depends largely on what sort of assumptions one is willing, or not willing, to make. Everyone starts out with a bias, or a particular pre-conceived world view.  Any real scientist should be open to allowing his/her worldview to be challenged, which is why such debates are to be encouraged.  Bill Nye demonstrated that he was open to debating the issue, which is more than could be said for most proponents of the evolutionary model.  The vast majority of evolution advocates refuse to participate in this type of discussion for the simple reason that they become frustrated by the inability to prove their own beloved theory.

We must keep in mind that to lend credence to a theory, or advance a theory beyond the realm of mere possibility, one must be able to demonstrate that it matches and explains the available evidence.  This is done by employing what has been described as the scientific method. The scientific method consists of systematic observation of one or more aspects of what we term “reality”.  The scientific method consists of measurement, experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. A hypothesis is nothing more than an explanation for a phenomenon. To be considered a “scientific hypothesis”, an explanation must be testable.  To become anything more than just a theory, the test results must be consistent, repeatable, and verifiable. Evolution simply does not rise above the level of hypothesis because it does not meet this strict scientific standard.  In other words, there is no verifiable proof that the theory of evolution is anything more than just a theory.

Mr. Ham pointed out the fact that two people may form a different hypothesis and/or draw vastly different conclusions after observing the exact same evidence.  Mr. Nye repeatedly pointed out that by employing the scientific method, one is able to make predictions, yet Nye failed to provide a single example where the employment of the scientific method has ever led to any indisputable proofs for evolution or provided any sort of a direct refutation of the creationist viewpoint.

Humility is the ability to admit that one doesn’t know all the answers.  Albert Einstein contended that all of mankind’s scientific knowledge is insignificant compared to reality!  Einstein accepted the fact that although man was an intelligent inquisitive creature, he was limited in his ability to understand the mysteries of the universe. Einstein declared that, “Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.”   This profound statement underscores the futility of conducting any serious debate on how the universe actually came into existence.  Einstein described his religion as consisting “of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”  If a great mind such as Einstein could not fathom the intricacies of reality, who are we to claim the ability to unlock the mysteries of God?

Many scientists in all fields of research continue to believe in special creation because they have, in fact, repeatedly employed the scientific method and found that the results continue to support the hypothesis of intelligent design, or special creation.  To his credit, Mr. Ham did mention the names of a few highly regarded experts in various fields, men and women who share the creationist viewpoint as a direct result of the conclusions they have reached after decades of intensive research in specific fields of scientific study.

The indisputable fact is that there are thousands of molecular chemists, particle physicists, quantum mechanics, micro-biologists, astronomers, advanced mathematicians, and other highly regarded scientists and engineers who continue to believe in special creation for the simple reason that in their opinion, it is the hypothesis that best fits the observable evidence.

The theory of evolution has been demonstrated to be full of holes, yet there is absolutely NOTHING in the observable universe that disproves special creation. On the contrary, the evidence that there is indeed a God, a non-created omni-potent supreme being who created everything observable, (and many things we cannot observe), including the all important and often overlooked dimension of time itself, is simply overwhelming.  Are the six days of creation as described in the opening chapter of Genesis to be taken literally?  Of course they are, but only with the understanding that man’s concept of time is limited by his own experience.  God alone, in his infinite wisdom, determines the length of a second, the movement and order of stars, and the number of heartbeats each of us is given.

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”   [2 Peter 3:8]

10 thoughts on “THE DEBATE OVER ORIGINS: Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

  1. Here’s how I see it: Time has been shown to be relative. Astronomers and quantum physicists have postulated that time is slowing down, has been since “the beginning”, doesn’t matter if you believe in a mindless “big bang” or in special creation. That means that time itself appears to be subject to the law of entropy (or the curse). This also means that one second, or one day, is not the same today as it was yesterday.

    If you believe in GOD, then you must believe what God says about Himself, specifically that HE is not bound by our concept of time, HE is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. Time is something HE created for His own purposes.

    If GOD is an infinite omnipotent being, HE exists both within, and without the dimension of time. HE DOES NOT REQUIRE TIME TO CREATE ANYTHING! When Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves, he did not require any time to do it, not 15 minutes, not two or three hours. He did it instantaneously, as HE saw fit according to HIS will, unrestricted by our own feeble concept of time. Likewise, when Jesus healed the sick, they were almost always healed instantaneously, with rare exception, sometimes requiring them to do something (within time) to demonstrate faith, again according to His own purpose.

    So the passage in 2 Peter, which I choose to end my rant, could just as easily read, “one second is with the Lord as a billion years…” etc. Arguing over how old the earth is, or how long it took GOD to accomplish Creation, is patently absurd, but that’s what they spent a lot of time on during this disappointing debate.

  2. Ruth

    Hi Steve,
    I thought the debate was very interesting and was not at all disappointed. The reason I wasn’t disappointed by any lack of technical expertise is because that wasn’t the criteria for success I was looking for. There was a predetermined boundary set for the debate as outlined briefly by moderator Tom Foreman (CNN). As stated by Foreman, the objective for the debate was to give each man the opportunity to answer the question:
    “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era? “
    As the debate progressed, it seemed obvious that a clearer way of expressing what the question was really asking would have been:

    “Should teaching the Biblical account of creation be permitted in today’s modern scientific era if it has not been scientifically verified by the “scientific” community?”

    Maybe whether or not the debate (as you stated) “ended in a predictable draw” depends on who’s doing the score keeping. I would venture to suggest that the One whose Word is so openly scorned by so many in today’s society ( including at least one of the participants in this debate) might have a different point of view. The Truth is always on the winning team.
    Although I’m thrilled when evidential discoveries are made that verify the historical, Biblical account of creation, and the flood, I’m more impressed when I witness someone who is not ashamed to admit that with or without scientific evidence as proof of the biblical account of creation – Almighty God and his Word are where it begins and ends. The final authority for sorting it out.

    “”Bill, I want to tell you, there is a book that tells where atoms come from, and its starts out, ‘In the beginning …,'” Ham said.

    One more thing. My reading of Genesis tells me God defined the parameters of the length of time he means by “day” when He was creating. The length of time that exists between evening and morning – sunset and sunrise. God is quoted as the speaker repeating this at least 6 times in the first chapter of Genesis.

    “God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Genesis 1:5
    “…the evening and the morning were the second day.“ Genesis 1:8
    “And the evening and the morning were the third day.” Genesis 1:13
    “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” Genesis 1: 16
    And so forth…

    Great post Steve -Thanks

  3. I largely, if not wholly, agree with what you say, as the creation account is likely akin to what is known as an anthropomorphism (anthropos = man; + morphism = change) – changing an attribute of God into a way in which we mere humans can comprehend (like when Moses saw the “back side” of God; the “hand” of God, etc.). So, it’s not exactly anthropomorphic, but Moses has been given this revelation to, as you state, assist in our understanding. It is more like phenomenological language.

    Following is a quote from Lewis Sperry Chafer that I’ve used twice now on my blog, having found it when I was working on an article for kenosis:

    …Whatever time may be and whatever its relation to eternity, it must be maintained that no cessation of eternity has occurred or will. God’s mode of existence remains unchanged. Time might be thought of as something superimposed upon eternity were it not that there is ground for question whether eternity consists of a succession of events, as is true of time. The consciousness of God is best conceived as being an all-inclusive comprehension at once, covering all that has been or will be. The attempt to bring time with its successions into a parallel with eternity is to misconceive the most essential characteristic of eternal things…

    With this in mind, here are the first few paragraphs of this article which contain another favorite quote of mine illustrating that the ‘omni’ traits are all interrelated:

    The Christian God, known as the Trinity, is a tri-unity consisting of God the Father, God the Son (Christ, the Word), and God the Holy Spirit. Each Member of the Trinity is co-essential (united in essence/being) and co-equal with the others. God is spirit, i.e., incorporeal, having no physical body. There are a number of divine attributes associated with the Godhead, including omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Christian philosopher Thomas V. Morris explains the interrelationship between these three attributes with respect to His creation:

    Perhaps the best understanding of the attribute of omnipresence is that of its being the property of being present everywhere in virtue of knowledge of [omniscience] and power over [omnipotence] any and every spatially located object [creation].1

    God is immanent, i.e., present in/among His creation (as opposed to within, immersed inside its substance, though indwelling true Christians, of course), by virtue of His omnipresence. He is infinitely aware of even the tiniest details concerning the universe – which the Godhead created out of nothing (ex nihilo) – and, due to the Word’s continuous sustaining activity holding it together (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3), “He keeps the cosmos from becoming a chaos,”2 to borrow H.C.G. Moule’s memorable phrase.

    The ultimate display of God’s immanence is when the Son humbled Himself by taking on human form in the Person of Jesus Christ (Immanuel – God with us), retaining full divinity in becoming fully human, and then dying in our place, in His plan of redemption. What a God we serve!

    Yet, God is also transcendent, wholly outside His creation, as the Trinity is not affected in any way by the cosmos (creation). In no way does it act upon Him. God is self-existent, self-sufficient, immutable (unchanging), and eternal, existing outside time, yet acting within it (immanence). An inherent aspect of creation, time is His own construct. As such, the Godhead Lord’s over it, thereby fulfilling time, according to His purposes. God has been present and active throughout the entire history of humanity, is currently active in human affairs, and will continue to be actively governing humanity, though allowing free will.

    While imprisoned by the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer proposed a different understanding of transcendence. He contended that Jesus’ “being for others” is the true meaning of transcendence, suggesting that we not think of immanence and transcendence as opposites.3 Thus, in Jesus’ dying on the Cross for the sins of mankind – because God “so loved the world”, thereby providing eternal life for those who believe in Him – the ultimate display of God’s immanence climaxes in the supreme act of ‘transcendence’.

    Recognizing the beautiful, poetic force of Bonhoeffer’s words, yet still we understand that God truly is transcendent – so wholly other than His creation – yet God is also immanent, fully active in/among His creation. He is the Potter; we are the clay.

    The Christian Trinity is a divine mystery. Attempts to fully explain the mystery of God’s three-in-one-ness can lead to heretical conclusions such as tritheism (three Gods), modalism (one God in three different modes, one at a time), or other distortions.

    I agree, “Arguing over how old the earth is, or how long it took GOD to accomplish the Creation, is absurd“. The 2 Peter 3:8 passage is a reference to Psalm 90:4, and it’s instructive to look at its larger context. And the context of this Psalm perfectly makes Peter’s point by viewing the larger context of Peter’s words. Peter chose this reference wisely.

    Peter’s day vs. thousand years comparison has NOTHING at all to do with the creation account, and if someone claims it does, they are using eisegesis (reading into the text), not exegesis (extracting meaning from the text). Peter only mentions creation in passing (vv 3:4-5) and not in relation to “days”. The larger context of this passage in 2 Peter refers to eschatology (end times; 3:3-4, 6-7, 9-13). The point in 3:8 is that time is of no consequence to God, because HE INVENTED IT, and that we should not impose time upon Him as if He’s “slow”, or taking a long time (vv 3-4, 9). But yet, God has a plan, and that plan includes allowing ‘time’ for all those who will repent to do so before His final judgment is meted out.

    Even the “day” in the “day of the Lord” (v 10) probably does not refer to a literal 24 hour time period – though, of course, the advent of the Second Coming will occur in one particular day. What I mean is that we just don’t know how long the battle of Armageddon is going to last. As I read the book of Revelation, I see the “day of the Lord” being many, many days, as the Lord pours out His wrath. But, this seems to be phenomenological language as well.

  4. One of the things that bothered me was Ken Hams insistence on setting a specific age of the earth at 6,000 years, with the flood occuring 4,000 years ago. Is there no wiggle room on these dates? On what page does the Bible say the earth is exactly 6,000 years old?

    That said, the biggest whopper of the night came from Nye who claimed that “we have trees older than 6,000 years”. Really? Where? As far as I know, the oldest trees are Bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of California. I’ve seen many of the specimens myself, in fact I have a Bristlecone Pine and a CA Redwood growing in my backyard. The oldest living Bristlecone has just over 5,000 tree rings.

    There is a Norway Spruce that has been dated at nearly 10,000 years, but this tree does NOT have thousands of tree rings. No, this specimen was dated using Carbon 14 dating using parts of the root system which extends and connects to other trees both living and dead. This spruce tree is called a “clonal variety”, and dating such is questionable at best.

  5. arbo doughty

    >>>”yet there is absolutely NOTHING in the observable universe that disproves special creation.” But unlike natural selection and evolution, there is NOTHING…no theories, no provable hypotheses that prove special creation. NOTHING. True that we don’t know everything and the Universe…at least this one is vast with many more unanswered than answered questions… but special creation isn’t even a theory that can be tested.

  6. Arbo, the last time I approved a comment from you, my computer crashed. Your FB profile picture was of a man dressed up in a TRON outfit, and you had one friend. That comment (re”wolves”) made absolutely no sense, so I deleted it. Regarding “creation” or “evolution”, we are not talking about “proof”, we are examining the evidence. The evidence for special creation from genetics/biology, math, astronomy, or any other science is overwhelming. The evidence for evolution does not exist. I suggest you watch a movie called “The Privileged Planet” and start putting the pieces together.

  7. Dennis

    Probability only counts when “we’re” sure that there are aliens; however probability need to apply when it comes to the origin of life! “In the beginning-God. . .”

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