Where the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham Debate Went off Track

The great Creation/Evolution debate is over. Will it go down in the history books with the same importance as the Thomas Huxley v. Samuel Wilberforce debate of 1860? Time will tell.

I put in my two cents worth on how Ken Ham should have approached the debate. Here’s some of what I wrote:

“Make the UnScience Guy account for the stuff of the cosmos, the organized information to make the cosmos act the way it does, how non-life became life as we know it given the fact that spontaneous generation is rejected by the scientific community on scientific grounds.

“Also make Nye account for non-physical entities like reason, logic, and morality and why the things that we evolved entities do or don’t do have eternal consequences, and if they don’t, then what would be morally (not socially, legally, culturally, or pragmatically) wrong for someone to put a loaded gun to Bill Nye’s head and pull the trigger.”

To be fair, Ken Ham did touch on these topics, but he didn’t drive them home. He wasn’t the proverbial junk yard dog.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s easy to handicap a debate after it’s taken place especially when you weren’t the one debating. Even so, planning and strategy are key elements in any debate. Time is limited. Then there’s the audience problem. Those not familiar with the material are going to get lost in the minutia of geological columns, transitional forms, DNA comparisons with chimpanzees, the formation of the Grand Canyon, etc. Pick the weakest link in the evolution model and hammer it.

The ministry of Answers in Genesis (AIG) is built on Young Earth Creationism and a Global Flood. There are other Christian ministries that have a similar calling. The age of the earth and whether the flood described in Genesis is local or global don’t have anything to do with evolution. The cosmos could be a trillion years old and spontaneous generation still couldn’t happen. People, animals, and flora and fauna are necessary for any flood. Evolutionists have to explain, using science, how we got people, animals, and flora and fauna. They can’t do this.

The age of the earth and the global v. local flood question are part of an intramural debate among Christians. These topics don’t need to be part of a creation/evolution debate.

Does this mean that the Bible should not be referenced? Not at all. The first verse of the Bible is the Christian’s starting point: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” You don’t find the apostle Paul debating the age of the earth or the comprehensiveness of the flood with the “men of Athens” (Acts 17:16-34)). He begins with “God who made the world and all things in it” (v. 24; see 14:15).  God as creator explains the origin of matter, mind, and morality. There is no comparable materialist mechanism. Bill Nye made it clear that he did not know how it all began. The reason he doesn’t know is because he doesn’t have any real science to make the case for evolution. That’s what the viewing and listening audiences needed to take away from the debate.

At one point in the debate, Bill Nye said that Ken Ham’s view was “troubling” to him. This was Ham’s opening. Ham should have come back with example after example of how a godless, matter-only cosmic origin strips meaning and morality from what makes us human.

He could have quoted Richard Dawkins:

 “In the universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”1

After reading this, Ken Ham should have looked into the camera and spoken directly to parents and said the following:

“This is the raw edge of evolution. In the end, this is what evolution teaches. Over the long term, what do you think will happen to a population of young people who are told that this is what they really are? Not only don’t Bill Nye and his fellow evolutionists have any science to prove that life spontaneously appeared and evolved into the intricately designed beings that we are, but they don’t have any way to account for meaning, morality, reason, love, hope, and justice.

“Evolutionists like Bill Nye can’t live consistently with their matter-only worldview. The worldview that troubles him is the only worldview that gives his life meaning. We’re more than a conglomeration of molecules. He, like your children, was made in the image of God. So you have a choice. You can believe in an approach to origins that claims that we are nothing but a ‘purposeless and materialistic process,’ ‘a sort of animal,’ or you can believe that you and your children are special creations of a loving and just God.”

  1. Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: HarperCollins/BasicBooks, 1995), 133. []