On Bill Nye, Ken Ham, and the Creation Debate

The highly anticipated debate between Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy took place tonight at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Like many of you I was introduced to Bill Nye on public television and other networks with scientific programming. I became familiar with Ken Ham thanks to videos that were shown in a college Sunday School class about twenty-five years ago.

I had the privilege of visiting the Creation Museum a few years ago. A tour of the museum and campus will leave believers with a greater appreciation for God’s creation, a stronger adoration of the Creator Himself, and a stronger foundation in the biblical account. It will also demonstrate to unbelievers that Christians do not have to check their brains at the door to believe in the Genesis account of creation.

The debate itself did not seem to shake either man in his respective viewpoint. Therefore, I would have to assume the majority of viewers were not converted from one side of the issue to the other. Likely, most viewers stood strong with the one who represented their position. However, I imagine that a small percentage of viewers were challenged to rethink their worldviews. Obviously, as Christians, we believe that the Holy Spirit could even convict unbelievers of the truths of Scripture.

So what did I glean from this debate? 

First of all, I saw the importance of one’s presuppositions influencing conclusions. Nye came to the table with anti-supernatural presuppositions. There was really no room for God in his equations. Ham came with the belief that the Bible was the inspired Word of God, and was more likely to discover and see the evidence in favor of that claim.  Obviously I am biased, but I believe good science must be open to all possibilities. This caused Nye’s rejection of the supernatural to seem anti scientific.

Here’s a few other observation I took from the debate:

  • Nye was concerned that creationism would stifle the next generation’s interest in scientific discovery and invention. Really? History tells us that such an assumption is ludicrous. One’s world view likely only shapes the motivation for such a process of discovery. Is it humanistic or for the glory of God?
  • Building on the previous point, Nye practically “preached” a moral obligation for us to embrace his brand of science. He even suggested that the United States needs to lead in this endeavor for, among other reasons, even our economic health. But if there is no God and no eternal accountability, why are we motivated to make such an impact? And why does the US need to lead the way or be better off financially than other nations? Nye’s philosophical logic was highly contradictory. Indeed, scientists who reject the existence of God seem more intimidated by philosophical apologists, like Ravi Zacharias, who show them the amoral consequences to their belief system.
  • Nye was very honest about having no answer for the first cause. Where did the first atoms that caused the “big bang” come from? The ex nihilo issue is directly addressed by Genesis 1:1. I think that’s awesome. The most difficult question for the twenty-first century evolutionist was the first question addressed by Scripture. Random selection? (Pun intended!)
  • Ham was very comfortable discussing the creation science perspective. He also took the opportunity to openly share his faith in Christ with a clear presentation of the Gospel.
  • Ham seemed to struggle a little to explain why he reads some of the Bible literally, but not all of it. He believes in the total inspiration of Scripture, but had difficulty when Nye interpreted his position as being one who tells others what parts of the Bible they should read literally.

(Personal note here: As Christians we need to understand some basic principles of hermeneutics. Obviously Ken Ham is solid here, but didn’t have time to fully explain. Conservative Christians do not read all of the Bible literally. We believe that all of the Bible is literally true. Good hermeneutics and common sense helps us see where the literal truth is presented literally, poetically, prophetically, figuratively, etc. Like any other literature, we simply ask, “What type of literature do we have here?” As Dr. Paige Patterson points out, when the apocalyptic literature of Revelation says a woman sat on seven hills, a literal interpretation would conclude that this is an extremely large woman.)

  •  I also felt that Ken Ham, without intention, reminded us of the importance of Christological apologetics. Though he often argues that Genesis is the starting point for defending the faith, he admitted that it was his acceptance of Christ that led him to that point. Therefore, I would argue that it may be more fruitful to first defend the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Then, having established his supernatural intervention in this world, you have reestablished the presuppositions for considering the Genesis account of creation.
  • So, who won the debate? Well, the subject given for the debate was “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” Though I felt Ham held his ground, it was the fact that Bill Nye had a debate on his hands at all, and debated so valiantly, that answered the question with a profound, “Yes.” If Bill Nye has to give it the time of day, though he rejects it, others should at least be presented with the same arguments.


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