Debate over origins: Nye vs Ham

Ken Ham who’s a Christian young earth creation apologist, the founder of the Creation Museum, and Answers in Genesis website debated famed science educator and television personality, Bill Nye at the Creation Museum tonight. The topic was: Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?

To be fair, I’m not a scientist. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. Some of the hot button issues against young earth creationism pertain to the age of the earth, the flood, and evolution. I do consider myself to be an intelligent person and I am a conservative, evangelical Christian who does believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God. I disagree with the idea of the earth being thousands of years old, and favor the belief that it is hundreds of millions or billions of years old.

I often times get frustrated by young earth creationism because I think that they make the earth’s age and these other issues more important than they need to be. The Bible isn’t a science textbook. While it mentions that the earth was created in six days, in both Hebrew and English, a “day” can refer to a longer period of time than 24 hours.

I think that these types of debates rarely have any impact on changing minds. People watch these to support their view, and afterwards, people on both sides are further solidified in their thinking. “Did you see that? (Insert name of person who’s opinion you originally agreed with) ran circles around (insert name of the other guy)! He just wiped the floor with him! How can anyone be dumb enough to believe this?!”

I’ve read things about young earth creationism before, and I generally disagree with much of it. As a conservative, evangelical Christian, I do hold to an old universe view. On evolution, I simply have not studied the issue enough to have an especially well developed opinion. I went in thinking that Bill Nye was going to be more articulate and dominate the debate. On many points, Nye was very good. Ken Ham did better than I expected.

A big focus of Ham’s in the debate was on showing that a person can be a young earth creationist, and be a scientist. In the beginning, he showed numerous clips of accomplished scientists. While this can be seen as cherry picking, and while they are greatly outnumbered in academia, it doesn’t change the fact that a person can be a young earth creationist and still make scientific contributions.

To the contrary, Nye argued that it is essential to understand science in terms of evolution, an old earth, an other contested issues because it is important for the sake of scientific innovation and for keeping America up to speed with the rest of the world. In a piece written for CNN, Nye wrote “New ideas lead to new technologies, which drive new business and new opportunities.”

I do feel that if nothing else, this was an area of the debate the Ham won. He did show that there are scientists who do publish and who are accomplished within their fields who hold to the young earth worldview. I do not feel that Nye was successful at showing that the young earth creation position and making meaningful contributions to science today are mutually exclusive. I think that debating creation vs the big bang and evolution is one thing. Trying to assert that not believing one of those views is harmful or will hold America back is something which I think is harder to prove.

Again, I feel that most of Nye’s scientific views are closer to reality than Ham’s.

I did agree with much of what Nye said and thought he had more rational and plausible arguments than Ham.

To return to the question which the debate was asking: Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?

Given that Ham was the one debating for creation, and that it was at the Creation Museum, the more appropriate title might have been “Is young earth creation a viable model…” For that point, I would say that I believe it is. Not only do I believe it’s viable, I believe that it’s reality. While the point of Genesis 1 isn’t so concerned with a timeline, it does show that God created the heavens and the earth in an orderly way. But I feel that the point of the Bible isn’t science, it’s history. It is telling a true history of actual people and God’s plan for redemption for His people, then and now.