The Bill Nye + Ken Ham Debate (A Reaction)

The Bill Nye + Ken Ham Debate (A Reaction)

Which is it? Is the earth 6,000 years old (4,000 post Noah’s Flood) or is it 4,530,000,000 years old?

What does either answer imply?

The question of origins is a question that comes and goes for me, one I like to toy with, pretend to answer, and then put away for another day.

We friends were curious to hear what Bill Nye and Ken Ham would say about these things; we remembered after dinner and all of a sudden that the debate would be on.

The hinge question in the debate was: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”

Jenny said it best: “It wasn’t much of a debate?”

Her answer intrigued me. I wanted to know which “side” she thought won!

“They didn’t know what the other was talking about. It was a poor debate because they didn’t receive one another’s answers and seemed uninformed about the extensions of the other person’s point of view.” (That’s my paraphrase of what she said now.)

I could see that too. Neither participant seemed interested in inviting the other to their way of thought, with the first step being a step into their “opponents” logic for a moment. It felt like both participants *already knew* what the other would answer – which of course is what Jenny noted: They didn’t. …not that they shocked one another with amazing, never-before heard logic, but that they seemed ill informed about one another’s conclusions before hand (which is odd because you’d think that would be readily available for both guys).

Granted, time was short. And, in a setting like this, the goal is often slated: Win.

(But what’s a “win” here anyway?)

Yes: who “won?”

Again, the hinge was this: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” But, like Jenny noted, “viable model” was left undefined. Both participants took their own route with it.

Some will say, “viable model means ‘works'” but we’ll ask, “Works to *what end?*”

Here’s where the debate got sloppy and gross. Bill Nye, as a staple slogan ended many of his speaking turns, answered “viable model” as: “Thinking my way better enables America to remain a great nation and super power through economic ingenuity and invention.”

“What?!” I thought. “Where did that come from? Economic viability and military prowess wasn’t my question here!”

Ken Ham’s “viable model” answer was something like, “My answer helps us see the Bible is ‘true’ and that because the Bible is ‘true’ we can know that the world is 4,000 years old, post the Flood. …and, because the Bible is ‘true’, we can glorify God when we interact with the world.”

“What?” I thought again. “First, let’s talk about ‘true’ in the context of Scripture. What is a true poem? What is a true parable? What is a true historical narrative? What is a true song lyric? These are all part of the puzzle to ‘the Bible is true.'”

“Second, granting that the Bible is ‘true’, I don’t believe we can fully retain the mind of God within ourselves and that there’s an immense possibility that God’s revelation is much more to the point for our limited minds. Instead of handing humanity a blueprint, design patterns, and chemical structure lists that would outline what things could lead to what, God found it sufficient to say, ‘For our life together, it’s enough for you to know that I thought it up and it happened.'”

“Yes. That’s enough.”

So then, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” What does any answer imply?

I’m curious about what you think. I’ll write my answer in a new post.

2 thoughts on “The Bill Nye + Ken Ham Debate (A Reaction)”

  1. Thanks for opening up the comments :)

    I agree with many of the points that you and Jenny made; that the questions was not well enough defined, nor were the terms. As you’ve already touched on: What does “viable model” mean or imply? “Origins” of what; life, or space and time? What does “science” mean (as they seemed to talk about ad nauseum, at least Ken did)? Etc.

    I also agree that the two kept talking past each other; it was a two-way street where the cars never meet. Neither of them really said, “that’s a good point, but have you thought about this…” and that was disappointing. As a commenter wrote somewhere else, it would have made for a much more interesting conversation if it was Ken Ham and a devout Christian old-earth creationist as both begin with the same assumptions of God indeed being the Creator, but differ on how he could’ve created the place.

    That would have made for a more interesting conversation because all of the deeper issues would begin to push up to the surface. Imagine the conversation if we explore issues of hermeneutics, textual criticism, God’s sovereignty, etc. Those are the conversations Christians need to have because it is those issues, not the surface issue of how old is the earth, that will make an impact on our path of discipleship.

    I’m looking forward to your second post!

    1. Brian – I enjoy your comments here. Fun to read! …especially the last on “path of discipleship.” That, of course, seems to be the missing link (a pun I’m sure you’ll appreciate) in the entire debate. While so much energy is used to “defend the Bible” or “prove the Bible true” (noble causes in their time), I’m unable to see an equal energy placed upon living most fully in the present, walking in the likeness of Jesus.

      Good words, friend! Good words!

      (The second post is, well… coming along. I’m struggling to generate a “hook”, a “why would I want to keep reading this” element.)

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