Monday, February 24, 2014

"There is a book..."

When I first heard the news that Ken Ham and Bill Nye were going to debate, a sense of excitement took hold of me. The subject: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific era?" I can't recall another recent opportunity for a Christian to engage such a well-known public defender of Darwinian Evolution, so I knew this was going to be a big deal. In fact, the week of the debate it was given a good amount of media attention in the secular press. If you have not seen it yet, please take this as my personal recommendation to watch the debate.

There has been some talk about whether this was a real debate or not, and I tend to lean towards those who say it was lacking a key element of a formal debate: namely, cross examination. In any case, I found the debate thrilling and frustrating. I agree with most of the conclusions that James White offered on his webcast, The Dividing Line, where he essentially said that Bill Nye won the debate based purely on debating grounds. I don't mean to dismiss Ken Ham by any stretch, because I thought he did a marvelous job. However, consider for a moment the subject for the debate. From the outset, Ham was at a disadvantage because it put him on the defensive, which left Nye without a burden to defend his own position, and allowed him to attack creationism at will.

Both men were fairly polite and respectful, each giving a captivating presentation. Bill Nye the science guy, with all his charm and nifty-looking bow tie, was openly cavalier in how he spoke of Ken Ham, creationists, and ... Kentucky voters. He made repeated references to "Ken Ham's creation model" in an attempt to make him seem even more distant from the alleged consensus of scientists. To the advocate of Darwinian Evolution who questions this, let me ask you: how would you feel if Ken Ham repeatedly made reference to "Bill Nye's evolution model"? Nye stated a couple times how "We, on the outside [do science this way]" (Brackets Mine), implying that outside of the Creation Museum, and/or outside your non-scientific perspective, is how you do "real" scientific analysis. The implication was made over and over again that if one wants to do "real" science, you must reject the supernatural realm, the Bible, the Christian faith, and any notion of disagreement with the majority of scientists.

"This is very troubling to me," Nye declared numerous times. What was troubling to him? There seemed to be two things: (1) that Creationism departs from the majority opinion of modern academia. And (2) a belief in the supernatural.

I will tell you this much: what was troubling to me was Bill Nye's lack of self-reflection. Ironically, for all the mention of "Ken Ham's Creation Model," Nye was woefully ignorant of Ham's actual beliefs on the most basic elements of his creation model. Nye demonstrated an unwillingness to test his own ideas; and why should he since they are proven facts? Right? There was an attitude of dismissiveness towards those who reject the majority opinion. As Ken Ham pointed out: both creationists and evolutionists have the exact same evidence; it is their interpretation that is different. And what causes a different interpretation of the same evidence? One's worldview is solely responsible for this.

He made many appeals to Kentucky voters, pleading that our schools should stick to teaching "science." Of course, what he meant was strictly teaching Darwinian Evolution. I will hand it to Nye, though - at least he wasn't hiding his belief that only his views should be taught in school. One thing that Ken Ham did very well was to point out that since no one was there to observe our beginnings, what we believe about the past is a matter of faith derived from one's worldview. This may appropriately be called a religion - a set of beliefs and presuppositions that comprise an entire worldview by which we interpret the world around us. Therefore, it shouldn't be a stretch to include theories such as Intelligent Design in our public schools, which would simply be an additional worldview taught alongside an already present one. I'm not naive enough to believe this is likely to happen, considering the stranglehold leftists have on our educational system and academics today. But in a just and fair society, this would be a feasible way to present information on the subject of origins.

All in all, I was very proud of Ken Ham for his involvement in the debate. It takes some guts to stand up to the might of modern science, and to have your beliefs mocked. Not everyone could do what Ken Ham did, and I hope many Christians consider that before harshly criticizing his performance. It is all too easy to criticize, especially behind the power of the keyboard (an instrument that turns everyone into an intellectual giant in their own mind). Do I think Ham could have been more effective in how he approached the debate? Yes, absolutely. I wish he was more direct in responding to some of the attacks made by Nye, and also in challenging his opponent's views. 
Nevertheless, it was incredibly refreshing to hear him boldly and uncompromisingly defend the Bible as the Word of God, and the Christian view of creation. My favorite part of the debate were the two times that Ken Ham seized the opportunity to explain that the Bible explains our origins: "There is a book, Mr. Nye, that discusses this. It's called the Bible..." I am proud of you, Mr. Ham. Thank you for your work and service to the body of Christ.

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