Ken Ham and Bill Nye Debate: Now That I’ve Slept on it…

Despite the protests of leading atheists who didn’t want to treat scientists and human beings who believed in God as worthy of anything other than to be ignored, Ken Ham and Bill Nye nevertheless faced off for an in-depth, internet broadcast, and CNN-hosted debate over creationism, evolution, the Bible, the flood, naturalism, and definitions of science.  It was enlightening at times as even Bill Nye the Science Guy noted after Ham’s opening presentation.  The Saturday morning television science teacher started his own presentation by looking at Ham and admitting he had “learned something.”  At other times, it left multiple questions begging for answers and more time.  The demand by Nye at one point that Ken Ham answer a list of four important questions was comically followed by the debate moderator’s (CNN’s Tom Foreman) formal announcement that Ham had one minute to respond.  All of the proceedings, taking place last Tuesday, February 4 at the famous Creation Museum in Kentucky, provided both the benefits of sincere, polite discussion, and the limitations of dealing with such a huge subject in a mere two hours.  I simultaneously wanted more to be said, while getting tired of hearing it.

And you might be tired of hearing about it too! So I’ll try to at least be concise.

I loved it when Bill Nye talked about how much he loves science. Obviously I wish he understood how much I love it, too, and many other creationists, but you can’t help but enjoy his passion for discovering things.  What so many miss is how many Bible-believing Christians are science buffs.  It’s why we can’t get enough of Louie Giglio.  And yes, we do go to secular universities and ace those tests too.  Those decorated scientists who provided Ken Ham with statements via video clips did not have Theology degrees.

I loved that Ken Ham used the opportunity he had to keep coming back to the Gospel, the good news that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world.  Sometimes, it seemed Ken sacrificed debate time to do this, but sharing the actual Gospel to a worldwide audience was beautiful.  I’m sure it didn’t come close to convincing the most hardened atheist, but God knew who needed to hear that last night and they did.  Awesome, awesome, awesome thing Ken.

I love the fact that we had a real, and polite, debate between diametrically opposed world views.  We can’t even debate tax policy anymore without competing to see who can roll their eyes the most, but last night we saw something we don’t often see in the world lately, and that is respect for another human being.  Judging by the comments and articles following the debate, atheists are quickly trying to put a stop to this nonsense, but for a brief moment yesterday, both sides argued their case on the merits and appealed to people with reason.  That’s pretty cool, and as one of the news organizations noted in an article this morning, that’s worth something at least.

I loved that the two men both used power point demonstrations that seamlessly integrated into the broadcast.  It reinforced that this debate wasn’t just a name-calling contest that we generally see on the internet or the dismissive disdain from a Dawkins’ column. We all learned something because we weren’t turned off immediately. Instead, the audience was respectfully taught, whether they were in the “choir” or not.

I loved the fact that Ken Ham included video statements, and references from other decorated scientists who didn’t just believe in God, but believed in young earth creationism.  Bill Nye in particular has taken up the atheist effort to portray anyone who believes in creation as anti-science and the sort of people who will destroy America’s competitive edge because they are incapable of becoming engineers.  Nye continually went back to this caricature at the end of the debate, but his effort was largely diffused by the irony of several famous scientists who evidently were able to engineer important inventions and discoveries despite the fact they believed in God. Ironically, the famous scientists from history that Nye mentioned were often very devout Christians as well, so it doesn’t seem that much of a hindrance after all. Here’s another scientist’s take on that very issue (and several others Nye has brought up).  This is important stuff because modern day atheism is dishonestly propagating a lie in their efforts to win people to their side. Why would they do so? I believe the real cause is the spiritual battle. There is a father of lies, and this is what he does.

Hmmm…. that started sounding negative.

Ok, a couple of times I wanted to jump through the screen, besides the times Nye started talking about how anti-science all these God believers are.

They are called polystrate fossils. This is in the category of “Well Someone Should Mention This….” Ok. So in the debate, Bill Nye said he would change his opinion, and Ken Ham could change the world, if Ham could show evidence of a fossil that went from one layer to another. Ham never responded, but …ummm… Bill, there are so many of those particular fossils they have a name: Polystrate fossils. Mostly trees and at least one whale. You know, just in case you ever need this for trivia.  One question I wish Ham had countered with was how come we don’t find meteorites in those lower levels? Did it quit raining occasional meteorites for billions of years?

Ken Ham’s answers on radiometric dating were incomplete. He kept going back to the “we weren’t there” statement, but everyone knows it should be possible to study evidence today and make some educated guesses about how it got here. We do the same with crime scenes as Bill Nye noted.  What atheists don’t often note is that there can be more than one theory as to how things got this way, just like there is often more than one theory on what happened at a crime scene. Ken Ham was correct to say we all have the same evidence. I just wish the topic of radiometric dating had been delved into a lot more because most people simply accept it as Gospel.

Seriously, most of you reading this have never dated anything yourself and weren’t with the scientists who did. We all usually just believe what they tell us. At the risk of totally shaking your worldview built on your trust that radiometric dating is incredibly accurate, you should read this article.  Don’t worry, it was written by a real scientist with four degrees and a lifetime membership in Mensa. You’ll find it interesting.

Finally, I thought Bill Nye had a couple of good questions concerning people who had never heard of the Bible and where the Bible came from. He didn’t really ask the last one, but referred to it a lot.  I wish Ken Ham had taken the time to answer those more, because there are real answers for both.  Ken did say that eternal life with God doesn’t depend on what someone thinks about the age of the earth or evolution or something like that. You don’t have to be a young earth creationist to be right with God. Lots of Christians believe heartily in evolution. They may be right or wrong about that, but it doesn’t condemn anyone either way.

We are saved based on where stand with God. The Bible teaches that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, even those who had never heard about him, both past, present, and future.  The Bible teaches that God reveals himself to the whole world through his creation. Someone might not know much about God, might not know anything about the Bible or Jesus, but they can still reach out to God because “the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of his hands.” That’s from Psalm 19 and it’s quoted in Romans when Paul was talking about how they had “heard” the message from God.  If that’s the message-just the creation-that’s not a lot to go on. Evidently though, it’s enough.  They might not have ever heard about Jesus in ancient China, but I believe God reached out to each person, and worked in their hearts and in their lives based on what they did know.  Jesus is preached of course, because Jesus is the message that God wanted the entire world to hear before the end, but God worked historically and works today on people who haven’t heard yet.

Like I said, It’s a good question and I don’t blame atheists for wanting to hear a fair answer to it.  My answer is way too brief, but there it is.

I’m just thankful for the debate. I learned stuff too, and as we all hash through it and argue amongst ourselves, we’ll keep learning. That ain’t all bad.

God bless.

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17 thoughts on “Ken Ham and Bill Nye Debate: Now That I’ve Slept on it…

  1. Oh certainly it’s true that most Christians do not accept young earth creationism (although most Christians are like everyone else and believe what we’ve been taught since Kindergarten). And you’re right, it WAS obvious a few times that these two weren’t the most qualified guys out there, but they both seem to have some natural communicating ability -especially Nye- which makes the debate better for those who don’t speak all the scientific jargon. Plus, I suspect God tends to enjoy using people who aren’t well qualified. :) Appreciate the links and the comment!

  2. “They might not have ever heard about Jesus in ancient China, but I believe God reached out to each person, and worked in their hearts and in their lives based on what they did know.”

    I think you’ll find that Mohammed and the Buddha work wonders in other parts of the world which are frankly speaking outside of God’s jurisdiction.

  3. Hmm well there are millions of Christians and believers in God in China and the Middle East. Doesn’t seem out his jurisdiction…

  4. Christians are regularly persecuted in North Korea so evidently God works there too. You don’t understand the point Tim. In ancient China, in Hindu nations today, the Bible makes it clear that God can reach out to someone even if they know very little about him and even if they believe many other things. Therefore, I do not condemn those people to hell just because they happened to live somewhere else. I realize this probably isn’t the idea you had about Christians, but God is a little more fair and just than you think. God bless.

  5. I didn’t interpret his comments about the fossils to be polystrate. I thought he meant more of misplaced fossils. Not fossils that spanned layers, but fossils that were misplaced in the “wrong” layers. Of course, we find those too…

  6. You may be right, although it seemed he referenced both a little. His impression wasn’t precise. One Bill Nye fan tweeted later that polystrate fossils meet the condition he was demanding so I’m not the only one who took it this way. Looking over his quotes, Bill Nye said “You never, ever, find a higher animal mixed in with a lower one. You never find a lower one trying to swim its way to the higher one.” So that’s a bit of both. When asked what would change his mind, Bill Nye said, “We would need just one piece of evidence. We would need the fossil that swam from one layer to another….” which could I suppose include the polystrate fossil of a whale that has been found. Later, Bill Nye said about the Grand Canyon: “You’ll hear a lot about the Grand Canyon, I imagine, which is a remarkable place, and it has fossils, and the fossils in the Grand Canyon are found in layers. There is not a single place in the Grand Canyon where the fossils of one type of animal cross over into the fossils of another. In other words, when there was a big flood on the earth, you would expect drowning animals to swim up to a higher level. Not any one of them did. Not a single one. If you could find evidence of that, my friends, you could change the world.” As you rightly point out, they do find layers with mixed fossils, and more importantly it’s an unintelligent argument against creation. After all, if Noah’s flood put down layers very rapidly with great force which is common with catastrophic flooding, then any animals caught in those layers aren’t going to be able to swim or struggle anywhere.

  7. Because Christians are persecuted in North Korea does not imply that God works there. There is not a single logical pathway in which the former leads convincingly to the latter. Christians are persecuted there because of conflicting dogma and adverse politics. Well, that is beside the point. Point is I think you assume too much by saying that God is reaching out to non-Christians. As a statement of faith that is of course fine, but by the exact same token non-Christians are non-Christians because their gods have reached out to them before yours did. Aren’t we glad that the imposition isn’t always reciprocated! If your belief is faith-based then you should have the kindness NOT to assume that it applies to all persons around the world who do not believe in your god. Nothing feels so hackneyed and yet so belittling than to hear someone say “[insert god here] is reaching out to you… whether you like it or not.” God bless.

  8. You seem intent on being upset. For the record, Bill Nye asked a question to Ken Ham about people in other lands who have never heard of the Bible. Now you are saying that you feel belittled because I wrote an article about Nye’s debate, and gave my answer to Nye’s question? I’m a Christian pastor, what answer did you expect me to give? As for your points, Christians in North Korea would give you statements that God does work in their lives so the presence of Christians is an offer of proof that God works in North Korea. The idea God, the Creator of the Universe, is bound by national borders is the truly illogical statement. Plus you should know I am an atheist to all gods except the one. So I don’t believe any gods reached out to anyone, except for the actual God. It doesn’t matter anyway. I wasn’t talking about any other god, I was JUST saying that the Bible says God reaches out to everyone. That’s why I don’t condemn people because they live far away, are different than me, or don’t know anything about the Bible. (See Bill Nye specifically asked THAT question so I was responding) I believe God deals fairly with each person based on their circumstances. That’s what I see from the Bible. I do hope that God blesses you and now I’m going to pray for you too. :P

  9. I am still missing the point how the presence of Christians proves that God works in North Korea any more than the presence of Muslims proves that Allah works in America. Anyway it shouldn’t matter. I am intent on being reasonable and of course I respect that you are a pastor. But you misread me, I do not feel belittled because you wrote about the Nye-Ham debate; I think it is a great thing that people take interest in these public discussions about science. I am simply pointing out that the confidence with which you assume that God is reaching out to everyone whether they are blind to the fact effectively belittles those who do not share your faith (myself not included, as I am frankly quite used to it). If Jesus rings on everybody’s doorbell then the question becomes why so few have bothered to answer the door. Am I being unreasonable to suspect that it is not by means of God’s grace but pure geographical and political coincidence that Americans are more Christian than North Koreans? Perhaps so. And it’s good and very liberal of you that you think ‘God deals fairly with each person based on their circumstances’, however I may be falsely under the impression that the way to the Lord is solely through Jesus. Perhaps again I misread the Bible, if so my apologies.

  10. A lot of it is just being careful to listen to the what the Bible actually says and take note of what it doesn’t say. Helps to figure out some tough questions such as what about people who have not been born in America? Like I said in the article, I don’t blame atheists for asking this question. For me I have to give the answer the Bible would give because I don’t believe something (anything really) unless there is some basis for it. And as it turns out, the Bible gives a fair answer, more specifically Paul does. The apostle preached about Jesus in Acts 17 and said regarding idols and other gods (other religions), that God had overlooked ignorance in the past. So it stands to reason that if God overlooked ignorance in the past, then God is capable of dealing with people who don’t know much about him or even hold many other beliefs just as the people to whom Paul was speaking . In Romans 3, Paul wrote about the work God did through Jesus, and said, “in his (God’s) forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” indicating that when Jesus died for the sins of the world, that included people who lived before Christ whose sins were left “unpunished”. And people who lived before Christ, certainly had never heard about Jesus yet, but from God’s point of view every one of them who was “saved” was still forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ. He died for people past, present and future. So yes, while it is true there’s no way to God but through Jesus. The Bible also teaches that Jesus sacrifice counted for someone in 585 B.C., who had never heard about him, just as much as it counts for me. If God deals fairly throughout history, then it stands to reason He deals fairly today. The Bible says many times that God knows our hearts, and so it should be no major thing for God to deal with every person on earth according to their hearts and circumstances. So I have great hope for people since the Bible says there is a God who loves them, who created them, and who wants to live eternally with them. It’s my belief that God reaches out to all of us, and today preaches the message of His Son throughout the earth. If believing in such a God is offensive, I can’t do much about that. I don’t believe in God as religion but as reality. As real as the universe is expanding and that the sun is rather warm. I have confidence because God works in my life every day just like I know he works in the lives of Christians in North Korea. Muslims in America might claim God works in their life but I’m not speaking for Allah.

  11. I’ll admit I can’t quite decide whether ‘it stands to reason’ or whether it is wishful exegetic reading on your behalf, as I’m sure many biblical interpreters will have reason to disagree (not to imply that I know who is right or wrong or if it can ever be known), but thanks for clarifying your personal take on it. On utilitarian grounds alone it’s certainly a more favourable reading of the Bible than what is commonly taught at Sunday school, and I really commend you for that. Thanks again for your time.

  12. Appreciate the discussion Tim, and the layout of your blog is impressive by the way. Talk to you later maybe here or there on other stuff sometime. :)

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