Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 6, 2014

Who Won the Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate?

Tuesday night (2/4/2014), Bill Nye the Science Guy went head-to-head in a debate against leading creation apologist and bestselling Christian author Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.

Nye-Ham Debate

Bill Nye & Ken Ham Debated Creation & Evolution in Kentucky

Debate Topic:
Is Creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

A sold-out audience of 900 plus 70 press watched this Debate of the Decade in person at the Creation Museum. The live audience included two college presidents, a U.S. congressman, and a seminary president.

Interest in the debate was intense and widespread. People from 190 countries watched it. The debate was the number one trending topic on Facebook hours before the debate began, and at one point the top four trending topics on Twitter were debate-related. “Ken Ham” was trending #1 on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, and Science News.

From 7 pm Tuesday night till early afternoon Wednesday, the Play button on debatelive.org was clicked 2.5 million times. Most “Play” button clicks were watched by multiple people, from family groups to large 1500-seat auditoriums. Thus estimates of the total audience for the debate run around 10 million viewers.

Answers in Genesis reported that the number of debate live streams on YouTube far exceeded the numbers for the State of the Union speech and for the Super Bowl.

I watched the Ham vs. Nye debate live Tuesday night via streaming from debatelive.org with good friends and family. The two and a half hours flew by because the interaction was so fascinating. The two speakers alternated with 5-minute opening statements followed by 30-minute main presentations. Five-minute rebuttals ensued followed by 5-minute counter-rebuttals. The debate concluded with a 45-minute Q&A period when the moderator read audience-submitted questions.

Moderator Tom Foreman

Moderator
Tom Foreman

The debate moderator was Emmy award-winning CNN correspondent Tom Foreman. Foreman has been with CNN since 2004 and is an avid ultra-marathoner, frequently competing in races of fifty miles or more. Foreman did an excellent job. He was unobtrusive, yet kept the debate on schedule and held the debaters to the agreed-upon time limits.

Ham won the coin toss and elected to speak first in each round. This surprised me. I would have chosen to speak second.

Who Won the Debate?

I think supporters of both men will think their man “won.” Supporters were looking for different things and were viewing the debate through their own worldviews. What is important in one worldview may be irrelevant to the other.

Nye was more dynamic, passionate, and intense than Ham. Ham was quieter with less expression and less audience engagement. Those who judge primarily on “style” will give the debate to Nye.

However, if you evaluate the debate based on the announced debate topic,
Is Creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?
then the debate goes to Ham.

Ham did not have to show that the Creation model is correct. All that he needed to show was that Creation is a feasible, workable model to use in scientific research. He did this by citing eminent scientists who believe in Biblical Creation today who also do outstanding scientific work.

One example Ham gave was Dr. Raymond V. Damadian who invented the MRI scanner that revolutionized the field of medicine. Damadian said,

“I am a young earth creation scientist and believe that God created the world in six 24-hour days, just as recorded in the book of Genesis. … The idea that scientists, who believe the earth is 6,000 years old, cannot do real science is simply wrong.”


 
I would have added to Ham’s argument that most fields of science were started by Bible-believing Christians like Newton, Kepler, Faraday, Maxwell, Galileo, Pascal, Boyle, etc. How can you claim that Creation is not a viable model for doing science when most scientific fields were started by creationists and when many creationists today are doing good science? (More examples of Christian scientists are on this list.)

The burden of proof was on Nye to demonstrate that the Creation model is not viable. This Nye completely failed to do.

Ham repeatedly emphasized the difference between operational science and historical science. Operational science is the observational, experimental, repeatable science that has developed today’s technology, from medical advances to computers to space stations. Historical science deals with beliefs about the past which cannot be observed, repeated, and tested in the laboratory.

Nye refused to recognize the distinction between these two types of science. He argued that everything is in the past.

bill-nye-ken-ham

Nye never addressed one of Ham’s main points, which was that anybody doing science, whether he is an evolutionist or a creationist, bases his work on a Biblical worldview, because he must use the laws of logic, and he must assume the uniformity of nature. Where do the laws of logic come from? How does an evolutionist know the laws he is using to reason are “correct” if everything randomly evolved? Maybe the laws he’s using are wrong or inconsistent? Why presume the constancy of natural law if everything is random and accidental?

Nye emphasized sensory experience and reasoning — observing evidence and drawing conclusions to find the “truth.” But what is “truth” in Nye’s worldview? How does he know his senses work “correctly” and his reasoning processes are valid if everything randomly evolved? He is assuming truth from the Biblical creation model to argue against creation.

How can Nye even say Ham’s Biblical Creation model is wrong (or right) if everything accidentally evolved from nothing? What standard is he using to judge? Again, he is borrowing from the Biblical worldview to try to attack the Biblical view.

Debate stage in Legacy Hall at the Creation Museum

Debate stage in Legacy Hall at the Creation Museum

Numerous times throughout the debate, Nye said he found something “unsettling” or “troubling.” These questions in the Q&A portion of the debate also flummoxed Nye:
“How did the atoms that created the Big Bang get there?”
“How did consciousness come from matter?”
To each Nye responded, “It’s a great mystery.” He was completely unable to answer these basic questions.

However, upon Ham’s turn for each question, he looked at Nye and said, “Bill, there is a Book out there…” In other words, the Biblical Creation model Ham presented had clear answers for the questions that Nye found troubling or mysterious. This fact itself points to the superior explanatory power of the Creation model over the evolutionary model.

Ray Comfort had this pre-debate comment:

“No one who is willing to bear the reproach of Christ “loses” a debate, if he preaches Christ crucified for the sin of the world.”

Using Ray Comfort’s yardstick, Ham did well, for he covered the Biblical gospel message several times and proclaimed the authority of Scripture in the debate.

HamNyeDebateEvidences

Ultimately the source of disagreement between the two debaters was not evidence or even interpretations of evidence. The differences between them are rooted in their radically opposite world views which drive differing interpretations or explanations of the same evidence. Nye assumes a godless, naturalistic world. Ham believes in the Creator who has revealed Himself in the Bible and through His creation (Romans 1:20-23).

A major result of the debate is that it has opened up discussion of the Creation-Evolution issue at a time when secularists have been trying to shut down the Creation model of origins. Many people are talking about the debate who would not otherwise be discussing origins due to the widespread censorship of creation in education, government, and the media.

C-Span plans to rebroadcast the debate at 8 pm on Wed Feb 19.
Here is a YouTube video of the debate:

 
Read the prequel articles on this debate:
Creation-Evolution Debate: Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye – background info & the YouTube videos that sparked the debate.
Ham on Nye Debate Update

Read the sequels:
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #1 – 4 web commentators
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #2 – 4 web commentators
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #3 – comments from debate moderator and post-debate challenges from debaters to each other
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #4 – Albert Mohler’s assessment
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #5 – Nye’s debate coach comments
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #6 – astronomer, CMI, WORLD mag
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #7 – Gary DeMar, Mally sisters video
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #8 – apologetics prof, science historian, debater
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #9 – chemist, ID advocate
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #10 – ID advocates
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #11 – space scientist
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #12 – creationist speaker, canyons

Questions to Ponder
  1. If you saw the debate, what do you think was Ken Ham’s strongest point or argument?
  2. If you saw the debate, what do you think was Bill Nye’s strongest point or argument?
  3. How can you use the buzz about the debate as a natural starting point for spiritual conversations?
  4. Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Thursday February 6, 2014 A.D.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)

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Responses

  1. Debate Answers is a list of articles from Answers in Genesis answering issues Nye raised that Ham did not have time to fully cover in the debate.

    Like

  2. ABC News has a good 8:43 video clip from Nightline that fairly covers the debate titled
    Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: Behind the Scenes of the Great Creation Debate.

    Like

  3. Ham did mention Newton and a few others. As far as this buzz helping start conversations–that may be the best fruit.
    Both these guys have a B.S. Neither guy is well qualified to debate the science. It was a PR event for both. And Ham adds to what the Bible says. Most Christians do not accept his YEC view. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/
    Here was a recent debate by real scientists.
    http://www.thegreatgoddebate.org/#.UttJFEM6H-g.facebook

    Like

  4. I recently wrote a blog detailing by the number why Ham won the debate, even IF you disagree with his position: http://gracesalt.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/ken-ham-vs-bill-nye-my-reactions/

    Like

    • Excellent analytical grading of the debate. Thanks for the link.

      Like

  5. In the debate Nye insulted the state of Kentucky by claiming it had no nuclear medicine training program. He was implicitly suggesting this indicated it was a backward state and that the Creation Museum contributed to this backwardness. A medical radiologist wrote Nye a letter challenging this false claim. See Answering Bill Nye—Rebutting Nye’s Argument That Kentucky Is Backward Technologically for the doctor’s letter to Nye.

    Like

  6. Here are some news reports on the debate:
    1. Cincinnati.com article by Cliff Peale: Bill Nye, Ken Ham argue how the universe and life began
    2. NPR recap of the debate: Watch The Creationism Vs. Evolution Debate: Ken Ham And Bill Nye

    Like

  7. BibleScienceGuy, I forwarded your post about who won the Ham/Nye debate to our son who is serving in Afghanistan. He did not get to see debate as it happened, because he is in a time zone that is 9 1/2 hours away (going one way), and he was on duty. He responded to me that he liked your analysis and that several people there had been talking about the debate. Thank you for your ministry!

    Like

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Tam. I’m glad the article was helpful. It’s interesting how news of the debate is spreading around the world.

      Like

  8. About the evolution-creation debate. the evolutionist always says that a watch needs a designer because it cant self replicate. so if we will find a self replicating watch we need to say, that is made by itself.

    scientists even found a motor in bacteria called bacterial flagellum:

    and we know that a motor is evidence for design, even if its very small.

    the evolutionist claims that small steps for millions of years become big steps. but according to this, a lot of small steps in a self-replicating car (with dna) will evolve into a airplane.

    but there is no step-wise [progression] from car to airplane.

    the evolutionist claims that common similarity is evidence for common descent. but according to this, 2 similar self-replicating cars are evolved from each other. and we even share 50% [DNA] with bananas!

    have a nice day.

    Like

    • You make some good points here. Thanks. I especially liked the flagellum video.

      Like


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