Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 18, 2014

Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #4

Debaters Ken Ham & Bill Nye

Debaters Ken Ham & Bill Nye

On the front row at the historic Creation-Evolution debate between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy sat a key figure in America’s battle for truth in higher education. Dr. Albert Mohler has taken a stand for scholarly adherence to Biblical authority and faithful Biblical interpretation as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Today’s blog, the fourth installment of reaction from the web to the Ham-Nye debate, includes Dr. Albert Mohler’s assessment.

An estimated 10 million viewers watched the live stream of the debate:
Is Creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Additionally, as of press time, the YouTube video of the February 4 debate has been viewed over 2 million times. Interest and conversation about the debate continues to be intense and vigorous.

The first installment and the second installment of web commentary and opinions each quoted four commentators. The third installment contained post-debate comments from the moderator and both debaters. This fourth installment contains comments from an evolutionist and a seminary president.

Commentary on the Debate from the Web (Part 4)

Christian evolutionist Adam Taylor Ross says in
Ham on Nye: Creation, Evolution, and Adventures in Missing the Point,

I’ve been concerned that Ken Ham would demolish Bill Nye. … My fears were confirmed when Ham basically trounced Nye. Debates are measured by rhetoric and argument, not by who is “right.” And in this case, Ham won. He was better organized, better spoken, and seemed on top of his game. Nye, on the other hand, seemed scatter-shot…jumping from topic to topic without logic or clarity, and bringing up information that AiG has spent a lot of time and money providing detailed “answers” to.

Albert Mohler

Dr. Albert Mohler

President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr. Albert Mohler watched the debate in person. Here are some of his insights from
Bill Nye’s Reasonable Man—The Central Worldview Clash of the Ham-Nye Debate:

Ham’s arguments were tight and focused, and his demeanor was uniformly calm and professional. … The central question of the debate was this: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” Ham stuck to the question tenaciously. Nye, on the other hand, tried to personalize the debate and kept changing the question from creation to “Ken Ham’s creationism.”

As the debate began, it was clear that Ham and Nye do not even agree on definitions. The most friction on definition came when Nye rejected Ham’s distinction between “historical science” and “observational science” out of hand. Nye maintained his argument that science is a unitary method, without any distinction between historical and observational modes. Ham pressed his case that science cannot begin without making certain assumptions about the past, which cannot be observed. Furthermore, Ham rightly insisted that observational science generally does not require any specific commitment to a model of historical science. In other words, both evolutionists and creationists do similar experimental science, and sometimes even side-by-side.

[The debate] was about the most basic of all intellectual presuppositions: How do we know anything at all? On what basis do we grant intellectual authority? Is the universe self-contained and self-explanatory? Is there a Creator, and can we know him?

On those questions, Ham and Nye were separated by infinite intellectual space. They shared the stage, but they do not live in the same intellectual world. Nye is truly committed to a materialistic and naturalistic worldview. Ham is an evangelical Christian committed to the authority of the Bible. The clash of ultimate worldview questions was vividly displayed for all to see.

When asked how matter came to exist and how consciousness arose, Nye responded simply and honestly: “I don’t know.” Responding to the same questions, Ham went straight to the Bible, pointing to the Genesis narrative as a full and singular answer to these questions. Nye went on the attack whenever Ham cited the Bible, referring to the implausibility of believing what he kept describing as “Ken Ham’s interpretation of a 3,000 year old book translated into American English.”

To Bill Nye, the idea of divine revelation is apparently nonsensical. He ridiculed the very idea.

This is where the debate was most important. Both men were asked if any evidence could ever force them to change their basic understanding. Ham said no, pointing to the authority of Scripture. Nye said that evidence for creation would change his mind. But Nye made clear that he was unconditionally committed to a naturalistic worldview, which would make such evidence impossible. Neither man is actually willing to allow for any dispositive evidence to change his mind. Both operate in basically closed intellectual systems. The main problem is that Ken Ham knows this to be the case, but Bill Nye apparently does not.

Ham was consistently bold in citing his confidence in God, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the full authority and divine inspiration of the Bible. He never pulled a punch or hid behind an argument. Nye seems to believe that he is genuinely open to any and all new information, but it is clear that his ultimate intellectual authority is the prevailing scientific consensus. More than once he asserted a virtually unblemished confidence in the ability of modern science to correct itself. He steadfastly refused to admit that any intellectual presuppositions color his own judgment.

But the single most defining moments in the debate came as Bill Nye repeatedly cited the “reasonable man” argument. … The “reasonable man” is a man of intellect and education and knowledge who can judge evidence and arguments and function as an intellectual authority on his own two feet. … A “reasonable man” would interpret the evidence and make a reasoned judgment, free from intellectual pressure.

Bill Nye…is a firm believer in autonomous human reason and the ability of the human intellect to solve the great problems of existence without any need of divine revelation. He spoke of modern science revealing “what we all can know” as it operates on the basis of natural laws. As Nye sees it, Ken Ham has a worldview, but Nye does not. He referred to “Ken Ham’s worldview,” but claimed that science merely provides knowledge. He sees himself as the quintessential “reasonable man,” and he repeatedly dismissed Christian arguments as “not reasonable.”

Nye’s weakest argument had to do with his claim—made twice—that billions of religious people accept modern science. He provided a chart that included vast millions of adherents of other world religions and announced that they are religious but accept modern science. That is nonsense, of course. At least it is nonsense if he meant to suggest that these billions believe in evolution. That is hardly the case. Later, he lowered his argument to assert that these billions of people use modern technology. So, of course, do creationists. There are few facilities in the world more high-tech than the Creation Museum.

Ken Ham is a Young Earth Creationist (as am I), but the larger argument was over worldviews, and the debate revealed the direct collision between evolution and the recognition of any historical authority within Genesis 1-11.

The problem with human reason is that it, along with every other aspect of our humanity, was corrupted by the fall. … We have not lost the ability to know all things, but we have lost the ability to know them on our own authority and power. We are completely dependent upon divine revelation for the answers to the most important questions of life. Our sin keeps us from seeing what is right before our eyes in nature. We are dependent upon the God who loves us enough to reveal himself to us—and to give us his Word.

As it turns out, the reality and authority of divine revelation, more than any other issue, was what the debate last night was all about. As the closing statements made very clear, Ken Ham understood that fact, but Bill Nye did not.

The central issue last night was really not the age of the earth or the claims of modern science. The question was not really about the ark or sediment layers or fossils. It was about the central worldview clash of our times, and of any time: the clash between the worldview of the self-declared “reasonable man” and the worldview of the sinner saved by grace.

 
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
Who Won the Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate?
– includes YouTube video of debate
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

Read the sequel with more web commentary:
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #5 – comments by Nye’s debate coach

Questions to Ponder
  1. If you saw the debate, who do you think won and why?
  2. How can you use the buzz about the debate as a natural starting point for spiritual conversations?
  3. 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)
Tuesday February 18, 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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