Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 27, 2014

Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #8

Debaters Ken Ham & Bill Nye

Debaters Ken Ham & Bill Nye

How would an apologetics professor evaluate the historic Creation-Evolution debate between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy?

This eighth installment of web reaction to the debate has commentary from an apologetics professor, a science historian, and a debater. (Links to previous installments are at the end.)

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 2.2 million times. Interest and conversation about the debate continues to be intense and vigorous.

Commentary on the Debate from the Web (Part 8)

Ted Wright, Apologetics professor and Executive Director of CrossExamined, commented on the debate in The Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye “Post-Debate” Round Up:

Both men are to be admired for being willing to stand “in the arena” and defend their respective views and take criticism.

I thought both men handled themselves admirably, although I must say that I thought Nye was more personable and passionate when he was speaking which certainly plays to his favor rhetorically. One of Ken Ham’s strongest moments, I thought, was when he played the clips of various PhD. scientists who are creationists and have either invented useful technologies [MRI] or have conducted peer-reviewed research, undercutting Nye’s claim that a belief in Divine creation stifles or limits science.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with public speakers who try to popularize complex ideas and communicate them to an broad audience, but I don’t believe that these two gentlemen were the best representatives of their respective “camps.”

We confidently stand on evidence in support of our belief in a personal, all-powerful, space-less, timeless, immaterial Creator.

The question of the age of the earth is a “second order question.” The question of God’s existence is a “first order question.” In dialoguing and debating non-believers, we should not front-load the conversation with secondary questions. Establishing God’s existence is primary.

My criticism isn’t necessarily leveled against Ken Ham’s Young Earth Creationism (or some of the other evidences he presented), rather it’s against the WAY that he argued which is just as important. In beginning with the Bible, he put the cart before the horse.

Creation itself (which is silent yet vocal – Psalm 19:3-4) is the greatest evidence for the Creator. The evidence is so great and overwhelming that there is no debate – all men are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

 

Dr. Terry Mortenson

Dr. Terry Mortenson

Journalist Alan Colmes of Fox News interviewed Dr. Terry Mortenson of Answers in Genesis on February 7 in a fast-paced give-and-take about the Ham-Nye debate which Mortenson witnessed from the front row. Colmes is skeptical about Creationism and Christianity, yet Mortenson, who has a Ph.D. in the history of geology, answered all his questions and objections with grace, enthusiasm, and excellence.

The conversation covered the age of the earth, geology, evolution, the Resurrection, the deity of Jesus, and the evolutionist basis of Hitler, Marx, and Lenin.

Listen to the Colmes-Mortenson interview here (18 min, 35 sec).

This interview is a good example of obeying the command to “make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).
 

Christian radio journalist and debater Steve Gregg was interviewed by Breaking Christian News on his response to the debate. Here are some of his comments from Steve Gregg Discusses What Happened with Tuesday’s Big Debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye:

The strength of genuine science is its ability to make genuine predictions, based upon reliable patterns or “laws” of nature. … Bill Nye was suggesting that only evolutionary science is able make such predictions. Of course, his challenge was pretty weak, since a scientist believing in supernatural Creation is able to make this kind of predictions as accurately as can a scientist believing in naturalistic evolution. Creation science, like evolutionary science, does not impact observational or experimental science.

Creationists admit this, because they recognize that Creation is an explanation of origins—which occurred in the unobservable past, and cannot, therefore, be the subject of direct observation. Darwinian evolution, similarly, is a theory of past events, since no one has ever observed one kind of creature evolving into another. These are divergent theories on origins—that is, on history—rather than of observational science.

However, Creation and evolution provide philosophical models from which predictions may be made—not predictions about what will happen in a laboratory experiment, but predictions about what one would observe in the real world of nature and paleontology. Bill Nye said that evolutionists shined in this area, because their theory predicted that they would someday find an intermediate between fish and amphibian, and—lo and behold!—they found Tiktaalik, a fossil creature bearing some fishlike characteristics and some amphibian characteristics. Nye said that Creationists cannot make such predictions. This is disingenuous, since Creationists make predictions all the time about what they expect to find in nature. For example, Creationists predict that paleontology will never unearth the vast array of finely-graded transitional forms between any two animal or plant groups. So far, this prediction has proved accurate. Creationists predict that no one will ever observe matter, without intelligent direction, forming itself into an information-rich code (like DNA or its precursors). So far, this prediction has proven to correspond with reality. I think that Creationists make about the same number of predictions about what may be found in nature and paleontology as do evolutionists.

I did not think Ken did as well as someone like Phillip E. Johnson or Duane Gish would have done, but, on balance, I thought he did better than did Bill Nye. Too often the latter simply resorted to, “The Creationists’ assertions just don’t make sense to me.” This may be enough reason for Bill Nye to reject Creationism, but it should not dictate our conclusions. True things may not make sense, even to a reasonable man, if he does not understand the basis of his opponent’s worldview, and cannot assess the sensibleness of the assertions in terms of that worldview.

Ken Ham obviously understood science better than Bill Nye understood the Bible. I lost track of the number of times Bill Nye said that the difference between himself and Ken Ham was that Nye believed in the fossil which he picked up by the side of the road while driving to the debate (which he referred to as “what we can observe”), while Ken Ham believed in a book “translated for 3,000 years into American English.”

Bill Nye does not believe what he observes any more than does Ken Ham. Both of them can see the fossil sitting upon Bill Nye’s podium. Neither of them denies its existence, nor its significance. Where they differ is upon certain metaphysical presuppositions about the nature of reality and upon matters of origin. Neither of these things can be known by direct observation without the importation of an interpretive grid. Bill Nye’s naturalistic grid is no more demonstrable scientifically than is Ken Ham’s supernaturalism.

 
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
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

Read the sequel with more web commentary:
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #9 – chemist, ID advocate

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)
Thursday February 27, 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. Thanks for posting this series. I’ve been reading all the links, but haven’t commented yet.

    Wright is right that Ham demonstrated that a creationist can be a scientist and engineer, but since the debate topic was “Is creation a viable model of origins,” it doesn’t score points. It was still worth mentioning since Nye on several occasions implied creationists could not succeed.

    I’m unfamiliar with Gregg, but I found his response to be poorly informed. For one thing, predicting where on the whole earth a fossil that has never been seen could be found is much more impressive than saying something wouldn’t be found. He gets the transitional fossil point wrong, too, since there are so many transitional fossils and extinct animals in the fossil record. Evolution predicts the basic scheme of development, and would predict that you wouldn’t find cetaceans before land animals and that you wouldn’t find winged horses or other mosaics that people could dream up. Even though extinct animals are uncovered frequently, they still follow evolutionary biology’s rules. Creationism allows the Creator to make any animal imaginable, so it doesn’t rule out lions with wings or fish with antlers or anything like that. Evolution better predicts their absence, but also makes affirmative predictions like archeopteryx.

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