Ken Ham President of Answers in Genesis is slated to debate Bill Nye host of the popular TV program Bill Nye the Science Guy on the matter of “Is creation a viable option of origins?” on February 4, 2014, at 7 PM. Ham is also the founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, which will host the event in its 900 seat Legacy Hall. Tickets sold out within two minutes of being released.
It has been said, “The first casualty in war is the truth.” This is because when a nation goes to war against another nation it employs propaganda to inspire or convince its citizenry of its decision, and to support that decision with their lives if necessary.
Truth is also the first casualty in a war of words. That is what a debate is. In the pursuit of victory truth is often mortally wounded and as the debate rages truth slowly bleeds to death. Also the push to win a debate can turn mean-spirited, and that is not a Christian attitude. This is why I generally do not care for debates, they tend to generate a lot of heat but little light.
There are other concerns. Reading the transcript of Clarence Darrow’s cross examination of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey Trial was an eye-opener. As Bryan thumped the Bible and ridiculed evolution he came across as arrogant and ignorant. Hubris is not one of the fruits of the Spirit, a Christian should not be characterized by his arrogance. Such an attitude does not serve the cause of Christ well. Next, if as believers we hold there is no contradiction between true faith and true science, we need to be prepared to give intelligent answers to the legitimate questions of science. When debating many believers act like Bryan.
So this debate has generated an interest in me. I want to see how Ken Ham treats Bill Nye when they meet. Will he be courteous and fair to Nye? Will he treat Nye respectfully? I think this will be more important than how Ham addresses the subject of the debate. But, I am also interested in how Ham will treat the subject matter. Will he make a sound argument for creation? Will he represent his fellow believers well?
I am also interested in how Bill Nye treats this subject. Will he be honest?
Science consists of gathering data through observation of natural phenomena or observation and recording results of experimentation in a controlled environment such as a laboratory. At its essence, science is observation. Observation reveals facts and scientists speculate on what the facts mean and this gives rise to theories. There is a huge gap between what science observes and what science speculates.
When it comes to the origin of life, that gap is about 3.5 billion years. Scientists theorize life began 3.5 billion years ago and they have formulated several theories about the origin of life, but the whole scientific community is not in possession of a single observed fact about how life began. They can only guess how life began because they did not observe how life began. If you think that last sentence is an exaggeration, read on.
The National Academy of Sciences is a group of about 2,100 scientists representing every major science discipline. About two hundred of their number have received Nobel Prizes in their various fields of study. They are often called upon to advise the Congress of the United States regarding technical or scientific issues affecting pending legislation. They promote the teaching of evolution and oppose the teaching of creationism.
In a publication entitled Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999), page 7, we read, “Of course, even if a living cell were to be made in the laboratory, it would not prove nature followed the same pathway billions of years ago.” This is a stunningly honest admission by a body of highly respected scientists. Since the origin of life is an unobserved event shrouded in antiquity, they must admit they do not know what happened. This same admission is repeated almost verbatim in a 2008 publication entitled Science, Evolution and Creationism, page 22. Both publications can be viewed free of charge at the National Academies Press website.
So, will Nye be honest about what science knows and what it does not know? We’ll see come February 4.
Though I typically shun debates, I would be willing to make an exception here. I wish I had a ticket.