I watched the big debate last night with much enthusiasm and have to say it was definitely worthwhile. Creationists have been trying to get their message out for years, and here was the perfect opportunity to catch the public’s attention.
Overall I think Ken Ham had the better presentation, was better equipped, and made some important points. Bill Nye looked confused at times, kept repeating himself, couldn’t grasp the difference between operational science and historical science, and apparently missed some of the evidence presented by Ham.
My criticism of Ham is that he had an opportunity to hit a grand slam, but instead hit a game-winning ground rule double. Hey, a wins a win, right? Seriously, I thought he had the better debate, but he didn’t take advantage of the opportunities Nye tossed him. For example, Nye kept begging for examples of creationist predictions and evidence for a young earth. Nye himself offered evidence for an old earth by invoking the Bristlecone Pine, ice cores, human skulls, and Tiktaalik. All of these evidences have been refuted on Answers in Genesis’ website- some for years! But Ham kept passing on them each and every time they were brought up. That was confusing to me because Answers in Genesis is there to offer answers to these very questions. In fact after the debate others cited the same lack of scientific evidence as a weakness of Ham as well. I would have liked to have seen Ham mention Russell Humphreys’ creationist predictions about the magnetic fields of Mercury, Neptune and Uranus, which were much more successful than the secular predictions. Ham also could have brought up fossil soft tissue and the existence of comets, both of which are evidence for a young earth and universe.
Now in fairness, Ham he did offer several predictions based on the Bible, as well as evidence for a young earth, but they were seemingly ignored by Nye. Ham presented the creationist tree of life model, calling it an orchard, in which there are multiple trees in which individual kinds of animals have speciated over time (all dogs come from a single wolf-like ancestor). This was in contrast to Darwin’s tree of life, which has been refuted by science. He also showed how all people are one blood and descended from one man and one woman, which is supported by the scientific evidence, while the evolutionist model of five races has long since disproven.
I think the best thing Nye did for himself and the evolutionist community was insult and belittle Ham by constantly referring to him as “Ham and his followers”, or “Ham’s model of origins”. I’m sure this is an effective tactic, although it’s very disingenuous, misleading and false. The use of ridicule can be very effective in persuading people to oppose those you’re trying to demonize, and Nye did this well. The problem is that he had to resort to these tactics because he offered little of substance and couldn’t refute Ham’s main points.
Some of Ham’s main points were 1) we can trust Scripture, 2) it’s impossible for either evolutionists or creationists to prove the age of the earth and universe, 3) some terms like science have been hijacked by evolutionists, 4) the term evolution is a bait-and-switch, and 5) there’s a difference between operational science and historical science.
I like that Ham kept going back to the reliability of Scripture and that the Bible has answers that evolutionists like Nye don’t have. Ham kept driving home the point that radiocarbon dating, starlight, rocks, fossils, and the like can’t be used to prove the age of the earth or universe because there are too many assumptions that must be believed by faith. No one was there to observe the past, so it’s impossible to know if such conclusions are correct. Operational science- which builds aircraft, cures diseases and creates technology- works in the present and can be observed and repeated with experiments, but this can’t be done with historical science which tries to conclude what happened in the distant past based on what we can observe now. He explained that evolutionists define evolution as science, but that’s not what science is; science is about knowledge, and it’s useful for observing and testing results via the scientific method. He showed how evolutionists refer to any type of change as evolution- such as the change in beak size in Darwin’s finches, or the different species of dogs, and then call that evolution… even though those variations have nothing to do with changing a fish into a human.
Overall I’m glad this issue has come into the public spotlight. Most people aren’t familiar with any of these issues, so it’s a good start at promoting awareness.
One last criticism of Nye is that he’s been quoted as saying, “Your whole world is just gonna be a mystery [if you don’t believe in evolution]”. However it was Nye saying things like consciousness, the origin of life, and other areas of science are a mystery for evolutionists. I found that very amusing.
If you saw the debate or have something to add I’d love to get your thoughts and perspective, pros or cons for either side.