Well, that was interesting.
As anticipated, the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was interesting. The format was not what I necessarily expected, but it worked well, and both men can walk away saying that they had equal time to present their arguments and challenge the others.
I have a great many thoughts on the debate, and could blog on a great many things, but for today, I will go with where each was strongest and where each was weakest. The debate may still be seen, at least for the next week at www.debatelive.org and will then be available for purchase from Answers In Genesis. For my in the moment thoughts, visit my facebook page.
Overall, both men were strongest in their prepared presentations, and from the way they talked, I assume they each had access to the others initial 30 minute presentation. On the contrary, both men were weakest in the question and answer segment, but for different reasons, which I will address.
Ham was strongest in that Nye answered a couple of questions with the response ‘We don’t know’ to which Ham coolly responded: I have a book that does know. While Ham’s initial 30 minute presentation did not go back to scripture much, instead relying on rational arguments, knowing Nye would dismiss any scripture out of hand, Ham did go to the scriptures frequently during the question and answer session.
For someone who had never heard Ham speak before, his 30 minute presentation and his second rebuttal were a condensed version of everything he has produced through Answers In Genesis for years now. One could easily see where he was going and what he was saying. The initial presentation alone could be made into a simple video and sent to every church in America and be well worthwhile.
Ham’s weakness comes in his failure to respond to a charge that Nye made a number of times regarding the authority of scripture. Nye charged that English translations are corrupted due to the antiquity of the subject matter and the process of translating into English. Now to be honest, that is another debate entirely, and there were other matters that needed to be dealt with in this debate; but Nye made the charge no less than 3 times, that it demanded an answer, even if it meant letting another issue get short changed.
Another weakness is what is a general weakness of Answers In Genesis: Jesus tends to get lost in the mix. When you spend your entire ministry discussing Genesis 1-11, it is hard to get everything in and then also say that Jesus was there to. While God and Christianity were certainly well used terms by Ham, and one could easily draw the lines to the cross, and Ham even made mention of the cross, there was a noticeable absence of Jesus and the Gospel for much of the debate.
Nye’s goal this evening was to poke holes in Genesis 1-11; and while many of his arguments clearly fell flat, a few may have stuck, and that was a concern I and others had going into the debate.
Nye spent a lot of time in his 30 minute presentation questioning the Flood; and anyone who has heard Ham speak could answer many of Nye’s objections, but a few were new: if it was caused by receding flood waters, why do we not see more Grand Canyons around the world; and how do you explain the rapid repopulation of the earth after the flood.
In those two questions one sees the majority of Nye’s arguments: he simply argues from logistics. It was not logistically possible for Noah to build an ark and care for the animals; it was not logistically possible for so many variations of dogs to come from one kind of dog.
Another strength of Nye’s was his appeal to Americanism. Nye argued that in order for America to be great, we need to be great in science, and in order to be great in science, we need to set aside a Biblical world view and accept the one he subscribes to. That is what the American education system has subscribed to, and many people follow it as they keep their faith and their daily lives separate.
It would be easy to pick on Nye’s weaknesses as I went in assuming him wrong; however, even his supporters should be embarrassed by his performance. In several responses Nye was rude to Ham; Nye referred to the Flood as ‘Ken Ham’s Flood’, assuming Ham was the only believer; and much of the time when Ham was speaking, Nye had a dumbfounded look on his face as though he had never heard these arguments made before.
But perhaps Nye’s weakest moment was during the question and answer session, when in response to several questions, his response was ‘We don’t know’. We don’t know what started the Big Bang. We don’t know what happened to the dinosaurs. We don’t know a lot of things. A stronger scientist may have been able to come up with better responses then Nye’s dismissive ‘We don’t know’.
But that is a general weakness of the entire Big Bang/evolution/millions of years crowd; eventually something had to get the ball rolling, and they cannot explain that, they don’t know. But Ken Ham, and I, and billions of other Christians do know: it was God.
Moreland was the moderator and did a fantastic job. He let the men speak, he left his opinions out, and he told the audience to drive home safely in the level 2 snow storm warning.