Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated each other last night about creation versus evolution. There has been much discussion on what both men could have said, so I’ll try not to rehash what has already been spoken and written about the debate. I saw a curious and surprising development as the debate went on. Evolutionists are often seen as having the science and Christians are often portrayed as the ones believing in simple stories and superficial myths (i.e. “God did it”). But it is actually Mr. Nye’s defense of evolution which seems simplistic and populist. Evolution appeals to many because it seems plausible on a superficial and commonsense level. However, it breaks down under close inspection and following the claims to their logical conclusion. For example, if A is true, then B and C must also be true, but we know C is impossible. Therefore, A must be untrue. Deeper study has led many former evolutionists to see that the theory simply does not hold water.
There was a great difference in demeanor between both men. Ken Ham was very calm and rational in his presentation while Bill Nye seemed over-the-top and repeatedly appealed to emotion rather than facts. Nye relied on (attempted) humor and incredulity to sway the audience. I thought it was supposed to be the Bible-thumping Christian who was “working the crowd” appealing to their emotions and avoiding hard facts. The evolutionist was supposed to be calmly reciting data from behind the credibility of a lab coat while the preacher banged the pulpit. Quite a night of opposites.
The debate showed that evolution “sounds good” on a surface level. The proponent was a talented T V personality with “aw shucks” appeal to laymen. The Big Bang and iconic chart depicting the alleged evolution of man strike home to those with a public school exposure to evolutionary dogma.
Mr. Ham was at a disadvantage with only a short amount of time to respond. Refutations are often very technical and beyond the attention span of many laymen. Flawed assumptions ruin radiometric dating and taint any results. Troubles with the Big Bang such as the horizon problem, the flatness problem, and inflation theory are very real and destructive to the Big Bang model, but are deeply technical and many simply lose interest before the truth can be found. Irreducible complexity was not mentioned even though it destroys the theory of evolution through random mutation. It’s a sad fact that a bacterial flagellum will never be as “sexy” as a life-size model of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) or the chart of hominid skulls shown in Nye’s presentation.
This debate revealed to me that often it is the evolutionist who clutches the simplistic explanation and only those who have delved deeply into the issue have found the flaws in evolution. That sounds arrogant to say, but it’s true. Creationists are accused of stubbornly remaining in the past and rejecting any new thing which challenges their beliefs. It is actually evolutionists who arrogantly refuse to see things differently than their eyes now do. They insist that things we observe today must have always been that way (radioisotope decay rates, speed of light, etc.). Uniformitarianism betrays an arrogant self-importance. “This is how I observe things in my lifetime therefore I impose that upon all eras.” Present-day rates and measurements can be helpful, but not definitive and error-free as is often portrayed. Models are just that—models.
Distant starlight was mentioned, and as Ham admitted, it is problem for both sides so it’s a wash. Regarding radiometric dating, evolutionist methods rely on trusting the unbiased objectivity of those in lab coats (https://preachrr.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/upon-further-review/) and accepting a series of unfounded assumptions. Creationists rightly and wisely question these assumptions which inevitably lead to erroneous results and ages https://preachrr.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/young-carbon-in-%e2%80%9cold%e2%80%9d-rocks/ and (https://preachrr.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/ancient-lava-flows/).
Nye repeatedly dismissed creationism because of its inability (in his opinion) to make scientific predictions. He then used the example of evolutionist prediction of a slowing universal expansion rate (which was exactly 180 degrees wrong) as somehow proving his point! When mentioning Tiktaalik Nye actually used a picture of Ventastega (another alleged “walking fish” transitional form about whom you can read here: https://preachrr.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/ventastega-it%e2%80%99s-all-in-the-hips/).
My hope is that this debate at least planted some seed of doubt (or interest) in the evolution controversy and will encourage more in-depth study by its adherents. Ham was criticized by some creationists for mentioning the Answers in Genesis website too often but as he said, there was not enough time to fully address Nye’s barrage of assertions and radical overstatements. I hope many will go to the website and wade through the massive database of quality articles on evolution and Biblical truth. Indeed, after recommending the link to a friend I found that the AiG homepage had locked up due to traffic. Amen!
I really loved when Ham responded a few times to Nye’s “We don’t know!” with “You know, Bill, there is a book…” But aside from those jabs he should have focused more on science and less on the Bible. Those who believe the Bible didn’t need it and those who don’t won’t be swayed by that appeal alone. And props to the moderator Tom Foreman for keeping control in a polite and friendly way. I honestly couldn’t tell which side he was on (as it should be).
See below the response of Focus Press founder Dr. Brad Harrub
Albert Mohler’s debate analysis:
Answers in Genesis: