Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nye vs Ham: Post Debate Review

On the evening of February 4th, 2014 and the following day, an estimated 5 million people from over 100 different countries watched a debate concerning faith and science.

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” vs Ken Ham, of Answers In Genesis, squared off to discuss the agreed topic for the debate: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” The following couple of days showed this debate, and its two debaters, as the lead topics trending on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Yahoo Science. Why? Why would a debate that has been ongoing for centuries grab so much attention today? As we learn more through science, Creationism (as it has been coined) continues to gain popularity and more attention. Because of this the opposition has pushed back in an attempt to suppress the obvious. In August of 2012, Bill Nye posted a YouTube video making claims against Creationism. In this video he inferred that a non-belief in evolution (as in “molecules to man”) would hurt science, children, and the United States as a whole. He also stated that this belief would be non-existent in the future. Ken Ham responded in his own YouTube video which duplicated the atmosphere of Bill Nye’s video, but with rebuttal. With attention to the topic growing, Ken Ham publicly offered Bill Nye to debate him. Nye, eventually agreed.

During the debate Ken Ham shared the Gospel, in-short, on several occasions. He also established two important points; there is a major difference in what can be shown through observable science and that which can be extrapolated through philosophical or historical sciences, and that scientists with a belief in Creation can (and do) play an equally effective role in their respective field.

Bill Nye argued against Christianity by attacking the logic behind some of the stories in the Bible. He also made numerous references inferring that the translations of the Bible over time have lead to errors, thus causing the writings within to lack credibility. It’s interesting to note that not only is misrepresenting and twisting God’s Word, the most popular way to argue against God, it was also the first tactic ever used when Satan deceived Eve in the Garden.

The atmosphere of the Legacy Hall, located in the Creation Museum, appeared to be pleasant. The room was crowded with people from across the country, including a notable representation from the mainstream media. The debate was carried out with almost no technical problems and was live streamed to millions with no known problems. After the debate, numerous articles were posted giving praise and disdain to both sides.  Of course many organizations representing Creation Science posted articles giving rebuttals to claims made by Nye that were left open during the debate. Answers In Genesis has even put together an interesting option to compare their answers to Nye’s arguments by selecting the argument and choosing past articles as the debate jumps to that section.  You can do this here: debatelive.com.

What I liked about the debate:
  1.  I liked the fact that the debate received copious amounts of attention. Debates of this type have been declining as those affirming the Creation side find it difficult to receive commitments from those opposing. This should not be the case. Both sides should always be open to discussion in open forum and I believe the more aware the average person is concerning this topic, the more likely the evidence will be properly followed.
  2.  The debate was professional. It was well organized, the broadcast had great quality, was moderated impartially, and had a live audience that was very respectful.
  3. There was a portion of time given for Q&A from the audience. I have watched many debates and this section, if allowed, always grabs my attention in a different way. Often, these questions present more of a challenge for the debaters than they do for each other.
  4. The opening arguments were given a decent amount of time. The longer the opening arguments are the more information can be given for the audience to learn from. I am not sure why there was a 5 minute and 30 minute session for each person, but the total of 35 minutes gave them ample time to instruct while laying the foundations of their arguments.
What I wished was different about the debate:
  1.  The debaters were given numerous 5 minute rebuttals. While this was nice at times it put too much constraint on them concerning their initial rebuttals. 5 minutes is not long enough to properly challenge a 35 minute argument.
  2. I wish there was more science in the debate. As expected, Ken Ham spoke a lot in referencing the Bible. While a Christian can appreciate and understand this, the opposition is more likely to drown out or ignore the point being made. Science shows a lot of evidence that supports design and contradicts evolution but there was not an abundance of information given to reinforce this. In the same manner, Bill Nye left his stance on science to mock the Bible on numerous occasions.
  3. There were no closing arguments to conclude the event. The closing arguments can be just as informative as the opening statements. Not only can the participants have rehearsed topics to mention or reiterate, but they also can add last minute rebuttals that no time was given for during the debate.
  4. Though not common, I like to see some sort of pre and post survey done with the attending spectators. It is interesting to see which side, if any, was able to change minds.
There is hardly a “winner” in these debates and this was no exception. Just as scientists from both worldviews have the same evidence but come to different conclusions, those who watched saw the same debate but will have different opinions based on their bias.  I wonder what conclusion or opinion a neutral person watching this debate would have come to. Better yet, what would one find if they could truly look into the evidence through the scientific method without bias? My prayer concerning this event is that those who do not know Jesus have had their eyes opened enough to search more. I also pray that those who do know Jesus have a better understanding of the great evidence that supports their faith.

“Yes, one can be a Christian and an evolutionist, but such a position is both scientifically and biblically untenable. The Lord Jesus took a literal view of Genesis. The theory of evolution is dishonouring to God as Creator, and its teaching leads to a disastrous secularizing of society.” 
- Dr. Duane Gish

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