I don’t know that it was the end of the creationist movement—I’ll be accused of hysterics on that one by my own kind—but if I’m being fair and objective, Bill Nye more than held his own in his debate with Ken Ham at the latter’s Creation Museum in Kentucky tonight.
(Full disclosure: I served as editor at Master Books for a decade—the publisher for Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis.)
I’ll write more about this later, but the debate just concluded and color me surprised. It should be stated at the outset that, not only do I agree with Ham’s view—I’m a young-earth creationist—but he made several wonderful points and presented the Gospel very clearly to no doubt a broad audience. Ham has been doing this for 30 years and has delivered tonight’s presentation thousands of times. He’s good at it.
But Bill Nye “Science Guy” more than held his own. What do I mean, exactly?
Well, first, it’s very simple: two men were presenting their worldviews. That’s it. Nye does not believe the Bible describes the origins of Earth and the universe. Ham of course does.
Yet Nye was very good. The fact that I believe he is wrong in his overall view of origins is beside the point. On points, I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who says he won. Winsome, witty, and in command of his own presentation, Nye referred to his debate opponent as “Mr. Ham,” while Ham addressed him as “Bill.” Each I think was trying to play to his own audience, but I can’t help thinking Ham came off as a fundamentalist ideologue. Nye was successful in marginalizing Ham by referring several times to the “outside,” in other words, the “real world of science” outside the walls of AiG’s behemoth museum.
I felt the key blows (which rained down again and again in the form of a challenging question) came when Nye would virtually demand that Ham give examples of “predictions” from his worldview. Nye said repeatedly that his brand of science can make predictions based on data and evidence. For example, one can study plate tectonics and issue analysis on where and when earthquake might occur.
In response…well, Ham never really responded to this aggressive challenge. The fact that Nye kept assaulting is debate opponent with it proved he realized he was winning on points, at least.
Here’s why Ham’s non-replies left me stunned: why in the world did he not invoke the Bible’s bulletproof predictive prophecy? A few times he quickly alluded to “prophecy,” but his voice even trailed-off when he did. His heart wasn’t in that line of thinking. It was stupefying.
Why in the wide, wide world of sports did he not simply look at Nye and cite a few of the hundreds of prophecies concerning the return of the Jews to their ancestral land, after a long exodus? Or any number of other stunning prophecies?
I know why. Answers in Genesis sticks to origins issues, and they do it very well. In their defense of the Bible, however, they do not invoke predictive prophecy. That is their right.
The tragedy is, Ken Ham didn’t dust-off this apologetic when he needed it most. I suspect most creationists will laud Ken Ham for his performance. Yet I watched the same debate, and it was painful.
Like most debates, each side will declare victory.
But tonight, there was only one Science Guy.