Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye

Last night I watched much of the Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye science debate. I thought I'd weigh in with a few comments.

1. It seemed to me that the debate quickly got off topic. The topic was "Is creation a viable model of origins?" but it quickly became a referendum on Ken Ham's view of creation. So Bill Nye directed a large part of his attention to refuting young earth creationism and yet defeating young earth creationism was not the issue of the stated topic. I think Ken Ham is also partly to blame here too in that he simply defended young earth creationism.

2. I'm all for taking the authority of the Bible seriously. Bill Nye kept harping on "the Bible translated into English" which I didn't quite understand. That side, the field of the debate became too wide. At points you just felt like the men were shotgunning examples not really making arguments.

3. Both guys had appeals to authority. Ken Ham kept saying "read our website" which I didn't find overly helpful. Quite frankly it got a little annoying to me.

4. One of the biggest problems is my view is that the issue of epistemology was not addressed. Both Ken Ham and Bill Nye seemed rather naive about how we know things. This philosophical weakness seems to be to be a frequent weakness of scientist, like Richard Dawkins, who step outside their realm.

5. I found it frustrating that Bill Nye kept appealing to natural laws. He tried to pin Ken Ham down saying "you can't predict anything." Yet Christians, no matter what their view on the age of earth & means of God's creation, all believe in natural law. In fact, Nye seemed naive. The talk of natural law begs the question. In fact, here I believe Hume was the most consistent when he argued that just because billiard balls reacted a certain way one time, we have no guarantee they will do it again the next time.

6. I wish someone would have asked Bill Nye to distinguish evolution as a theory vs. scientifically testable and ask why we don't see macro evolution repeating today. Equally, not all evolutionists are the same. You have views of a long slow process vs. views with highly accelerated periods (forgive me, I don't remember the scientific terms). 

7. I think Bill Nye was naive about "if scientist had one fossil to verify Ham we'd change our view." Given the political ways that the scientific community has quashed any scientific debate about intelligent design they often have motives to protect themselves and silence dissent. 

8. It was a little frustrating how Bill Nye appealed to mystery and the excitement of discovering creation and the unknown. Ken Ham, in my opinion didn't handle this well. Plenty of Christian scientists past and present have this same joy, mystery and wonder at discovering and exploring God's creation.

9. Repeat after me: Christians support science. Christians SUPPORT science. Christians support SCIENCE. --read a little history and Christians often pioneered scientific advancement.

10. Clearly Bill Nye doesn't even have a rudimentary knowledge of how Christians read their Bible. This came out in how he responded to the question to Ken Ham about "literal" and Levitcal laws and poetry. This is a constant frustration I have when non-Christians attack what they see as Christian "fundamentalism"--though don't actually know how Christians seek to handle their Bible.

11. Bill Nye kept appealing to lots of Christians who find their religion fulfilling. This was a good attempt to appeal to those who might be outside his camp. It was a good move. But he should have been pressed on this. In fact many of these Christian would believe some/many of his scientific views AND find a species of creationism viable. This again, got the debate thesis off the real stated topic. 

Bill Nye also seemed to relegate religion to personal experience and fulfillment not actually truth. Which gets back to the issue of epistemology. There is more to knowing then scientific experimentation.

My conclusion: I really wish Bill Nye would have an opportunity to sit down with some Christians and talk about compelling reasons to believe in God. I really wish they would address with him his agnosticism and talk about God being knowable through revelation. Quite frankly, talking to a theistic evolutionist who is a believer or an old earth creationists might actually be more helpful. In this debate, it was too easy for Bill Nye to throw out scientific examples and watch Ken Ham try to shoot them down and vice versa. It didn't, to me get to the heart of the matter: is creation viable.

The debate should have focused more on Bill Nye's materialist assumptions behind his evolutionary theory. Why is that justified? Say for argument that evolution, big bang, etc is true, this does not and cannot by itself justify materialist naturalism.

Of course, it is easy to Monday morning quarterback.

That said, my wife wisely had this great conclusion to the matter:
I have no problem with Bill saying we need scientists and engineers, etc for our future. Absolutely we need them for the advancements we do have in technology, curing illnesses and the such. Yet, without the foundations of the gospel and the knowledge of God's love and power, then we only seek out of selfish and wrong desires. (ex. abortions) Glad to hear Ham give the gospel message several times throughout the night.

The funniest moment in the debate for me, was watching my daughter cringe when Bill Nye talked about sex & bacteria. Thank you Bill, I no longer have to teach her that boys have cooties, my job is finished.

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