Is creation a viable model for origin is the topic of the Bill Nye – Ken Ham debate. Ham wants us to define some critical terms, namely creation/evolution and science. What I can’t believe we are not defining is viable.
UPDATE: View the full debate by clicking here.
In his opening statement Bill Nye talked about the natural laws by which we observe science. The debate is just getting underway, but it already looks as if there will be a lot of talk about what is reasonable. God created the heavens and the earth. And that is, as a matter of fact, unreasonable. By the natural laws of science as they have been defined, so is the alternative. The undeniable fact is that we exist, as does the earth and universe. The biblical account is that everything that has been made has a maker, namely God Almighty. The Big Bang theory is that a colossal event spread matter throughout the known universe. Where did the material that exploded come from? (“That is the great question” Nye proclaimed in the Q&A.) You must work backwards from the big bang to a point of some quantum singularity in which all the physical laws as we know them do not apply. Modern science is not shy about saying we do not yet know but that doesn’t mean we will never know. My point is this: theists and non theistic scientists both believe in a theory of why things exist that cannot be proven. We both take in faith that at some time in the past the universe came to be.
Neither creationism nor the secular alternative are reasonable, which is why it bothers me that viable is the issue being debated but not defined.
God created the heavens and the earth. I believe God exists and does his work outside of our understanding of what is reasonable. He created those things we call natural laws but is himself not bound by them. Bill Nye cannot operate in that construct and will continue to make observations and draw conclusions based on the belief that all things are bound by natural law. The viability of creation is the topic of tonight’s debate, but even as the debate is going on I’m not hearing anything about viability. What is going on, as one might have imagined, is a debate over the validity of science. “You can observe that the earth is not flat; you cannot observe the age of the earth” says Ham.
It is good to have the discussion. I like the idea that all our kids can see that creationists and evolutionists can have an intelligent discourse on the issues. Ham is not waving his Bible shouting “God says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Bill Nye is not standing behind a lot of complicated formulas looking over the rim of his glasses and declaring Ham and his followers are too stupid to contemplate the origins of the universe or anything of scientific merit. Ham is arguing that the religion of secular science is being taught to our children, and that the real issue is ideology. Nye is about to give his presentation, but from his introduction I gather there will be a lot of observable data that he suggests we must ignore to believe in the creation model.
My other big issue with having the debate is this: there cannot be a winner. A debate tournament has a judge or panel of judges; a courtroom has a jury, a political debate is followed by an election. The debate is at Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in the state of Kentucky. He is definitely on his home court and surrounded by his supporters. Secular scientists already agree with Bill Nye and will continue to after the debate, if they watch at all. Most people will watch the debate believing throughout that their guy is winning. What I hope is that middle and high school students (because it’s probably too late for the rest of) will keep an open mind to the possibilities. The issue has not be definitively settled and probably cannot be.
I believe in an almighty God that spoke worlds into existence. I also believe other unreasonable things, such as a loving God that offered his only Son to take the punishment for our (and by extension my) sins, that Jesus is the Son of God and is God, and that he died and rose again from the dead. I debated for four years in high school, and in 1994 attended the national debate tournament. What I do not believe I could ever do is debate someone into faithfulness. I’m listening to the debate even as I write this post, but I question the value of having a debate. Chaplain Mike writing at Internet Monk said that no good can come of this. I’m not sure that’s entirely true but sure enough I don’t see how much good can. I got in a little bit of hot water with some of my own conservative friends for taking what they believe to be a more liberal position. I do not personally believe in a young earth, but do not argue against a young earth either. My official position is that we cannot know. I see the possibility for much passage of time between verses 2 and 3 of Genesis 1, but I’m not saying there must be such a passage. I do not think the Bible teaches a young earth and so do not take offense at the notion the earth is very old. I also observe, however, that God created Adam and later Eve in a mature state. Therefore God could easily have created an earth (solar system, cosmos, etc) that were mature and capable of supporting all the life he was about to create. Young earth creationists consider these things important and are offended that I do not. I get accused of taking the other side even though I have not.
This post is too long and if you have hung in there congrats are in order. Did you listen to the debate? Do you think viability was really the issue and was it effectively addressed, by either party? Did you change your mind or reconsider your previous position? Was this an important debate to have and continue to have going forward? All comments will be accepted, be respectful of the others making comments.