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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

The debate on evolution vs. creationism by
Bill Nye & Ken Ham on 2014-FEB-04

Part 3:
Ken Ham's best arguments (Cont'd).
Would a different debate structure be better?

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This topic is continued from Part 2

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Ken Ham's best arguments:

  • 3. Scientific proofs for an old earth are unreliable:
    • Ham said:

      "All these dating methods actually give all sorts of different dates, even different dating methods on the same rock. ... Actually, 90 percent of them contradict millions of years."

      He also describe a piece of wood whose estimated age is 45,000 years being found in a piece of rock dated as 45 million years old. This is not a good example to use, because the wood would have been analyzed using a carbon dating process -- a measuring technique that is only meaningful back to about 45,000 years. That is, carbon dating cannot differentiate between a piece of wood that is 45,000 years of age of 1 million or more years of age.

    • Nye responded with many illustrations in favor of an old earth. He noted that the limestone under the Creation Museum was formed by ancient sea creatures who form millions of layers of fossils. He said:

      "There isn't enough time since Mr. Ham's flood for this limestone to come into existence."

  • 4. Development of the full diversity of modern animal species from a limited number of "kinds:"
    • Ham promoted the concept of a "Creation Orchard" in which God created a limited number of "kinds" of animals and plants, each of which produced other, similar species over time. For example, one kind of animal was a wolf-like species from which all of today's wolf species, dogs and similar animals developed. Only a relatively few examples of each "kind" rode on Noah's ark. After the ark landed, these kinds developed into the diversity of species that we see today.

    • Nye also attacked the beliefs surrounding Noah's ark. He asked: "Is it reasonable that Noah and his family were able to maintain 14,000 animals and themselves, and feed them, aboard a ship that was bigger than anyone's ever been able to build?" He noted that if all the animals in the world are related to the kinds on board the ark that there would be skeletons -- for example of kangaroos -- between the Arafat mountains and Australia -- left as the kangaroos returned to Australia. No such skeletons have ever been found. He referred to a wooden ship having been built in modern times to the design described in the Bible. It broke apart apart in the ocean and sank:

noah's ark 4

Noah's ark with a crew of 14 looking after 14,008 animals, in comparison
with the world's largest wooden ship, the Titanic and Queen Mary II.

  • 5. The Bible requires a six-day creation:
    • Ham said that Christians who believe in an old earth contradict the contents of the Bible. He said

      "If you believe in millions of years, you've got death and suffering and disease over millions of years. ... The Bible makes it very clear death is the result of man's sin."

      Ham is referring to the concept of original sin in which Adam and Eve disobeyed God's instructions, ate the fruit from a magical tree, and learned the difference between good and evil. God then transferred Adam and Eve's sin onto their innocent children, grand children, great grand children, and all later generations up until the present time.

    • Nye said that there is:

      "... no incompatibility between religion and science. There are millions in the world who believe in God and accept science."

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Would a different debate structure be better?

Two people took part in the debate:

  • Bill Nye did an excellent job explaining the theory of evolution and what is called an "old earth." That is the belief that:
    • The universe is about 13.8 billion years old,
    • The earth is about 4.5 billion years old.
    • The first living cell came into existence due to natural processes and chance events.
    • The great diversity of plants and animal species evolved from that cell, over the last 3.6 billion years.

Nye obviously had an excellent understanding of all aspects of evolution, and the ability to communicate these ideas well to the public. He task was made easier by the fact that there really is only one "theory of evolution" that is accepted as fact by essentially all biologists, geologists, cosmologists and most other scientists.

  • Ken Ham did an excellent job explaining that version of creationism that is based on a "young earth." That is the belief that:
    • The Earth and the rest of the universe were created by God in six days less than 10,000 years ago.
    • Ham believes it happened over a six day interval circa 4004 BCE.
    • God created many "kinds" of animals.
    • Adam and Eve disobeyed God, ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil -- thus committing the original sin. This sin has propagated down through the generations to the present day so that all persons alive today are destined to spend eternity in Hell unless they are saved by accepting Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) as Lord and Savior.
    • Noah built an ark so that he, seven other members of his family, and 2 or 7 members of each "kind" of plant and animal could survive the world-wide flood which covered the earth to submerge even the tallest mountains in water.
    • Each kind subsequently experienced a type of limited evolution to become many similar species today.

Although creationism is a broad term encompassing many different belief systems, Ham's job was simplified because he only explained his own particular variation of young earth creationism.

Perhaps, a better debate might have involved the addition of at least one other person: perhaps a mainline Christian, who believed in Theistic Evolution. That is, a person who believes in an old earth, accepts Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and believes that God used natural selection as a tool to guide the evolution of species.

One of the reasons of the current rapid loss of older teens and young adults from the conservative wing of Christianity is they are taught young-earth creationism when they are young and find the belief difficult to accept as they mature. A second problem is the teaching about human sexuality , homosexuality, transgender persons and same-sex marriage which they also find difficult to accept -- particularly since many have gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and sometimes transgender persons as friends. If a theistic evolutionist took part in the debate, the viewers might have developed a broader understanding of all of the major belief systems connected with origins.

Scott Ventureyra, a PhD Theology (candidate), at Dominican University College, in Ottawa, Canada submitted a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star newspaper which was published on 2014-FEB-10. He criticized the debate because only two extreme positions were presented:

"It's Science Guy vs. creationist, [on] Feb. 4

Despite the debate’s hype, it failed to deliver. Although Bill Nye is a gifted science educator for children and Ken Ham a well-meaning Christian, the debate seemed to be more counter-productive than anything.

The media thrives on pinning polar opposites against one another, as is seen between the views of Nye and Ham. They pit Christian fundamentalism on one side and atheistic materialism on the other, while ignoring all the more nuanced positions that exist in between these two polar opposites.

It should be pointed out that, in order to be a Christian, one need not accept a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis nor a young earth. However, the debate was fixated on the age of the earth and universe.

Nye provided some good arguments for accepting a universe and earth of billions of years, whereas Ham missed his opportunity to discuss and provide evidence for the various signposts to the design of the universe itself, the laws of physics and chemistry, the first self-replicating system, consciousness and other such indicators.

Ironically, it was Nye defending big bang cosmology, one of the most compelling arguments for design and creation. Mr. Ham did make a couple of valid points though, namely that one need not necessarily be an evolutionist to be a good scientist and that the term evolution (there are at least six viable different meaning to the term) is often conflated.

In my humble opinion, these two represent extremely narrow views in terms of the science-religion debates. According to their presentations neither of them seem to have been keeping up with advancements in science, philosophy, nor developments in the science-theology dialogue.

Despite the debate’s hype, it failed to deliver. Although Bill Nye is a gifted science educator for children and Ken Ham a well-meaning Christian, the debate seemed to be more counter-productive than anything.

The media thrives on pinning polar opposites against one another, as is seen between the views of Nye and Ham. They pit Christian fundamentalism on one side and atheistic materialism on the other, while ignoring all the more nuanced positions that exist in between these two polar opposites.

It should be pointed out that, in order to be a Christian, one need not accept a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis nor a young earth. However, the debate was fixated on the age of the earth and universe.

Nye provided some good arguments for accepting a universe and earth of billions of years, whereas Ham missed his opportunity to discuss and provide evidence for the various signposts to the design of the universe itself, the laws of physics and chemistry, the first self-replicating system, consciousness and other such indicators.

Ironically, it was Nye defending big bang cosmology, one of the most compelling arguments for design and creation. Mr. Ham did make a couple of valid points though, namely that one need not necessarily be an evolutionist to be a good scientist and that the term evolution (there are at least six viable different meaning to the term) is often conflated.

In my humble opinion, these two represent extremely narrow views in terms of the science-religion debates. According to their presentations neither of them seem to have been keeping up with advancements in science, philosophy, nor developments in the science-theology dialogue." 6

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This topic continues in Part 4 with 22 questions raised by Creationists
attending the debate and answered from the perspective of evolutionists

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Bill Nye debates Ken Ham," You Tube, 2014-FEB-04, at: http://www.youtube.com/
  2. "WATCH Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate ... Who won Creation vs Evolution debate? [POLL]," News Briefs, Christian Today, 2014-FEB-06, at: http://www.christiantoday.com/
  3. Rebecca Savastio, "Christian Today Poll Says Bill Nye Won Debate With Ken Ham," Liberty Voice, 2014-FEB-05, at: http://guardianlv.com/
  4. Tyler O'Neil, "Science vs. Bible? 5 Arguments for and against Creationism From the Ken Ham, Bill Nye Debate," The Christian Post, 2014-FEB-05, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  5. "What Happened When Bill Nye Debated Ken Ham Last Night," Science and Religion Today, 2014-FEB-05, at: http://www.scienceandreligiontoday.com/
  6. Scott Ventureyra, "It's Science Guy vs. creationist, Feb. 4," The Toronto Star, 2014-FEB-10, at: http://www.thestar.com/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2014-FEB-02
Latest update: 2014-FEB-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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