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After my debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy” last week at the Creation Museum, one reporter said to me, “Well, the cat’s out of the bag—and once it is, it’s hard to put it back in.”
I was discussing with the reporter the point I emphasized over and over again during the debate—the difference between origins or historical science and experimental or observational science.
Before I discuss more about this, let me first share with you my thoughts and strategies leading up to the debate.
God’s Word tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God in faith and He will give wisdom (James 1:5). I (as well as our staff and many supporters) prayed that God would give me direction and wisdom concerning the preparation for the debate.
God’s Word also instructs us that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). So I also sought the counsel of people experienced in speaking and research, both inside and outside the ministry.
I then outlined a debate plan. It was clear to me that over the years, biblical creationists have answered most of the questions about the origins issue that have been brought up by evolutionists—including ice-core dating, carbon dating, misplaced fossils, Grand Canyon rock layers, tree ring dating, and so on. Answers to these questions are readily available on our website www.answersingenesis.org.
Over the years, I have taught at seminars and in my books that creationists and evolutionist have the same evidence—so the battle was not about evidence. The difference is how a person interprets the evidence in relation to the past. And such interpretation depends a person’s starting point—either based in the Word of One who revealed events of the past to enable us to build a correct worldview, or based on naturalism and man’s ideas (autonomous human reason), extrapolating back into history.
I knew I had to ensure that this teaching was a part of my debate presentation. This also meant exposing the fact that public school textbooks started with a bias—that a person’s approach to the subject of origins can only be based on naturalism. This is nothing short of atheistic ideas being imposed on generations of kids in our schools. I also needed to expose that this indoctrination into naturalistic thinking was being accomplished by the hijacking of the words “science” and “evolution.” So this approach became a major thrust of my presentation.
In addition, our faculty (and other scientists outside AiG) and I researched carefully what my opponent Bill Nye had been saying publicly. We noticed that many times Nye had asserted that if kids were taught creation and not evolution, this would undermine America’s innovativeness and technological achievement. He was implying (as many secularists have tried to argue) that creationists can’t be real scientists. The media often portrays the creation/evolution issue as science versus creation, or science versus the Bible. The best way to show this idea as false was to show video clips of creation scientists, two of whom were renowned for innovative inventions and published papers. That’s why I included four video clips of creation scientists, including the inventor of the remarkable MRI scanner.
I also know that God’s Word tells us His Word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11), and it is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12)—and that faith comes through the hearing of the Word (Romans 10:9). It was vital to boldly stand upon the authority of the Word and also explain the message of salvation from that Word. I included these elements in both my opening statement and the 30-minute presentation.
Because we are often labeled (pejoratively) as young-earth creationists, I deliberately did not say much about the age of the earth until the first rebuttal. I did briefly mention the age of the universe in my opening statement, in one of the lists of predictions based on the Bible, and I said this subject is in the realm of “historical science.” But I wanted people to understand that AiG is first and foremost a “biblical creationist” organization—our major emphasis is presenting the authority of the Word and the gospel. Belief in a young earth/universe is a consequence of taking God at His Word (as we should).
Because I was so sure Bill Nye would bring up the age of the earth question, I decided that my first rebuttal would point out problems in dating methods and push the point that by using the scientific method, we can’t prove the age of rocks, young or old. Then I also briefly showed that when Christians believe in millions of years, they have a problem of consistency by insisting on death, carnivory, disease, and thorns before sin!
That left me five minutes of my second rebuttal to deal with the long list of items Bill Nye brought up in his gallop through supposed problems for creationists. I had three pages of a notepad filled with points—but could only select a few.
I believed the question-and-answer time should be confined to answering the questions posed by the audience or responding to the answer my opponent had given to an audience question.
Before the debate I received many emails, phone calls, letters, Facebook postings, and even certified mail telling me what I should say to Bill Nye. About 150–200 people gave me advice. Some Christians (including Christian leaders) wrote articles declaring what they would do in a debate with Mr. Nye, and they knew I would have the wrong approach—and that was before they even heard the debate!
I also knew what would happen after the debate—I would be critiqued by friend and foe alike for what I said or didn’t say. Yes, even some of our supporters were unhappy with me for not including more of what they see as evidences. Most of them didn’t seem to comprehend the real nature of the battle.
I went into the debate knowing that I was opening myself up to the world—and no matter what I did, people from both sides would have negative responses. And that’s exactly what has happened.
Of course, I have also received many messages of encouragement—and received many testimonies of positive outcomes from this debate. Far more than the negative ones. And the positive momentum of the debate keeps going.
If many more Christians and non-Christians have now begun talking about origins, the Bible, and the gospel as a result of this debate—it was all worth it. And that’s exactly what is happening—the conversation cannot be stopped, not only from the 10 million people or so who watched the debate live or in our archives, but from millions of others who have read or watched one of the countless media reports about the debate.
Now, atheists had been warning Bill Nye (through blog posts and articles) that I was going to discuss the topic of historical and observational science. They were telling him there was no such division as historical science and observational science. These secularists do not want students and teachers to understand that there is a major distinction of science here. It’s part of their (as I said at the debate) hijacking of the word science to indoctrinate people in naturalism (atheism).
Bill Nye, I believe, had been groomed on how to refute the distinction (he thanked secular organizations like the NCSE for helping him prepare). He said there was no such thing as historical science and that it was just a Ken Ham construct.
But now the cat’s out of the bag, as the reporter said to me.
Yes, in a very public way, we have been able to call people’s attention to the fact that when discussing molecules-to-man evolution, a person has to distinguish between belief aspects (and assumptions behind extrapolations into the past) and what is actually observed directly in the present. If this distinction was taught in schools (although the secularists have been able to pass legislation that by and large protects the teaching of evolutionary naturalism), students would be able to analyze the origins issue correctly—they would better understand the nature of science and how to think critically. Sadly, students are losing out on being taught how to use their critical thinking skills in regard to science—whether historical or observational science.
I’ve had so many people comment on my Facebook page about this observation—it makes so much sense to them. They get it! I wanted to share one of the comments with you that was left on my Facebook page. It not only illustrates that people understand my point but also the importance of spreading this message through the culture. In addition, more and more people are waking up to the fact that there really is no supposed “separation of church and state” in America’s public schools. I stated the following in my debate, and I boldly stand by it:
Public school textbooks are using the same word science for observational and historical science. They arbitrarily define science as naturalism and outlaw the supernatural. They present molecules-to-man evolution as fact. They are imposing the religion of naturalism/atheism on generations of students.Here is how someone put it on my Facebook page:
Yes, the government is imposing an atheistic religion on generations of students.
The “Debate of the Decade” or “Scopes 2” lived up to its name! It was indeed a battle of worldviews. I am so thankful Ken Ham kept it about “the Gospel of The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”—God’s Word and Biblical Authority starting with the first verse in Genesis vs. man’s fallible word.Yes—the cat’s out of the bag. Many people who didn’t realize it before are now waking up to the fact that the government schools are imposing the religion of naturalism on their students. Now that this observation is out of the bag, let’s spread the word even further.
In other words, I am thankful that it was not a battle of the evidences. Those answers to the skeptical questions of the day are available in so many places today. What people needed to hear was far more important. People need to either believe God’s Word or not. God’s Word is the only weapon available to us in this battle. God’s Word is the only way to be saved.
So ultimately this was a battle of worldviews, and Ken Ham won on a massive scale because Bill Nye was unable to effectively use his arguments about the past once his arguments were properly defined as historical science. That is to say, Bill Nye’s arguments were defined as conjecture or guesswork about the past before he even spoke. Ken Ham defined historical science for a large group of people around the world. Thus, he informed people that naturalism is historical science. It is simply conjecture about the past. It is a belief system.
Naturalism is a religion that has been imposed on society at every level. It is indoctrinating generations of people, and Ken Ham exposed it worldwide for the atheistic… worldview or religion that it is. Naturalism, Darwinism, Macroevolution, Geologic Evolution, Cosmic Evolution, Chemical Evolution, etc. were all defined as religion before Bill Nye even made his case.
What a pivotal debate in history. What a privilege to hear. People have a choice. The choice is NOT “creation or science”. Now, thanks to a well planned debate many people know the truth that there are two types of science. You could say, what is it going to be? “Creation or Conjecture,” “Creation or Historical Science,” “Creation or Guesswork,” or “God’s Word vs Man’s Word.” The choice is yours.
The difference between historical and observational science draws the battle lines of what is truly happening:
He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Luke 11:23)And as I also stated in the debate,
The creation/evolution debate is really a conflict between two philosophical worldviews based on two different accounts of origins, or historical science beliefs.Yes—the cat’s out of the bag. Let’s keep it that way and spread the word.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.