Destruction or Salvation: What Motivated the Nye-Ham Debate?

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In the previous article in this series, we examined a few of the claims and misrepresentations of the September 2014 Popular Science article, “Bill Nye Fights Back.” We will now examine more of the article, featuring a representative segment and then providing a rebuttal to each segment.

In the previous article, we highlighted Bill Nye’s belief that biblical creation “holds everybody back” and countered, showing that a belief in molecules-to-man evolution is not essential to, and has actually hampered scientific progress in some cases. For example, it didn’t hold Isaac Newton back! Now we’ll pick up with more article excerpts that flesh out this perceived sentiment of Bill Nye’s that any critical evaluation of evolution is tantamount to “fighting against science.”

Popular Science Cries Wolf (and Bill Nye Wants to Seek and Destroy)

Scientists seem powerless to stem this rising tide [referring to the report on the flat-lining of scientific literacy among U.S. grade school students], and that’s largely because they fare so poorly at rebutting dubious ideas. “Scientists are trained to review an exhaustive list of literature and information, gather all the evidence, then cautiously make their way to reasonable, logical conclusions,” says Ginger Pinholster, the director of public programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “The public wants to know the headlines, the punch line, and what’s in it for me. It flips the scientific communication process on its head.”1

This is just another example of a false dichotomy, linking disbelief in evolution to a decline in scientific literacy. We would claim just the opposite; it is a consequence of evolutionary indoctrination which stifles scientific inquiry. After all, creation has not been taught in public schools for decades.

When creationists have lured scientists into debates, the result is usually unsatisfying. They unearth slide after slide of unfounded ideas and data with just enough of a whiff of truth to seem plausible.

Lured? It was Bill Nye who attacked creationists for teaching kids the truth about history. The debate was the result of creationists defending themselves from Bill Nye’s attacks. Second, what unfounded ideas and data?

Actually, what is stated in the above two sentences is really what Bill Nye did during the debate. He used slide after slide covering many different topics to try to intimidate people into believing his worldview, in order to explain the various evidences he brought up with very little detail, and when refuted, he brought it up again anyway! Perhaps this is so people could not even begin to understand the underlying assumptions inherent in his arguments.

The scientists then spend most of the time arguing about the ideas on the various slides—in the process, giving them weight—rather than addressing the greater point: that the entire logic is flawed. Better to avoid debates altogether. Unless, of course, you’re Bill Nye. Back in California, he had told me, “I want to destroy him, and I’m in a unique position to do so.” By him he meant Ham. By his position, he meant that, while he may be the Science Guy, he’s not a scientist. He can engage, and so [expletive removed] he will.

Although Bill Nye wanted to destroy Ken Ham, Mr. Ham wasn’t out to destroy him.

Although Bill Nye wanted to destroy Ken Ham, Mr. Ham wasn’t out to destroy him. Ken Ham wanted to faithfully respond to the agreed-upon debate question, and graciously but firmly challenge Mr. Nye and all those watching concerning the nature of the origins debate—one of a worldview conflict because of differing starting points for those worldviews. Mr. Ham also unashamedly proclaimed the gospel as he wanted to win Mr. Nye and any skeptic watching over to the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel message.

Interestingly, Bill Nye still hasn’t addressed this issue of the existence of logic. This was brought up by Ken Ham several times. Logic is a biblical concept and makes no sense in Bill Nye’s religion. Bill Nye’s humanistic worldview is materialistic in its outlook. So immaterial things like logic can’t exist in his religious perspective. He must cast aside his religion and borrow from a biblical worldview just to make his case against a biblical worldview!

Popular Science Stays Objective?

Petersburg, Kentucky lies within rifle shot of the Ohio River, which runs along the Ohio and Indiana border. Cincinnati is 20 minutes away. The hills here are low, rolling and Midwestern, the landscape exurban. Smokestacks from a coal plant across the Ohio River are the most prominent feature until, turning onto Bullittsburg Church Road, a gate with a stegosaurus appears.

Perhaps Popular Science is just being indiscriminately descriptive here. But I can’t help but perceive that what is being said here is done to paint a specific picture in the reader’s minds. Otherwise, why use terminology which brings to mind guns and fossil fuels? More objective journalism might have said “stone’s throw” and “power plant.”

The docents wore tight smiles as they directed guests.

Why even use the language “tight smiles,” except to imply a negative? Contrary to the implication, the guest services representatives seemed quite upbeat and excited about the debate! The Creation Museum also receives feedback each week from people commenting on how friendly and helpful the guest services personnel are. Perhaps this was projection on the part of Mr. Nye.

Many of the exhibits were extraordinary: dinosaurs (a velociraptor, a tyrannosaur) alongside a Who’s Who of Old Testament characters (Methuselah, Adam, Eve, Noah).

Where is this in the museum (e.g., Eve with a velociraptor)? Of course, this type of error is to be expected if one doesn’t tour the museum. The Creation Museum does teach that people and dinosaurs lived at the same time, because God said that land animals (which included dinosaurs) were made the same day as man.

Packs of visitors wandered the halls, and some—men, always—proselytized before congregations of three or four. Children kept close to their parents.

If guests are preaching the gospel in the halls, good for them! But this gives the false idea there were men who were preaching to every “three or four.” There are no employed counselors at the Creation Museum. Families and individuals move at their own rate and are free to have their own discussions, just as Bill Nye did with his constituents on route to Legacy Hall where the debate took place. Any caring parent would want their children close to them, or at least would want to know their whereabouts when in a public facility.

In one grim hallway on the fall of man, a little girl clutched the folds of her mother’s floral-print dress.

This is believable—I saw similar things at the holocaust display at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. However, the Creation Museum’s display seems tame next to what the Nazis did and what was shown to the public there.

When evil happens and bad things occur, it shouldn’t be ignored but taught. The one “grim hallway” refers to just one part of just one of the museum’s numerous exhibits. This small section of the museum explains that death and disease are the result of Adam’s sin and shows a few of the consequences of that sin. But perhaps the writer of this article should more closely examine secular natural history museums, where death, disease, cannibalism, warfare, and a host of other things are portrayed. There, death is almost glorified, because it supposedly led to humans; here at the Creation Museum, death is clearly portrayed as the last enemy that will be destroyed by Jesus Christ.

We also object to the insinuation here by Popular Science that our Creation Museum is scary to children, as opposed to being in reality kid friendly. Furthermore, the Creation Museum won the number one spot in voting by people for places that kids should visit by the time they are 15, but Budget Travel refused to recommend the Creation Museum due to their anti-Christian bias.

Popular Science Sympathizes with Bill Nye

Pre-debate, Ham politely refused to answer several questions from the press related to his proposed Ark Park, a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark to be built on 800 rural acres 40 miles to the south. . . .

Ham said he wasn’t allowed to talk about the [Ark] bonds but was happy to discuss the debate.

No press conference as such was organized pre-debate. However, the press was told that a time was set aside for both Bill Nye and Ken Ham to talk with media representatives. Ken Ham turned up to do this, but Bill Nye did not turn up to talk to the press. Therefore, it ended up being a sort of “unofficial press conference,” where Ken Ham took questions from the media.

One question was asked about the Ark bonds, and Ken Ham explained at that time that they were actually in the middle of the bond offering. He explained that the bond underwriters, in accord with the regulations, had issued AiG a “gag order” in regard to publicly discussing the bond issue. Mr. Ham explained he was willing to answer any other question but just could not answer that one and asked the press to understand he had to obey the “gag order” from the underwriters. The press understood and asked other questions.

When asked if Nye could say anything that might change his mind, he answered, “You know what? I’m a Christian, and I know God’s word is true, and there’s nothing he could say that will cast doubt on that.” . . .

Two hours in, Ham asked Nye the reverse of what the press had asked him: What might change his mind?

Actually, when Ken Ham and Bill Nye were directed questions through the moderator, one of the questions asked of Ken Ham was in regard to what evidence he would accept that would change his mind. After Mr. Ham answered, Bill Nye then gave his response (each speaker had two minutes to answer a question directed at them and the other speaker had one minute to respond).

Toward the end of the debate, the audience had a chance to ask questions of both men, and those directed to Nye seemed designed to trip him up.

It seems this “neutral” writer is sympathizing with Bill Nye quite a bit; but the debate recording shows that both Bill and Ken were asked some hard questions. There were quite a number of Bill Nye supporters in the audience (as evidenced in a number of ways—including in a report by ABC). The audience handed in written questions that were then sorted by the moderator, Tom Foreman of CNN. The questions, which were submitted before the debate began, were not designed to trip Bill Nye up, but to challenge both debaters concerning their beliefs.

Ham’s strength came from his faith and his flock. Nye’s came from the mystery and wonder of the universe.

In other words, Mr. Nye’s strength came from a non-material, non-observable, non-testable and/or non-repeatable feeling? That is hardly scientific; in fact, it seems like a blind faith rather than a reasoned one. Ken Ham’s strength came from his unashamed and bold stand on God’s Word as truth and as the basis for science, logic, and morality.

A day after the debate, the evangelical preacher Pat Robertson went on television to scold Ham. “Let’s be real, let’s not make a joke of ourselves,” he said. “We have skeletons of dinosaurs that go back about 65 million years. And to say it all came about in 6,000 years is nonsense.”

Yet in the weeks that followed, the fallout continued. Ham announced the debate had helped his ministry raise tens of millions of dollars, and that he now had the $62 million required to break ground on the Ark Park.

This statement is simply not true. At that time, registrations for the bond offering had been closed, but people who registered had to decide if they were going ahead with their bond investment. Ken Ham told the media that the debate helped enthuse a few of those who had already registered to potentially invest in the bonds to ensure they went through with their investment.

But Pat Robertson, for those who don’t know, has mixed his Christianity with the prevailing religion of the day. He has accepted the secular humanistic views of the supposed big bang and millions of years and tried to add that religion to the Bible. It is sad that he would mix two opposing religions like this, but even the wise Solomon did this at the end of his life by adhering to false religions with his godly religion, and this did not please the Lord. This should be a warning to all of us.

Popular Science Fights for Bill Nye

The day after the debate, Nye, speaking in a school just north of Cincinnati, responded to a question from a seven-year-old girl: “And why is it important that we know what’s what? Because there are two questions, really, that all of us have—are we alone in the universe, and where did we come from? By figuring out that these animals [mammals] have these unusual characteristics, we figure out who came from where.”

Again, Nye acknowledges that what is important is to speculate on whether there is alien life, and to place his faith in an unobserved process of molecules-to-man evolution.

At the same school, Nye spoke to a boy in the audience:

“So, salt is sodium . . . chloride,” he paused before the word, inviting an answer from the audience. Several kids leaned forward in their seats. “In pure form, both sodium and chloride are poisonous, but bonded together you can’t live without it.” He paused again before letting the punch line land. “It’s not magic, it’s . . . ” And then everyone in the small auditorium on a cold, bright Midwestern morning shouted in unison, “Science!”

Yes, this is a chemical reaction, but that is observational science at work because God upholds the universe in a particular, predictable way. As Ken Ham repeatedly pointed out in the debate, including videos of creation scientists speaking about their research and inventions, we embrace observational and experimental science. Creation scientists would not at all disagree with what Bill Nye stated about the properties of sodium and chloride. The disagreement with Bill Nye is not over observational science, but over historical science—where did sodium and chloride come from in the first place? Where did matter come from? That’s a question Bill was asked, and he admitted he didn’t know. When Ken Ham responded, he did so with a phrase that has become one of the most quoted from the debate, “Bill . . . there is a Book.”

Popular Science really missed an opportunity with this article.

Popular Science really missed an opportunity with this article. They could have accurately portrayed the debate as a battle of opposing worldviews, but they didn’t. Instead, they went for the easy out of “science vs. religion.” The problem is that in the secular view (materialistic view), science would be impossible since nothing immaterial would exist, like conclusions, logic, wonder, and reason.

Popular Science could have accurately portrayed the Creation Museum’s staff, visitors, and exhibits, but again they missed the mark, showing their bias. They could have investigated the inventions and careers of creation scientists like Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, Robert Boyle, Raymond Damadian, Stuart Burgess, John Sanford, and so on, but instead they left Bill Nye’s statements and beliefs uncontested. They could have attempted neutrality in their reporting, but alas this was not to be.

Biblical creation and design, rather than evolution and descent, are denigrated and bemoaned as being responsible for the decline of American science literacy. Instead of substance, we got propaganda—nothing more than a Bill Nye infomercial in print.

Footnotes

  1. Ryan Bradley, “Bill Nye Fights Back,” Popular Science, August 21, 2014, http://www.popsci.com/article/science/bill-nye-fights-back.

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