Ken Ham and Bill Nye will face off Tuesday at 7:00 PM (ET) at the Creation Museum to discuss “Is creation a viable model of origins?” A live stream of the debate can be watched free of charge at debatelive.org. A Discovery.com article asks, “Should Scientists Debate Creationists?” This very title promotes a misconception that the debate on Tuesday evening at the Creation Museum should clarify.
Defining the Battle
The “evolution versus creation” issue is not a battle between “science” and “non-science.” Rather it is a war of worldviews. All scientists—whether creationist or evolutionist—draw conclusions about our unobservable origins in accord with their own worldview-based presuppositions and biases. Their already existing beliefs determine how they interpret data about a long ago time that they cannot recreate in a laboratory. Being a biblical “creationist” does not make a person a non-scientist. Rather, a creation scientist understands that God’s eyewitness account of our origins provides the only reliable framework for interpreting scientific data relevant to the origins question.
Like many evolutionists, Nye will not acknowledge the scientific difference between studying the present, which can be seen, and the unobservable past, which can only be evaluated adequately when an eyewitness account can clarify that which is otherwise unknowable. That eyewitness account of our origins is only available in the Word of God. Because we have the Creator’s own testimony, creation is not only “a viable model of origins,” but it is the only model of origins illuminated by reliable knowledge about a time that cannot possibly be observed today.
Nye questioned the intelligence of all Bible-believing creationists with his 2012 YouTube video claiming, “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children.” He asserts that parents who teach their children to accept the Bible’s account of our origins are a danger to the technological and economic well-being of our nation. Nye’s subsequent statement—“Religion is one thing, but science, provable science, is something else”—illustrates his own misunderstanding of the nature of scientific observation.
Present, Past, and “Provable”
“Provable” in scientific terms demands the ability to make verifiable observations, but it is not possible to make objective observations about our origins because we cannot go back and observe those origins unfold before our eyes. What we conclude about our origins depends very much on the starting parameters established by our own presuppositions and biases.
As an animated educator, Nye has helped children understand how observable scientific principles work in the present. But sadly he began failing in his mission to make people scientifically literate when he adopted the misconception that his own biases and beliefs about the unobservable past were equally valid, objective, and trustworthy. Nye consistently confuses “provable science” with that which evolutionists imagine happened in the past and the conclusions they draw from superimposing their worldview on the observable facts of science.
Scientists evaluate testable hypotheses using experiments that are observed and measured in the present. From such scientific pursuits, countless technological and medical breakthroughs emerge. But when scientists try to apply those same scientific principles to learn about the origin of the universe and life, they must rely on assumptions that reflect the worldview of the scientists making them.
Imagining the Past vs. Reading About the Past
Scientists who are biblical creationists (AiG has several full-time staff with earned doctorates) evaluate data relevant to the unobservable past in accord with the history provided in God’s Word. Scientists who reject the Word of God evaluate such data in accord with their own bias that all things came into being spontaneously through natural processes. Since matter has never been observed creating itself, and life has never been observed creating itself from non-living elements, and living things have never been observed evolving into more complex kinds of living things, it seems that Bible-rejecting evolutionary scientists are basing their foundational principles on their own base-less opinion that there is no God and that their own unverifiable assumptions are trustworthy.
Being a biblical “creationist” does not make a person a non-scientist.
Thus, when the Discovery.com article states “Nye and Ham are operating on different sets of assumptions,” it is actually correct, though not in exactly the way the Discovery author meant it. The Nye position assumes that unverifiable assumptions about our origins constitute “provable science,” rather than recognizing the difference between assumptions and observations. The Ham position recognizes that when discussing the matter of origins, the conclusions a scientist reaches always depend on the scientist’s presuppositions and worldview. A scientist is not somehow “more scientific” if he or she rejects God’s recorded eyewitness testimony that provides a historical framework for the study of origins.
The topic of the debate, “Is creation a viable model of origins?” asks whether God’s eyewitness account—the creation model—provides a framework for the evaluation of origins-related scientific data by scientists. Understanding the value of a reliable historical context in drawing conclusions about the untestable past, we will answer this affirmatively. The alternative model—the evolutionist model that Nye advocates—is a framework based on the anti-Bible opinion of those particular scientists who arbitrarily choose to value their own opinions more than the Word of God.
Discovery.com declares, “There is no debate among scientists about whether evolution occurs, any more than there’s a debate among botanists about whether photosynthesis occurs or among physicists that gravity exists.”
This statement reveals that the writer, like Nye in particular and evolutionists in general, does not understand the difference between what they can observe, measure, and test, and that which they only imagine to have happened. Photosynthesis and gravity can be observed in operation today. Evolutionary presuppositions assume that certain unobservable phenomena—phenomena that are never observed today, incidentally—happened spontaneously in the past. The “proof” of evolution, in the minds of evolutionists, is the fact that we are here. “How else could we have gotten here?” they rhetorically declare.
In claiming that there really is no debate among scientists about whether evolution explains our origins, Discovery.com echoes Dr. Eugenie Scott’s view of reality. Scott, former director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), is—like Nye—an educator dedicated to popularizing evolutionary dogma and denigrating creation science. As we have discussed before, the NCSE claims that molecules-to-man evolution is not controversial because they only acknowledge the legitimacy of those scientists who happen to agree with their position. The position of the NCSE, therefore, is to redefine those who disagree with their particular worldview as “unscientific.”
But wait! Discovery.com assures us, “Evolution is all around us, all the time. Evolution is why we need to get a new flu shot every year.” Could it be that all the Bible-believing scientists in the world are totally blind to evolution happening in the here and now? On the contrary, the problem here is that the Discovery writer is convoluting two different uses of the word evolution.
In a very broad sense, the word evolution can simply mean “change,” and creation scientists do not deny the observable changes seen in biology. Animals do vary within their kinds, resulting in new species and varieties, but that is not the same thing as unobservable molecules-to-man evolution. Furthermore, microbes like bacteria and viruses do vary through observable ordinary processes like mutations and natural selection, resulting in the emergence of microbial populations that are more or less resistant or virulent. Yet this also has nothing whatever to do with molecules-to-man evolution. When evolutionary educators tell the public and children that speciation of animals, bacterial resistance, and the changing characteristics of the influenza virus prove that molecules-to-man evolution happened, they are being illogical and even deceptive.
Why Do We Care?
Will the debate change anyone’s mind in favor of biblical belief? The Discovery.com writer is hedging his bets. He doubts that it will, but just in case he is confident that any defectors to the Bible side will just be those who are swayed by emotion or the limitations of the time available to examine the issues. We have more confidence in the ability of the viewers of the debate at debatelive.org to listen and logically evaluate what they hear. Obfuscation of the issue through the popular ploys illustrated in the Discovery.com article creates stumbling blocks to faith for many people. We are praying that the Ham-Nye debate will shatter them.
Why do we care what people believe about our origins? We know that when people realize that the Word of God does not conflict with the observed facts of science, they are more likely to accept the Bible’s explanation for not only our origins but also for why the world is full of sin and suffering. And then, seeing that we are all sinners in rebellion against a loving Creator, we pray that many will come to trust the provision that our Creator has made for our eternal salvation and abundant life through Jesus Christ.