Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 was a truly historic day in the world of origins. Over 3 million people watched the first official debate between creation and evolution in many years. On the side of creation – Ken Ham, creator of the Creation Museum, and for evolution – Bill Nye The Science Guy! They participated in a formal debate inside the Creation Museum moderated by a CNN anchor that lasted close to three hours. Over 70 news outlets were on hand to report on the historic event, it was broadcast online for free, and tickets to attend in person sold out in 2 minutes! But you know all that… how about my reactions?? Well, here we go!
I believe both presenters did a fabulous job, and this is the consensus I keep hearing. I was pleasantly surprised that Nye understood more of the creationist position than I expected. In previous interviews I had heard him misrepresent the position quite a bit, so I was hoping he would do his homework – and for the most part he did. I was not a big fan of the format – at least the Q&A time. It was way too fast paced without enough time to accurately answer or for them to address each other’s requests. That was too bad. Although I did expect it to be more of a landslide, and it was not, I will call the debate for Ham and will give very specific reasons why.
From my notes Nye offered up an impressive 14 main points (old-earth Christians, fossil layers, CSI forensics, ice cores, fossils under museum, order in fossil record, different human skulls, land bridge to Australia, rapid speciation, boulders in Washington, Noah’s Ark vs. the Wyoming ship, radioactive decay, distant starlight, vegetarian animals w/ sharp teeth, and needing people for future scientific innovation).
Ham answered 7 of the 14 points for a 50% answer ratio. He answered Bill’s claims about old-earth Christians, ice cores, boulders in Washington, Ark vs. Wyoming ship, radioactive decay, vegetarian animals w/ sharp teeth, and needing scientists for innovation.
From my notes Ham offered up 8 main points (creationists can be scientists, where would constant laws come from in an evolutionary worldview, what technological innovation has required evolution, creation orchard vs. tree of life, one human race, literal Genesis basis of all Christian doctrine, morality based on naturalism vs. Bible, assumptions of radiometric dating).
Nye answered 2 of the 8 points for a 25% answer ratio. He answered Ken’s claims about one human race, and literal Genesis vs. poetic.
Based simply on that point Ham took better advantage of his time and answered 50% of Nye’s claims while in the same time Nye only answered 25% of Ham’s. This makes Ham the better debater – but it does not mean he wins the debate completely. Let’s look at Bill and Ken’s main points they kept harping on to see if the other adequetly addressed them or not.
Nye’s main point was that creationism hinders scientist’s ability to make new technological innovations. Ham thouroughly answered this critisim in his opening presentation where he presented videos of several current and past scientists doing significant work in the field while believing in Biblical creation and a young-earth. Nye never acknowledged this.
Ham’s main point was that there is a difference between observational (modern) science and historical science (dealing with unreatable historical events). Nye barely touched on this. The closest he got was his CSI analogy. On CSI forensic scientists recreate past events to help law enforcement create convictions. You know the part he didn’t mention? There have been many examples of eye-witnesses coming forward and forcing a reinterpretation of the evidence, and convictions are overturned. That is what Ham is inferring. The Bible is that eye-witness account that reinterprets the physical evidence.
Based on the answer ratio above (Ham 50%, Nye 25%), and the failure of Nye to answer Ham’s main point while Ham throughly answered his with multiple examples – Ken Ham is the winner of this debate whether you agree with his positions or not.