On Tuesday night I was very fortunate to be able to stream the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. I only learned of the event hours before it happened but knew that it would be a great way to spend my evening. Boy, was I right!
Many will know of Bill Nye from his popular television show Bill Nye the Science Guy, but as I learned last Tuesday he has an impressive list of accomplishments longer than my arm. These accomplishments include writing 5 books, hosting 3 television shows, and being the Executive Director of the Planetary Society which is the world’s largest space interest group. Bill Nye graduated from Cornell with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Ken Ham, while completely unknown to me prior to the debate, has a long list of accomplishments as well. A native of Australia he is the President and Co-Founder of Answers in Genesis, a Bible defending group upholding the authority of scriptures from the first verse. He is behind the Creation Museum located in Kentucky. Mr. Ham is also a well-known author, and radio show host. Ken Ham holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science with an emphasis in Environmental Biology from Queensland Institute of Technology as well as a Diploma of Education from the University of Queensland.
As soon as I found out about this debate, I opened the stream in a new tab and let the countdown commence, when 7pm rolled around I was glued to my computer expecting a fun time listening to Bill Nye crush whoever his opponent was. I don’t think I was disappointed. I believe Bill Nye crushed Ken Ham.
Ken Ham opened with a definition of science and continued his argument throughout the night based on different definitions of science, historical science and observational science. His point was there is observational science, the science we can observe and do in labs, and there is historical science, which as far as I could tell is a way to establish a timeline. I’m not very clear on historical science because Mr. Ham wasn’t very clear about it.
Ken Ham’s argument was, “Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era.”
Bill Nye opened with a search for all the bow ties in the room, there were just two from what he said. He continued on with an anecdote about his grandfather getting his bow-tie tied by an undertaker. Mr. Nye used CSI, a popular crime drama, as an example of science at work saying there is no distinction between observational science and historical science, pointing out that that distinction is only used by Ken Ham and other believers of the creation model. In his opening statements, Mr. Nye very bluntly stated that he did not think Mr. Ham’s creation model was viable, calling for evidence to prove him wrong.
Both men continued on supporting their view and debating their opponent’s view. I think, from a speech point of view, both men presented well. They were pleasant to each other, did not resort to personal attacks, and were well-prepared to present. However, as is typical in my dealings with debates of this nature, I often wondered if the men were even debating the same topic due to semantics.
At the end of the debate there was a 45 minute section for questions and answers, and this is where I think Ken Ham truly lost the debate. While many of the things in his presentation you could get behind, when he answered questions there was no following where he was leading.
My first reaction post-debate was “I think Bill Nye crushed it, and Ken Ham missed an opportunity to reconcile his beliefs with science and reach an even larger audience and connect them with Christianity.” This sums up my thoughts Tuesday night and right now.