Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye: My Reaction to the Debate
Last night was the big debate between Ken Ham (the young-earth creationist CEO of Answers in Genesis) and Bill Nye (known to people all over the world as “Bill Nye the Science Guy” thanks to his award winning television show of the same name). I watched the debate with our neighbors as the kids played in their rooms, occasionally wandering out to see what was so important that we were glued to the television and had pizza delivered rather than miss even a minute for such trivialities as cooking dinner. It was like the Super Bowl for creation science geeks (since we hadn’t bothered tuning in to that at all)!
I appreciated the debate for a variety of reasons, but primarily because it caused me to reflect on the intellectual journey I’ve taken over the past few years. While the majority of the debate was focused on the idea of an old earth in which evolution was the driving factor behind the development of the vast array of living organisms we see today and a young earth created by God in six 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago, there was also a part where Ken Ham addressed Christians who tried to reconcile the two views, accepting a time frame of billions of years while still giving God credit for the creation.
My journey to becoming a “young earther”
The reason I appreciated this part of the debate so much is because that’s where I stood just a few years ago. I remember an incident during a class at my Christian university in which a professor asked us if anyone believed in a literal six-day creation. There were probably around eighty students in the class, and only one person raised his hand. I had grown up in public schools, and after coming to faith when I was fourteen I had never heard anyone contradict the ideas I had been taught about the age of the earth. I chuckled at that poor backward young man who didn’t know that science “proved” that the six days discussed in Genesis 1 had to refer to long eras and couldn’t possibly by 24-hour days. After all, even our Christian professor back up my view.
Fast forward a few years to when my church was doing a dinosaur-themed VBS. As I was listening to the songs provided with the curriculum, I started feeling really uncomfortable. “God created the world in six days, six days, six days…” the cheery voices sang. I went to the head of our children’s ministry program and said I wasn’t sure I could be the music leader that year, since I wasn’t sure I even believed the words to the songs I was expected to teach all those impressionable children. I think that was when I really started seeking out evidence that could point me to the truth.
I’m not going to go into all the facts and figures that support the idea of a young earth, but suffice to say I changed my mind. I think the key factor in that decision was something Ken Ham brought up last night in the debate. If the earth was billions of years old, and animals had been living on it for millennia before the appearance of man, then that meant death was present before sin entered the world as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. The idea of Christ’s redemption from sin and death is so foundational to my Christian faith that I simply cannot accept that God’s creatures had been dying for millions of years before man’s decision corrupted His perfect creation. I realized that only a literal interpretation of the Hebrew word “yom” as a 24-hour day made sense, meaning that the earth is indeed young.
How do I reconcile this view with what secular scientists say about the age of the earth? To be blunt, I believe their dating methods are faulty. I believe the conclusions they have drawn about their scientific observations are based more on their worldview than truth. I believe there is plenty of evidence that points to a young age for the earth. I choose to stand on the foundation of God’s Word, and so I view the evidence through that lens. Everyone has faith in something, and if mine were not in the truth of the Bible then there would be nothing to support my trust in Christ’s salvation.
I thought Ken Ham did an admirable job of defending the position of a young earth, but I doubt many non-believers will take his word over that of the secular scientists who tell them otherwise. I think perhaps the most important work he did last night was explaining to believers why the idea of an old earth is contradictory to the fundamental message of the gospel: that Christ came to save us from the sin and death that entered the world as a result of Adam’s Fall.
If you missed the debate, I highly recommend making the time to watch it (two and half hours total). It’s still available for free through debatelive.org (as of this writing) or you can pre-order a DVD of Uncensored Science: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham from the Answers in Genesis Bookstore. I don’t know how long the free stream will be available, so I’d recommend watching it as soon as you can! If you want to find out more about how science confirms the biblical account of creation, I would encourage you to check out Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research.
Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links. When you shop the Answers In Genesis Store through my blog, I receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting my blog!