Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One Christian's view on the creation debate: How we can salvage the day even after Bill Nye dominated Ken Ham

Part way through the Creation Debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, I found myself praying for Ken Ham.  I prayed to God for Ham to give up his argument on the age of the earth.  The age of the earth will be Ken Ham's Achilles ankle.  Bill Nye did in fact make short work of Ham, holding his own while pointing out Ken Ham gave no compelling evidence for his views, specifically of proving a young earth.  My Christian faith wasn't shaken, and I still believe in the supernatural creator of the Bible, creating all of the universe.  Even so, the debate left me frustrated.  

Here are eight areas where Ken Ham missed the boat in tonight's debate:
#1. Ken repeatedly appealed to several PhDs who hold his belief in a young earth, but then Ham finished his debate by saying that a majority rule doesn't mean their view is right, in response to Nye saying how the vast majority of scientists reject Ham's view.  It is irrelevant on how many scientists think the earth is young.  That point proves nothing about anything other than their view.  That information about the views of creationist PhDs did nothing to reveal evidence from nature to explain the actual age of the earth.  

#2. Ken Ham should've used Pangaea to his advantage.  Instead, Ham made a miserable attempt to say the movement of the Tectonic plates today might not be the rate of movement they've always been.  Pangaea is Biblical, and it would've explained why there are kangaroos in Australia.  

#3. Ken Ham is mistaken to say that lions were herbivores before the Fall of Adam and Eve.  The Bible never says such nonsense.  And, the death that the Bible talks about entering the world after the Fall was spiritual.  Adam ate the fruit of the tree in Gen 3 and physically he lived over 100 more years, yet one chapter earlier God said, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17, ESV) So either God meant a spiritual death, or God didn't follow through on His word and kill Adam on that very day. The idea that no animals died before the Fall is not supported anywhere in Scripture. There is no evidence to say that the animals would have lived forever if sin didn't enter the world.  

#4. Ken Ham should've made a better clarification that micro and macro evolution are two different ideas. He blew a great opportunity there, instead, he elaborated on "kinds" of animals.  Ham could've gone into irreducible complexity or spent his time on unpacking the fact that there are no transitional fossils, that all animals in the fossil record are fully formed.  Instead Ham let Nye use fossils to Nye's advantage from a debate perspective.

#5. Ken Ham gained nothing and proved nothing to Bill Nye by arguing for a young earth.  Nowhere does the Bible give us a date, nor does the Bible command we argue for an age of the earth.  Ham should've said, "For the sake of argument, who cares about the age of the earth." And moved on to "why" there even is anything at all.  Nye was excited to talk about that.  Instead, all Ham did was cite the genealogy of the Bible, added up every one's ages, and gave a rough age of a young earth.  What good did that do to prove a Creator created the earth?  None.

#6. Bill Nye repeatedly asked for one predictive insight Ken Ham's Biblically based model could provide.  Nye said science can make predictions and test those and that verifies the scientific model.  For one, Ham could've pointed out one can't test or repeat a test for the Big Bang.  All we can do is read the evidence.  More to the point, when Nye asked -- begged for one thing Ham could predict, Ham missed his Golden opportunity. "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:10-12, ESV) Ken Ham could've shown where science and Scripture agree on the end of the universe.  For example: Click here for Science and Scripture on the End of Time

#7 When Bill Nye mentioned "survival of the fittest" and how evolution brought us to this point, and how intelligent we are as humans, Ham should've asked why do we have an over abundance of intelligence?  Quantum physics, nuclear medicine, and sending people to the moon are overkill.  We could hunt and gather and evade saber-tooth tigers with a fraction of our intelligence.  How does evolution account for all of the unnecessary added intelligence we have as humans?  It can't.

#8.  Instead of simply asking why life arouse from mere matter, or how does Nye account for the laws of logic, Ham should've driven the point home that the laws of physics do not require nor make life necessary.  None of the Laws of Physics dictate the necessity of life existing.

Bottom line:  If I needed a consult for heart surgery, I wouldn't go to two people who simply held Bachelor's degrees, yet those are the only credentials for both Bill Nye and Ken Ham.  The Origins of the universe is far more significant than heart surgery.  I believe in the Biblical account of creation per a Creator, but I could care less about the age of the earth; the Bible doesn't mention the age nor does the Bible command we argue over the age of the earth.  Ken Ham argued over the age of rocks, but that won't point people to the Rock of Ages.  Bill Nye used an analogy repeatedly about CSI to show we can look at evidence to draw conclusions from the past, and Nye mentioned his acceptance of the scientific method.  Nye begged Ham to just show him one testable model that creationists could offer to show a predictable outcome.  Ham should've used that opportunity to hone in on the actual topic of the debate and point out that Nye was himself appealing to a "cause and effect" universe, which is proof positive for a creator of our universe.  Since the universe had a beginning, that requires a personal choice, so Who made that choice? would've been the proper response to win the debate.  

I wish I could debate Ken Ham from a Christian perspective.... The Nye/Ham debate will be online for a few days at debatelive.org and I recommend watching it for yourself.

Click here for Nye's thoughts a few months after the debate

And for comedic relief, even Pat Robertson has a few words to add: 


Baker5 said...

Ham seemed to try to answer the debates purpose which was that creationists can still be good observable scientists. Nye just attacked creationism in general and Ham did not give much evidence that would convince those with a secular mindset. There are answers that will never please those outside of the Christian faith. If God can feed over 5000 people with a couple of fish and some bread, I think He could figure a way to feed some animals and help Noah build a boat that would not leak. I am thankful many heard the gospel message.

Craig Cottongim said...

I'm glad the Gospel was proclaimed, I wish Ken Ham had not made the age of the earth a sticking point, too many secularist will never even consider listening to believers over that point.

Robert said...
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Robert said...

The recap you gave just confirmed what I thought would happen. Hugh Ross would have answered Nye's questions better than Ham IMHO. But I'm still going to watch the debate.

Craig Cottongim said...

Let me know what you think of the debate Robert after you have a chance to watch it.

mad madrasi said...

Why can't we have faith and science in their own sphere. Why should we try to enforce one on another? That is where all these unnecessary conflicts seep in.

Craig Cottongim said...

Mad Mad, faith and science aren't enemies and both enhance our lives, and to some point they overlap in shaping our thoughts, and ideas have consequences.

Judah and Michelle said...

Monday morning (or Wednesday I guess) quarterbacking at its best!

1) regarding your point #4 about transitional fossil record? Is it your view that ALL fossils are adults? I am not real sure what you are thinking here. If so, I would highly recommend looking at some transitional research on the topic here: http://scienceillustrated.com.au/blog/science/the-curious-case-of-the-shapeshifting-dinosaurs/ I talk a youth group class with this stuff a while back. i got more weird looks from the parents than I did the kids! Of course, I am of the opinion it means little regarding discipleship, but from a scientific mind, it is pretty cool. It helps Christians understand we should really avoid "gap theories" when trying to defend our faith. Eventually, the gap will get filled.

2) regarding your point #7 on "survival of the fittest"... humans brains, when it comes to counting neurons, are not that much different from other primates. The DIFFERENCE, is in how we burn the energy to use them. In short, what sets apart from other primates was when humans decided to start cooking their food. Cooking, requires effort, preparation, TIME. When we stopped having to defined ourselves from saber tooth tigers, looking over our shoulder, praying we were not something's meal, we were able to start burning our brain power for more important things like cooking. this allowed us to start digging into other parts of brain, created things like nuclear power....No other animal does that. Here is some research that discusses it: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/oct/17/catching-fire-richard-wrangham-review and also more recently here: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/10/2518 and talked about in a recent TEDTalk: http://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain.html
Again, regarding discipleship, it matters very little. We have to very careful about what we are going to hold up as our banner.

#8 your comment about the laws of physics "do not require nor make life necessary" (#8) is an interesting one. I am not sure what your thesis is on this, but it seems some (myself included) would disagree with you on that. Most recently this researcher from MIT: https://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/ . For humans, we need the sun. Period. True, there are life forms that do not, but humans are not one of them. Our bodies are literally designed to absorb the sun's rays. We also need the laws of gravity, and fluid dynamics for the flow of liquids and gases in our bodies. if these did not behave the way they do, also being predictable, we would not exist.
Again, my approach to this is that scientists are discovering HOW God has placed in this universe, being able to walk upright, prepare, chew our own food, etc. I am like you, I am still going to go to church, talk to others about Jesus, and look for ways to disagree with you! :)

Thanks for posting these. You are doing awesome!

Craig Cottongim said...

Thanks Judah for the extensive feedback! My response, quickly: No bird fossils with one wing, or an animal in mid-metaphors changing into another creature. Also, your response about the overabundance of intelligence is a good observation, but not a case for why we developed the overabundance. Lastly, the laws of physics do allow for life, but do not mean that life HAD to happen.

Love you bro!

Nate said...
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Nate said...

1) You're right. The statements from PhD.'s did nothing to advance his argument.

2) I'm not sure Pangea would have helped his argument. The "catastrophic" plate movements alluded to by Nye apply here. If the plates had to drift to their current positions in the short time between the flood and now, human recorded history would be one long earthquake.

3)You're right. In fact, Ken Ham has got to know better. He conflates "sharp teeth" with the scientific study of carnivore dentition. The sharp teeth used by pandas to eat bamboo have a dramatically different structure from those of a carnivore like a lion. You'd think Ken Ham would know this...

4)Ham likely avoided the micro/macro evolution tags because they're so well known "outside" that Nye was almost certainly prepared for them. Such a distinction is largely spurious, and based on a misunderstanding of speciation. The process is *exactly the same* in each case, and in scientific literature, when the distinction is made at all (which is hardly ever), it is a descriptive difference. In the creationist community, however, an *ontological* distinction is drawn. As for "irreducible complexity," a Behe term with numerous problems, it derives from intelligent design, which Ham almost certainly views as an unworthy compromise with his literalism.

As for missing links, I'm afraid this reflects a misunderstanding of evolution. *Every single fossil--and every single living thing right this moment--is a missing link.*

I'm going to say that again. *Every single fossil--and every single living thing right this moment--is a missing link.*

Which is to say, there are no fixed forms. Life is constantly in transition. When looking at the fossil record, which is necessarily an arbitrary series of accidentally preserved snapshot of this constant transition, you are always looking at a once living thing that is a variation on its genetic predecessors--just as you and I are variations.

The "missing link" idea assumes that there are fixed forms between which there must be transitional fossils. That misses the boat. Every single thing that has ever lived is transitional.

(No doubt your comment below about "one-winged" bird fossils below was a joke: nobody, ever, has claimed that this should be found.)

5) OK

6) That prediction is a bit difficult to use in science, since, by definition, human inquiry would come to an end.

7) That's a really nifty question--and there's literally thousands of papers written on it. Really. It's a fascinating area of research, and if I were a better person, I'd spend the rest of my life studying it. It's disingenuous to say that "it can't be answered," though. In fact, people are working on it, and making progress. Current research indicates that there isn't a single, cool answer that could be stuck into, you know, a Ken Ham-length blurb. These range from diet, to a neurological cascade effect, to leisure time. You know, science sorts of answers. I'm not really sure what you mean by "unnecessary." I, for one, wish I could be even smarter, and could think of all sorts of ways that might benefit me.

8) Assuming that such a postulate is correct--and that is highly dubious--I'm not sure how that matters. Even if our universe could somehow *not* have produced us, how is that relevant to anything? This is rather like reimagining the outcome to the Civil War. It's interesting (and a little horrific) to think about, but it doesn't affect the study of history in the slightest.

Your final "prime mover" argument (a fine Greek argument, that one, borrowed for Christianity by Aquinas) is a good one, though one that, of course, has no bearing at all on the validity of evolution.

Craig Cottongim said...

Nate, thanks for the great feedback.