Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Debate: Who Won?

Ken Ham seemed satisfied with his performance in Tuesday night’s debate with Bill Nye. While I did not expect Ham to go for the jugular, I did think he would dish out the science I so often read in his daily blog posts and on his Answers In Genesis website. Ken did present a strong initial 30 minute summary of the Creation viewpoint, including information on Noah’s flood, the definitions of animal kinds, information on young earth theory, why and carbon dating is inaccurate. Sometimes he did not go into much detail, like how meteor rock was tested to be millions of years old but terrestrial earth rocks were not. Ham broached the Texas schoolbook battle, touching on how the evolutionary viewpoint is as much of a belief system as creationism even though the powers that be deem otherwise. Like many other areas of the debate, I did not think Ken made enough of a point of this.

With over three million viewers tuned in, Ham seemed content to use the debate as a forum to talk about God. Winning the debate appeared to be secondary. During his long presentation Ham presented the gospel. Several times during the question & answer time Ken said the Bible answered the questions of how the universe was created and why humans are conscious beings. Compared to the more in depth answers Nye was giving, and knowing all the science that debunks evolution and confirms creation, merely holding up the Bible seemed to be not a strong enough response.

While I have never visited the Creation Museum, the AIG website seems professionally put together. AIG hired a national marketing firm to create slick, simple billboards that were placed in New York’s Times Square. A $70 million theme park is being built in Kentucky that will feature a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark. With all these resources, I would’ve thought the many visual devices employed by Ham would have been more professionally produced. One tweet likened them to the work of a Sunday School class. Despite the poor quality, the many visual resources Ken used made his argument all the more clear. Unfortunately, the use of so many visuals by Ham made Bill Nye’s almost visual-free debate seem all the more simple.

Both Nye and Ham arrived fully prepared. During the question & answer time Ham seemed to falter. Instead of in depth answers filled with scientific fact he relied too much on simple Sunday School answers. While this may have been his intent, it was during this part of the debate when Nye pulled far into the lead. People smarter than me will be able to dissect the words of Nye and Ham determine whose answers were most on target, but to the casual observer Nye presented the best argument. While I still agree with Ken, he did not present a winning argument.      
For the most part Nye stuck to debate form, challenging and questioning Ham (though there was no requirement to answer each other’s questions). Nye tried to entertain, cracking a few dry jokes and giving the Seahawks a shoutout. The Science Guy refused to accept Noah’s Ark and flood, saying such a large hand-made boat would be unstable and sink. He said there were too many animals to fit, though Ham explained this in detail (twice). Nye made good points about the distant stars, for which Ham made no reply. He honestly answered “I don’t know” to one question, and Ham helpfully pointed Nye to the Bible for the answer.  The most annoying thing Nye continued to repeat was that it was “Ken Ham’s creation story.” In closing, Nye expressed his enthusiasm for science much more clearly than Ham.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler had a front row seat and quickly penned a long recap   - hitting on all the theological issues I leave out here. Seems like at least half the blog post might have been written in advance. Mohler states that the real difference is how the two men approach science. Mohler, Ham, and AIG scientist Georgia Purdom were also pleased with the debate. Having heard Dr. Purdom speak at my son’s graduation, I think she would’ve been able to debate Nye on a more scientific level.

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