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Last night's great debate: evolution vs. creationism

Bill Nye and Ken Ham hold historic debate at the Creation Museum Tuesday night.
Bill Nye and Ken Ham hold historic debate at the Creation Museum Tuesday night.
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Bill Nye the science guy and creationist Ken Ham debated each other and the question, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s scientific era” at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, Tuesday night.

Mr. Ham believes the evolution vs creationism debate is a conflict between two philosophical world views, with differing accounts of historical science. He differentiates historical science from observational science claiming that creationism is the only viable model of historical science that is confirmed by observational science.

Ham says school textbooks use the term science to describe both observational and historical science interchangeably and they are forcing their religion of naturalism or atheism on our youth. By defining naturalism as science, they do away with the supernatural, indoctrinate the children into their world view, and impose their own beliefs.

According to Nye, there are not two types of science as Mr. Ham claims and other than Ham he has never heard any other scientist refer to this distinction. He asks, “Does Ken Ham’s creation story seem viable? Does it hold up?”

Nye states natural laws are natural laws and do not change from the past to the present. Mr. Ham’s beliefs concern Mr. Nye because “What makes the United States a world leader is our technology, our ideas, our innovation. If we continue to eschew science, eschew the process and divide science into observational science and historic science we are not going to move forward.”

Ham asked, “Where do the Laws of Nature come from? Do they just pop into existence?” There are the “laws of nature” such as the Laws of Mathematics, the Laws of Chemistry, and the Laws of Planetary Motion. He wonders how these Laws come into existence if there is no God.

Mr. Ham explained how he and Mr. Nye would come to the same conclusions about the types of stone layers in the Grand Canyon, they would agree on the various minerals found there, but they would disagree on the timeline of how these layers accumulated. Mr. Ham sees no evidence that there were thousands of years between each level of deposit, and after all, no one was there to observe these events taking place. He feels it all boils down to a difference in interpreting the data.

There is no way to prove either theory through the observational method. Everyone is working with the same evidence. It is a battle over a philosophical starting point and where to go with the evidence. Is God or man the ultimate authority? We weren’t there, we don’t know. There is no experiment you can perform, test, and repeat for these subjects.

Mr. Ham says, “This is not being taught in our public schools. They are not being taught to think critically.” He goes on to show how the bible testable and you can see if its descriptions are true. There is evidence of historical observations.

He feels evolution has been hijacked by the bait and switch. Students are taught that all these different species of animals and plants evolved from one common primordial species and are shown the variations in finches and dogs as proof of how things evolve. Ham claims that he too believes in evolution, just a different form. In his view dogs change, but still remain a dog. Finches change, but still remain a finch. Nothing evolves into a completely different thing.

Ham is adamant in his claim that the current textbook view of evolution is based more on belief and faith than the creationist version. The only place we can observe species changing into other species is in a science book. Real-life observations tell a different story. We observe species mutating variations, but we have never seen them change completely.

He challenged evolutionist scientist to admit the belief aspect of their philosophical world view. Ham defines creation as the literal historical accounts written in the bible. He points to the fact that fossil deposits are discovered as if a large number of animals were washed away together as if in a “great flood”, how there really once was a common language spoken amongst ancient peoples at one point in time as described in the “tower of Babel” story. Proof on not only historical science but observational science, something the evolutionists do not have.

Ham’s message is to teach the children that there is a creator who created them, who loves them, and that they are special for they are created in the image of God. Currently, generations of kids are being taught the religion of Naturalism and that the Bible can’t be trusted.

Mr. Nye addressed the audience of Kentuckians expressing his concern for the education of their children. He pointed out the lack of higher learning scientific institutions in their state, cautioning how their kids are at risk for falling behind their peers in other areas due to the lack of educational opportunity.

Mr. Nye’s presentation turned back to the main question, “Is Mr. Ham’s version of creation viable?” He began by pointing to the fossil record under our feet and ice core samples from the Antarctic. Snow ice layers form every winter and trap bubbles of ancient atmosphere. Some of these cores have 680,000 layers of snow ice. Nye asks the question how could all these layers have formed in Mr. Ham’s version of the age of the earth.

He spoke on with a story of a tree in Sweden that is 9,550 years old asking the question, “How could this tree be this old if there was a flood 6,000 years ago?” Trees do not survive underwater for extended periods of time.

Nye’s visual presentation focused on fossil layers, how sedimentary layers are formed, and how fossils are only found in their individual layers. There seemed to be a sequence of animals in the fossil layer and some pieces seem to be missing, there is a gap. People wondered if there were animal fossils that would tie fish to amphibians for example. Mud fish that walk from pond to pond were eventually discovered.

He goes on to question how if all animals were only in the Middle East a few thousand years ago, how did some of them get to places like Australia? Why are there no bones showing the migration of these animals?

Nye explained why scientists today believe in the Big Bang. It is all because of the Hubble telescope. This telescope led to the discovery that the stars are moving farther apart. It seemed as if there was a bunch of material that was all together at one point and was burst apart in a “big bang”.

Researches decided to listen to the radio waves. There was a constant hissing sound. It turns out there was a cosmic background sound. It was the sound of the universe. The echo from the big bang exactly matched the math of the astronomer’s predictions, the scientific method in action.

He turned and asked Mr. Ham how can the universe be only 6,000 years-old since you can scientifically measure the distance of stars and some start are over 6,000 light years away? Nye says, “Is it reasonable that we have ice older by a factor than hundred than you claim the world is old? We have more tree rings than the Earth is old. We have rocks with Rubidium, and Strontium and Potassium Argon dating to far, far, far older than you claim the Earth is.”

Mr. Nye again implored the voters of Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas to not raise a generation of science students who do not know natural law.

In rebuttal Mr. Ham focused on the age of the earth and how you cannot observe the age of the Earth. By following biblical genealogies, you are able to do the math and come to the figure of 6,000 years. He cited a case where a piece of wood found in a piece of rock. Dating of the wood was 45,000 years, dating of the rock was 45 million years, thus, he claims, proving the inaccuracy of current dating methods.

Mr. Nye addressed the age of the universe by pointing out how astronomers have discovered all the asteroids have the same age, about 4.5 billion years. He seemed genuinely dumfounded by Mr. Ham’s assertation that before and during the flood all animals were vegetarians, which is how it was so much easier for Noah to take care of all the animals. He went on to say how if you look at a lions jaw and teeth you can clearly see they were never designed to be vegetarian.

He continues his point with discussing how there are pyramids and human populations with traditions far older than Mr. Ham’s world view. He asks how and why would everything change a few thousand years ago. Why would there suddenly be changes species, surface of the earth, the stars in the sky, the relationship to all other things on the Earth towards humans.

Mr. Ham reiterated, matter can only come from matter. Matter cannot form languages, languages come from intelligence. There is no information in matter. Information comes from information. In the matter on this planet there is information that can build life. In the Book of Hebrews the Bible states things are made from that which is unseen.

According to Mr. Nye, evolution is the mechanism by which we add complexity to life forms.

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