Last night's Nye-Ham creation debate ended in a stalemate with the emphasis on stale. This is true in a two-fold sense: the form of the debate and its content.
Although both sides were given brief introductory time to present their theses, 30 minutes to offer their proof and two short rebuttal periods, the form of the debate did not fully lend itself to answering the ambitious question. That question was: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”
Specifically, neither side was required to answer the questions offered by the other. Yes, both sides did answer specific counter-claims (sometimes late into the debate). But some of the bigger questions were lost in the interchange.
For example, Ham attempted to go for the philosophical jugular by asking a direct question: can Bill Nye account for the laws of logic and the laws of nature from his materialistic worldview? Nye never attempted to answer the question.
On the other hand, Nye asked about counter-evidence of an old earth model and proof that there are dozens of new species being created to compensate for the young-earth position. Ken Ham only gave general answers to the first question and never clearly answered the second.
The content of both speakers was mixed. Ken Ham questioned the assumptions behind the dating methods used in Nye's presentation. Later, he repeated the claim that there are dozens of dating techniques that contradict the old-earth model but offered not one single, verifiable instance. It was too ephemeral.
Speaking of quotes, Ken Ham could have greatly enhanced his content with quotes from non-creation science journals, alluded to the list of hundreds of scientists publicly questioning Darwinian evolution, or offered any one of hundreds of scientists from centuries past with verifiable predictions.
Nye's strategy was to focus on the age of creation. The bulk of his content interwove snow-ice methods with radiometric readings and 9,000 year old trees as evidence of an old earth. Several times he asked for specific counter-evidence of cataclysmic changes. He appealed many times to the audience that denying such evidence can hurt science and hurt America's prosperity.
All the while he never once answered Ham's philosophical challenge. He merely assumed that logic and the laws of nature must have arisen in a chance-based, materialistic universe.
Unfortunately, Nye was confused about the conservative Christian's position on science and the Bible: "You take the Bible to be a more accurate, a more reasonable assessment of the natural laws that we see around us than what I and everybody in here can observe. That to me is unsettling; troubling."
Ham never corrected Nye. There was no mention of the important categories of general revelation and special revelation. Or that the Bible offers little by way of scientific detail. Or that there are debates among Christians about how science and the bible relates in particulars.
Ham's position did quickly turn into a form of question begging at times by direct appeal to the Bible: "Well, Bill, there's a book out there…." And Nye likewise appealed to mystery twice in the questions and answers, not knowing how the Big Bang created everything from nothing or the origin of consciousness in material man.
Others may disagree, but it seems that this debate did little to forward dialogue and clarity in an otherwise stale, decades-long debate on creation and evolution.