My Thoughts on the Ken Ham Bill Nye Debate

Many have been asking for my thoughts on the big debate, but I’ve been a little hesitant to speak my mind on this.  Part of that is because I feel like before I could give my opinion I needed to actually watch the entire debate.  The other reason for my hesitance is the fact that I’m still thinking through just where I stand in this debate.  But, now that I have seen the debate in its entirety I have just a few thoughts to share.

1.  Its seems to me that most creationists believe Bill Nye won this debate and most creationists believe Ken Ham won the debate.  There was nothing said in the debate that I found particularly convincing, either way.  In that sense, it seems to be draw.  It terms of style and clarity, I would say Bill Nye walks away as the winner.  While that may seem quite superficial – this is a debate. The purpose of a debate is to clearly articulate your view, defend it against another’s view in a way that is persuasive.  Style matters.  However, it must be noted that it seems to me that Ken Ham knows more about evolution than Bill Nye knows about the Bible or creationism.  Bill Nye didn’t seem to know much about Scripture or what Evangelicals actually teach about the Bible.  A smart debater does his homework.  Opposition research and the ability to present the other side of the argument in a fair and accurate way is crucially important.  In that sense, Ken Ham came out on top.  Like I said, it’s a draw.

2.  As I have grown in my faith, I see presentations like that of Ken Ham to be a bit annoying.  Ham and others seem to reduce my faith to literal 6-day creationism.  Everything goes back to Genesis.  It’s too reductionist.   It’s not Christ-centered and is in danger of taking focus off of the gospel and our ministry toward others.  I understand Ham would teach that Genesis is a foundation for everything else, but  the “everything else” is certainly not what his ministry if known for.  It also marginalizes believers who do not accept young earth, 6-day creationism.   Presentations such as the type promoted by Ham in this debate do not take into account great men of the faith such as Augustine, Spurgeon and, in our own times, Tim Keller – none of whom would fit into a young earth perspective.  My fear is that too many people walk away from such events equating Christianity with 6-day, young earth creationism as if you can’t have one without the other.*

3.  Unlike many others, I do not see this debate as a waste of time.  I believe it is always valuable when two men of opposite views are able to come together and talk about their differences in an intelligent and civil way.  In this age we ought to rejoice whenever this happens!

*This paragraph has been changed and updated.  See comments for further details.


2 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the Ken Ham Bill Nye Debate

  1. Kevin, I would respectfully push back on your #2. To say that Ken never gets to everything else is simply not true. While his focus is certainly the foundational chapters of Genesis, both in the debate as well as in all their published materials that I’m aware of, including Sunday School and VBS curriculum, the gospel is prominent. At least that’s been my limited experience. Also, have you read or heard Ken ever call Spurgeon, Augustine or even Keller a compromiser? I haven’t.

    I’ll be the first to admit that debates rarely change minds and that good men differ on this issue. But the characterization of Ken Ham by many evangelicals as obsessed with Genesis 1-11 with little regard for the rest of Scripture just doesn’t wash with my experience with AIG or Ken personally. I don’t know where it’s coming from. Enlighten me.

  2. Brian, thanks for your comments. Comments are rare on this little-read blog…

    I will accept your rebuke on at least one level – I have never heard Ham call out these men by name as compromisers. Based on what I have heard from him, that would be the conclusion I would draw, but I have not heard him specifically label these men as such. So, I was guilty of putting words in his mouth, misrepresenting him and perhaps bearing false witness. For that I apologize and repent. The paragraph has been edited to reflect this.

    As for Ham being obsessed with Genesis 1-11, I’ve rarely heard him or AiG speak on much else. Like you, I have a limited experience with AiG (probably more limited than you). I have read several of Ham’s books, heard him speak in person a few times, been to the creation museum and I think I might have taught through one of his VBS lessons. If he did mention other things beside Genesis, it wasn’t the emphasis and it certainly wasn’t what I walked away with.

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