This will be my final post discussing Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge’s book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. I hope these posts, no matter how comical and/or frustrating they have been, have been able to help crystalize precisely the methods, tactics, and rhetoric that YECists like Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis routinely use. And, if I may state right at the start, I think the fundamental problem with YEC (and there are many) is that it truly thinks that scientific questions regarding the age of the earth are core religious issues that are a threat to the Christian faith. Simply put, the only reason Ken Ham rejects radiometric dating, for example, isn’t because he really thinks there is a more convincing way to date rocks; rather, it’s because he thinks old rocks threaten the Christian faith, and therefore, he is willing to pull any and all possible explanations out of thin air in order to try to discredit modern scientific discoveries.
Of course, those “explanations” aren’t explanations at all—they are just more smoke and mirrors that he constantly employs in his arguments. And this is precisely what we see in HH’s take on the final two rebuttals of the Nye/Ham Debate.
Ken Ham’s Second Rebuttal
The first clarification Ken Ham put forth was that YECism was not “Ken Ham’s model,” but rather God’s account of creation. By saying this, Ham is (once again) putting forth rhetoric that insulates him from any criticism, and that perpetuates his narrative that “secularists” are “attacking God.” He wants people to believe this is a religious war, and not a simple scientific question, and so he consistently presents his view as God’s view—to question him is to attack God and the Bible.
Amazingly (once again), HH then claimed that Bill Nye failed to address the debate topic. Again, the topic was “Is YECism a viable scientific model for origins.” And, as we’ve seen, all Bill Nye did was provide evidence for an old earth that would refute the claims of YECism—that, to me, is addressing the topic. But apparently not for HH: “[Nye] changed it to attack ‘Ken Ham’s view,’ but never really addressed creation as a whole to see if it is a viable model of origins in today’s scientific era. …He was more persistent at ad hominem arguments against Mr. Ham” (187).
That should concern everyone. For not only did Bill Nye stick to presenting actual scientific evidence that challenged the YEC claim (which again, was the topic of the debate), but I never once remember him “personally attacking” Ken Ham. The only ad hominem attacks came from HH all throughout their book: “hostile atheist,” “ignorant of science,” “attacking God,” “using the serpent’s tactics.” It is so blatant throughout the book, that to read that above quote is simply chilling to me, because it is so blatantly false.
In any case, the rest of Ham’s second rebuttal was a rehashing of his previous statements: (A) Bill Nye an agnostic and must borrow from the Christian worldview to use the laws of logic; (B) Bill Nye doesn’t know his science well enough to even know the difference between “species” and “kinds” [Side Note: there is no scientific classification of “kinds”—that is something YECists have made up, just like “historical science”]; (C) All of Bill Nye’s evidence of ice cores, tree rings, etc. are assumptions and unreliable because “he wasn’t there” and “one can’t prove the past;” (D) Noah had access to highly advanced technology in the pre-flood civilization that would put our modern technology to shame [Side Note: Again, think about what Ken Ham is claiming!]; (E) Distant starlight isn’t a problem for YECism because AiG has come up with their own models to explain away distant starlight—besides, “there is a God who can easily get light from created stars to earth just like He commanded in Genesis 1:15” (191) [Translation? “Poof!”]
HH concluded their assessment of Ham’s rebuttal as follows: “Mr. Ham’s rebuttal was concise and accurate…. This is what a rebuttal should be” (192).
I’ll let the reader assess the accuracy of that assessment on his/her own.
Bill Nye’s Second Rebuttal
When turning to analyze Bill Nye’s response, HH noted that Nye had said he was unsatisfied with Ken Ham’s responses because they failed to address the fundamental questions of the debate (i.e. is YECism a viable scientific model). HH’s response was: “Mr. Ham completely undercut the very reason Mr. Nye was on stage,” (192), and then proceeded to harp (once again) on the fact that Mr. Nye was an agnostic and couldn’t account for the “laws of logic,” and therefore Mr. Ham clearly won the debate because he “dealt very carefully with the debate topic…” and “Mr. Nye did not do this” (192).
If I may translate this: After Bill Nye provided his evidence for an old earth, and then asked Ken Ham to provide his evidence for a young earth, the response Ken Ham gave was, “I totally gave evidence! You didn’t, you agnostic! Laws of logic! I’m a Christian! I win!”
What can you say to that? I am a Christian, and that reaction personally offends me.
In any case, Nye brought up (again) the 680,000 snow layers that Ham didn’t sufficiently explain, to which HH responded with, “You clearly don’t know the difference between observational and historical science!” Then they said, “Mr. Nye claims to be the ‘science guy,’ but it is Mr. Ham who truly understands the meaning of the word ‘science.’ Mr. Ham taught the audience how to think about the issue correctly” (193). Can you spot the ad hominem attack there? Do you see that Ham never addressed the issue?
And then Nye brought up (again) the mathematical problem YECists have when they claim all of today’s current species came from a mere 2,000 kinds of animals a mere 4,000 years ago—that translates into 35-40 new species per day. HH’s response? “There were only 1,000 kinds on the Ark!” Well, that would make the math even more impossible, wouldn’t it? But HH simply moved on.
Then Nye brought up (again) the extraordinary claim that Noah and his family could have built the Ark by themselves. HH’s response? “To deny Noah was an extraordinary shipwright, Mr. Nye needs a better answer than his opinion” (194). No, if HH is going to claim Noah was trained in shipwright school and used highly advanced technology, HH has to provide evidence, which they do not do.
Nye brought up the fact that the pyramids in Egypt are old than 4,000 years. HH’s response? Those are just man’s fallible dating methods—the pyramids were build after the flood.
And what about Nye’s point that there are millions of deeply religious Christians who do not accept Ken Ham’s YECist claims? HH’s response: “Mr. Nye is deeply religious. Let me repeat that. Mr. Nye is deeply religious” (199).
So what about those Christians who don’t agree with Ken Ham? “…they are acting like humanists on this point. They are mixing two different religions—man’s word and God’s Word. How did God view the Israelites when they mixed their godly worship with the Baal worship in the Old Testament? The Lord was not pleased and often judged them severely” (200). So there you have it, Christians who don’t agree with Ken Ham—you’re acceptance of the reliability of radiometric dating is no different than Baal worship…you’re going to get severely punished. You had better repent.
And finally, Bill Nye made a point that in science, scientists routinely try to make educated guesses about what they should find, based on the evidence that they have. And if something is proven wrong because of new evidence, they throw that discredited idea out and continue to try to understand more about the natural world. Well, HH scoffed at this notion and said, “…biblical creationists don’t have to guess! They already have a revelation from the One in whom are ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3)” (205).
Just to make clear, with that quote HH is admitting that YECists don’t do science and, in fact, don’t need to do science, because they believe that Colossians 2:3 is saying that God has given all the relevant scientific information in the Bible. Someone needs to tell them that Paul is not talking about scientific information in Colossians 2:3.
As they always do, HH shows that they base their rejection of science on their gross misinterpretation of the Bible.
So there it is: the “analysis” Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge put forth in their book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. I’m going to forego the section of the book that dealt with the “question and answer” part of the debate. As you can probably tell, after ten posts, much of this simply gets redundant.
But I do want to touch upon HH’s “Final Comments” in their book, for they truly do sum up what is so wrong with YECism.
Amazingly (once again) they claim that Bill Nye never addressed the debate topic—they even quote the debate topic, and still somehow claim that Nye never addressed it. Therefore, they claim, “By avoiding the actual issue, he lost the debate out of hand” (280).
And then, when it comes to the question of whether or not YECism was a viable scientific option for studying origins, HH says this: “the debate showed that creationists do observational science and even excel at it in today’s modern scientific and technological age” (280). Allow me to show my frustration here, but…
La-di-fricking-da! That wasn’t the debate topic! The debate topic, that you just quoted, was whether or not YECism was a viable model for origins (what you call “historical science”)! So for you to say, “We won the debate because creationists can do observational science and technology,” is simply insane—you are blatantly changing the debate topic! Using your own fictitious categories of “observational science” and “historical science,” anyone can clearly see that the ability to do “observational science” isn’t evidence that YECism is a viable model for “historical science”!
HH then concluded by quoting Ken Ham that his goal for the debate was to “defend the Christian faith,” and he knew he just did his best to “unashamedly stand on the authority of God’s Word and share the saving Gospel” (283).
Well, as a Christian, I feel it is important to share one’s faith and to stand on the Word of God. But the fact was, the topic of the debate was whether or not YECism was a viable scientific model. And that is something that Ham simply was able to prove.
And, to add insult to injury, HH ended their comments in a truly arrogant and condescending fashion: “For those Christians reading this, please be in prayer about Mr. Nye and his salvation. Be praying for Mr. Nye to repent and receive Christ as Lord. And be praying for those who are not saved reading this book that they will be able, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to see through the false religion of evolutionary humanism in its various forms” (284).
Honestly, such comments make my blood boil. I try to make these posts pointed, direct, and sometimes humorous, but I simply cannot make a joke about such pharisaic arrogance. Of course, I hope Bill Nye comes to the Christian faith, but such comments coming after an entire book where HH’s insults Bill Nye left and right is just condescending and infuriating. I can guarantee you that Bill Nye probably is a little further off from coming to the Christian faith, precisely because of Ken Ham’s condescension and arrogance. When I read that quote, all I can think of is “God’s name is blasphemed among the nations because of you” (Rom. 2:24).
Thus ends my month-long critique of Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, as my way of commemorating the three-year anniversary of the debate. In time, YECism will go the way of the countless other fringe movements that die out, simply because they are not true. Of that, I am sure. In the meantime, though, it is frustrating to see how people can so blatantly mislead, misrepresent, and distort the Christian faith, and do it with such religious zeal and conviction that they are right, everyone else is wrong, and they are being persecuted for their faith.
I’m sorry, but the one with the club who is constantly beating on Christians and non-Christians alike is not the one being persecuted. That’s the persecutor. That’s the “wicked servant” who beats his fellow slaves (Matt. 24:48-49). That might sound harsh, but I think that is blindingly true.
I hope you’ve found these posts informative, worthwhile, and hopefully witty in places. More than that, I hope they have shed light upon the tactics YECist groups like Answers in Genesis routinely use in their debates and arguments.