Yes, the next two posts are brought to you by Sir Mix-A-Lot…not only are they about the rebuttals in the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate, but as we will see, the the main tactic of Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge in their book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate is to try to “mix a lot of stuff up.” Enjoy…
In debates, rebuttals are the opportunity each opponent has (a) to reiterate his/her main argument and (b) address any challenges the other debater levelled at his/her position in the main presentation. In that respect, most things in rebuttals are simply a re-hashing of what has already been presented. Nevertheless, there is the possibility that certain arguments and points are able to get teased out a little bit more.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the rebuttals in the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate, there wasn’t much that Ken Ham was able to tease out regarding his argument that YECism was a valid scientific model for origins, given the fact that he didn’t really ever make an argument in the first place. In fact, his “argument” can probably be summed up as follows: “YEC is based on a special kind of science that isn’t subjected to the scientific method (mirror 1), and that comes from God’s historical science textbook, the Bible (mirror 3). Sure the evidence is the same, but it’s all about the different religious starting points (mirror 4). So who are you going to believe? God, or the fallible, ill-educated, hateful Bill Nye who believes in humanistic mythology (mirror 2)? There’s a culture war going on, and it’s time we fight it (mirror 5)!”
And so, once you lay aside all the mirrors, blow away the smoke, and focus on the topic of the debate, the relevant part of Ham’s argument is this: “Is YECism a valid scientific model for origins? No, we at AiG reject modern science when it comes to this topic. We’ve simply relabeled our assumption that Genesis 1-11 is scientifically accurate as ‘historical science,’ placed it outside of the realm of the scientific method, and have declared that it’s all a matter of religious belief anyway. It’s not about science—it’s about faith.”
So…that would be a “No.”
And given that, what can Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge (HH) talk about for 60 pages in their analysis of the rebuttals of Nye and Ham? Simply put, more of the same, just at a higher volume. Just as Niles Tufnel says in Spinal Tap, they turn it up to “11.”
Ken Ham’s First Rebuttal
In Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, pages 151-167 take up HH’s analysis of Ken Ham’s first rebuttal. In it, they focus on the follow points Ken Ham made:
- The age of the earth cannot be observed; therefore, it is historical science (mirror 1). And since evolutionists can’t provide human witnesses, none of what they claim is reliable. By contrast, young earth creationists have God as their witness, and He has told us exactly how old the earth is and how He created everything within six literal days—in the Bible (mirror 3).
- Young earth creationists come to their conclusions about the age of the earth by adding up the genealogies in the Bible (mirror 3).
- Radiometric dating methods (“which Mr. Nye held to with a God-like devotion”) are inaccurate and unreliable, and are based on mere assumptions of Bill Nye’s false, humanistic religion (mirrors 2 and 4).
It was at this point, that HH decided to take a shot at any Christian who disagrees with Ken Ham’s YECism. After giving a brief overview of the various other theories (i.e. gap theory, day-age theory, theistic evolution, the framework hypothesis), HH dismisses them all out of hand on the account that all of them admit that there was death of some kind before sin. HH then claims that when God created everything in Genesis 1 and called everything “very good,” that this meant it was a perfect creation. (Of course, the Bible doesn’t say “perfect,” and the earliest of early Church Fathers actually say that such a view of Genesis 1 was a gnostic heresy).
In any case, that doesn’t stop HH from then claiming that belief in an old earth undermines the atonement itself (165). And then, to top things off, HH says this: “Mr. Ham’s response led straight to a presentation of the Gospel. My hope is that these Christians (who have bought into an old earth), will return to the plain teachings in the Bible and stop mixing God’s Word with secular beliefs that clearly contradict God’s revelation and undermine the Gospel by blaming God for death instead of sin” (165).
So there it is: in was to be a rebuttal about the scientific viability of YECism, HH made it a point to call upon all Christians who disagree with Ken Ham to repent.
Bill Nye’s First Rebuttal: More Religion….
Pages 167-187 are then devoted to HH’s attempt to cut Nye’s argument down to size, or rather convince their readers why it is okay to dismiss each and every argument of Nye’s out of hand. They start off by saying that Nye “revealed his allegiance to his ‘god’” (168)—autonomous man, who thinks he can determine truth about origins apart from God; and after that, they once again claimed radiometric dating was fallible and based on “secular assumptions” (mirrors 2, 4).
HH then felt impelled to address Bill Nye’s point that it was problematic that Ken Ham was basing his supposed scientific claims on essentially an English translation of the Bible. Obviously, Nye’s point is that Ham doesn’t even know the original languages of the Bible, and yet he is basing all his claims on his limited understanding of a translation of the original texts. Well, HH interpreted this as Nye was “attacking God’s Word,” and proceeded to claim that not only was God able to guide the original authors to produce the inspired text (which is true, by the way), but that also God was able to perfectly preserve the text—this, though, is…well, false.
I don’t mean to shock anyone, but just look at your Bibles—have you ever noticed the footnotes that say things, like “In the earliest manuscripts, this verse is missing,” or “…it reads this way”? Do you know what that tells you? There is no such thing as a perfect copy or manuscript. We don’t have any. Now, I can assure you that virtually none of the variants found in the thousands of manuscripts we have really amount to anything substantial—but nevertheless, HH’s claim that somehow we have a “perfect copy” that God has preserved for us is simply false.
Bill Nye’s First Rebuttal: The Laws of Nature and the Bible…Again
In any case, HH then tried to tie in the laws of nature to the reliability of the Bible. Now, to be clear, Bill Nye had made the point that what Ken Ham was doing was dismissing what scientists have found while observing the natural world (i.e. basic science), and substituting his claim that the Bible (specifically Genesis 1-11) was giving scientific information. Bill Nye thought that was a mistake—I do too, namely because the Bible simply isn’t doing science in the first place. Simply put, Ken Ham is misapplying the Bible—he is claiming it is addressing scientific issues when it simply isn’t.
HH, though, tried to turn Nye’s comments against him by saying something I simply have yet to make sense of: “Observations made today are not in discord with what the Bible says. Nor are the laws of nature in any conflict with Scripture, but Scripture must be true to make sense of the laws of nature in the first place” (173). And then HH jumped back directly to their “the laws of logic can’t be account for from a naturalistic worldview” canard of mirror #2, prefacing it with, “Take note…that Mr. Nye never did even try to answer Mr. Ham’s devastating challenge…” (173).
I can answer that: because that wasn’t the topic of the debate, and just because Bill Nye isn’t a Christian doesn’t mean he is unable to use his logic, even if he can’t adequately acknowledge where it came from. And as for the previous quote: (1) Sure, observations in nature don’t conflict with Scripture, because the Scripture isn’t attempting to give scientific observations; (2) what does the second part of the quote even mean? Scripture must be true in order make sense of the laws of nature?
Starlight…It’s Not in the Past! It’s in the Present…in your Telescopes!
HH then re-addressed Bill Nye’s statement that when you look at the stars in the night sky, you are actually looking into the past, precisely because the light that you see that has finally made its way to earth, originally came from a star that was millions of light years in the past. This was something I just assumed everybody knew: it takes time for light from distant stars to reach the earth.
Well, surprise, surprise! HH flat out claims that is not true. After actually mocking Nye with, “One would think the concept of past, present, and future would be easy to grasp,” (175), HH then proceeds to explain their logic: “If Mr. Nye goes and looks through a telescope tonight, he is not seeing the past, but instead is seeing the present. Of course he has an assumption that the light he is viewing takes millions of years to reach his eyes—so that’s why he claims he’s viewing the past” (175).
That’s right, HH essentially denies the speed of light. How in the world can they claim the starlight in the night sky we see is actually instantaneous, and did not take time to travel through space? They pretty much butcher Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Essentially, Einstein, although he agreed that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, also acknowledged that technically, light can only be measured round-trip: the time it takes light to travel from “point A” to “point B” and back. If it never returns, then technically it cannot be measured. Got it?
Well, HH takes that to mean that since light cannot technically be measured going one direction, that therefore it is possible that the speed of light can speed up in one direction! And then they actually say, “If the one-direction speed of light toward earth is near instantaneous, then we are not seeing distant starlight from many years in the past, but are seeing things like starlight close to real time” (176).
I just have this feeling that Albert Einstein might disagree with that claim…just a bit. And please note, if what HH is true (which it is obviously is not), then they are claiming that the natural law regarding the speed of light can change speeds in a vacuum. Why is this important to note? Because in the very next point HH makes, they accuse Bill Nye of falsely accusing them of claiming the laws of nature have changed: “Mr. Nye has set up a straw man fallacy here. Creationists don’t believe that the laws of nature in the past have changed” (176). They say this right after they argue that the speed of light can speed up or slow down at random.
And, in case anyone takes a breath and realize just how absurd that is, HH quickly pivots to accusing Bill Nye of “being a materialist” whose “religion” cannot account for the consistency of the laws of nature…and “if anyone should believe the laws of nature can change, it is Mr. Nye” (177). AND THEN, they call upon Mr. Nye to repent of his “naturalistic religion!”
I don’t want to sound mean, but the duplicity and hubris of HH is utterly astounding.
Bill Nye’s First Rebuttal: Wrapping Up
In the rest of their “analysis” of Bill Nye’s first rebuttal, HH runs the gamut of accusations, from accusing Nye of being ignorant of “historical science,” of “mocking the account of Noah’s Ark,” of “intellectual schizophrenia,” and of falsely accusing Ken Ham of claiming the Bible is a science text—yet another “straw man fallacy” according to HH.
Now, you might be thinking, “How is that last point a straw man fallacy? Isn’t that exactly what Ken Ham himself said?” Well, amazingly, according to HH…no! Confused? Let me explain: According to HH, Ken Ham doesn’t claim the Bible is a “science text” in the way Mr. Nye means, because the fields of biology, physics, or geology are constantly changing—and those things are what is taught in schools and universities. As Ham has said, “We don’t take the Bible as a science textbook, and that is good because the science textbooks change every year” (181). So obviously, the Bible is like that! The Bible is perfect and never changes—hence it is God’s infallible, unchanging, perfect historical science textbook, not the fallible assumptions and fairytales that pass for “secular science.”
So, what can you do with that? Really…what can you do with that? I don’t even know how to respond. I just find myself staring at that page in disbelief, and silently praying, “Please, Lord, don’t let people be blinded by this!”
Well, I can tell you what HH does with that. After accusing evolution of being an inherently racist philosophy (as opposed to a basic scientific theory), they end their assault on Nye’s first rebuttal with an amazing use of more mirrors. Let me preface this by reminding you that the agreed topic for the debate was “Is YECism a viable scientific model for origins?”
Well, here’s what HH say: “But this is the debate: man’s word versus God’s Word, and here Mr. Nye reaffirmed his religious belief in man being the ultimate authority over God.…Mr. Nye demonstrated what the devil, through the use of a serpent, offered Eve in the Garden: ‘…you will be like God’” (186).
Change the debate topic! Blind people with a literal demonization of Bill Nye and reflect that blinding light off of mirrors #2 and #4!
And scene….catch your breath. Tomorrow, we have the second rebuttals to go through. I’d love to have people leave their comments and respond with their thoughts on this post. Until then…