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The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 9): I Like Re-Buttals, and I Cannot Lie!

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 9): I Like Re-Buttals, and I Cannot Lie!

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…

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 7): Unleash the Kraken! (i.e. How AiG Dismisses the Evidence and Attacks its Opponents)

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 7): Unleash the Kraken! (i.e. How AiG Dismisses the Evidence and Attacks its Opponents)

In my past six posts reflecting on the Nye/Ham debate of three years ago, I focused on how Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge (HH) “analyzed” the debate in their book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. Specifically, I looked at how discussed the five-minute openings of both Bill Nye and Ken Ham, and then how they elaborated on Ken Ham’s 30-minute presentation. My essential metaphor has been HH’s use of “smoke and mirrors” to obfuscate the actual issues regarding the creation/evolution debate, and to instead convince people that evolution is the same thing as atheism, and that there is a culture war to fight.

In the next couple of posts, I will now focus on HH’s “analysis” of Bill Nye’s 30-minute presentation, but I want to do it in a rather different way than the other posts. Now, it is virtually impossible of me to adequately cover every detail of HH’s 70-page critique of Bill Nye’s presentation. I found reading those pages to be both surreal and frustrating. I imagine that if you ever have gotten into an extended debate with a YECist acolyte of Ken Ham, you will understand: diversion, personal attacks, bizarre claims from left field, random Bible references that come out of nowhere (and have little or nothing to do with the actual original context of that particular verse)…it goes on and on until you feel your head spinning. Not to sound unkind, but those kinds of “debates” end up being an incoherent mess spoken with a certainty and conviction that does not match the rhetoric.

In any case, in this post I want to do something different. Instead of trying to rationally explain how irrational most, if not all, the critiques HH gives of Bill Nye in their book, I am going to give you a taste of it. After all, if there’s one thing to realize about the arguments of YECism, it is this: the power of their argument does not come from well-reasoned and articulated points about either science or the Bible. The power of their argument is found in the sheer volume of invective, condescending statements, and hysteria. It wears opponents down, and by doing so, it gives the impression to their followers that they’re winning the argument, when in reality, they are just putting a strobe-light and a mirrorball into their fun house of mirrors, and blinding everyone.

Overview of Bill Nye’s Arguments
That being said, a brief overview of what Bill Nye argued is necessary. Basically, Nye put out a number of scientific arguments that point to an old earth, thus refuting Ham’s claims for a young earth. In addition, Nye also raised specific questions regarding Ham’s claim that there was a world-wide flood 4,000 years ago, and that the story of Noah was a historical event. Nye’s arguments ranged as follows:

  • Fossils in Kentucky are evidence of an ancient earth
  • Ice cores in Antarctica are evidence of an ancient earth
  • Bristlecone pine trees have 9,000 rings, and thus are older than 6,000 years
  • How can plant life survive underwater for an entire year?
  • The impossibility for all the various rock layers to settle so quickly after the Flood
  • The fossil record is evidence of evolution and an ancient earth
  • How could animals get to Australia from the Middle East, a mere 4,000 years ago?
  • The impossibility of the millions of species today to have developed that quickly from the animals that came off of Noah’s Ark, a mere 4,000 years ago
  • The impossibility of one man and seven family members to build an Ark
  • YEC’s lack of predictive ability
  • In order for YEC to be true, natural laws would have had to change in the past
  • The distance of starlight points to an ancient universe

There were numerous other sub-points made, but overall, the above list sums up Nye’s presentation. And as you can see, they were specific scientific arguments that are worth addressing in an honest fashion. That, though, is something HH chose not to do. So without any further adieu, I present to you my summary of HH’s 70-page critique of Bill Nye’s presentation in one post…enjoy…(actual quotations will be italicized). [Please note: I am writing as HH…these are not my opinions!]

Ham and Hodge Go on the Offensive: Changing the  Topic, Fossils, Ice Cores, and Pines
Well, right out of the gate, Mr. Nye showed he was not playing fair. He “immediately changed the agreed topic of the debate (Is creation a viable model or origins in today’s modern scientific era?) to something else (Does Ken Ham’s creation model hold up? Is it viable?)” (81). Let’s get one thing straight, this isn’t Ken Ham’s model…it’s the biblical model that God told us. How dare Mr. Nye devalue creation!

In any case, Mr. Nye first talked about the fossils in the rock layers here in Kentucky, and he claimed that they were, in fact, millions of years old. Someone untrained might have thought Nye gave a devastating argument…but of course he did not! He just merely assumed what he claimed he was proving. Not only that, he clearly didn’t understand creationism: Noah’s Flood laid down all those rock layers!

Then Mr. Nye tried to convince people that the ice cores in Antarctica had 680,00 layers, and therefore that showed 680,000 winter-summer cycles, hence 680,000 years. Wrong! Ice cores don’t come with labels on them! Here in Kentucky you can get multiple ice layers in one winter! He’s just assuming that each cycle represents a year. Just assumption and guesses…that proves nothing!

And what about the Bristlecone pine trees that have 9,000 rings? Mr. Nye would like you to believe that proves they’re 9,000 years old. Wrong! That’s just an arbitrary claim and more assumptions! Many trees can have multiple growth cycles and multiple rings in the same year. Mr. Nye can’t prove that those trees got only one ring per year—he’s just assuming that. Now, “the bristlecone pines, with its dry climate, doesn’t readily afford multiple tree rings, but to assume the climate has always been identical to that of today is without warrant, even by Mr. Nye’s standards” (87). It’s just all fallible assumptions—God’s historical science textbook (the Bible) tells us that the Flood causes massive changes in weather patterns. So no…those trees prove nothing, other than the fact that Mr. Nye is using man’s historical science to battle God’s historical science.

HH on the Global Flood, Rock Layers, Skulls, and Kangaroos
And then Mr. Nye tried to say that claiming a global flood could lay down all those different sediment layers in a short time was unreasonable. Well, that’s just him claiming his own authority and questioning God! Concrete (“which is in reality artificial rock”) can solidify very quickly—who’s to say that couldn’t have happened with the rock layers after the flood? Was Bill Nye there? No, he was not!

And then Mr. Nye showed a bunch of different skulls on a slide, and tried to argue that you can’t really tell which ones were human or ape. Well, “this was a very poor attempt by Mr. Nye to intimidate people into believing his evolutionary view. Anyone can quickly show a slide depicting lots of skulls, claim this is evidence of evolution, and move on! That was a very unfair tactic by Mr. Nye, and not becoming of someone truly wanting to debate the issue of origins in a carefully thought-out way” (95).

And then Mr. Nye mocked YECism by asking, “How could animals from the Middle East make their way to Australia?” Well, there could have been a land bridge; or they could have floated to Australia on driftwood. Why can’t creationists come up with models based on their beliefs? Mr. Nye will never accept them, though, because he just wants to mock the Bible!

He also pointed out that if kangaroos travelled from the Middle East to Australia, then why are there no fossils found anywhere on the route from the Middle East to Australia? Well, “just because one doesn’t find the fossils of animals in an area doesn’t mean those animals didn’t live there. …Not finding fossils someplace is not a good indication that they never existed there…” (97-98). Clearly, Mr. Nye’s assumptions are not reasonable at all!

HH on Kinds, Species, Noah’s Ark, Ancient Technology, and the Fossil Record
Mr. Nye then totally claimed Mr. Ham said something he never said. Mr. Nye said that Mr. Ham said there were 7,000 kinds of animals on the Ark. Mr. Ham never said that! He said there could have been 8,000! But it could have been as few as 1,000 kinds…in any case, that’s Mr. Nye for you! Just blatantly misrepresenting things! He didn’t even know the difference between “species” and “kinds!” Clearly, he didn’t do his research. “The more I listened to the debate, the more I realized that Mr. Ham’s understanding of the nature of science and the origins issue was way above that of Mr. Nye” (102).

Mr. Nye then mocked the Bible by saying it was not reasonable to believe that Noah and his family could have built an Ark. Well, how does he know that Noah wasn’t an expert shipwright? After all, he could have studied for 500 years before he built the Ark! Besides, the ancient technology of that time was probably pretty amazing; unfortunately, but the time of the Age of Exploration, much of that knowledge had been lost. In addition, Noah could have hired workers; men like Methuselah and Lamech could have helped. We just don’t know.

But Mr. Nye won’t accept this, because he’s relying on autonomous human reason—he’s a materialist, and he has no basis for the laws of logic and reason! He has to borrow from the Christian worldview! How dare he try to make a logical argument against God!

Then Mr. Nye asked, “How could only eight people take care of all those animals on a floating zoo?” Well, “I want the reader to understand that Mr. Nye’s accusation implying bad treatment of animals is one tactic used by skeptics against those who believe the account of Noah’s Ark in the Bible” (110). Noah would never neglect those animals! Mr. Nye’s accusation was just a vicious attack.

This is the actual illustration the book gives to argue for AiG’s view of the fossil record and rock layers.

After that, Mr. Nye tried to convince people that the Geological Time Scale is true, and that all those fossilized animals were buried in sediment millions of years apart. Well, that is just an evolutionary story based on Mr. Nye’s worldview and religion of naturalism. We look at those same fossils and say they were all laid down during Noah’s Flood. Same evidence—different interpretation! Why can’t our beliefs be taught as science too?

We need to just state the obvious: evolution is no different than Greek mythology. “Really, Mr. Nye’s evolutionary belief is nothing but a human fairy tale about origins similar to the Greek myths” (122).

HH on Scientific Predictions, Natural Laws, and the Big Bang
And then, Mr. Nye started to harp on “predictions,” and how YECism doesn’t make scientific predictions. He had the audacity to say, “Ken Ham and his followers.” Let’s be clear, “it is not Ken Ham and his followers, but rather Mr. Ham and fellow followers of the Bible” (125). Anyway, why is Mr. Nye so hung up on predictions? He’s a materialist! “Why would his religion with the teaching that nothing is immaterial include a concept like predictability, which is not material? This is self-refuting for the materialistic worldview that Mr. Nye has been professing” (125).

But if you want to talk about predictions, the Bible is full of them—they’re called prophecies. So why do evolutionists reject biblical prophecies and rely on “the failed ‘prophecies’ or ‘predictions’ by secular scientists (e.g., dropped transitional forms, changing evolutionary ideas), and yet keep coming back for more (125)! It’s a spiritual issue, really—they are sinful and are in rebellion against God.

And can you believe it? Mr. Nye again accused YECists of saying that the natural laws have changed. “Creationists do not say that natural laws have ever changed. Mr. Ham said this. …he couldn’t understand what Mr. Nye was really saying here, as it didn’t make sense” (126).

Mr. Nye also tried to point to various dating methods, like radiometric dating, in an attempt to “prove” that there are rocks that are millions of years old. Well, you can’t trust radiometric dating. “Uniformitarian dating methods simply assume something has been uniform in the past—that is, unchanging” (139). Besides, radiometric dating is just filled with assumptions, and are just unreliable.

With that kind of absurd accusation, it shouldn’t surprise you that Mr. Nye believes in the Big Bang. But you know what the Big Bang is? It’s just an unprovable assumption. In fact, it is a disprovable assumption, because the Bible gives a different view that disproves the Big Bang! The Big Bang says that stars came before the earth; but we know that’s not true! Some Christians try to say God used the Big Bang, but that creates more problems. “If Christians attempt to force the Big Bang into the Bible, they have to say that God’s Word in Genesis in regard to the creation of the earth and the sun is totally wrong! (129).

And by the way, that means that the stars aren’t expanding because of the Big Bang—we know they are expanding because God is stretching them out. Just consider Isaiah 42:5: “Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out…” There are lots of other verses just like that: all giving accurate, scientific information about the universe. “On the basis of God’s Word, Christians would expect to find the heavens stretching as well as evidence of it having been stretched. This stretching is a great confirmation of what was predicted based on the Bible” (133).

Speaking of stars, Mr. Nye then made an outrageous claim that the elements (as in the table of elements) were created when stars exploded! “Has anyone observed this? No. Has anyone repeated this? No. So at best, this is mere wishful thinking to try to tell a story about how they believe elements came about” (136). All it is, is fairytales! “Once upon a time,” those secularists say, “Once upon a later time…and an even later time!” It is all simply fiction! “It is stories, on top of stories, on top of stories. [Mr. Nye] is deliberately mixing historical science and observational science together and calling them one word—science” (137). It all is just as ridiculous as Greek mythological stories! “So whose arbitrary stories should be trusted—those of the Greek mythologists or the modern humanistic mythologists?” (138).

Sure, Mr. Nye tries to point to distant starlight as supposed “proof” that the universe is 14 billion years old—but how does he know that? It’s all just a bunch of assumptions. Genesis 1 says God created light on Day 4, and that was about 6,000 years ago…case closed. God could have created light in transit, the speed of light could have been much faster in the past [Writer’s Note: Reflect back on HH’s insistence that they don’t believe natural laws change], or there could be time zones in space. Who really knows? Was Mr. Nye there? Who are you going to believe? Mr. Nye and his humanistic fallible fairytales, or God’s historical science textbook, the Bible?

HH and Their Conclusion about Bill Nye
Well, Mr. Nye concluded that “Ken Ham’s creation model” is not viable. AGAIN—it’s not Ken Ham’s creation model—it is the Bible! In any case, “Although Mr. Nye brought up hosts of points, he really didn’t present anything that would be construed as remotely devastating to creation” (154). It was all just a bunch of assumptions, poor research, and assertions that were simply wrong.

Mr. Nye probably knew how pathetic his points were—that’s why he used the Skeptical Method in hopes of discrediting the Bible. “However, a careful check of his claims uncovers that he was not able to poke holes in the creation model built on God’s revealed Word” (154). It was like Mr. Nye took a gun, fired off a bunch of shots, but they were all blanks—and all he could hope for was that perhaps Mr. Ham would be rattled by the noise.

But of course, Mr. Ham wasn’t rattled at all! He was truly wise to ignore all that noise “and instead concentrate on teaching the true nature of science and relating the worldview conflict that was being acted out before the eyes of the worldwide viewing audience” (154).

Whew…to Conclude
So, let me, the actual Joel Anderson (not my “inner HH”), just ask: Was that convincing, or was that rather frustrating to read? Did HH convincingly address Bill Nye’s scientific arguments, or did they essentially dismiss every single one, out of hand, as “assumptions and fairytales”? Did you see the dizzying use of the five “mirrors” AiG employs in their arguments? Can you see through the smoke?

I know this post was rather long, but I wanted to put it all together in one post, so that you can have a taste of the unrelenting barrage of pseudo-science, ad hominems, and manipulative rhetoric that went on for 70 pages. In my next post, I will offer my thoughts and observations on what I illustrated in this post. After reading this, though, ask yourself how would you go about addressing any of this?

And indeed, that gets to the deeper question about all of this “creation/evolution debate”: How should a thoughtful Christian go about addressing these kinds of claims by YECism? Trust me, I know how frustrating it can be, especially when you get sucked into a debate with someone who continually parrots what is laid out in this post. I’ve probably said a few things in the heat of the moment I shouldn’t have.

So, what is one to do? What is the best way to go about it? That’s for next time.

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 6): The Mirrors are in Place…Cue the Smoke! (Ham’s biblical predictions that aren’t predictions; plus: giants and dinosaurs in a pre-flood coliseum!)

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 6): The Mirrors are in Place…Cue the Smoke! (Ham’s biblical predictions that aren’t predictions; plus: giants and dinosaurs in a pre-flood coliseum!)

In my last two posts about the analysis that Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge (HH) gave regarding Ken Ham’s main presentation at the Nye/Ham Debate three years ago, I set out five set talking points that Answers in Genesis (AiG) routinely uses in most of their debates and articles. These talking points, though, actually aid in distracting people from focusing on the issue at hand. I equated their methods to smoke and mirrors. The five talking points I likened to the mirrors, and I can guarantee you: read any amount of material from AiG, or watch any talk Ken Ham gives, you will see virtually everything being reflected off these mirrors.

That being said, there still is the smoke to deal with—and that is what we will be looking at in this post. The “smoke” is unlike the mirrors, in that those are the set talking points; the “smoke” is any kind of argument or unique point Ken Ham makes that, upon closer inspection, isn’t an argument at all. Often, upon closer look, it doesn’t even make much sense.

Ken Ham’s Supposed Predictions
One of the things that HH highlight in their book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, was the part of Ken Ham’s presentation in which he explained that there is observable evidence (i.e. observational science) that confirms predictions based on the biblical creation model (54). He then listed six predictions: intelligence produced life; the kinds of animals; a global flood; one race; the Tower of Babel; and a young universe.

Now, I’m not going to critique every detail in these claims, other than perhaps a passing comment. But what I do want to draw your attention to is the blown smoke right at the beginning: Ken Ham’s claim that observational science confirms the predictions of a biblical creation model for origins. Do you see the problem? Ham had already argued that observational and historical science are two completely different things, and that historical science is not subject to the scientific method because it cannot be tested or observed. Yet somehow, he then turns around and claims that observational science can confirm historical science.

Secondly, let’s just be honest, Ken Ham’s supposed “predictions” aren’t predictions.

  1. Intelligence produced life: “Because the Bible is true, we expect to see evidence that life was created by an intelligence” (55). Ham then points to DNA, and then to the law of biogenesis that says life cannot spring from non-living things.

Well, okay…but how is that a prediction? That’s not a scientific prediction.

  1. After their kind: Ham claims that when Genesis 1 says that God created the animals “according to their kind,” that he was classifying them with a scientific category. Then he points to the fact that dogs produce dogs, and says, “So this prediction in biology based on the Bible is confirmed” (56).

I’m sorry, what is the prediction? Genesis 1 isn’t making a prediction; it’s stating that God created all kinds of animals—that’s all. Not only that, but “kinds” is not God’s scientific classification of animals. That is something that YECists have simply made up.

  1. A Global Flood: Genesis 6-9 speak of a global flood; Ken Ham believes it was a literal global flood about 4,000 years ago. What is the observational evidence that confirms this? Two things: (A) “Most cultures around the world have a Flood legend that contains similar elements to that in Genesis” (57); and (B) the fact that there are fossils in rock layers all over the world.

Now to be sure, Point A is interesting. But it isn’t observable scientific evidence of a global flood. As for Point B, fossils buried around the world isn’t evidence of a singular global flood; it’s evidence that fossils have been buried as a result of flooding, and there have been many local floods all over the world that have resulted in buried fossils. Again…this isn’t evidence of a global flood 4,000 years ago. And Genesis 6-9 isn’t a prediction.

  1. One Race: Here, Ken Ham makes two astounding claims. First, that evolutionary theory is inherently racist; and second, that the Human Genome Project “confirmed the Bible’s account of human history when they announced their findings to the world” (61)—that there was definitively one human race; all human beings were genetically related. Ham thus concludes that the evolutionary prediction was false, and the biblical one was true.

But let’s be clear: yes, there were some racists who tried to use evolutionary theory to justify their racism—but that doesn’t make the theory itself racist. There were also racists who tried to use the Bible to justify their racism—but neither Ken Ham nor I would think of throwing the Bible out simply because some racists distorted it. The same holds true for the theory of evolution. And second, regarding the Human Genome Project, Ham fails to mention one tiny thing: the Human Genome Project conclusively proved that the human race goes much further back than 6,000 years. If anything the HGP conclusively proved Ham’s claim that human beings have been around only 6,000 years to be absolutely false.

  1. The Tower of Babel and Languages: HH claim that the “biblical framework” tells us that Adam and Eve were preprogrammed with an “original language,” and that this original language survived until Noah’s flood. It was only after Babel that different languages came into being. All that obviously comes from a literalistic/historical interpretation of Genesis 1-11. The problem is that linguists will tell you that language has been around a lot longer than 6,000 years. And so, HH’s response is this: linguists are a part of the secular humanistic community, and they have just “made up” this story of the gradual development of languages. HH then equates linguistics with Greek mythology, and claims “an unbelieving secular community has refused to allow God in the door. So they must come up with stories to try to explain languages naturalistically” (63).

And there you have it: linguistics are secular humanists who have shut the door on God; and linguistics are no different than Greek mythology. Why do they equate the two? The answer should be obvious: they can’t actually address the findings of linguistics, so they have to attack the academic field and denigrate it by calling it “mythology”—and then they can just equate linguistics, as well as science, as something no different than “pagan mythology.”

And do I need to point out that I have no idea how any of that can be considered a “prediction” that confirms the biblical account of origins?

  1. A Young Universe: The gist of Ham’s “evidence” for this is quite simple. The universe is 6,000 years old, because that’s what we can calculate in the Bible: 5 days (first 5 days of creation) + 2,000 (total the genealogies from Adam to Abraham) + 4,000 years (from Abraham to present day). There you go: Ken Ham’s “evidence” of observational science that confirms predictions based on the biblical model is…the Bible?

Now please, don’t take this to mean I’m mocking the Bible—I most certainly am not. I’m just pointing out the absurdity of what Ken Ham did: he pointed to the Bible as the “observational scientific” evidence that confirms the prediction based on the biblical model.

What? Again, where is there a prediction in any of that? I thought observational science was the technology that can be observed and repeated by the scientific method—where is the observational science in any of that? Let’s face it: Ham’s “scientific evidence” that the biblical model for a young earth is correct can’t be the Bible—you can’t point to the thing you’re trying to prove as proof of that thing you’re trying to prove.

Bonus Material: Newsflash, the Earth’s Not Flat
As crazy as that example of circular reasoning is, HH mention something at this point that made my mouth drop to the floor. They wanted to respond to Bill Nye’s statement that scientists can show the earth isn’t flat, and they can show the earth isn’t 10,000 years old. HH wanted to make crystal clear that YECists are not flat-earthers.

Now, before you breathe a sigh of relief, though, I need to share you the reason they give as to why they are not flat-earthers: “The Bible makes it clear that the earth isn’t flat, in plain language…” (65). And what is the plain language? It’s Isaiah 40:22 (“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…”), and Job 26:10 (“He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters…”).

The Ancient Near Eastern Understanding of the Universe

What makes this claim so incredible is that in their attempt to prove the Bible is scientifically accurate, HH has quoted poetry. Not only that, but a circle is not the same thing as a globe. The picture both Isaiah and Job are describing is that of the ancient Near Eastern concept of the universe: the primordial waters below (often associated with Sheol); the flat circle of the earth resting on top of the primordial waters, held up by subterranean mountains or pillars; and the heavenly dome above them. Think of it like putting a snow-globe on top of one of those fake coral reefs that jut out above the water in your fish tank. Or just look at the picture provided here.

That was the ancient concept of the universe: a circular earth resting on primordial waters, with the heavenly dome above. Those verses are not talking about the earth as a globe! And yet, HH confidently trots these verses of poetry out as evidence that the Bible is scientifically accurate! And let me just emphasize, that it would be wrong to think the above ANE picture is an “inaccurate scientific understanding” of the universe,” because it wasn’t a scientific understanding of the universe in the first place. “Science” was not even a real category of understanding at that time, at least not in the same way it is today. It simply a poetic/metaphorical description based on the limitations of what they saw.

There’s still more! They even make sure to mention the idea of pillars. They say, “Poetic passages such as Psalm 75:3, which refers to the ‘pillars’ of the earth, were also used to derive the false view of a flat earth. Commentators…rightly point out that this is figurative for a firm foundation set by Christ” (66). I’m sorry…what? Psalm 75:3 actually says, “When the earth totters…it is I who keep steady its pillars.” The psalm itself refers to the earth tottering on its pillars! And yet, somehow, HH can say with a straight face, “It’s about Jesus,” and move right on!

And then they have the audacity to conclude: “By using observational science, we have been able to study the earth…and see that it is indeed round, circular, or spherical, thus confirming the passages in Isaiah and Job” (66). But Isaiah and Job aren’t claiming the earth is a globe, so the scientific discovery that the earth is round doesn’t confirm Isaiah and Job, because Isaiah and Job are reflecting the ancient Near Eastern cosmology of their times…and that’s entirely okay!

If it seems I am more worked up over their comments on this point than the others, I am. Science is not really my area of interest—the Bible is. And when I see such a blatant misuse of the Bible, it really annoys me.

Conclusion
In any case, as can be seen in these six supposed “evidences,” none of them are predictions. Bill Nye had made the point that what makes a valid scientific model is its ability to make scientific predictions. Ken Ham came back with these “evidences,” none of which were scientific…or even predictions.

That is a whole lot of smoke.

And to finish thing off, HH decided to reflect all that smoke off their reliable mirrors: it’s all a worldview conflict and a battle over belief about the past. And after saying Bill Nye was openly an agnostic and a humanist HH said, “Well, I have news for Mr. Nye…he has deeply held religious beliefs in secular humanism (man is the supreme authority in existence!) He views his thoughts as being greater than God and His Word. …Clearly Mr. Nye believes himself to be greater than God” (70). And then, of course, HH equated Bill Nye with the serpent of Genesis 3.

It’s amazing how far a lot of smoke regarding non-existent predictions and accusations of your debate opponent essentially be Satan, reflected off the various mirrors in Ken Ham’s fun house, can take an organization like Answers in Genesis.

By side-stepping every scientific challenge, making up a fictitious definition for a fictitious category of science, re-defining science as religion, and then appealing to poetic passages in the Bible as “evidence” for their scientific claims…I’m sorry, the fun house isn’t too much fun. It actually becomes quite disorienting. When you twist people’s minds up that much, you can tell them anything, and they’ll believe it, because they’re convinced everything you say is a fundamental part of the gospel.

And when I say everything, I mean everything. Even new dioramas being installed at the Ark Encounter that claim to depict biblical account of the depravity of the pre-flood civilization, complete with coliseums, giants in quasi-Romanesque gladiator gear, and innocent people being thrown to….no, not the lions…but to vicious dinosaurs.

I don’t recall any of that being in my Bible. For that matter, I don’t recall a lot of the stuff at the Ark Encounter being in my Bible. I can only conclude that it’s a different gospel, one of smoke, mirrors…and gladiator games with dinosaurs.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 5): The Last Three “Mirrors” of YEC’s Debate Tactics

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 5): The Last Three “Mirrors” of YEC’s Debate Tactics

In my last post, I began to point out five specific talking points/tactics that are routinely used by young earth creationists. We see these in play in both Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye and the book by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge about the debate, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. I equate these talking points with smoke and mirrors, for they serve, not to actually make a positive argument for a young earth, but rather to obfuscate the issues and dismiss any and all scientific discoveries that challenge Ham’s claims. I covered the first two mirrors in my previous post; I want to touch upon the other three mirrors in this post.

The Third Mirror: Genesis 1-11 is God’s Historical Science Textbook
The third “mirror” Ken Ham and AiG employs whenever the argue for YEC is the claim that Genesis 1-11 is God’s eyewitness historical account of the origin of the universe, and is therefore conveying accurate scientific information.

Claiming that Genesis 1-11 is essentially historical is not anything that uncommon—a lot of people assume that. What is uncommon, though, is the relatively new claim made my YECism that Genesis 1-11 is conveying accurate scientific information. And what is absolutely astounding is the lengths to with they go in order to make that claim. In order to get to the point where he can argue that Genesis 1-11 is “doing science,” Ken Ham has to jump through a number of hoops: he must claim there are two kinds of science, and then claim historical science is just about belief (Note: if you define something as not being subject to the scientific method, then it is not science. If you say, “This kind of science is belief based on one’s religious worldview,” then it is not science.)

In any case, this is where the third “mirror” comes into play: the Bible is God’s “historical science textbook.” It is important to realize that Ham is not saying that Genesis 1-11 is “science” in the way most people think (i.e. the study of nature that is subject to the scientific method). He has already split the realm of science into two distinct categories, and has already claimed that his belief that Genesis 1-11 is conveying accurate information as to how the world, indeed the universe was formed, is scienceGod’s historical sciencethe kind of science that the scientific method can’t touch…the kind of science that is belief.

In fact, Ken Ham positively brags that Genesis 1-11 isn’t the same kind of science as “secular science,” because “secular science is always changing, but God’s Word never changes.” Of course, the reason why science is always changing is because scientists are learning new things about nature, and are thus constantly learning more—that’s what makes advances in learning about the natural world possible.

Furthermore, Ham is simply misunderstanding the biblical passages that talk about God’s Word never changing—simply put, it is not talking about how the Bible gives accurate scientific information. But this is the kind of thing that happens when someone comes up with his own definition of a special kind of science, and then couples it with very poor biblical interpretation, and verses ripped out of context.

The Fourth Mirror: Same Evidence, Different Interpretations based on Different Starting Points
With the first three “mirrors” in place, Ken Ham’s fourth “mirror” allows him to shoot down every and any piece of scientific evidence that refutes his YECist claims: it’s all about different starting points, and any information that points to an old earth or evolution is just based on secular/humanistic assumptions.

And sure enough, HH praises Ham in the book for making this very claim in the debate: same evidence, but different interpretations. Thus, according to Ham, it “actually becomes a worldview/religious debate” (53). And voila! Ham has taken what was to be a debate over whether or not YEC is a viable scientific method, and has turned it into a religious debate. And once he does that, he can then bring in the fact that his starting point is God’s infallible Word (i.e. God’s historical science textbook), but that “secular scientists” have a starting point of “man’s fallible word” (i.e. religious naturalism).

Starlight pointing to an old universe? Nope—your starting point is an assumption the universe is old, and you clearly are in rebellion against God; Ken Ham’s starting point is Genesis 1—God’s historical science textbook. The various dating methods that point to an ancient earth? Nope—you just are starting with the assumption the earth is old, and you are mocking Noah; Ken Ham’s starting point is Genesis 6-9—God’s historical science textbook.

No matter what the evidence is, Ken Ham simply dismisses it, claim it is all based on assumptions, and say his famous, “Were you there? I have a book written by God who was there!”

By strategically placing those first four mirrors throughout his presentation and books, Ham has not only made it possible to never actually address any scientific evidence that challenges his YECist claims, he also sets the stage to argue for his real agenda: the culture war. That is the fifth mirror.

The Fifth Mirror: The Religious Culture War
The fifth mirror is really what all the other four mirrors are angled to, for it reflects Ham’s real concern. Arguing for YECism is simply a means to this end. And indeed, the last few pages of the chapter are devoted to it.

After blowing a lot of smoke into the debate (the smoke will be looked at in the next post), Ham brought his 30-minute presentation to a close by hammering home what his real concern and real agenda was: fighting the culture war. For he is convinced that evolution and claims of an old earth are systematic attempts by secular humanists to undermine the Bible and to encourage immorality in the culture.

Now to be sure, I do believe there is a significant culture shift going on in our society that is disturbing; and yes, I think the more our culture succumbs to the secular thinking of the Enlightenment, the more our culture is going to disintegrate, for the Enlightenment worldview is rooted in philosophical naturalism, and is decidedly hostile to Christianity.

It is just that none of that is rooted in scientific discoveries regarding the natural world or the age of the universe. But this is Ham’s foundational point to his entire organization and life’s work: in order to save the culture, we must convince people that Genesis 1-11 is scientifically true.

To be clear, what will save the culture is the Church bearing witness to Christ, caring for the poor and needy, living out cruciform lives that are willing to lay down their lives for others, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives as they see Christians bearing the image of Christ. Trying to convince people that Genesis 1-11 is a special kind of science that isn’t subject to the scientific method, and attacking anyone who isn’t convinced of such an argument is not going to save the culture because it’s not true.

Ham’s Grand Finale: Marriage, Death, and Clothing
In any case, in a debate that was focused on the question of whether or not young earth creationism was a viable scientific model for origins, Ham concluded his presentation by talking about how “biblical creationism” is vital for Christian doctrine, and then calling for Christians to fight the culture war.

Ham’s first concern was marriage. Obviously, there is a controversy raging in our current culture about gay marriage—I am not going to wade into those waters. But I do want to point out the curious claim by Ham that marriage is a doctrine. Yes, the Bible clearly assumes marriage is between a man and a woman; yes, throughout all of history and all cultures, up until the later part of 20th century Western society, marriage has always been between a man and woman—but marriage isn’t a doctrine; and for that matter, the reason why marriage has always been understood to be between a man and a woman isn’t because the Bible says so, and it certainly is not dependent on whether or not there was a historical Adam and Eve.

Simply put, the argument for traditional marriage is not dependent on whether or not Genesis 2 is about two historical people.

Ham’s second concern was with sin, death, and Christ’s atonement. Yes, the Bible is clear: Christ came, suffered, died, and resurrected in order to cleanse us from sin and conquer death itself: that’s the salvation message. But apparently, Ken Ham believes that is all contingent on whether or not Genesis 2-3 is literal history. He objects to evolution because that would mean there was death in the world before Adam, and that would mean God didn’t create a perfect world at the beginning.

As HH writes, “If death had been around for millions of years prior to sin, then death would be very good and perfect, as God described everything He made as ‘very good.’ This would undermine the very reason for Christ’s atoning sacrifice” (78). If evolution were true, HH claims, then “we would expect to see death in heaven” (78). Therefore, “Believing in millions of years undermines the atonement—and undermines the WORD. As Christ is the WORD, not believing the WORD is an attack on Christ” (78).

Now, theological question of death is a serious one, but HH’s claims are riddled with problems. I’ve written about this issue in other posts (here and here), but to make a quick point, early Church Fathers like Irenaeus, did not teach that God created a “perfect” world or that Adam was created “perfect.” In fact, he said that such a teaching was a gnostic heresy. Simply put, they taught that suffering and death, while obviously not good, are still inevitable parts of this creation, and that it is through suffering that we grow into maturity and the likeness of God, as Christ demonstrated and now empowers us to do through the Holy Spirit.

Simply put, Ham’s premise is wrong: “very good” does not mean “perfect,” millions of years does not undermine the atonement, and it certainly isn’t an attack on Christ. But in any case, notice the effect of the rhetoric used here: HH is telling their readers that being convinced of what astronomy, biology, geology and genetics have discovered is to attack Christ. That is a scare tactic if there ever was one. In a debate over whether or not YECism is scientifically viable, Ham is telling people that they are in danger of hell if they doubt his YECist claims.

The final “doctrine” Ham mentions is…clothing. Now, I do not see how clothing is a doctrine, but nevertheless, when discussing this part of the presentation, HH states, “Clothing is a biblical doctrine. Originally, man had no shame in a perfect created order” (77), but because of sin, we now have shame, and that’s why we wear clothes.

Ham is wrong on two counts:

  • His assumption that God created the world and man “perfect.” To a point, the Bible doesn’t say that, and the early Church Fathers didn’t teach that.
  • His assumption that Genesis 2-3 is to be read literally as history, and not metaphorically.

In any case, you might be asking, “What does this have to do with the culture war?” Well, Ham is concerned with the increase of nakedness in our culture. I for one have not seen naked people walking our streets, but apparently, Ham is alarmed over nakedness. Apparently, Ham believes that if we don’t teach Genesis 2-3 is literal history, then more people are going to start walking around naked.

I just honestly don’t get that.

And Finally…
By the time we get to the last two pages of HH’s analysis of Ham’s presentation, we are light years away from the debate topic. Here are the points they made:

  • There is a bias against creationists in public schools
  • The origins debate isn’t a scientific one, but a religious one: “It’s a battle over religion—that of God or that of man: Christianity versus humanism” (78).
  • Public schools are forcing the religion of atheism on students
  • Public schools “arbitrarily define science as naturalism and outlaw the supernatural” (79).
  • Ken Ham showed “the implications of the secular religion that is being forced onto students and the subjectivity or arbitrariness behind it” (79).
  • In a secular worldview, you have gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion.
  • A literal/historical reading of Genesis gives us the doctrinal basis for “clothing, truth, honor, logic, science, medicine, knowledge, morality, kindness, helping the elderly and diseased” (79).
  • In a secular worldview “everything is meaningless and nothing really matters” (79).

And after all that, HH concludes: “Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era” (79).

Let me make just three points:

  1. None of those points had anything to do with the debate topic.
  2. By making those statements, Ham has essentially convinced his followers that if someone is convinced by modern science (of course, he’d say, “If someone believes evolution,” because he wants to convince people it’s a religious issue, not a scientific question)—that they are therefore brain-washing nihilists who are for gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion, etc.
  3. And finally, the last statement made was not proven at all…at all.

But this is the point of the five “mirrors” employed by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis: to avoid answering actual scientific challenges, to demonize anyone who challenges his YECist claims, and to frighten his followers into thinking that evolution = atheism = attacking Christ = moral degeneracy = ultimately hell.

I’ve had countless debates with YECist Ham acolytes, and these five “mirrors” come into play every time; and every time, it is obvious that they are convinced that I am anti-Christ because I disagree with Ken Ham. It is ultimately sad and tragic. They are so caught in this mental loop that just bounces everything off of these five “mirrors” that they cannot see anything else.

It reminds me of what Leah Remini has recently said about her time in Scientology. She said that when you are in it, you are so convinced that the fate of the universe hinges on your devotion to Scientology, that you are willing to accept the most outrageous and illogical claims Scientology makes, and you actually convince yourself that anyone who criticizes Scientology is an insidious enemy, not only to Scientology, but to humanity itself. You can’t think straight, and you actually believe that all the problems in the world go back to Lord Xenu and brainwashed thetans attaching themselves to people’s bodies.

In my book, I argued that YECism is essentially a heresy, but it wasn’t necessarily a cult. The more I think about it, though, I think it just might have all the markings of a cult. Now that I’ve pointed out the mirrors of YEC tactics, in my next post, I will discuss the smoke of YEC that HH puts forth in their analysis of Ham’s presentation.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 3): Changing Natural Laws, why Non-Christians Aren’t Allowed to Use Reason…and why Bill Nye is kind of like Hitler

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 3): Changing Natural Laws, why Non-Christians Aren’t Allowed to Use Reason…and why Bill Nye is kind of like Hitler

In my last post on Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge’s take on the Nye/Ham Debate that took place in February 2014, I took a look at the way Ham and Hodge (HH) attempted to frame Ken Ham’s opening statements in a favorable light. As I noted, nothing in Ham’s statements or HH’s analysis of them actually addressed the debate topic: “Is young earth creationism a valid scientific model for the study of origins?” Instead, it was an attempt to obfuscate what science really is, to paint Bill Nye as a bad man, and to portray Ken Ham as a champion of biblical authority.

In this post, I turn my attention to the way HH analyzes Bill Nye’s opening statements. To be clear, I think Nye’s understanding of the Bible and of the Christian faith is wanting; but he does know what he’s talking about regarding the fundamentals of science, and that was the focus of the debate. As you’ll be able to see, that is precisely what HH wants their readers to forget about. HH’s goal is to convince the reader that Bill Nye is not only bad and sinister, but also ignorant of science. Let’s see how they do.

Bill Nye: He’s Trying to Blind You!
The very first thing HH does in their analysis of Nye’s statements is not to address any issue, but rather to try to equate Ken Ham…with God’s Word. They took issue with the way Nye opened his argument. He had said that the debate was ultimately about two stories: “Mr. Ham’s story” and the one of “mainstream science.” “Not so” states HH! It is “about biblical creation as revealed in God’s Word” (35). Ken Ham “is simply standing on the shoulders of most Bible-believing Christians” (36).

Well, that’s not really true. Yes, there have been many Christians throughout the years who assumed the early chapters of Genesis were historical; but for that matter, there have been many Christians who didn’t. But what’s more important (and this is the real issue), it is just blatantly false that Christians throughout history have read Genesis 1 as a scientific description of origins. Ken Ham’s “story” is that the early chapters of Genesis are “God’s historical science textbook.” I will bet my house that no one in Church history has ever made that claim until the 20th century and the rise of the young earth creationist movement.

Regardless of this fact, HH boldly states that it’s not Ken Ham’s story, but rather God’s Word; therefore, Bill Nye simply isn’t wrong about science—he is anti-God. Don’t believe me? Consider this statement: “Really, it was Mr. Nye representing the ungodly, versus God and His Word. It just so happens that Mr. Ken Ham was representing the position of the godly, with affirms God and His Word” (36).

Remember, they haven’t even addressed any of Bill Nye’s actual arguments, and they already have tried to convince their readers that Bill Nye is not simply bad, but is anti-God. They are basically saying, “So do you believe anything he tells you!” They haven’t simply poisoned the well for the debate; they have filled it with arsenic, anthrax, and cyanide, strychnine and ricin.

And to top it off (again, before they even get to any of Nye’s arguments), HH takes issue with the way Nye presented the debate topic. At the beginning of his time, Nye had put up a slide that read: Does Ken Ham’s Creation Model hold up? Is it viable? Now, as any reasonable person can tell, this was obviously a slight paraphrase of the official debate topic. “Not so,” cries HH! “Of course, this was not the debate topic. [Nye] was trying to change the topic to point to Mr. Ham as opposed to the biblical position that Mr. Ham espoused” (37).

Remember…this isn’t just Ken Ham’s position—it’s God’s position.

Historical Science and Natural Laws
The way that HH actually goes about criticizing Bill Nye’s arguments is truly fascinating, yet still predictable for anyone who is familiar with the standard talking points of Answers in Genesis. The very first thing HH criticizes Nye for is his ignorance of the difference between observational science and historical science. This is a standard plank in the YECist platform: if you take this away, the entire YEC edifice collapses. But since there really is no difference, since no scientist (outside of YECist organizations) defines “historical science” as “religious beliefs about the past that can’t be tested,” the fact is there is no edifice to YEC to begin with. It is all smoke and mirrors.

The second thing HH accuses Nye of is distorting the YECist position regarding the laws of nature. Nye put forth the point that young earth creationists believe that the laws of nature are not constant, and that at some point in the past they changed, whether it be in relation to the age of the universe, the age of the earth, or the YECist claim that there was a worldwide flood a mere 4,000 years ago.

Well, HH accuses Nye of setting up a straw man, and that such a claim “was a fabrication by Mr. Nye” (37). They continue: “Creationists agree that natural laws aren’t changing. In fact, in his presentation, Mr. Ham challenged Mr. Nye as to how he could believe the laws of logic and nature from a naturalistic view of origins” (38).

Wait…what?

Young earth creationists do, in fact, teach that natural laws have changed. (A) How can there be distant starlight from over 14 billion years if the universe is only 6,000 years? Easy: the anisotropic synchrony convention—the claim that light can speed up or slow down with the vacuum of space! Jason Lisle at AiG even claims that ancient cultures were familiar with this fictitious theory that he promotes. (B) How did millions of species develop so quickly from the “1,000 kinds” that came off of Noah’s ark a mere 4,000 years ago? Joel Duff writes about the claims of hyper-evolution made by YECists, who claim there was an explosion of genetic variation immediately after the flood, but then soon slowed down to the rate that we know observe today. Let’s be clear: young earth creationists teach that natural laws change—it’s in their very literature.

The Laws of Logic
And while we are at it, what was that talk about the laws of logic? Let’s put aside the fact that it had nothing to do with the topic of the constancy of natural laws, and let’s focus on the fact that HH positively hammers Nye on this point. Later on, they say the following:

“Mr. Nye is actually borrowing from a biblical worldview to make the claim that natural laws will not change in the future. …Christians have a basis for such a thing (natural law being constant in the future). But in the secular view, natural laws have changed from the onset of the Big Bang, and they have no way of knowing that in the future the laws of nature might not change again. Christians know that the laws of nature will not change since God, who is not bound by time and knows the future, reveals that to us. As God’s Word states, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8)” (39).

And when Nye asked the crowd if Ken Ham’s version of Noah’s flood was “reasonable,” HH came back says this:

“I want to address something more disturbing about Mr. Nye’s use of ‘reason’ by his own professed worldview. Mr. Nye is a secular humanist, thus naturalistic and materialistic in his religion. …Those who hold to a naturalistic and materialistic worldview say that everything is matter. …But here is the disturbing part: logic, reason, truth, knowledge, and so on are not material…. If Mr. Nye (or any other materialist) is consistent in their worldview, then logic, truth, and reason should not exist in their worldview, any more than God, who is also nonmaterial. Mr. Nye is actually borrowing from a biblical worldview when he attempts to use logic and reasoning” (42).

Are you confused? That’s okay, I think that was sort of HH’s goal. Allow me to trace their argument.

  • Bill Nye appealed to the constant laws of nature, pointed out that YECists claim that, whether in their attempts to explain distant starlight or hyper-speciation since the flood, they argue that natural laws can change.
  • HH responded with the claim that “secularists” believe natural laws change and that Christians are confident that natural laws don’t change, because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  • HH further said that Nye is simply “borrowing from the biblical worldview” when he attempts to use reason and logic. They thus implied that since Nye was a naturalist, he wasn’t allowed to use logic and reason…? What?

Now, let’s be clear: what Nye said is true—YECists claim natural laws change. How else can HH respond, but with the illogical mess that they present? Does anyone in their right mind think that when Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, that that is the basis for belief that the laws of nature don’t change? Are they really trying to claim that Hebrews 13:8 is making a scientific statement about the natural universe? That is nonsensical.

And so what if Nye is “borrowing from the biblical worldview”? Now, let me say that technically HH has a point here. If you take philosophical naturalism to its logical conclusion, then there really is no naturalistic basis or reason for logic, meaning and purpose. But that’s really beside the point. As a Christian, I realize that even though Bill Nye is not a Christian, he is still created in God’s image and still has the ability to use his reason and logic to understand the world, even if he fails to acknowledge where that ability comes from.

But it seems that HH sees that as justification for completely dismissing Bill Nye’s very reasonable argument. HH essentially says, “Bill Nye is appealing to reason, but he can’t do that because he’s not a Christian…therefore we can dismiss what he has to say.” And just like that, HH has succeeded (at least in the eyes of Ham’s followers) in completely having to address the very real fact that they have to claim natural laws change at random in order for their YECist claims to work. They have side-stepped having to address the fact that their claims are illogical.

Bill Nye might not be a Christian, and he might not have a philosophical basis for his use of reason and logic, but at least he’s using it.

The Flood and Science Education
The rest of HH’s analysis of Nye’s opening comments were fairly predictable.

  • How could plants survive a year underwater? They were only under water 110 days, and some could have survived on floating log mats. Besides, “some plants or seeds that may not survive underwater today may have been able to do so at the time of the Flood” (41). Wait…isn’t that evidence that HH is claiming natural laws can change, something they adamantly deny a mere three pages prior?
  • What about fossils and rock layers? It’s all historical science, and interpretations will depend on one’s starting point. Bill Nye wasn’t there, but God tells us in the Bible, and we’ll take God’s word for it.
  • So what if millions of people don’t embrace 6,000 year creation? Would you agree with Hitler if he said there were millions of people who didn’t believe the Jews were people? (Yes, HH actually compared Bill Nye with Hitler).
  • The reason why science education in America is falling behind is because Christianity has been “thrown out of public education and replaced with evolutionary humanism” (47).

And with that, HH finishes their analysis of Nye’s arguments with a general accusation of the culture: “The more Mr. Nye’s naturalistic view of origins permeates the education system, the more I suggest we will see moral relativism pervading the culture—which is exactly what we see happening today. The religion of naturalism will ultimately destroy a culture! Mr. Nye’s religion is pernicious for any nation” (48).

Remember, the topic was: “Is young earth creationism a viable scientific model?” Bill Nye gave initial reasons why he thought it wasn’t, and in response, HH called him ignorant, dishonest, and anti-God; they said he was not allowed to use reason because he wasn’t a Christian; they were able to get in a Hitler reference; and they falsely equated a scientific theory with a naturalistic philosophy, and then put forth a rallying cry to fight the culture war.

So…is young earth creationism a viable scientific model for origins? There has been no evidence given as of yet.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 2): The Smoke and Mirrors of YEC Debate Tactics

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate (Part 2): The Smoke and Mirrors of YEC Debate Tactics

If you have ever spent any time in one of the many “creation/evolution” debate forums on Facebook, you can attest to the fact that many of the debates get pretty toxic pretty quickly. Indeed, it is easy to get frustrated and to allow yourself to get sucked into the pettiness. It is hard to stick to making your case and not allowing the toxicity get to you, and it is hard not to get frustrated at the lack of coherence in many of the young earth creationist claims. And it certainly is hard not to get offended when, after you make a basic logical point, not only does the response you get not address your point at all, but you find in the response, some rather nasty and condescending innuendos about your character and rejection of God’s word, and thinly veiled boasts about their own unshakeable faith.

Such responses do not come from a well thought out worldview, though. They come from rather blind imitation of those who are advocating YEC. They are predictable knee-jerk responses that have essentially been programmed into YECist adherents by organizations like ICR and AiG. The trick is to clearly identify all the triggers and stock answers that are in the tool box of YEC organizations. Once you do that, you can see them coming a mile away, and it becomes something akin to pointing out the tricks of a rather bad magician. The fact is, men like Ken Ham never really discuss actual science or biblical interpretation. Oh, he may use scientific terms and biblical passages, but the context in which he uses them is not science or biblical studies. It is a complex and often confusing web of half-truths, distortions, and innuendo. It is smoke and mirrors—but once you see where the mirrors really are, it becomes easier to see through the smoke.

It’s on full display on the AiG website, Ken Ham’s blog, the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate, as well as Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge’s book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, the book I am currently analyzing this month as a way of commemorating the debate of three years ago. These posts are not analyzing the scientific arguments of Ken Ham in the book, for like I said, there really are none. Instead, these posts will attempt to point out where the mirrors are so you can see through the smoke. So let’s get to Ham and Hodge’s (HH) analysis of the 5-minute opening statements of both Bill Nye and Ken Ham from the debate.

As a reminder, the agreed upon topic for the debate was this: “Is creation a viable scientific model for origins?” Or in other words, “Is young earth creationism a viable scientific method for understanding origins?” For that matter, if we to be blatantly honest about what the debate was about, we’d just state it this way: “Is Genesis 1-11 providing accurate scientific and historical information?” Let’s see how Ken Ham addresses this question.

Ken Ham’s Irrelevant Opening Statement
Part One of Inside the Nye/Ham Debate is devoted to HH’s analysis of the 5-minute opening statements by both Ken Ham and Bill Nye. The chapter covers 18 pages, five of which are devoted to Ken Ham, thirteen of which are devoted to Bill Nye. The reason for that discrepancy will soon become apparent: the aim of the chapter, and indeed the entire book, is not so much to analyze the arguments put forth by both men, as it is to convince the reader that Bill Nye is a bad, mean-spirited man, and that Ken Ham is a champion of God’s word.

In any case, HH points out that the very first thing Ken Ham said in his opening is that there are “biblical creationists” who are able to do “observational science” and build technology, without having to have an evolutionary worldview. That is absolutely true, but given the topic of the debate, that is also absolutely irrelevant. The topic wasn’t “Do you need to have an evolutionary worldview to build technology?” but rather, “Is young earth creationism a viable scientific model for origins?”

So why did Ken Ham open with this completely irrelevant fact? Simple: to mislead and to get people to not focus on what the topic of the debate actually was. To be clear, not only was the point he made irrelevant, what Ham was implying was also illogical. He was implying that (A) since there are scientists who are “biblical creationists” who build technology, that (B) somehow that proves evolutionary theory isn’t true. But that proves no such thing. The two points have nothing to do with each other. It’s like saying, “There are ‘biblical creationists’ who build technology who don’t believe Harvey Oswald acted alone…therefore Harvey Oswald must have had an accomplice.”

And while we’re at it, let’s just point out the misleading name Ken Ham gives for his position: biblical creationism. It is slipped under the radar, and no one even considers how misleading that label is. Even Ham’s opponents often use that label, and when they do, he’s already won the debate he is really focused on: getting people to believe that to question his claims about Genesis 1-11 is to question the Bible itself. Let’s be clear, his position is that of young earth creationism, and not biblical creationism. The Nye/Ham debate was tackling the question, “Is young earth creationism actually scientific?” Another debate could easily tackle the question, “Is young earth creation actually biblical?” But to allow the claim that the YEC view is the view of the Bible to stand is a huge mistake, for it allows Ham to put forth as his premise that the Bible is on his side. It isn’t.

Let’s Define “Science”
In any case, HH then pointed out that Ken Ham rightly took the time to define the terms in the debate, namely, what the definition of “science” was. (By contrast, HH pointed out that Bill Nye didn’t do this. Why not? The answer will soon become obvious).

So how did Ken Ham define “science”? He looked it up on the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and came up with this: “the state of knowing; knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.” He ignored the specific definition in regards to the scientific method, and instead decided to use the most general one. The reason was obvious: by completely ignoring the actual definition in regards to the study of the natural world, Ham was able to then put forth his own definitions of his own fictitious categories of observational science (science that is “based on the scientific method” and builds technology) and historical science (“non-repeatable, non-observable science [knowledge] dealing with the past, which then enters the real of beliefs [really, religion]).

Only then, did Ham then define the scientific method. Notice what he did. Without batting an eye, Ham:

  • Defined “science” in the most general way possible (i.e. knowledge)
  • Presented fictitious categories of science (i.e. observational and historical)
  • Defined “observational science” as the kind that uses the scientific method
  • Defined “historical science” as essentially “knowledge based on religious belief”

And voila! Ham deftly ruled out the use of the scientific method in any discussion about origins, and instead put in its place “religious belief.” That statement alone is proof that Ken Ham lost the debate: he essentially admitted that young earth creationism could not be supported by the scientific method. But because of the “smoke” of over-generalized definitions and the “mirrors” of fictitious categories of science, Ham can continue to state that YEC is “science”…historical science, the kind that is outside the realm of the scientific method, the kind that is a matter of religious belief…and religious belief needs to be based on…authority. And whose authority is it going to be? God’s infallible Word or man’s fallible word?

The Book’s “Analysis” of Ham’s Opening Statement
“This was a good opening, considering that the speaker was on the defensive. Mr. Ham started by destroying the idea that creationists cannot be ‘real’ scientists…” (32).

Thus begins HH’s “analysis” of Ken Ham’s comments. Ironically, given the obvious tactic Ken Ham used to mislead people in regards to proper definitions, HH actually states, “Evolution and science are both terms with multiple definitions that can muddy the waters if not clarified up front. …At least when Mr. Ham gave his presentation, people knew what he meant by words like evolution, science, and creation” (32).

But Ken Ham didn’t define “evolution” or “creation.” He defined “science” as “knowledge,” said that the scientific method is only applicable to technology, and claimed that “science/knowledge” of the past has to be based on religious belief. And yet, HH wants their readers (who are probably already fans of Ken Ham) to know, that this was a “good opening.”

“Ken Ham destroyed the idea that creationists can’t be real scientists!” (But no one said they couldn’t be good at technology)

“Ken Ham is the one who took time to define the terms!” (But he didn’t…at all)

And, if I may draw an analogy to a famous children’s story, “Just look at the beautiful clothing the emperor is wearing!” And the people applauded…until… (But he’s not wearing any clothes!)

“There’s a Difference Between Observational and Historical Science!” (“Four legs good, two legs bad!”)
The rest of the book’s “analysis” of Ken Ham’s opening statement really is an example of the pigs in Animal Farm teaching the other animals the farm’s motto: “Four legs good, two legs bad!” For it hammers home this supposed difference between “observational science” and “historical science,” and accuses Bill Nye of being dishonest and refusing to admit there is a difference. To paraphrase a number of paragraphs: “Mr. Nye refuses to admit this, because if he did, he’d have to admit his view on origins is a religious belief, and he’d lose the debate! Mr. Ham is honest enough to admit his beliefs…and his beliefs are based on God’s Word!”

Objective analysis, this is not.

But it’s not just Bill Nye who is the enemy—the modern education system is the enemy as well.  And at this point, HH simply slips in the accusation that evolution is the foundation of secular humanism, and that schools are brainwashing students, and are “arbitrarily defining science as naturalism and outlawing the supernatural” (33). And with their fictitious distinction between “observational” and “historical” science, HH then states, “Sadly…so many people are being duped into believing that evolution…is also science in the same way [as observational science]” (33).

Amazingly, HH then claims that evolutionary theory is the religion of naturalism or atheism, and that “secularists” have used “the bait and switch” to “rename the religious aspect of evolution” as “science” in order to teach “that autonomous man is the one who determines truth” (34). Never mind the fact that we are now light years away from the actual debate topic, let’s point out one of the more maddening tactics AiG loves to use: accusing opponents of doing the very things they do. Let’s be clear, the only one redefining terms and pulling the bait and switch is Ken Ham. In a debate that was to focus on whether or not YEC is scientifically viable, within the first five minutes, he redefined what science is, introduced fictitious categories of science, accused evolution of being the same as religion, launched into an attack on naturalism, materialism, atheism, and accused anyone who is convinced of evolution of trying to set up autonomous man as the determiner of truth.

Did I mention none of that had to do with the topic of the debate?

But this is what YECists like Ken Ham routinely do. This is their playbook: not just smoke and mirrors, but the mirrors they use are those crazy, distorting mirrors that one finds in fun house attractions.

Wrapping Up the Book’s “Analysis” of Ham’s Opening Statement
At the end of their analysis on Ken Ham’s opening comments, HH throw out a number of statements that could warrant their own blog posts on their own:

“Mr. Ham’s opening was perfectly consistent since observable science comes out of a Christian worldview that is built on a literal creation” (35).

What does that mean? We can observe and measure the distant of light from stars, and they are billions of light years away—this contradicts Ham’s claims that the universe is only 6,000 years old. And what is “a literal creation?” Creation is the natural world, how can it not be literal? Does he really believe the Christian worldview is dependent on whether or not the universe is only 6,000 years old?

“We can trust that those same [natural] laws won’t change and thus can be relied on since the Bible alludes to this in several places” (35).

But Ken Ham rejects natural laws in order to argue for a young earth. The speed of light in a vacuum is constant, therefore we can be confident, based on the unchanging natural laws that make it possible to do science in the first place, that there are stars that are billions of light years away from the earth. YEC rejects that and claims that light can speed up or slow down in a vacuum. And where does the Bible speak of the laws of science?

And finally, “All the historical sciences (or historical knowledge) are wrong, save one. They are all fictional stories but one…. All other forms of historical science are based on man’s fallible, imperfect guesses about the past by people who were not there. Therefore, they are arbitrary, next to God’s absolute standard” (35).

That’s right, without saying anything related to the actual debate topic, HH has deftly discarded the basic definition of science, substituted two fictitious categories of “science,” redefined one of those categories as nothing more than “knowledge based on religious belief,” and thus concludes that any “historical science” that isn’t based on the authority of God’s Word (i.e. the assumption that Genesis 1-11 is scientific) is a fiction.

The debate topic was, “Is young earth creationism a valid scientific model for studying origins?” and the answer that Ken Ham gave (which is re-affirmed in the book) is, “Evolution is a fiction; Bill Nye is dishonest; our education system promotes atheism.”

Smoke and funny mirrors….it can get comical and frightening at the same time.

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 1): A Month Long Celebration of the 3-Year Anniversary! (My critique of “Inside the Nye/Ham Debate”)

The Nye/Ham Debate (Part 1): A Month Long Celebration of the 3-Year Anniversary! (My critique of “Inside the Nye/Ham Debate”)

Three years ago, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and Ken Ham debated each other at the Creation Museum. The topic of the debate was this: “Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern Scientific Era?” By that time, I was already pretty convinced that young earth creationism was not true, but I hadn’t yet really delved into really investigating it beyond just some of the more general themes. And so, when the debate rolled around, I made sure to watch it. I knew I didn’t agree with Ken Ham, but I thought, “Surely, there must be something worthwhile to consider regarding his claims.”

Needless to say, by the end of the debate, I was shocked: for all practical purposes, Ken Ham had said absolutely nothing. I ended up writing about twelve posts on my old blog, analyzing the debate, discussing the meaning of Genesis 1-11, and sharing my thoughts on what I was learning about how the early Church Fathers viewed Genesis 1-11.  By the end of that school year, some of my comments about Irenaeus and Orthodoxy’s view of Genesis 1-3 were used by my headmaster at the time as justification for terminating my employment. In time, much of those posts made their way into my book, The Heresy of Ham.

Yes the book cover might look familiar….

In any case, watching that debate, quite literally, changed the course of my life. Last year I even purchased Ken Ham’s book, Inside the Nye/Ham Debate, in order to get a glimpse about how he felt the debate went. He and his son-in-law Bodie Hodge co-wrote the book, and it was even more shocking than the debate. The book essentially takes the reader through the various parts of the debate, and supposedly gives extra insights into the debate.

In reality, the book is nothing more than shockingly bad propaganda. I can liken it to the sort of pictures you may see in a partisan media source of an opponent of that media source. To touch upon the current political mess in America, Vox will always portray Donald Trump this way and Hillary Clinton this way:

Crazy Trump: “The camps will have huuuge walls!”
Patriotic Clinton: “I’ll be ready for that 3 AM call!”

By contrast, Breitbart will portray these two a little differently:

Let’s Make America Great Again!
Me wants the precious!!!

Why is that? Because each media source has clear agenda they are pushing; therefore, they purposely choose pictures to bias you either for or against any certain candidate or figure before you even read the article. Such actions are intentional, and intentionally try to influence you before anything is even said.

Inside the Nye/Ham Debate is like that all the way through. In fact, it is so blatant, that is what shocked me most of all. I was well aware of the actual debate claims the book covered—I had watched the debate and had written on it. But what stood out to me was how Ham and Hodge purposely tried to manipulate their readers by the way in which they discussed the debate. I knew at some point I would have to write about it.

Well, that time has come! The three-year anniversary of the Nye/Ham Debate is upon us, so what better time to analyze Ham’s analysis of that debate? Throughout February, along with my continued series on “The Ways of the Worldviews,” I will also be writing a number of posts about Inside the Nye/Ham Debate. After all, just today, Ken Ham sent out TEN TWEETS within ONE HOUR, calling to people’s attention that this was the three-year anniversary of the debate, and he even wrote a post of his own about it, where he encouraged people to buy a copy of the debate along with the book Inside the Nye/Ham Debate.

So I figured I’d help him out in spreading the word about, not only the debate, but also what he and Bodie Hodge actually say in their book about the debate. I think you will find it eye-opening…at least those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. So, let’s jump in and get our feet wet.

The Introduction
Before Ham/Hodge (HH) even get into their analysis of the debate itself, they open the book with some introductory comments. And one of their first introductory comments was how the debate wasn’t fair from the start: “Due to the nature of the topic, the discussion was not set up as a fair debate” (27). The reason they felt it is unfair was because the topic was, “Is creation a viable scientific model for origins?” That meant that Ham had to defend his position, whereas Nye could just attack Ham’s position, and not have to defend his own.

Of course that would be the case, HH mused, because, “Evolutionists…do not want to defend their position, but are willing to attack the opposition, which gives them the edge” (27). So allow me to point out the book’s first manipulative tactic: accuse “evolutionists” of not only being cowards unwilling to defend their position, but also of being those kind of mean people who only want to attack others.

By contrast, HH portrays Ken Ham as a veritable angel bathed in light, willing to undergo such unfair persecution: “Mr. Ham probably agreed to the debate topic knowing it would be skewed against him; that considered, it was very gracious for him to entertain the debate, ‘knowing how the cards were shuffled’” (28). Not only that, but HH wanted the reader to know that Ham showed even more grace by agreeing to speak first, and thereby giving Bill Nye the opportunity to have the final say.

Why would Ken Ham be so gracious, after already showing grace by accepting such an unfair debate topic? I’ll let HH explain: “Mr. Ham told me…it was most important for him to know that the message God had laid on his heart was heard clearly—even if that meant giving Bill Nye a seeming tactical advantage. And as anyone who watched the debate knows, Mr. Ham presented not only the biblical creationist worldview, but also unashamedly and clearly shared the gospel of Jesus Christ” (28).

But that’s not how Bill Nye is presented in the introduction. HH pointed out that Nye said after the debate that he took his debate tactic from the young earth creationist Duane Gish, whose tactic (known as the “Gish Gallop”) was to throw so much information out in rapid fire succession, jumping from point to point, that it wouldn’t give the opponent time to adequately address it all, and he would end up looking foolish. Nye essentially tried to do to Ken Ham the same thing YECists do to others.

If you’ve ever seen Duane Gish debate, you know that is exactly what he did. Well, HH simply said, “That’s misconception of what Dr. Gish did,” and then proceeded to accuse Nye of just throwing too much information out there in order to try get Ken Ham bogged down in details. But don’t worry, HH assures the reader that “Mr. Ham didn’t take the bait and stuck to the debate topic” (29).

Well, I watched the debate, and I have to say, I didn’t see Ken Ham present the gospel of Jesus Christ. But upon reading the introduction, I saw clearly what HH really wanted the reader to see: (A) what a cowardly attacker Bill Nye was, and (B) what a selfless, gracious, clever and godly man Ken Ham was.

…all before anything about the actual debate was discussed.

So, do you think the introduction is just a version of the Trump/Clinton pictures from your favorite hyper-partisan media source? I sure do.

Ken Ham, Bodie Hodge, and Georgia Purdom, showing off Ham’s book, “The Lie”

Just wait until HH’s discussion of the actual debate gets going.

I hope you enjoy my month-long celebration of the three-year anniversary of the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate. It will not so much be an analysis of the scientific claims made in the debate, as it will be an analysis of the manipulative tactics Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis use in place of making any actual substantive arguments. You can go to youtube and watch the segments in question as you read my posts. There will be plenty to hear and read…that is, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

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