The debate is proving more popular than I ever anticipated. But this I did not expect:
You read that right. Even if Nye bests Ham in public, Ham bested Nye (who didn’t even make an appearance) on Facebook. Ham even bested Benedict Cumberbatch.1
For his part, Ken Ham shares debate motivations today at CNN, such as:
Even though the two of us are not Ph.D. scientists, Mr. Nye and I clearly love science.
As a former science instructor, I have appreciated the useful television programs that he hosted and produced, especially when he practiced operational science in front of his audience.
He and I both recognize the wonderful benefits that observational, operational science has brought us, from cell phones to space shuttles. But operational science, which builds today’s technology, is not the same as presenting beliefs about the past, which cannot be tested in the laboratory.
Here Ham does what he doesn’t show nearly enough elsewhere: find a cultural touchpoint (or “common ground”), with an opponent, share it, and then offer an alternative view — or subvert based on the touchpoint itself.
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul did this in public debate. More Christians should do this also: the agree/subvert approach.
Wouldn’t it be great if Ken Ham forsook a “you evolutionist kids get off my (adopted) country’s lawn” approach? What if he — and other Christians — instead showed more of his geeky side and came out swashbuckling, not screaming?
This seems the best direction: avoid the dull debates over carbon dating, et. al. Instead: agree/subvert on bigger issues.
If Ham sticks with this material, could not all Christians tentatively agree?
- Spirited yet civil discussion in public, about controversial matters, is always a good thing.
- Science has limitations. And no one need be intimidated into silence by any discipline called “science.”
- The whole point of science is to question things — even things that “science” has already “settled.”
- “Science” actually says nothing, only scientists. And all scientists have biases on different topics.
- Creationists are biased toward creation, evolutionists toward evolution, and so on. Because: human nature.
- Naturalistic bias — e.g., “we’ll not talk about or allow for the idea of God in this area“ — is at best vulnerable to challenge, at worst an endorsement of personal hypocrisy. (If God has no place in a science textbook, why regard Him anywhere else?)
- Why not discuss a potential place for existing creation histor(ies), even legends, in origins discussions? Is this immoral?
That last brings me to two final words of advice, not for the debaters (they don’t need it) but for various sets of fans or anti-fans.
- Christians, please do stop being embarassed by Ken Ham. Even if he’s a quack, he no more casts aspersions on the state or reputation of your faith than a crazy “Coast to Coast AM” caller with alien-abduction claims casts aspersions on evolution. Moreover, incessant and unqualified complaining about how other Christians “come across” to non-Christians is both Biblically questionable and can look pathetic.
- Atheists/agnostics/whatsits, please do stop your whining and hollering just because Bill Nye “deigned” to debate a creation advocate. Why not have a discussion like this? In my view it was very kind of Nye to engage in this topic (into which he already inserted himself). Coudl this not prove that classical humanists do have ethics and can be gracious? Those who insist that all those Christians who have it all wrong — that atheists are just as moral than Christians2 — have a prime opportunity to demonstrate their morality and philosophy in a more gracious, polished venue than yet another YouTube comments thread.