Making Visible The Kingdom Through Convergence

Ken Ham & Bill Nye’s Debate: Readers Respond!

My recent post on the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye resulted in a surprising amount of response.  Sixty or so comments later I’m going to respond to just a few…

“My feeling about the debate is that it is so 19th century. I outgrew the need for such things when I outgrew adolescence. And, had I watched the [debate between Ken Ham & Bill Nye], I would have probably ended up frustrated with both men because they are both equally missing the point.” – Charles

“Your [post was] poorly written and can’t be further from the truth and actually marginalizes scripture into a fairy tale or “storytelling” – John

It is precisely because I believe Scripture is the inerrant and inspired Word that I wrote this response. To co-opt a text that does NOT provide the answers that a scientific debate on creationism and evolution require is to strip Scripture of its grandeur, beauty, and mystery. It’s a grand excursion into missing the point. Or course we believe that an intelligent designer – Yahweh – spoke everything into existence. The text doesn’t provide much more detail than that and it doesn’t need to…because it does so much more that staggers the imagination.

The story that we have told and re-told for all of recorded human history is the story of our need for redemption. There’s a villain that has no equal and never will who committed a deed more terrible than any other. He found a way to separate the Designer from the designed. Ever since that moment humanity has felt a wound that cannot be ignored. We are fatherless and homeless.

Against all odds and beyond the imagination of any Hollywood screen play a hero arose; the greatest hero that has ever been and ever will be. He’s no mere myth or by-product of some Bronze Age imagination. He’s the eternally victorious never to be defeated King of Kings – Jesus. Beyond all hope and human imagination the one who called creation into existence was wrapped in human flesh and experience life as one of the designed. He has forever defeated death, sin, sickness, and everything else that we lost in the beginning. I don’t believe this because of empirical data. I believe it because he gave me eyes to see and ears to hear and made himself visible to this wretched mess of a person in need of a savior. This *fairytale* is the most beautiful truth ever told and He who spoke it into being is our Lord.

“I have to disagree… Using the bible in a debate as such as Kent Ham does is relevant and important. Kent Ham here is correctly arguing that the origin of truth is not found in science but in God. God created science, and what we study (science) needs to checked against the foundation (Bible). Since the Bible is the only documented source of infallible truth we can and should check our hypothesis against it. This is exactly what Kent is doing. Much like a teacher might use an answer key to show that the student came to the wrong conclusion, Kent is doing the same. Not only does he have the foundation to prove that evolution, the big bang… is bad science, he is also proving that hey, the (His) hypothesis checks out with scripture… the Bible and science agree! This is a very important since studying science is really studying general revelation (what God is revealing to us about Him and His creation) and as such, we know that God does not lie… so the Bible and science NEED to agree. As was pointed out in the debate, what is really at issue here is authority (worldviews). In short, If you claim that the Bible can’t be used to speak to us about science, then it can’t be used to speak to a man about his heart! In this case, the Bible is reduced to nothing more than as you say… a mythical fairytale.” – John

I expressly said that the *story* of the Gospel is in fact NOT a myth, fairytale, or the product of Bronze Age imagination…and I agree with you that the study of science is in a sense studying the general revelation, but the Bible isn’t a textbook and it was written to be a textbook full of empirical data about science. It’s truth and we know this to be true because God is truth, it’s an essential reality of His existence.

This doesn’t mean that I disagree with apologetics. At times it’s an essential art to be practiced by those who have a gift to wield such a sword as God would lead them. There absolutely should be an ongoing discussion about where faith and science intersect. I would even agree that there are those who’s purpose in teaching evolution is to attempt to debunk faith or drive what they perceive as myth and the detritus of superstition away with reason. For this reason there should be debate and dialog about how people of faith can also be people of reason and science.

If we believe in the God of Scripture we believe in Intelligent Design, but apart from knowing that the rest of the *science* being connected to Genesis is conjecture at best and again it’s an adventure in missing the point. What’s the point? That God – The Designer – has rescued the designed – us – through his son Jesus Christ who is eternally victorious and eternally united to his humanity and divinity.

I’ve never stated that Ken Ham’s ultimate conclusions are wrong…God absolutely could have created an old universe 6,000 years ago in six days…because (wait for it) HE’S GOD AND HE SPOKE EVERYTHING INTO BEING. My issue is with the questions he asks, the way he forces the text to answer, and the fact that he presents his entire thesis as the one true thesis that all of Christendom hinges upon.  As you’ve stated John “If you claim that the Bible can’t be used to speak to us about science, then it can’t be used to speak to a man about his heart!”  You’ve hit upon the heart of the matter and this is precisely why I disagree with this debate.  You’ve essentially said “the Bible is scientifically accurate and if it’s not or can be proved not to be it’s all untrue.”  I absolutely agree that there is a question that must be answered when it comes to the authority of Scripture and if you’ve read this blog before you’ll already know that I believe in Ultima Scriptura – Scripture alone should be the final authority by which we weigh and measure everything else.  However, you’re ignoring the fact that Genesis occupies a completely different culture, context, language, and genre from the New Testament.  It wasn’t written to be a scientific treatise.  It wasn’t written with the same intent and purpose as the New Testament.  The entire premise of you’re statement is ignorant of the culture, history, and context in which the Bible was written and received.

“God works in a variety of ways and has no formula. For some people, an intellectual breaking down of the components of Christian faith is a helpful endeavor in that person coming to Christ. I don not subscribe to the idea that one CAN’T come to Christ through discussion and debate (in conjunction with the Spirit) and I also do not subscribe to the idea that apologectis is good all the time in all circumstances. There are atheists, some atheists, whose main stumbling block before considering the Cross is entirely academic in nature. That God has chosen to use us as a vehicle to spread His word means that if we choose one o those methods as discussion, debate, and the breaking down of components to address academic objections, than who are we to say that this is ineffective or ‘wrong.’ I think a witnessing exercise is only ineffective when we aren’t wise enough to know that it’s NOT the only way.” – Jae

Well said indeed.  Thanks for engaging in great dialog.  Amen brother.

“Alright, bud. Allow me for a moment to take a contrary position – you know, in a sword-sharpening kind of way. I read your ancientfutureworship blog installment and have been following the posts here on this subject. I understand fully where you’re coming from. But apologetics has not merely become necessary only just today – in our world (ask Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Michael Brown, John Stott and/or, if we could, C.S. Lewis et al.) – it’s actually scriptural: cf. Paul “arguing” and “persuading” Acts 17:1-34; Apollos “powerfully refuting” in 18:24 and previous; or Paul arguing even for “months” thru 19:8-10. There are plenty more to cherry-pick from. Again, I’m not saying I necessarily take a contrary opinion from the one you’ve voiced. I’m just saying, as hard as it may be to believe, someone’s faith (or lack thereof) may actually be hinging on a point of discussion that no one has ever been able to “intelligently” break down for them. I bump into this kind of person nearly on a daily basis now. God may lead you to such a person. But you’d better be ready for an argument, no frills. Nothing cushy. That is our world over here: Jewish culture – also historically – is heavily characterized by “argument.” Ham’s approach is really nothing new, and not actually unbiblical. Apparently Paul the Apostle thought he could argue people into his worldview – even idol-worshipping Greeks, who had no use for – or understanding of – the Jewish concept of Messiah. Talk about a paradigm shift. (Although in essence, I do agree that Ham takes up a text that was not intended for such purposes. It would have been interesting to hear what texts Paul the Apostle used in such debates.)” – Matthew

A great response Matthew.  I think we’re in agreement.

“My anthropology professor at UVA told us he didn’t believe evolution (I have no idea what his faith background was) on the basis that there aren’t enough facts and hard evidence to support it. You can dismiss science like that. I don’t think faith works that way at all. People are still “demanding a sign”…and God is still under no obligation to provide one.” – Jennifer

“Bill Nye and Ken Ham are not scientists there debate is akin to expecting a car salesman change your transmission. Bill and Ken sell cars but neither have been under the hood.” – Andrew

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One response

  1. Two excellent resources pertinent to this discussion: R.C. Sproul on natural reveleation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIwHT_b72Bk
    Augustine on Genesis, warning against misusing Scrpture and voiding natural revelation http://noanswersingenesis.org.au/saintaugustine.htm

    February 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

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