Tag Archives: Answers in Genesis

Bill Nye Visits the Ark Encounter

Exactly three years ago today, the arguably most recognizable popular advocate for modern science, Bill Nye, debated one of the most controversial leaders in evangelical Christianity, Ken Ham, of Answers and Genesis, on the topic of creation. Since then, this debate has received nearly 6 million views on YouTube, which is a lot for a two-hour debate on science and the Bible.

This past year, Bill Nye returned to Kentucky to take a tour of the new Ark Encounter exhibit, just days after its opening. Cameras were rolling as Answers in Genesis recorded the casual, yet often heated, discussion between these two iconic men. Bill Nye and Ken Ham represent two very opposite ends of the pole on this topic, so I frankly found the discussion rather frustrating and exasperating. It felt like the two sides were just talking past one another. Nevertheless, it gives a good example of the type of challenges Christians face when defending their faith, with skeptics who are enamored by the prospects of modern science.

UPDATE: April 2018.  I originally posted a 2o-minute edited version of the discussion, which has since been taken down. Here is the full 2-hour version, from Answers in Genesis:

Noah’s Ark Comes to Kentucky

There is a good chance that you might be hearing quite a bit about Noah’s Ark in the near future…

Today, Answers in Genesis, will be opening a brand new museum, ArkEncounter, in Williamstown, Kentucky. Ken Ham, the visionary behind the project, believes that the story of the Bible teaches that a global flood cataclysm enveloped the earth less than 6,000 years ago. To drive home this interpretation of the Bible, Ham’s team has built a full-sized replica of the original ark, as a type of educational, Christian-themed amusement park.

Contrary to the quaint, Sunday-School description of cute giraffes sticking their heads out of the top of the ark, the primary message behind Noah and the flood is deadly serious. Humanity is sick with sin and rebellion against a holy and loving God, and apart from the Good News of Jesus Christ, we all deserve to perish underneath the waves of His holy judgment. While those who believe the Bible embrace these truths, not every believer interprets the scientific details of the flood in the same, precise manner as presented by ArkEncounter.

For example, ArkEncounter promotes the interpretation that the great mountains of the world, such as Mount Everest, were a great deal shorter just a few thousand years ago, prior to Noah’s flood. Therefore, God would not have needed five miles high of water to envelope the planet. Nor would have the animals required oxygen at such a great height, aboard the ark. This presupposes that once the great flood began to recede, a rapid series of plate tectonic movements resulted in the creation of mountains, like Everest, even though no such event is clearly described in the Bible, and no scientific evidence of such catastrophic tectonic movements has been found. Other Christians, on the other hand, believe that Noah’s flood was more local in scope to the Mesopotamian area, though sufficient enough to wipeout the then known, “world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5). Such a large scale flooding event, though not global, does find support within current scientific research.

Several years ago, John Paine and I put together a bunch of posts examining the flood from a biblical point of view:

  • Noah, featuring the ministry of Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe
  • Flood, Faith and Russell Crowe, a look at how different Christians view the biblical teaching on the flood.
  • Noah vs. Noah, more on the flood, and how Hollywood often gets the story wrong.

Also, Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman has a few blog posts, at Biologos.org, looking at the question of what is the ancient and proper literary genre of Genesis 6-9, as the key to understanding Noah and the flood. His answer, briefly? The flood story is “neither literal history nor myth.” It is something far more interesting.

Here is a flyover of the ArkEncounter exhibit:

Terry Mortenson on the Problem of Millions of Years

Here on Veracity, we have highlighted the work of Terry Mortenson, a speaker for the popular Young Earth Creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis. He spoke in Williamsburg several years ago on topics related to creation.

A lot of people, particularly atheists, ridicule Young Earth Creationists as being idiotic and stupid. I find this to be most uncharitable. Though I was not able to meet Terry Mortenson personally during his time in Williamsburg, I nevertheless found him to be quite charming, likable, and very articulate.

Terry Mortenson believes that modern science, even as practiced by Old Earth and Evolutionary Creationists, is built on inherently anti-biblical assumptions. Therefore, Christians should reject the concept of “millions of years” because it threatens to undermine the Bible. Science, as generally practiced today, can not be relied upon to give us true, genuine knowledge of the world that reflects God’s glory. In other words, God’s creation is NOT the 67th book of the Bible.

I would assume that Dr. Mortensen would take issue with how I understand the teaching of Psalm 19. My questions for Terry Mortenesen are not based on science, per se. That is a very involved discussion that would require me cracking open those dusty textbooks from my days in college. My concern is about the Bible. How would he read passages like Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Here, the Apostle Paul, is talking about pagans who have no access to  God’s Law as set forth in Holy Scripture (he addresses the Jews who have God’s Law in Romans 2).  Paul’s main message is that the pagans have looked at the evidence for God in creation and then rejected God, worshipping creatures instead of the Creator. A lot of atheists and other skeptics probably fit in this category rather well today. But as I have highlighted above, Paul seems convinced that what can be known of God as Creator can be seen in the things that have been made. Not only that, but this knowledge from the created order has been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world. Paul makes no mention of the pagans having a Bible to give them knowledge of God as Creator. Rather, it would appear that Paul assumes that general knowledge of God can be truly known by people because He has made it plain to them. If I take this literally, it would imply that there is a Christian basis for doing science simply by observing nature, expecting that as a different source of information, it essentially will not and cannot conflict with what we read in Sacred Scripture.

How does this square with Terry Mortenson’s view that you must first look to the first few chapters of Genesis to establish the basis for building science? Dr. Mortensen is quite correct that it is easy for scientists to misinterpret the scientific data that God leaves us in Creation. Good point!

However, those who hold to more of an “Old Earth” perspective contend that it is possible for people to misinterpret the Bible, as well, thereby creating an apparent conflict between modern science and Christian faith that need not exist. According to this perspective that accepts the general narrative of modern science, misinterpreting the Bible can actually create an unnecessary barrier to having faith in God.

Every “Old Earth” scientist I know who loves Jesus is persuaded that “millions of years” is correct, not because they are uncritically consuming “anti-biblical” assumptions. They accept “millions of years” because, in their observations, the evidence God has placed there demands it. If convincing evidence could be demonstrated to overthrow “millions of years,” they would accept a “young earth” in a heartbeat.

So, is Dr. Mortenson correct? Tell me what you think in the comments section below after you view this short video.

Navigating the Young vs. Old Earth Debate

James Ussher (1581-1656), Ireland Archbishop who calculated from the Bible that the earth was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C.    Throughout   church history, most (but not all) Christians have embraced  such a   view of a "Young Earth" as taught within the pages of Holy Scripture (Wikipedia, painting by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).

James Ussher (1581-1656), Ireland Archbishop who calculated from the Bible that the earth was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C. In the 21st century, very few young people in the developing world still accept the concept of a “Young Earth”.  But is there a way to reconcile the teachings of the Bible today with the findings of modern science? (Wikipedia, painting by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680)).

A recent informal survey at the social networking website, Reddit.com, was conducted that asked atheistic young people who left the Christian faith, what were their reasons for leaving the faith. By far, the most common response from over 50% of the respondents was concerning “Christian teachings that conflict with [the] findings of modern science.”    Though not a definitive be-all, end-all conclusion by any means, I find this to be an incredibly disturbing trend explaining what is draining people out of evangelical churches.  In my view, the heart of the controversy centers on the debate over the age of the earth.

So, how old is the earth? Is it relatively young, say between 10,000 to 6,000 years old as many Young Earth Creationists would argue? Or is it really old, some 4.54 billions of years according to many Old Earth Creationists?

Evangelical Christians are deeply (and rightly) concerned about the erosion of biblical authority undercutting the proclamation of the Gospel. Yet for many, any departure away from a specifically Young Earth perspective is a compromise of biblical authority. This is a serious claim. For if adopting the modern scientific consensus of an Old Earth is against the clear teaching of the Bible, then surely every Bible-believing Christian should reject that scientific consensus and embrace creation science, based on a literal six 24-hour day understanding of God’s creative act in the first few chapters of Genesis.

But is this the only way to understand the timing of creation as taught in the Bible?  The Old Earth Creationist, on the contrary, makes the claim that the teaching of modern science is instead compatible with a high view of the Bible’s divine inspiration. The Old Earth advocate argues that the Young Earth community is driving an unnecessary wedge between faith and science, thus harming the integrity of the evangelical witness of the church. Mmmm… Which perspective is the right one?  How does a Christian navigate through these competing ideas regarding the age of the earth?
Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: