Tag Archives: Bill Nye

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. Here are some highlights of Bill Nye’s encounter with Ken Ham at the Ark, on a 20-minute video. The look on their faces just says it all:


Who Are the Most Influential Skeptics Today?

Bill Nye, the Science Guy.  Comedian and science educator for a generation of young people.  Now a participant in the culture wars??

What do cultural celebrities like Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Bart Ehrman, and Bill Maher all have in common? In different ways, the represent different forms of skepticism about the Christian faith.

In a recent Sunday School class on “Personal Discipleship,” I was asked this question: Who are the most influential skeptics today? 

How does one go about answering such a question? According to Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, in his magisterial A Secular Age, a few hundred years ago it was virtually impossible not to believe in God. But nowadays, the shift is remarkable: for many in 21st century Western culture, it is very easy, almost inescapable, to not believe in God. Skepticism defines the current cultural mood, something that would have been mostly unthinkable just a few centuries ago.

Instead of trying to come up with some type of “Top Ten” skeptics list, I think it best to list out some of the more skeptical personalities today, each person representing a different type of skepticism that an evangelical Christian believer might encounter in their conversations with their neighbors, co-workers and even family members. So here we go….
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Bill Nye & Ken Ham Debate: One Year Later

A year ago today, popular children educator Bill Nye and the president of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, debated one another at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Has anything changed within a year?

Bill Nye was recently interviewed by the folks at BioLogos. Two things stand out to me in the interview:

  • For Bill Nye, “creationism” means believing in a Young Earth that is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. Other forms of “creationism,” including Old-Earth Creationism as articulated at Reasons to Believe and Evolutionary Creationism as articulated at BioLogos simply do not count as “creationism.”
  • For Bill Nye, the science of evolution does not allow a reasonable person to see any divine “plan” in nature… at least for him.

If you accept the black-and-white categories laid out by both Bill Nye and Ken Ham, it leaves very little room for talking about harmonizing the God of the Bible’s Creative activity with contemporary science without compromising either the Biblical authority on the one hand or modern Science on the other. I was not very thrilled with the debate as it just seemed as though the participants kept talking past one another, something that comes out in the Answers In Genesis video linked below.

Has there been more fruitful dialogue to come out of the Nye/Ham debate over the past year? I will let you be the judge, but from where I sit, it does not help the situation when even Christians find themselves unable to see past their own prejudices, confusing making a stand on the Truthfulness of God’s Word with merely being uncharitable towards others with whom they disagree.

*SIGH*

But allow me to make a positive illustration: At the National Conference on Christian Apologetics that I attended in October, 2014, with a few Veracity friends, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Michael Behe, one of the leading lights of the Intelligent Design movement, discussed here earlier on Veracity. I also met Hugh Ross, the president of Reasons to Believe, a favorite here at Veracity. I told both gentlemen that I was a bit bothered that while there were Young Earth, Old Earth, and Intelligent Design people represented at that conference, the Evolutionary Creationist camp represented by BioLogos was conspicuously absent (this is ironic since WORLD magazine soon thereafter made the counter-claim that BioLogos excluded prominent critics from a BioLogos conference … I guess WORLD magazine never covered the National Conference on Christian Apologetics… more *SIGHING*).

What Michael Behe and Hugh Ross said was refreshingly encouraging. While both  disagreed with the view of Darwinism held by the folks at BioLogos, and both nevertheless continue to try to persuade others to their point of view, both men still count a number of their critics at BioLogos as being friends.

Wow. What a novel concept: Embracing fellow believers in Christ as friends, even when you strongly disagree with them on a particular non-salvation issue.

Perhaps if others in the creation/age-of-the-earth/evolution debate within the Body of Christ had that type of attitude with one another, then when you have debates with folks like Bill Nye, it would not seem like you were always talking past the other person.

Thanks, Dr. Behe and Dr. Ross!


Ken Ham and Bill Nye Debate Recap

My wife and I were still out making our monthly run to CostCo while last night’s debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was going on. It was not like the SuperBowl or anything, but somewhere between a half a million to a million people watched the YouTube version online.

I only caught the closing statements near the end and rewinded to the beginning to catch their opening statements. I actually thought the exchange went better than I thought it would, and it did turn out a little different than I expected and predicted here on Veracity.

Instead of focusing on the harm evolution education he reports is causing in our schools, Ken Ham focused more on the distinction he was making between historical science and observational science. His main argument was that he and Bill Nye actually share the same perspective on observational science that gives us things like modern technology today. The disagreement is over historical science. For Bill Nye, historical science gives us genuine knowledge about the past. For Ken Ham, science can not give us reliable knowledge about the past. We must look to the Bible for that.

Likewise, Bill Nye surprised me, too. Though he clearly has an agnostic orientation towards the Christian faith, he made some approving mention that not all Christians share Ken Ham’s Young Earth Creationist views.

If you missed the debate, should you watch it? Mmmm….If you are not terribly familiar with the subject matter, I would encourage you to watch it, but with a strong caveat involved: Take the time to look into what other Christians are saying about the issue. For example, Reasons to Believe, the premier Old Earth Creationist ministry, made a statement about the debate beforehand, and interestingly references a number of the resources we here at Veracity have talked about representing their position. At BioLogos, the most prominent Evolutionary Creationist think-tank, a group of scholars offered their post-debate reflections. Then you might consider this evaluation of the debate from Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary, and a Young Earth Creationist.

From a more secular perspective, a young reporter with Time magazine did some live blogging coverage of the debate. The general take away of this blogger is that last night’s event was a throwback to the “creation culture wars” of the 1990s. She has a point here, but what is different now is that  through the advances of the Internet, you can interact with a variety of perspectives and get access to information (some good, some not so good) easier than ever before, something that simply was not available to me when I had my first crisis of faith experience on this issue some thirty years ago.


Debate Tonight: Bill Nye and the Bible Guy, Ken Ham

Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate tonight. Do not expect a lot of nuance or substance, but there will be a lively discussion.

Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate tonight. Do not expect a lot of nuance or substance, but there will be a lively discussion.

Some of you may know about the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham tonight. Ken Ham, the director of Answers In Genesis, has challenged Bill Nye, the Science Guy, to a debate on the following topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” The debate will be held at the Creation Museum in Kentucky at 7 P.M. and will be accessible over the Internet via live streaming.

I sometimes run into Veracity readers who find that some of the content on the blog goes over their heads. I get that. Tonight’s debate will definitely not be that way, as Bill Nye is a very popular science educator for children. Ken Ham is an effective communicator for what is popularly known as “Creationism”.

On the positive side, the debate will give a 10,000 foot overview of the Creation vs. Evolution controversy that has continued to rock American Christianity ever since the spectacular Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920s. The downside is that it will not really be a “debate” at all. Bill Nye, as an engineer who has a love for science, has a great deal of concern about America’s future ability to compete in an ever expanding technological world. He will be trying to convince his listeners in Kentucky that the belief in “Creationism” is harming our kids, and thus harming America’s future. Ken Ham, on the other hand, will argue that Bill Nye’s approach to science is closed-minded and promotes censorship, and that the modern view of science that Nye is championing is ultimately responsible for the moral decay and spiritual ruin of America and America’s churches.

Unfortunately, the rhetoric on both sides tonight will greatly oversimplify the real fundamental issues at stake. More than a few will boycott the debate out of principle. Others will be relieved that FINALLY someone is standing up for the truth. True, there will be some facts presented, but the emphasis will be on emotional appeal and not very much on genuine substance. This is why John Paine and I are so passionate about what we are trying to do on Veracity. Veracity is about substance. If you do view the debate tonight and find yourself frustrated, exasperated, or bewildered, regardless of what position you take on it, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

John and I have toyed with possibly live blogging the debate, but the current logistics perhaps make that unlikely. If you have a comment on the debate, please add one below. We would like to hear from you.


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