Bill Nye "The Science Guy" was shared his perspective on the origins of human life in Monday's debate with Creationist Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Kentucky on Feb. 3, 2014.
Bill Nye is a scientist, an engineer, an author, and host of the popular 1990s television show, "Bill Nye the Science Guy." He is an Evolutionist, and though he may not believe in God, he says that he has respect for religion. Nye was given thirty minutes to present his views on the origin of mankind, and was followed by a period of rebuttal from Creationist Ken Ham.
In his presentation of the Creationist viewpoint, Ham had reasoned that historical science cannot be lumped into the same category as observational science; scientists must make assumptions about historical science because it is not observable. While Nye did not seem to make the distinction himself, he began his segment by asserting that he believes the current laws of nature have always been the same historically. The heart of their disagreement, Nye says, is that scientists can make reasonable claims about the past based on current natural laws.
"What makes the United States a world leader is technology," Nye says - he believes that our country's economy will decline if we try to separate observational science and historical science. "We are not going to move forward, we will not embrace natural laws, we will not make discoveries," he insists.
In his presentation, Nye made several references to fossil layers that appear to be millions of years old and also noted that scientists have discovered ice layers that appear to have been through 680,000 winter/summer cycles; he argues that these things could not have formed within the 4,000 year span of time between now and the flood in Noah's day. Ham argues, however, that assumptions must be made about the formation of ice layers, as they were not observed and would fall under the category of historical science.
Carbon dating suggests that the earth is much older than 6,000 years, Nye says. "There are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, and I respect that," said the Evolutionist - "People get tremendous community and comfort and nurturing support from their religious fellows in their communities and their faiths and their churches, and yet they don't accept your point of view." He pointed out that there are many Christians who don't believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, as Ham does.
Ham argues that there are hundreds of fossil dating methods, most of which contradict one another. He cited several cases of carbon dating which got vastly different results when performed on the same fossil twice (i.e. 45 million years old versus 45 thousand years old). He also claims that in order to do carbon dating, assumptions must be made about the parent and daughter isotopes that existed when the rock formed - this delves into historical science, which is unobservable.
Ham holds that there is only one infallible dating method: "It's the Witness Who was there, Who knows everything, Who told us ... from the Word of God," he says.
Nye says he doesn't understand how the thousands-of-years-old Bible, which has been translated into English from Hebrew, is considered more credible than what he calls observable evidence.
The Evolutionist also noted that some trees have enough tree rings to be considered over 6,000 years old, which he believes would negate both a young earth and the flood of Noah because the trees could not have survived the worldwide flood, and the flood was believed to have been around 4,000 years ago. Ham reasons, again, that assumptions are being made about the tree rings which are not observable.
While not all Christians agree that the book of Genesis teaches a literal six-day creation (some see days as periods of time, and Adam was created on the sixth day), Ham asserted that there were 6,000 years of genealogies from Adam to Christ, and from Christ until today. It should be noted that there is also another Christian view on creation, in which the earth, plants, and the animals were created at an unspecified period of time ("In the beginning"), and Adam was created after God had prepared the Promised Land for his inhabitation. However, literal six-day Creationists believe that because the Bible teaches that death did not enter into the world until Adam had sinned, no fossils could have been formed until after the fall of man, which occurred around 6,000 years ago.
"Are the fish sinners? Have they done something wrong to get diseases?" Nye later asked Ham, misunderstanding how the sin of Adam has affected the created order.
Nye also mocked the idea that animals were vegetarians before the flood, as the Biblical account states. He asks Ham to produce more proof than what the Bible says - "I give you the lions' teeth, you give me verses as translated into English over thirty centuries ... that is not enough evidence to me," he says. Nye then equated the Bible to the "Telephone Game," where a sender's intended message gets misinterpreted as it is passed from person to person.
"Lions are lions, and the information that you use to create your world view is not consistent with what I as a reasonable man would expect," says Nye. He believes that the idea of finding credible scientific evidence in the Bible is a "troubling and an unsettling point of view" which will cause believers to miss out on the joys of discovery in the world around them.
"Just because an animal has sharp teeth doesn't mean it's a meat eater - it means it has sharp teeth," Ham responded, citing several other types of animals with sharp teeth that are herbivores. He, and many other Christians engaged in scientific inquiry, are filled with awe of God's might and power when studying His beautiful creation.
Nye says he also believes that it is unreasonable to think that Noah and his family could have built the massive ship that is described in the Bible. He cited an experiment where 14 skilled ship builders attempted to build a large ship similar to the one Noah had built (though smaller), but it sank while the men were at sea. Nye is incredulous that Noah, who lived thousands of years beforehand, could have built an even bigger ship that survived the flood.
"It's very reasonable, perhaps, to you that Noah had super powers and was able to build this extraordinary craft with seven family members, but to me that's just not reasonable," he says.
Nye also believes that the animals would have left a fossil record as they spread throughout the world from a single starting point after the flood (for instance, the remains of a kangaroo heading toward Australia might be found in the Middle East). Furthermore, he says that there are far too many species to have all fit on the Ark.
Ham later distinguished between the term "species" and what the Bible calls "kinds;" while there are millions of species, it is estimated that there are less than 1,000 kinds. Therefore, there were probably around 2,000 animals (a male and female of each kind) on the ark.
Ham also reasoned that Nye's evolutionary beliefs lead him to assume that Noah was unskilled as a ship builder, thinking that people who lived thousands of years ago were inferior to us.
Nye later defended the Big Bang theory, relaying that scientists concluded that there might have been a big explosion after the inventor of the Hubble telescope discovered that the stars appear to be moving apart. He also states that he doesn't understand how there could be billions of stars if the world is only 6,000 years old.
When asked about what came before the Big Bang by an audience member during the Q-and-A session, Nye said that he has no idea. That is what scientists are excited to explore, he says, and he encouraged the next generation to keep digging and inquiring until they find the answer.
Nye was also asked about how consciousness could come from matter, if there were no intelligent design. "Don't know - this is a great mystery," he says. "The joy of discovery - that's what drives us."
Ham reminded Nye that there is a book that actually explains all of these things - the only thing that makes sense, he reasons, is an infinite Creator, God. Ham says he finds joy in scientific discovery because he learns more about God when he explores His beautiful creation.
In the end, Nye made a plea that voters heed his advice on raising children to believe in the scientific theory supporting evolutionary theory; otherwise, he says, scientific inquiry and discovery will eventually cease. "We need to innovate to keep the United States where it is in the world," Nye says.
Ham concluded by encouraging skeptics in the audience to seek the Lord, that He might reveal Himself to them - "If you come to God believing that He is, He will reveal Himself to you. You will know - if you search after truth, if you really want God to show you as you would search after silver and gold - He will show you, He will reveal Himself to you," he says.
More detailed information on Creationism can be found at AnswersinGenesis.org.