Many news outlets have covered the recent creationism/evolution debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at the Creation Museum Tuesday on Feb. 4, 2014, in Petersburg, Ky., but few are pointing to particular arguments that were made. While many issues were left out in the debate, there were four that played most prominently in the debate.
1. “Observable vs. Historical Science”
Ham reiterated throughout the debate the difference between scientific processes that can be observed, and the way in which science seeks to reconstruct methods by which changes took place in the past. Ham stated that scientific attempts to theorize past events are much more prone to error than the scientific processes that can be observed and tested today.
He referenced scientific methods of dating, saying that such methods are often faulty. He offered another basis for evaluating historical claims: “I claim there’s only one infallible dating method—a witness who was there and who knows everything and who told us—that’s the Word of God.”
Nye downplayed the difference between observable and historical science. He portrayed science as being accurate in both its ability to draw conclusions from processes observed as well as make conclusions about processes that are no longer taking place. “When [scientists] make assumptions, they’re making assumptions based on previous experience,” he argued.
2. Six-Day Creation
Ham tackled the arguments against a six-day creation based on scientific dating. “All these dating methods actually give all sorts of different dates, even different dating methods on the same rock,” the creationist said. Ham also mentioned a situation where wood, dating back 45,000 years, was found in rock dating back 45 million years.
Nye referred to the limestone underneath the state of Kentucky, claiming that the sea creatures buried in it lived their entire lives and form millions of layers of fossils. “There isn’t enough time since Mr. Ham’s flood for this limestone to come into existence.” Nye also mentioned the Grand Canyon. “If this great flood drained through the Grand Canyon, wouldn’t there have been a Grand Canyon on every continent?”
3. Mutually Exclusive?
Nye argued for “pure scientific education” as necessary for American classrooms, focusing on scientific and technological advances. “If we stop driving forward, stop looking for the next answer to the next question, we in the United States will be outcompeted by other countries, other economies,” he declared. “I am a patriot, so we have to embrace science education.” Nye expressed his view of belief in a higher power and science being separate issues.
Ham argued that the basis for science, logic, and reason lie in a Christian worldview, as well as a suitable explanation for the origins of the universe. “If the universe came about by natural processes, where did the laws of logic come from?” he asked. He claimed that Christianity gives a basis for the rules of logic and the order of nature, both of which are necessary for science. “There’s a book out there that does document where consciousness comes from – God made man in His own image,” Ham said.
4. Was the Ark Plausible?
Nye attacked the idea of the flood from a few different angles. “Is it reasonable that Noah and his family were able to maintain 14,000 animals and themselves, and feed them, aboard a ship that was bigger than anyone’s ever been able to build?” he asked. Nye also suggested that, if the animals from the flood landed in the Middle East, there should be “skeletons of kangaroos between Ararat and Australia.”
Ham cited a January 2014 study which argued for “a single origin for dogs, and disfavoring alternative models in which dog lineages arise separately from geographically distinct wolf populations.” According to Ham it was these kinds, not each species, which travelled with Noah on the Ark. Because of this, Ham claimed, there would have been need for many fewer animals to be on the Ark than Nye assumed.
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