A few nights ago, creationist Ken Ham debated evolutionist Bill Nye on creation and evolution. I didn’t watch it for several reasons. First, it was at a bad time. I was reading to my kids and getting them in bed. Second, it didn’t sound interesting. My suspicion was that it would be a rehash of old arguments, made by both sides often and rejected by both sides equally often.
I am a young earth creationist (YEC), primarily because the Bible presents it that way, and secondarily because, as I understand the science, there is no reason not to be. Now, I admit to not understanding all the science, but I have never gotten satisfactory explanations of things from an evolutionary perspective.
Simply put, I don’t have enough faith to be an evolutionist. Too many statistically impossible things would have to fall exactly in place for it to be true. To get a one-in-a-billion occurrence to happen is unbelievable. Irrational. To get a whole series of them to happen (which is what evolution requires) is … well … I don’t have a word for it. To believe in it is either an act of extreme faith or extreme naiveté, or both.
I have read some of the articles and reviews of the debate. It’s predictable. Evolutionists mock Ham for his beliefs, and Nye for even going to the debate. Creationists praise Ham and point out Nye’s faults. And there is a predictable group of old-earth creationists, or what we used to call concordists, who try to carve out a middle position, praising Ham for his commitment to the Bible and condemning his science, while agreeing largely with Nye’s science but pointing out his lack of belief in a Creator.
Having read these reports, I will make only a few comments about the larger debate, not the one from the other night.
First, I hear that Ham continually took it back to the Bible. Good for him. I am glad. He should do this. We all should. I doubt that many people are actually walking away from the faith over young-earth creationism, though if you listen to the critics (including Ham), the church is almost empty on Sundays because of YEC (either those who believe it or those who don’t). But in the end, YEC is the only position that is consistent with the gospel. Others can indeed be saved, and are saved, but they have some issues that they can’t really explain apart from some big leaps, namely the problem of death and it’s relation to sin. If death isn’t the result of sin (as an OEC must affirm), then we can’t really explain why the Bible says that it is, and we can’t explain why Jesus had to die as a payment for sin since death wasn’t the result of sin. We have a payment made (death) that has no connection to the debt (sin).
Second, I see that Nye professed a belief that all innovation would stop if everyone became young earth creationists. It’s hard to understand in what world that would be true. It certainly isn’t true in the world as it exists now, however, it may have gotten here. And Ham apparently proved that by videos and references to YECs who have innovated.
In fact, we should point out that the only reason innovation is possible is because this is a world of order and law, where certain things happen every single time. Innovation is possible because of that repeatability. There’s no reason to believe that the science that enables innovations works in a world of randomness and chance (the world of evolution).
Nye appealed to the “reasonable man.” Again, it is difficult to grasp how any reasonable person could look at the world as it currently exists, even with its problems, and assume it the product of randomness and evolution. That is beyond reason. It is not rational. It is a position of pure faith. Unwarranted faith, I would say. There is no reason to believe that the world we live in is accidental.
The atheist has no reason to believe that the world is like it is. He has no reason to believe that tomorrow will be like today. Or yesterday. The consistency of the world’s existence is possible only in a theistic universe. The atheist’s science only works in a world he doesn’t actually believe in. He does not want to live in the world he believes in. In fact, he couldn’t live in the world he believes in. No one could, either physically, morally, or ethically. The atheist can defend his atheism only because it isn’t true. He has to borrow from the theist to assert anything about reality, beginning with the fact that reality exists.
In the end, the question of reasonableness ultimately hinges on the mind that is reasoning. When that mind is darkened, ignorant because of hardness, and calloused (Ephesians 4:17-19), it is hard to take it seriously. Unless, of course, you share its fundamental preconceptions and presuppositions.
And that is why, in the end, debates like this probably primarily only strengthen the adherents of both sides. For most people, the winner is the one you agreed with before it started. If your presuppositions (the things you accept without argument) align with Nye’s presuppositions (the things he accepts without argument), then you are likely to agree with him. And likewise with Ham.
As Ken Ham (and others) have said before, the question isn’t one of bias. We are all biased. The question which bias is the best bias to be biased with.
Or as I have said, Is your faith, and the object of your faith, big enough to account for reality? If your worldview can’t explain the world, you need a better one.
Nye’s worldview can’t explain death and brokenness in the material universe. It can’t explain innovation and consistency in the material universe. It can’t answer the most basic question of why there is something rather than nothing, and where it is headed. Until it can, it is not a viable explanation for the world as we see it.
For now, we must all admit that when it comes to origins, we see through a glass darkly. What we do know, instinctively, is that the world is broken. Only the Bible can explain why it is broken, or how we even can recognize brokenness. Only the Bible can explain how that brokenness can be repaired. For creationist and evolutionist alike, Jesus is the answer.
And so my friend, be wary of converting people to creationism prior to or even instead of converting them to Jesus. Jesus didn’t die so we could explain the fossils, the size of the universe, or the ice cores from Antarctica. He died because our sinfulness is doing something very bad to us. And the worst is yet to come. Only by Jesus’ death can there be hope.