I recently rewatched the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate on whether creationism is a feasible model of the origin of the universe. As a devout Christian during my high school years, I was that student in science class. The one that insisted the teacher was wrong when he taught evolution, the one that determined to prove creationism in class, the one who wrote the paper on creationism when we were supposed to be learning about evolution.
If I recall correctly, my paper was…arrogant. I knew the right answer, and I wasn’t going to let some “theory” (always said very derisively), stand in the way of my facts. And then I grew older, began to question what I had always believed, and actually studied those facts. And now I’m not sure how people who have truly educated themselves on the matter can believe that the world is only 6,000 years old.
Ken Ham makes a distinction that I hadn’t heard during my student years, that of observational science (science that goes on right now, where we can watch a thing and make conclusions) and historical science (where we can’t see the thing for ourselves and therefore can never know, scientifically). I personally find that to be disingenuous, a distinction that has no place in academia. But then neither does his statement towards the end of the debate, the question asked was “What, if anything, would ever change your mind?” Ken Ham’s answer felt a little rambling to me, a way to avoid truly answering, but somewhere in the middle of a convoluted explanation of why the Bible is the word of God, why it is completely 100% accurate, and why it is prove enough for him he finally summed it up, “no one’s ever going to convince me that the word of God is not true” (Transcript of the debate)
Had this debate been available to me as a student, I might have questioned my faith sooner because to me we have a scientist saying he’s open to other interpretations but that this is where science indicates the answer lies and there is data from all these different sources and a creationist who said “there is a book out there that does document where consciousness comes from.” But that book is the only piece of data I felt mattered to Ham and it made my recent reading of the creation story in Genesis come a little more clearly to me.
When I was a student we questioned in my youth group if the six days were six literal days, if they were epochs or periods of time, if there was a way to put modern science and the Bible together and come up with the same answer. At the time we always said that if there wasn’t a clear answer yet it was because technology could not reveal the might of God to man. Now? I believe that the wonder of science has all the power that I once believed only to the might of God.
I don’t know that there was a winner or a loser in that debate. Some people came away sure that they were as right as they had been before the debate. And some people came away as unsure as they had been before. I don’t think anyone was persuaded to throw away their own believes and agree that the opposite perspective was right after all, but I found it an interesting debate anyway.
Video of the debate available here.