Ken Ham, founding president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, went head-to-head with Bill Nye, known popularly as "The Science Guy" for his scientific kids show, in a debate about whether the six-day creation model is scientifically viable.
"Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today's modern scientific era," Ham, a Christian, proclaimed at The Creation Museum Tuesday night. The creationist argued that science supports his view of a historical six-day creation, as outlined in the first chapters of Genesis. He also listed a great deal of prominent scientists who believe in the creationist model.
Nye, an agnostic, retorted that such ideas are fanciful. "If you insist the natural laws have changed, for lack of a better word, that's magical," the "science guy" declared. "Your interpretation of a book written thousands of years ago, as translated into American English, is more compelling for you than everything that I can observe in the world around me."
What follows is a list of Ham's five best arguments for the Creationist model, along with Nye's five best arguments against it. Who won? Judge that for yourself.
1. "You Weren't There"
"We observe things in the present, and we're assuming that has always happened in the past," Ham explained. But he noted a significant weakness in using modern science to explain the past – "You've got a problem, because you weren't there."
Ham argued that there are different kinds of science: observational science, which involves the world as it is, and historical science, which attempts to understand the world that came before. "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, however, argued that there is no difference between observational and historical science. "When [scientists] make assumptions, they're making assumptions based on previous experience," he argued. "Why should we accept your word for it that natural law changed 3,000 years ago and we have no record of it?" Nye asked, explaining that "there are human traditions that go back farther than that."
2. Is Christianity Necessary for Science?
Ham also argued that science relies on a Christian worldview. "If the universe came about by natural processes, where did the laws of logic come from?" the creationist 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 explained. Christians believe in logic and natural laws because of the mental framework God gave men in creation.
Nye, on the other hand, argued for pure scientific education as necessary for America to advance. "If we abandon the process by which we know nature … 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."
3. Science Does Not Disprove the Biblical Account of Creation
Ham addressed the common arguments against a six-day creation and a literal worldwide flood. He argued against the methods of dating which many scientists use to support an old Earth. "All these dating methods actually give all sorts of different dates, even different dating methods on the same rock," the creationist said. "Actually, 90 percent of them contradict millions of years." Ham also pointed to a situation where wood, dating back 45,000 years, was found in rock, dating back 45 million years.
"We didn't see tree rings forming, we didn't see ice layers being laid down," Ham declared, referring to the layers on some ancient trees and on ice fields which allegedly go back more than 6,000 years. He recalled a situation where planes crashed on the ice in Greenland in 1942 and were discovered 46 years later, covered with 250 feet of ice.
Nye listed argument after argument attacking the six-day creation. He referred to the limestone underneath the state of Kentucky, noting that the ancient 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."
In addition to the ice rings and tree rings, 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?" The "science guy" also argued that, since there are 16 million species of animals in the world today, descended from 7,000 kinds, there must have been, on average, 11 new species every day since Noah's Ark.
4. Evidence Points to Creation
Far from Nye's arguments against it, however, Ham claimed that science promotes a creationist model. He discussed the "Creation Orchard," the alternative to the "Darwinian Evolutionary Tree," as a method of tracing small changes within "kinds." 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." It was these kinds, not each species, which travelled with Noah on the Ark.
Nye attacked the idea of the flood from multiple 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.
5. The Bible Requires a Six-Day Creation
Christians who believe in an old earth are forced to contradict the Bible, Ham declared. "If you believe in millions of years, you've got death and suffering and disease over millions of years," the creationist explained. But "the Bible makes it very clear death is the result of man's sin." It also says both humans and animals did not eat meat until after the flood. "I'm not saying they're not Christians," Ham admitted, "because salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ, not the age of the earth."
Nye admitted that there is "no incompatibility between religion and science," but argued that Ham is the exception. "There are millions in the world who believe in God and accept science," he explained. The "Science Guy" said he considers science and a higher power completely separate issues.