Ken Ham, Bill Nye Debate on Creationism Still Drawing Praise, Criticism

Experts in creationism and intelligent design continue to respond to Tuesday night's debate between Ken Ham, founding president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, and Bill Nye, known popularly as "The Science Guy" for his scientific kids show, about whether the six-day creation model is scientifically viable.

Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon and intelligent design supporter, praises Ham for marking differences between observational or experimental science and historical science, and for also making the point that historical science is particularly influenced by metaphysical assumptions.

"Darwinists like Bill Nye do their historical science from a materialist and atheist perspective, and it clearly taints their insights," writes Egnor, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Stony Brook University in New York for more than two decades, on the Evolution News and Views website.

Revelation and reason are not, and cannot be, in conflict, Egnor says, responding to the debate on the topic, "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific era?"

"When I follow the evidence, I begin with a set of quite specific assumptions. Those assumptions are the product of the great Western tradition … the marriage of reason and faith," he says.

However, that tradition has been derailed in science by materialists like Nye "who presume atheism and presume Darwinism," he adds. "Materialist science is a betrayal, not a fulfillment, of modern science."

On the other hand, writing for the same website, Casey Luskin, a research coordinator at Discovery Institute in Seattle, Wash., says since Ham is not a scientist, the great majority of his arguments amounted over and over again to "Because the Bible says so."

Nye's main argument was, "Because the evidence says so," Luskin writes. "While Ham did make a few effective points that you don't have to accept evolution to do good science, the compelling scientific evidence for design in nature got skipped over."

The debate centered on the age of the earth, and therefore "the point was never made that a mainstream scientific view about the age of the earth is totally compatible with an intelligent design view that totally refutes Nye's intolerant, materialist beliefs about the history of life," says Luskin, an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law.

As a result, many might conclude that the debate was all about Ham having the Bible and Nye having scientific evidence.

Luskin, co-founder of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center, adds he doesn't believe that accepting the Bible requires one to believe in a young earth, and the views of those who think likewise were not represented in the debate. "I know that Ken Ham means well, but it's extremely regrettable that the powerful evidence for design in nature was hardly discussed in the Ham-Nye debate. A huge opportunity was lost."

Nye is a great science communicator, but his knowledge about evolution goes no deeper than popular arguments found in books by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, Luskin says. "A debater who was familiar with these issues could have shown the audience that an ID-based view of life is far superior to a Darwinian one."

Brian Thomas, science writer at the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, Texas, also commented on the Ham-Nye debate, seeking to expose a fallacy used by Nye.

"Each time Nye contrasted 'Ken Ham's creation model' of a young world with 'us in the scientific community,' he committed the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy," Thomas wrote on the institute's website.

This fallacy, as coined by Astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle in Discerning Truth, is committed "when an arguer defines a term in a biased way to protect his argument from rebuttals."

Nye insulated his assertion from scrutiny by defining "scientific" to suit his needs, said Thomas, the author of Dinosaurs and the Bible. "The common general definition of science includes observing, measuring, and interpreting natural processes. But Nye's definition of true science seems to involve observing, measuring, and interpreting natural processes only according to evolutionary tenets."

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