Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era? Leading creation apologist and bestselling Christian author Ken Ham is joined at the Creation Museum by Emmy Award-winning science educator and CEO of the Planetary Society Bill Nye.
Ham, a former science instructor who emigrated to the USA from Australia over 25 years ago, is joined by the popular children’s program personality Bill Nye “the Science Guy” for this first and only scheduled debate. Each man delivers what he believes is the best information currently available for his case. Each then has an opportunity for rebuttal and afterward answers questions submitted by the audience.
Nye's Scientific Claims Refuted in the Article Below
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Bill Nye's "Scientific" Claims Refuted
- He said that in Kentucky, the Creation Museum stands on many layers of limestone with coral fossils. He claimed there would not be enough time in a creationist timeframe for these creatures to grow, die, and then be fossilized. However, creationist marine biologist Dr Robert Carter has addressed the existence of fossil corals.
- The next argument was that there are ice cores with 680,000 layers, each formed in a summer/winter cycle. Again, he claimed that this disproves a creationist timeframe. However, creationists have also answered this, see Greenland ice cores: implicit evidence for catastrophic deposition.
- He also claimed that there are trees older than a biblical timeframe allows for. However, dendrochronology is not an exact science; see plant biologist Dr Don Batten’s article on dendrochronology. Nye specifically mentioned bristlecone pines, but there is evidence that they may have more than one growth ring per year as argued at Evidence for multiple ring growth per year in Bristlecone Pines.
- His next challenge related to geology. He asked, if the Grand Canyon was the result of a catastrophic global flood, why are there not grand canyons everywhere? But as flood geologists have demonstrated, the Flood would have involved a number of different mechanisms at various stages as the waters drained off the continents. In fact, many erosional features are best explained by a global flood. There is a vast body of creation information in this area; we would send interested readers to our Geology Q&A page.
- Nye asked a number of times, why do we not have examples of fossils mixed between layers; for instance, a mammal in trilobite layers. But to the surprise of many, ducks, squirrels, platypus, beaver-like and badger-like creatures have all been found in 'dinosaur-era' layers along with bees, cockroaches, frogs and pine trees. See The so-called 'Age of Dinosaurs' and Evolution exams and fossil fallacies.
- Nye tried to rebut the idea that there is one human race by showing a graphic of all the different types of hominid skulls that have been discovered to argue that there was a progression in human evolution. However, we know that there is a huge amount of variability in the human race, and many of the skulls in Nye’s graphic were undoubtedly within that range. For more information about how creationists interpret this evidence, see our Anthropology Q&A.
- Nye noted that there are no kangaroo fossils showing a migratory path from the Middle East to Australia. However, absent catastrophic, rapid burial, fossilization of a land creature would be a rare event; thus, lions roamed what is now Israel in historical times, but no lion fossils have ever been found there. In addition, marsupial fossils are actually a huge problem for evolutionists, because their fossils are not in Australia, but in Europe and South America. See Biogeography.
- Nye claims that the biblical account of the Ark imposes ridiculous demands on natural selection to produce the variety of species we see today. He says that to get from the 14,000 animals on the ark to the millions of species we have today, there would have to be 11 new species formed every day for the past 4,000 years. However, there is a huge error in this calculation. Those 14,000 animals only represent land vertebrates, and do not include insects, marine creatures, or microscopic life. And we know that when we exclude these creatures (and also when we realize that some animals are categorized as different species based on only superficial differences), it becomes far more feasible.
- The Ark was claimed to be too big to be made from wood, yet too small to fit all the animals required. However creationists have answered these challenges, see Noah’s Ark Questions and Answers.
- Nye claims that evolutionists made the prediction that there would be an intermediate species between fish and tetrapods, and that Tiktaalik fills this gap. However, footprints from a tetrapod were found in a layer dated millions of years older than Tiktaalik, so the intermediary cannot be younger than what it gives rise to. See Is the famous fish-fossil finished?
- Nye claims that sexual reproduction arose because it granted superior immunity to disease. However, an explanation of how something is beneficial is not the same as explaining how it came to be in the first place, and this is a common fallacy brought up by evolutionists. It doesn’t matter how beneficial something is, you still need a mechanism to explain how it came to be in the first place, and that is a huge problem for evolution. See Episode 5: Why Sex?
- Nye seemed to misunderstand a key creationist argument when he claimed on multiple occasions (even after Ham corrected him), that creationists think that natural laws were different in the past. However, biblical creationists actually think that natural laws are constant, describing how the God of order upholds His creation (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33). Yet, this same God has added to nature at special times as revealed in Scripture, contrary to uniformitarian dogma. The biblical god is not capricious like the pagan gods. Actually, it's Nye who can't derived the constancy of natural laws from his atheistic faith. See also Miracles and science.
- Nye celebrates the discovery of the cosmic background radiation which he believes to be a successful prediction for the Big Bang and billions of years of history. However, cosmic microwave background radiation is actually a huge problem for the Big Bang model; see Recent Cosmic Microwave Background data supports creationist cosmologies. There has been years of work in creation cosmology; for more information see Astronomy and Astrophysics Questions and Answers.
- Nye appeals to radiometric dating, specifically rubidium/strontium, as evidence supporting billions of years. However, different dating methods give different dates for the same rocks, and some dating methods cap the age of the earth at thousands of years, so scientists must pick whichever dating method agrees with their presupposition. Ham gave a slide with a list of such methods; a similar list appears at Age of the earth.
- Nye appealed to distant starlight, but see How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years?
C.S. Lewis made this point decades ago; cf. Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation.
That being said, neither seemed to sufficiently acknowledge or answer the other’s challenges. For instance, Ken Ham spent a good part of the beginning of his presentation showing examples of creation scientists who have made real contributions to their fields, but Bill Nye ignored these examples and kept repeating his argument about the importance of evolution in education to produce engineers and scientists.
Nye seemed either ignorant or deceptive regarding his depiction of creation science, as every argument he presented has been dealt with at length in creation publications that are widely available. And his mantra about evolution being necessary for scientific advancement is demonstrably false. He also repeatedly characterized biblical creation as “Ken Ham’s view” ignoring the growing number of qualified, successful PhD scientists who have made outstanding contributions and who recognize the Bible’s account of origins as historical.
In response to Ham’s comment that evolutionists conflate terms, that is, using the term ‘evolution’ to include aspects of operational science, Nye kept restating that it is only creationists who use the distinction between operational and historical science. But this is simply not true (should we be surprised) because it is evolutionists who make this distinction themselves. For example the prominent atheistic, evolutionist Harvard Professor, Dr E.O. Wilson said:
“If a moving automobile were an organism, functional biology would explain how it is constructed and operates, while evolutionary biology would reconstruct its origin and history—how it came to be made and its journey thus far.”5This is not an isolated quote. Prominent atheistic biologist Ernst Mayr wrote:
“Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science—the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction of the particular scenario that led to the events one is trying to explain.”6Nye is also not a Bible scholar, as his limited comments about Bible translation and interpretation show. He claimed that the Bible was translated in a way analogous to the ‘telephone game’. However, we have more manuscripts of the Bible than for any other ancient book. For more information, see How did we get our Bible—and is it the Word of God?