That’s right: It’s Bill Nye the Science Guy vs. Ken Ham the Anti-Science Man (just had to get that in one last time), as you’ve never seen them before, facing off in the debate to end all debates that will decide — once and for all — whether the ultimate truth of the universe is found in young-earth creationism or evolution.
Psych. Just kidding.
In all honesty, I think this debate will be as effective as my attempts to convince my dog, Sarah, to stop digging in the rose garden. The fact is, no matter what I say, Sarah is going to do what she’s gonna do.
In the same way, Bill Nye and Ken Ham do not speak the same language. Nye represents a perspective where the evidence is king and facts don’t lie; Ham represents a perspective where the evidence can go suck an egg (that was the polite alternative to what I wanted to say) if it contradicts his literal interpretation of scripture in any way. The Nye fans will come out thinking they “won” because Ham’s scientific arguments will be preposterous and he’ll have no evidence to back them up, while the Hamites will come out thinking they “won” because Nye is an agnostic who doesn’t believe the Bible is the word of God. And the earth will keep right on spinning.
I’ve been against this debate from the start, and not just because it’s going to be an exercise in futility and face-palming. It’s also because a debate like this — by its very existence — implies that the given topic is worthy of debate, and young-earth creationism just isn’t. The ancient age of the earth and the common ancestry of life has been settled science for decades, and what Hammy represents is a group of people who have simply refused to accept defeat for reasons that have nothing to with the evidence. In terms of what we know, unequivocally, about our planet, publicly taking up the topic of young-earthism makes precisely as much sense debating whether the earth is flat or whether thunder means the sky is angry with us.
This kind of thing also gives people the entirely wrong idea about how science is done. You can host debates on philosophy and public policy — things that are speculative to a certain degree and over which reasonable folks can be expected to disagree. But science is not conducted on the basis of opinion, conscience or personal preference. What counts in the answering of a scientific question is the evidence and the most straightforward interpretation of that evidence. This debate sends the opposite message: that a question as complex as the evolution of life really can be fully addressed in a 30-minute dialogue followed by a Q and A session.
And finally, as a Bible-believing Christian who accepts evolution, I dislike these spectacles because they inherently pit faith against science — a point that has been made far more eloquently by BioLogos and others.
So, in lieu of more whining and moaning, I bring you a few housekeeping items. In preparation for this debate, Answers in Genesis has evidently conquered large new swaths of Internet domain. They now have an entire website dedicated to the debate, where you can find answers to frequently asked questions (though “Why the heck are you doing this?” is conspicuously absent) and even a background narrative, which consists mostly of YouTube videos, but also includes a couple of new details, like that AiG agreed to cover Bill Nye’s expenses in exchange for his participation. Personally, I hope he flies first class and rents a limo.
The debate starts at 7 p.m. EST Tuesday and will be live-streamed for free here. It’s also supposed to be hosted by Google+ Hangouts, presumably, here. AiG says the (hopefully, unedited) live stream will be available on YouTube “for a period of time after the debate,” though it doesn’t say exactly when it will be uploaded.
The group has even set up a separate live stream with sign-language interpreters, so those hard of hearing will still be able to receive K-Ham’s glorious misrepresentation of the gospel message.
On our end, yes, I plan to watch the thing — if I can stomach it. Along with many others, I’ll be tweeting our thoughts using the hashtag #HamonNye. Be sure to follow us @godofevolution if you’re a Tweeter.
I’ll post a brief reaction to the debate that evening or the morning after, where I hope and expect you will all chime in with your own thoughts and perspectives in the comments section. You may also post them on this article, below, if my reaction seems to be lagging.
Thanks for reading!