A fascinating presidential-style debate played out the other night between Bill Nye “the science guy” and Ken Ham, head of the Creation Museum. You can watch it through the following YouTube embed:
The Creation Museum is a 70,000-square-foot facility in Kentucky that purports to demonstrate how the Earth was created in accordance with a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. There, you can see pseudo-Smithsonian exhibits about dinosaurs and cavemen between visits to its petting zoo and planetarium.
Bill Nye, on a mission to discourage the teaching of religion in the science classroom, engaged in a nearly 2.5-hour debate with Ken Ham about whether the Book of Genesis is a viable explanation for the world’s origin. Genesis says, for example, that the world was created in six days. Ham augments this to state that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
Ham claims there is a distiction between what he calls “observational science” and “historical science.” Observational science, he says, is science based on first-hand observation. This would include any knowledge about nature that scientists presently discover through the scientific method and experimentation. Historical science, he says, includes anything that scientists deduce about the Earth’s past.
These definitions, which Ham seems to have invented, are the foundation of his argument — and it’s precisely here that it all crumbles down like a house of cards. He says that scientists can’t make any statements about paleontological history (“historical science”) because they cannot directly observe things that happened in the past. First of all, this is provably wrong every time we look into the night sky; the star light we see originated from stars millions of years ago. When we look into the night sky, we are looking into the past. If a star is 500 light years away and we can see it through a telescope, it has taken 500 years for that light to reach our eyes.
But let’s set facts aside for the moment. (You know, those pesky facts that always get in the way.) Ham says that because scientists can’t be firsthand witnesses to what occurred in the past that anything they state about the past — particularly more than six millennia in the past — cannot be trusted. In fact, to do so, he says, is akin to a religious belief. And because scientists are teaching in the science classrooms, this is how “the secularists have hijacked historical science” and are forcing our children into an alternate religious worldview.
In Ken Ham’s world, all of the overwhelming evidence uncovered by geologists and paleontologists about the age of the Earth and the universe — the majority of which overwhelmingly gives the same answers — is nothing more than a gigantic red herring implanted in the ground and in the background radiation of the universe by . . . you guessed it . . . God. You see, 6,000 years ago (when the Earth was formed), natural laws worked differently. Of course they did, because that’s when creation was happening. But then, once everything was set in motion, the world started working as scientists understand it today through experimentation. Plants and animals evolve. Carbon atoms decay at predictable rates. And they assumably will continue to do so until the end of time or at least until the end of Revelations. But not 6,000 years ago! No, no. All that bunk about ice core samples and rings around trees is all evidence that has been put there by supernatural agency.
Take a few minutes to watch the debate. It’s an awesome display of the keep-the-blinders-on mentality of creationism. A couple of Ibuprofen beforehand might be a good idea.