Evolving dialogue?
Ken Ham/Bill Nye Origins Debate: a "...Very Bad Idea."
Is there any pastoral relevance for "debates" after the culture wars?

I thoroughly agree with Internet Monk's take on the upcoming and unfortunate debate (titled "Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids") between creationist culture-warrior Ken Ham and pop-science icon Bill Nye:

"This is a bad idea from both the perspective of science and that of Christian faith...This will be almost entirely an exercise in rhetoric, not a serious search for truth."

More here.

To me, it seems that even relatively conservative Evangelicals would find this problematic in both topic and tone. What's your take? Are the culture wars sufficiently past for origins "debate" events like this to have lost relevance for Christians? Even for those who see scriptural conflict with prevailing scientific views of the universe's beginnings, will this actually persuade anyone other than the already-persuaded?

As for the 25.00 admission charge for the event? The only way I'd pay that to see this is if Ham and Nye (of recent "Dancing with the Stars" fame) ended with an origin-of-the-world interpretive dance number... Nye's lead.

December 06, 2014

Displaying 1–10 of 12 comments


January 16, 2014  1:27pm

I would not pay to see this, but I would pay if both participants would instead agree to show up and defend the opposite position that they personally hold!

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January 15, 2014  3:50pm

"Where are our teachers trained in the ancient texts and critical methods, and PAID to make it their life's task to actually *own* the story in the Bible and to tell it in a way that invites reflection and starts the discussion among scientists, instead of closing it?" - Well, John MacArthur comes to mind...

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john burnett

January 15, 2014  2:07am

We don't need another faux-'debate' between a scientist ignorant of Scripture and a 'bible-believer' ignorant of science. We *do* need a debate between a teacher who can actually make sense of the Bible and a 'bible-believer' stuck in the confused world of 19th century exegesis that is American fundamentalism. The issue is not Science Vs Religion, but the Meaning Of The Bible In Our Culture. And when it comes to that, "liberals" are not only unarmed— they dictated and signed their own articles of surrender a long time ago. They've never actually learned the Bible outside the fundamentalist paradigm. They've never paid attention to the fascinating ancient text that it is; and if anything, they're just afraid of it. So this Ham/Nye 'debate' is bound to be yet another example of a "liberal" taking potshots at a "conservative" with whom— note well!— he already fundamentally **agrees** about the basic issue: that the Bible is "really" about Science, because Science is the only truth we're willing to look at. The 'debate' will therefore go nowhere, prove nothing, but will only light up the Maginot Line and indeed showcase, for those who have eyes to see— our continuing failure, or dare i say refusal, to actually learn anything about the Bible. Liberal ignorance of the Bible, liberal failure to take the Root Text of our civilization seriously is the fundamental refusal that supports and underwrites religious obscurantism in our society. Because liberals are the smart ones, and they should *own* the Bible, not abdicate it! Come on! You don't put Bill Nye and Ken Ham in a debate. That's like asking an astronomer to argue with a novelist about whether an article by Einstein is "more accurate" than a short story by Hemingway. And the churches— oh my god the churches! who will save them??!— *they* are supposed to be teaching the Holy Bible, the basic starting point of our civilization— and they have *completely abdicated*, leaving us only with the ignorant and confused fundamentalism that lands on the Scripture's endless subtlety as brutally as American fighter jet on the site of ancient Babylon. Tibet has its monks, India had its panditas, the Chinese their confucianists. Where are our teachers trained in the ancient texts and critical methods, and PAID to make it their life's task to actually *own* the story in the Bible and to tell it in a way that invites reflection and starts the discussion among scientists, instead of closing it? Where is the debate between a creationist who believes the Bible is 'accurate science' and a real scholar who can show how the creation of the cosmos in Genesis 1 mirrors the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 32? Ah! but *you*, dear reader— *you* had no idea that the Creation of the cosmos, in the Bible, was even about the building of a Temple, did you? So you will attend a Nye/Ham debate entitled "Bible Vs Science" and afterwards go home feeling like— Well, it was nice but somehow something was missing and i just can't put my finger on it! C'mon! The issue is not whether "Adam and Eve is right" or "Evolution is right". The issue is whether Genesis 2-3 is science at all, or whether it's a quite straightforward (but deeply subtle and entertaining) story about human existence as Priesthood, and the failure of wisdom (Exodus 32 again)! Where is the debate between a fundamentalist who insists that the Bible is history, and a teacher who can show that it's about **Exile**? Both Bill Nye and Ken Ham and their ilk have already agreed long ago that Genesis is about Science. They're on the same side of the fence. So they will have a pointless debate about whether we should teach our kids "Creation Science" or "Real Science". Of course the very idea of "creation science" was necessary only because everybody had already agreed that Science is the truth! So doesn't this debate over whether Science is true, or whether Religion (Science) it's true, just expose our *confusion

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January 10, 2014  9:20am

Heaven forbid that any Christian should want to 'stand their ground and rescue their kids'. What a terrible thing to do. Heaven forbid that a Christian should ever debate a non-Christian when we all know how terrible it is for a Christian to be unpopular in the eyes of the world. I mean, look at the Apostle Paul who failed miserably in debate with King Agrippa and ultimately ended up in prison. What an embarrassing uncle he turned out to be. What are you all so afraid of anyway? That some of your friends will think you are uncool? If you are a serious scientist and a serious born-again believer, I can't fathom that this would bother you.It might even give you an opening to witness to an unbeliever - wouldn't that be a hoot?

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January 09, 2014  6:06pm

To be clear, it seems "Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids" is AIG's theme for the year, not the name of this event. Nevertheless, it says a whole lot about their bias and agenda.

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January 09, 2014  9:29am

I strongly suspect it might be more revealing and profitable to look deeper into both of these men's underlying assumptions about the nature of both the Divine and the material. We might even discover some significant common ground–common ground in which they both differ from the world view of the biblical authors and first Christians! Likely that will never happen, at least by folks that think it worthwhile to attend the debate. In my opinion, this sort of debate is a dead end and always has been. That God may use it to prod someone closer to Him is certainly not outside His capabilities. God used a donkey to speak to a prophet once, after all. On the other hand, I suspect far more people are turned off of what purports to be "biblical" faith by this sort of thing than attracted to it. I could, of course, be wrong about that.

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January 08, 2014  10:35am

Let me take a prognostic guess at this esteem event: 1) Everyone who goes to see this will… a) be unpersuaded by the opposing viewpoint speaker b) be uncompromisingly irritated that the opposing viewpoint is unconvincing and wasting their time 2) Everyone will leave the "debate" with… a) unchanged in their initial opinion b) convinced that they were right all along c) the opposing viewpoint is so wrong it's inconceivable that they can actually function in this world. In all seriousness, I see no benefit other than a financial up-tick for the creation museum…which, I suppose, is a positive thing if you're an employee there…job security, and all.

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January 07, 2014  3:17pm

I don't agree with Internet Monk's attempt to be a prophet declaring what the future results will be. He has no idea what can take place in people's hearts in advance of the event. He is merely policial guessing with spiritual frosting on top. What are the chances he will declare himself right after it's over. He'll read a few blog posts and "news" reports from unbiased journalists and claim he knows what happened in peoples hearts. Culture wars? This is simplistic rhetoric in itself. Persuade anyone? Who knows? Who are we to posture that we think we can know this now? It seems to me there is some bad faith going on here. Folks trying to walk by sight or by guessing and posturing rather than by faith.

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January 07, 2014  1:10pm

Jose - I really like your "crazy uncle" analogy and appreciate your point. Thanks for the strong emphasis on our family ties (and the reminder that to some, we're crazy uncles too). I wonder what support looks like in cases like this though.

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January 07, 2014  10:34am

This is just another case of one of Christianity's "crazy uncles" doing something that he thinks advances the cause. Sort of like my real uncle wanting everyone in the family to take a late night walk to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. The real question is how we respond to our "crazy uncles"–apologize for them? Call their initiatives "bad ideas"? Defend their right to be a bit odd? Love them? I do believe you go the extra mile to support your crazy uncles.

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