Friday, February 7, 2014

The purpose of debate: Bill Nye vs. Ken Hamm

When I heard that there was going to be a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, I was pretty excited.  I was not under any delusion that either group would be declared a winner and that the question of evolution or creation be decided once and for all.  After all, people who have already made up their minds about something usually don't change them easily.  In fact, I was pretty sure that most people who walk away thinking the opposing side represented the "idiots" though I had already determined that I would not be one of them. Unfortunately, I was not disappointed.  And in this God reminded me of a passage in Acts 17:16-34 where Paul is called to give a presentation before philosophers in Athens.  At the end, they all walked away and only a few people immediately made a decision for Jesus, but the ideas were planted.  There is no other mention of Athens in the rest of Acts, though Paul does travel through Greece at a later time.

Watching the debate was a requirement, even for my youngest, even though he is not of the age where he can really reason well.  I required it because I do not want my kids to be ignorant of the issues surrounding the debate of origins or on the views and evidence provided by both sides.  Most of my kids are at an age where they can understand reason and logic and I want them to develop that skill, especially since the vast majority of arguments in all arenas seems to be based on emotions rather than reasoning.  So the next day I asked my kids some questions and made them think through their answers.  It was difficult initially for them to get over their anger at Bill Nye for his attitude toward Biblical Creationists and didn't want to give him credit for anything.  However, when I pushed them, we had a great discussion about the debate and they were able to acknowledge the good and bad points of each presentation.  I would encourage all families, regardless of where you stand on evolution, young earth creation or old earth creation to watch the video and ask your kids the following questions to encourage critical thinking:

1.  What points did Bill Nye make did you consider to be valid points supported by evidence?
2.  What fallacies or assumptions in Bill Nye's arguments did you find?
3.  What points did Ken Ham make did you consider to be valid points supported by evidence?
4.  What fallacies or assumptions in Ken Ham's arguments did you find?
5.  Who had the better organized presentation?
6.  Who provided the most evidence for their position?
7.  Who handled the rebuttal better?
8.  Who had the best, most convincing answers to the questions?
9.  Did anything said during the debate change your mind?

This debate also helped us put in practice the grace that God gives us to share with others who don't believe what we believe and even put us down for our beliefs by seeing the good in people.  After all, even though Bill Nye has a harsh opinion towards Christians and considers me, my husband who works in engineering, and my kids anti-science, he still has produced an excellent science program that we can enjoy despite our disagreements over origins-based science.  And for the record, I am still a fan of Bill Nye even if we disagree on how the earth was created, because there are a lot of scientific facts that have nothing to do with origin's based science and because Bill Nye "Science Guy" program does such a great job of explaining science to kids.

The Good:  Exposing kids to opposing beliefs so that they can think through their own beliefs;  Seeing the debate process and analyzing it; identifying and discussing underlying assumptions made by both sides of the debate, even if they were not explicitly stated; showing kids that you can still admire someone for the positive contributions they have made to your life (in this case the "Bill Nye The Science Guy" programs which do such an excellent job of teaching scientific concepts) even if you disagree with a position that they are taking and even if they insult you.
The Bad:  Watching your children's reaction when a man they admire greatly calls them an idiot.
The Ugly:  Bill Nye's inability to acknowledge the fact that scientists and technologists who believe in the Biblical creation account exist despite several direct examples provided by Ken Hamm.  His adherence to this form of evolutionist propaganda was only slightly worse than his attempt to prove his "Creationists are anti-science idiots who will ruin America's technological advantage over the world".  In my opinion, he not only failed to provide any evidence that anti-science sentiment only comes from Christians but also failed to provide evidence that America is technologically advanced over the rest of the world.  That did not keep him from repeating the sentiment, however in the hope that repeating a lie will make it true.  

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