Though I debate more than I probably should, I really don’t know the rules to “formal debate.” This means I won’t be turning in a scorecard for the Nye v Ham debate. I would imagine that creationists generally think Ham won, while evolutionists probably think that Nye won.
I do have a couple of quick observations, though:
- Both men handled themselves well. Neither man resorted to mockery or ridicule. Our political debates could take a page from this.
- The audience handled itself well. It did not seem to create an “advantage” for either man. I appreciate that they let the debate take place on the stage, rather than filling the whole room.
- Kudos to the moderator. I know nothing about him, but left the night not knowing whether he’s a creationist or evolutionist. That’s the way a moderator is supposed to do it.
- While questions from the audience were somewhat beneficial, I would have preferred an opportunity where each man could have asked his opponent one question at a time to be addressed. I felt that Ham and Nye both avoided answering certain objections from the other man.
Since the world was being cancelled due to snow, we snuggled up with the kiddos and decided to watch the debate as a family. (It may have been a bit much for “the littles.”) Having recently taught through Genesis 1-11, my kids know what I believe. Though they would never know the label (a problem I plan to fix), they could spot when an argument went from deductive to inductive reasoning. They were frustrated at times by things that Nye would say, and equally frustrated at times with things Ham didn’t say. Call me a troglodyte, but our family lands squarely in the 6-literal-day-young-earth-creation camp.
Yet, we still love Bill Nye.
Bill Nye’s enthusiasm is what makes him so winsome. He has become popular because I believe that passion is legit. You could see it last night in the debate. Even when asked the simple question of favorite color, he couldn’t help but go off on how amazing it is that plants reflect green light. Even if you’re not really into science, I don’t think you could sit down with this man and not get fired up about something scientific. Near the end of the debate, he even affirmed that “discovery” is the great passion for him.
As Christians, we refer to this process of discovery as “common grace.” That’s why we believe a person with a different worldview can still contribute to inventions and scientific discovery. As creatures made in the image of God, we have the capacity to study our environment, discover tendencies, and subdue them to the benefit of mankind and the creation around us. Though our hearts may desire that others would share our worldview, common grace does not depend on whether they do.
(As a side, this seemed to be one of Nye’s greatest oversights. He claimed that America will fall behind in technology and innovation if people continue to hold onto a creationists perspective. This ignores the host of current creationists that are very involved in developing science…of few of which Ham mentioned. But also ignores the fact that many of the great scientists in history were creationists. Theology herself, used to be called the Queen of all Sciences. Most of our great Ivy League schools were started as Theological Seminaries. Thinking and theology hardly need to be enemies.)
I’m thankful for the common grace that Bill Nye loves. I would still gladly sit down and watch an episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” with my kids. If he said things we don’t agree with, I could talk to my kids about why we don’t. But I’d also hope that some of that awe of common grace would rub off on my kids. We should be amazed by the universe around us! But it shouldn’t stop there.
While I so greatly appreciate Bill Nye’s enthusiasm for discovery, I also found my heart aching. Discovery can be fascinating. Discovery can be exhilarating! But discovery can also be empty. Discovery simply “stops short.” Discovery leaves the possibility that at the end of all things, you find nothing. Discovery can lead to despair. Or, with a new revolutionary discovery, it can lead to pride. When you feel like you’ve found something no one else has (either your peers, or societies of the past), it inevitably leads to the belief that your knowledge creates superiority. Discovery is good, but it’s not ultimate.
No, we need to teach our kids the thrill of discovery, but then we need to point them further. Discovery is a giant neon sign that should point us to revelation. Revelation puts a person behind what we discover. Revelation puts intention behind what we discover.
Whether it’s observing the universe (general revelation) or digging into our Bible (special revelation) we don’t actually enter as discoverers. Discovery can possibly lead to nothing, but revelation always leads to Someone.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.–Psalm 19:1
Of course, as Christians, revelation then goes further. The creation declares God’s glory. But the Word of God (Bible) reveals God to us. And the Word of God–In Christ Jesus–reveals the Father perfectly to us (John 14:9).
I’m praying our kids don’t just grasp a little bit of Bill Nye’s joy of discovery. I’m praying that it goes beyond our children matching Bill Nye’s joy of discovery. I’m praying that our kids would exceed Nye’s joy of discovery by embracing the glory of revelation. And I’m praying that Mr. Nye would discover that greater grace too.