Evolution ken-ham-bill-nye-e1391647543819

Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Gary DeMar


Where the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham Debate Went off Track

The great Creation Evolution debate is over. Will it go down in the history books with the same importance as the Thomas Huxley v. Samuel Wilberforce debate of 1860? Time will tell.

Prior to the debate, I put in my two cents worth on how Ken Ham should go about debating Nye. Here’s some of what I wrote:

“Make the UnScience Guy account for the stuff of the cosmos, the organized information to make the cosmos act the way it does, how non-life became life as we know it given the fact that spontaneous generation is rejected by the scientific community on scientific grounds.

“Also make Nye account for non-physical entities like reason, logic, and morality and why the things that we evolved entities do or don’t do have eternal consequences, and if they don’t, then what would be morally (not socially, legally, culturally, or pragmatically) wrong for someone to put a loaded gun to Bill Nye’s head and pull the trigger.”

To be fair, Ken Ham did touch on these topics, but he didn’t drive them home. He wasn’t the proverbial junk yard dog. He got sidetracked on points of contention that are not foundational to a creation v. evolution debate.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s easy to handicap a debate after it’s taken place especially when you weren’t the one debating. Even so, planning and strategy are key elements in any debate. Time is limited. Then there’s the audience problem. Those not familiar with the material are going to get lost in the minutia of geological columns, transitional forms, DNA comparisons with chimpanzees, the formation of the Grand Canyon, etc.

The better approach is to pick the weakest link in the evolution model and hammer it.

The ministry of Answers in Genesis (AIG) is built on Young Earth Creationism and a Global Flood. There are other Christian ministries that have a similar calling. The age of the earth and whether the flood described in Genesis is local or global don’t have anything to do with evolution. The cosmos could be a trillion years old and spontaneous generation still couldn’t happen.

People, animals, and flora and fauna are necessary for any flood. Evolutionists have to explain, using science, how we got people, animals, and flora and fauna. They can’t do this.

The age of the earth and the global v. local flood question are part of an intramural debate among Christians. These topics don’t need to be part of a creation/evolution debate.

Does this mean that the Bible should not be referenced? Not at all. The first verse of the Bible is the Christian’s starting point: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” You don’t find the apostle Paul debating the age of the earth or the comprehensiveness of the flood with the “men of Athens” (Acts 17:16-34). He begins with the operating assumption of the Bible: “God who made the world and all things in it” (v. 24; see 14:15). God as creator explains the origin of matter, mind, and morality. There is no comparable materialist mechanism. Bill Nye made it clear that he did not know how it all began. The reason he doesn’t know is because he doesn’t have any real science to make the case for evolution. That’s what the viewing and listening audiences needed to take away from the debate.

At one point in the debate, Bill Nye said that Ken Ham’s view was “troubling” to him. This was Ham’s opening. Ham should have come back with example after example of how a godless, matter-only cosmic origin strips meaning and morality from what makes us human.

He could have quoted Richard Dawkins:

 “In the universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”(1)

After reading this, Ken Ham should have looked into the camera and spoken directly to parents and said the following:

“This is the raw edge of evolution. In the end, this is what evolution teaches. Over the long term, what do you think will happen to a population of young people who are told that this is what they really are? Not only don’t Bill Nye and his fellow evolutionists have any science to prove that life spontaneously appeared and evolved into the intricately designed beings that we are, but they don’t have any way to account for meaning, morality, reason, love, hope, and justice.

“Evolutionists like Bill Nye can’t live consistently with their matter-only worldview. The worldview that troubles him is the only worldview that gives his life meaning. We’re more than a conglomeration of molecules. He, like your children, was made in the image of God. So you have a choice. You can believe in an approach to origins that claims that we are nothing but a ‘purposeless and materialistic process,’ ‘a sort of animal,’ or you can believe that you and your children are special creations of a loving and just God.”

An article appeared in USA TODAY in 1993 that makes a similar point. It was written by Barbara Reynolds and is titled “If Your Kids Go Ape in School, You’ll Know Why.”(2)

“Don’t be surprised if our little darlings go ape or get up to monkeyshines when they return to class.

“Misbehavior tops the list of what parents and teachers worry about.

And that’s exactly where such concerns belong, considering what kids are not being taught in school.

“In most schools, Johnetta and Johnny are being taught evolution, that humankind evolved from apes.(3)

“The issue came to the forefront recently because a school district near San Diego had the good sense to adopt a policy of teaching creationism -much to the dismay of critics, including USA TODAY’s editorial page.

“It is amazing that media institutions that virtually worship the First Amendment are the first to toss it when it comes to religious free speech. When both creationism and evolution are taught side by side, you don’t have the establishment of a religion, which the Constitution prohibits, but an opportunity to be protected from one-sided, narrow thinking, which the Constitution encourages.

“Prohibiting the teaching of creationism in favor of evolution creates an

atheistic, belligerent tone that might explain why our kids sometimes perform like Godzilla instead of children made in the image of God.

“While evolution teaches that we are accidents or freaks of nature, creationism shows humankind as the offspring of a divine Creator. There are rules to follow which govern not only our time on Earth, but also our afterlife.

“One philosophy preaches happenstance with mayhem as a conclusion; the other, divine order. One suggests the survival of the fittest; the other, a commitment to serve the weakest and sickest among us. To me, there is no contest. Teaching evolution makes about as much sense as teaching our kids that humankind was grown in a cabbage patch or raised by wolves. Even in the dullest mind, a light bulb should go off: Who created the cabbage, and who made the wolves?

“Under the rules of evolution, teachers are forced to answer to King Kong rather than to the King of Kings.

“We are not human animals. We have written speech and higher intellect, but more important, we have souls fueled by a spirit of right or wrong.

“Human action is determined by core beliefs. Creationism teaches that humans are wonderfully made with the promise of high expectations.

“If evolution is forced on our kids, we shouldn’t be perplexed when they beat on their chests or, worse yet, beat on each other and their teachers.”


  1. Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: HarperCollins/BasicBooks, 1995), 133.()
  2. This article originally appeared in USA TODAY (August 27, 1993), 11A.()
  3. Actually, evolutionists teach that humans and apes evolved from a distant common ancestor.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).

22 Responses to Where the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham Debate Went off Track

  1. Chris King says:

    I will disagree somewhat with what Gary is saying. The premise behind the debate was is the Biblical Creation model viable in todays scientific age(or thereabouts). Ken needed to present a “affirmative” position not a direct denial of evolution. The age of the earth question / global flood are critical to the Biblical model. How one can say they are irrelevant is beyond me. If the text of Genesis cannot be read and understood in a straight forward manner then the interpretation of scripture is hopeless. If Genesis can be reconciled with billions of years and a non global flood the scriptures suffer the death of a thousand qualifications. i realize more could be said.

    • David Randall says:

      An affirmative position of creation is exactly what this is, since it demonstrates that no other explanation has either scientific or philosophical ground to stand on. The age of the earth has never historically been viewed as critical to the biblical model, since the Bible never says how old the earth is. The young earth interpretation of Genesis is only one of a number of viable interpretations, and not the most viable at that. To make the truth of the Bible hang on this is to repeat the mistake of many inside and outside the church to make the veracity of both the Bile and science depend on a geocentric universe. Both scientists and theologians were convinced of the “incontrovertibly” and self-evident proofs that the earth doesn’t move, while everything else revolves around it.

  2. avengah says:

    Just because atheists don’t believe in a god doesn’t mean life is meaningless. As Nye clearly explained, he derives meaning from the awe and wonder of studying science and the universe, and discovering things. As for morality, you don’t need anyone to tell you murder is wrong. We try to use this short life to make the world a better place for our friends and family, and have a good time while we’re at it! Look at Scandinavia – loads of atheists and a very high standard of living, as well as a low crime rate.

    • Arrow says:


      Scandanavia is running on the momentum of a thoroughly Christian background, as is America. Ask a Swede about their religious background, and almost all will say “Lutheran”. Martin Luther. Most will also say that they do not really practice it, but their cultural mores are still an outgrowth of Christianity, or Protestantism to be more specific. Your morals also (murder is wrong) are borrowed from the biblical framework.

      Humanly speaking, many atheists can be seen as “good people”, on the same standard as many Christians. But “good” is always defined on biblical terms because it does not exist in a wholly materialistic world. And of course even at all of that, our judgement of “good” falls short of God’s perfect standard.

      • Tony says:

        “Scandanavia is running on the momentum of a thoroughly Christian background, as is America.”

        yes that must be why crime rate is so much lower in China or Japan then “God’s Country” of America

        “Your morals also (murder is wrong) are borrowed from the biblical framework”

        wrong,biblical morality is subjective and absurd,objective morality is morality independent of any person, your morality is dependent on a person-Yahweh. The only reason Yahweh can declare himself to be perfect is because of his power and no other reason, he can say he is “holy” and “perfect” but those terms are only meaningful because he has the power

        • Arrow says:

          So, I comment on Sweden, and you reply with a comment about Japan and the US. Not too much to go on there.

          So, you think that the problems in the US are because we use the Bible too much? How have our schools made out since the time the Bible was censored out of them?

          Your claim that a written standard from a transcendent God who is above all is subjective, and rules made up individually from the whims of people are objective is not too logical.

          Let’s see you play a game of Monopoly that way…throw out that sheet with all the subjective rules that comes in the box, and just get everyone to agree on objective rules on each play.

    • lonestarwife says:

      I know murder is wrong and I know why. But, where did YOU get the idea that murder is wrong?

  3. SLIMJIM says:

    I think Ken Ham would have gotten more mileage in the debate by going more Presuppositional in his focus and show the consequences of atheism making everything else unintelligible, etc.

  4. Gill says:

    DeMar would probably benefit from talking to a scientist, historian, or any non-Christian, because his ideas about what evolutionary theory, naturalism, and everything else he talks about in this article appear to spawn directly from his own prejudices, with no regard to reality at all.

    You would do well to keep in mind that arguments from ignorance are not impressive to people who are educated. These tired cliches might still seem reasonable within the echo-chamber of the blinded young-earth creationist crowd, but as more and more people are exposed to the reality that contradicts your story, you’ll become more and more alienated by normal society.

    • Arrow says:

      No offense intended here, but you haven’t given us much to go on.

    • Wayne Walters says:

      “You would do well to keep in mind that arguments from ignorance are not impressive to people who are educated.”

      Gill, of course that would be you.

  5. harmon says:

    “The age of the earth… [doesn’t] need to be part of a creation/evolution debate.” No, the “age” issue is utterly crucial to both sides. Evolution’s gradualistic, information-inducing magic disappears outright if its 15 billion years go missing. And, if the Creator’s coming to earth is enfolded by a literal-six-day Genesis account that has ‘poetized’ the eons, it becomes a mythic intrusion into a natural process. Evolution needs “age” to grow consciousness from inert matter. The Genesis account’s earthy, human time-scale is the vessel for the Saviour’s Gospel intersession. His feeding of thousands, calming of the storm, and raising from the dead, all replicate His initial, timeless, creative fiat. “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6-9).”

    • Arrow says:


      Just supposing (I do not hold to this but some do) that all that really matters is ones personal condition with relation to Christ and His saving grace, why would the age of the earth even matter?

      • harmon says:

        Why would any of the Genesis creation account even matter to one’s “personal condition”? And, if a pre-existing cosmos took billions of years to give up an earth, and then God used prolonged evolutionary steps to eventually produce humans who went bad, why would “saving grace” even need to enter this ponderous picture?

        • Arrow says:

          Sorry…once again I have no idea what you are saying. No offense intended.

        • harmon says:

          KISS: Why would _any_ of Genesis One matter to “one’s personal condition with relation to Christ and His saving grace” ?

        • Arrow says:

          OK I get it. Good point.

        • MichaelP633 says:

          Why is there any need to have a relationship with Christ and His saving grace in the first place?
          Animals have no such need.
          If the first chapter in the Bible is wrong then why believe _any_ of the rest?
          Your gospel is dead in the water.

        • Arrow says:

          1. The first chapter of Genesis is not wrong.
          2. You are correct, animals have no such need.
          3. The gospel is not dead in the water.

    • lonestarwife says:

      “Evolution needs “age” to grow consciousness from inert matter.” Well, I guess if we can have singing raisins, I suppose we can rocks with consciousness. LOL

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