Why Ken Ham Lost the Debate
As you may well know, earlier this week Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, debated one another as to whether or not Ken Ham’s understanding of the world’s origin is viable (Ham is a literal 6 day, young earth creationist). If you haven’t watched the debate, and have 2 hours and 45 minutes on your hands, you can check it out here.
When I say that Ken Ham lost, I don’t mean to imply that Bill Nye won. In fact,most people have already concluded that Bill Nye came out on top. What was more important to me was how the Gospel was communicated in light of creation. This debate was not just viewed by Christians alone – I imagine there were many people who were excited to see what would come of the debate. Knowing this, I was hoping and praying that Jesus might be known in and through what was said.
So when the following question was directed to Ken Ham (at 2hr 18 min in the video), I got excited, recognizing the latent possibilities:
“Hypothetically, if evidence existed that caused you to have to admit that the earth was more than 10,000 years old and creation did not occur in 6 days, would you still believe in God, in the historical Jesus of Nazareth, and that Jesus was the Son of God?”
If I had been asked this question, I would have answered as such;
“Absolutely. My faith in Jesus Christ and my belief that he truly is who he claimed to be is not determined by my understanding of creation. Within the church we like to speak of essentials and negotiables. Jesus Christ as Son of God is an essential – you don’t have a Christian faith without it. But one’s understanding of creation is a negotiable. Not all Christians agree on how the earth came into existence. In fact, there are some Christians who believe that God used evolution. While I may disagree with them, since we both belong to Christ, that Christian with a different view point is actually my brother. And in fact, Mr. Bill Nye could very well know Jesus as the Christ and be transformed by the power of His Spirit and never change his beliefs on evolution. God is much bigger than our beliefs on the origins of the universe. He is not as concerned about our answer to the question of ‘How we came into being?’ than He is of ‘what we make of Jesus?'”
That is what I would have loved to hear Ken Ham say.
Instead he reminded the audience of his argument that one could never find evidence to disprove his view, therefore making the “hypothetical” meaningless. While, in his short response to the question, he didn’t mention his understanding of the importance of Genesis, there were other moments in the debate where he made Genesis the foundation for all Christian doctrine. In fact, on his website, he does argue that compromise of Genesis ultimately undermines the gospel.
In basing the entire gospel upon his understanding of how the world came into being, Ken Ham made the Gospel inaccessible. He made creation the door by which one can experience salvation, not Jesus. And that is a tragedy. Ken Ham may be my brother in Christ, but I believe he lost, not only the debate, but an opportunity to make known Christ’s mystery and majesty. Fortunately for him, and for all of us, God is not dependent upon our proclamations to make himself known to anyone.