When science-advocate Bill Nye faced off in debate Tuesday night against Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, the issue of creationism vs. evolution gained a rare degree of media scrutiny. Nye had called the teaching of creationism “a dangerous choice,” and promoters saw the opportunity for a profitable public event. Certainly much attention came to the subject. But, amid all the controversy, was there something that both participants missed?
Each man should be credited with the respectful manner in which he handled himself. Events and “debates” like this sometimes descend into mere “food fights” with no sense of civility or kindness toward the other’s viewpoint. Mr. Nye and Mr. Ham avoided turning the event into the circus that, perhaps, many would have wanted. The result was an honest airing of each man’s point of view.
Ken Ham argued forcefully for a “Young Earth” creation model, positing that the universe came into existence only 6,000 years ago. He believes his model is the best fit to the Bible, and that the physical evidence around us (geology, etc.) is most compatible with that view. Bill Nye, by contrast, called this approach an irrational way to look at the world. Nye argued that scientific data clearly shows that planet Earth must be much older, on the order of 4.5 billion years—enough time, he says, to allow for the evolutionary development of life—and in his estimation this scientific fact proves Ken Ham’s “creation” model incorrect.
Both sides raised objections that went unanswered, and each man seemed to score his points in the debate. The consensus among those discussing the event seems to be that, on the whole, Mr. Nye made the better impression on most observers, though both sides of the issue generally seemed to feel fairly defended.
Yet, is there something that both Bill Nye and Ken Ham have missed? Clearly, both of these men could not be right. But, what about the possibility that both men might be wrong? Are both of these men wrong?
Yes, they are! Ken Ham is correct to realize that God’s word is not something to be rejected in favor of data, as Bill Nye would suggest. Rather, it is a vital element of the data. People who have proven the Bible for themselves realize that. Yet, at the same time, many of the findings Bill Nye mentioned in the debate do not actually contradict the scriptural data, despite Ken Ham’s assertions.
In fact, the Bible indicates to careful readers that—while the present order of things, including the creation of man as a potential child of God, made in His image, did begin 6,000 years ago as recorded in Genesis—planet Earth, itself, was created well before that “Creation Week” and has a pre-history not detailed in the book of Genesis!
When Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” it is describing the original creation of the world and the universe, when the angels were given planet Earth as their domain of responsibility (cf. Jude 6; Luke 4:5-6)—to prepare for God’s future purposes.
After that creation, Scripture tells us, the angel then known as Lucifer rebelled against His Creator and ascended above the clouds of the earth, along with his fellow fallen angels, intending to take the throne of God for himself (cf. Isaiah 14:12–14; Ezekiel 28:11–18). The result of their sinful rebellion was the devastated planet we see depicted in Genesis 1:2.
The story is more complex and wonderful—and the Bible has so much more to say—than most people today understand! If you are interested in what the Bible does and does not say about the age of the earth and its creation, as well as about the angelic rebellion, click through to read our eye-opening article “How Old Is the Earth?” As for the role of science and the hunt for the truth, consider watching our brief three-minute feature video, “What Is Truth?” The universe is a much richer and more meaningful place than either Ken Ham or Bill Nye realize!