Bill Nye, Texas, Al Jazeera, and Me

I’m sure you’re wondering what this seeming array of mismatched terms has to do with each other! A couple weeks ago they all came together in a forum on the creation-evolution debate in Texas that aired on Al Jazeera America. Bill Nye the Science Guy and Kathy Miller from the Texas Freedom Foundation represented the evolution side, and Don McLeroy, former chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, and I represented the creation side. The topic to discuss was the possible inclusion in Texas textbooks of criticisms of evolution. Since Texas is one of the largest buyers of textbooks in the nation, their decisions impact textbooks offered by publishers for many other states as well.

The hosts of the show The Stream were very gracious and fair. It’s not easy to keep four people on topic on such a heated issue. In fact, McLeroy informed me that according to his timing of the dialog, the creationists got 30 more seconds than the evolutionists! Overall I thought the conversation went well, and I was able to get most of the points in that I wanted to make. I thought I would highlight just a few things here that I thought were especially interesting and relevant (sorry, but the show was not archived on the Internet).

From the beginning of the show Nye focused on the issue of the age of the earth, making the claim that radiometric dating proves the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. At the end of his explanation he said that the earth is not flat and not 10,000 years old. I agree! This was an obvious insult comparing a belief in a young earth to a belief in a flat earth. I also made sure to correct him later in the show explaining that the earth is not 10,000 years old but only 6,000 years old. When I responded to his claims, I talked about the difference between observational and historical science and how radiometric dating was based on certain assumptions about the past that are unknowable. I used the example of rocks that were formed as a result of the Mount St. Helens explosion just a little over 30 years ago, yet radiometric dating dates those rocks as millions of years old. Nye never dealt with my argument concerning the problems with radiometric dating. The evidence is clear (Romans 1:20) yet he chooses to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).

Nye also focused on how “fundamental” evolution is. He said that you don’t need foremost experts to understand that evolution is true (according to him it’s elementary school level at the highest) and then compared it to Newton’s Laws and green plants, inferring that it is a fact. Nye admitted that there might be things that evolutionists don’t understand (regarding the history of life and the universe) but he said it doesn’t require a designer to fill in those gaps. I explained to Nye that creationists don’t use God to fill in the gaps because there are no gaps. Instead, the real issue is the interpretation of the evidence as it pertains to the past in light of our worldviews. I talked about the fossils and how most were the result of Noah’s Flood (his eyes got really big on that statement!) and that observational science confirms and is consistent with a biblical worldview.

In what would be my closing remarks, I said that I agreed with an earlier comment made by Miller about teachers having limited time in the classroom in regards to the amount of science that needed to be taught. I suggested that we focus our attention on good observational science and leave historical science out of it. This brought Miller’s stern disapproval saying that it was not okay for me to use her words to deny science. But I didn’t—I’m all for science; I’m a scientist. I’m just agreeing with another statement she made that we shouldn’t undermine the education of students by promoting any philosophical or religious belief. If that’s the case then neither creation nor evolution should be taught in the public schools!

Nye also responded to me trying to discredit the definition of historical science by saying that he believed in the Civil War, Newton, and Galileo even though he wasn’t there to observe them. I didn’t get to respond because we were out of time. Here’s what I would have said: “How do you know about the Civil War, Newton, and Galileo? You depend on eyewitness accounts of the people themselves or people who witnessed the events to help you know the truth about the past. So why not do the same when it comes to earth’s history and believe in the eyewitness account of the Creator God written for us in Scripture? In the scheme of billions of years of the earth’s and universe’s history, there were no modern humans on the scene until a couple hundred thousand years ago. You need to realize that everything you think about most of this history is based on nothing more than unverifiable assumptions and imagination and not eyewitness accounts.”

It was an interesting discussion, as you can see, and I consider it a privilege to have been included. I pray that God uses the truth that was spoken to weigh heavy on the minds and hearts of Bill, Kathy, and others that were watching. I pray that they will know the truth so they can be set free (John 8:32).

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!