Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye

| By Deborah Haarsma on The President's Notebook

The internet is buzzing with news about the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. If you haven’t heard, the prominent Young Earth Creationist is hosting the Science Guy at the Creation Museum on February 4th to debate “Is creation a viable model for origins?” Predictably, most of the buzz about the event pits science vs. faith, as though we have to choose one or the other.

We at BioLogos maintain that you don’t have to choose. You don’t have to give up Christian faith in order to accept the best, most compelling science. We expect that we’ll agree with most of what Bill Nye will say about the science of evolution. Fossils, genetics, and other disciplines give compelling evidence that all life on earth is related and developed over a very long time through natural processes. But we’re also brothers and sisters in Christ with Ken Ham. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for our sins and rose from the dead, and that the Bible is the authoritative word of God.

Unfortunately, many people accept what they’ve been told about evolution – that it is the source of all kinds of evil and a dangerous step toward atheism. Many others accept what they’ve been told about religion – that it betrays delusional thinking and a deep irrationalism in one’s worldview. Both extremes are built on the same premise – that evolution is fundamentally opposed to God. We reject this.

“Evolutionary creation” is the label we’ve used to describe our position that evolution is the means through which God created. In accepting the science of evolution, we do not reject biblical faith. In fact, many biblical scholars find that the original intent of Genesis 1 has little to do with science and has everything to do with God’s purposes in creation. And in accepting God as the ruler of the natural world, we do not reject science. In fact, core Christian beliefsgive a strong motivation for using our minds to explore the world he created. Applying ourselves with diligence to both God’s world and God’s word gives the best answers to the question posed for the February 4 debate.

And we’re not alone in rejecting the extremes. A Barna survey of clergy found that over 40% of pastors do not hold to young earth creationism. And the recent Pew survey found that large numbers of Christians accept evolution. While the percentage is higher for other Christian demographics, even 27% of white evangelical Protestants accept that humans have evolved over time.

Debates like this perpetuate the misconception that you have two choices: an atheistic view of evolutionary science, or a young earth interpretation of the Bible. We wish the audience could hear about another, better way. Help us spread the word that great science and biblical faith can go hand in hand.


About the Author

Deborah Haarsma

Deborah Haarsma serves as the President of BioLogos, a position she has held since January 2013. Previously, she served as professor and chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gifted in interpreting complex scientific topics for lay audiences, Dr. Haarsma often speaks to churches, colleges, and schools about the relationships between science and Christian faith. She is author (along with her husband Loren Haarsma) of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (2011, 2007), a book presenting the agreements and disagreements of Christians regarding the history of life and the universe. Haarsma is an experienced research scientist, with several publications in the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.