The questions provide insight into the arguments supporting young-earth creationism. I believed for many years that the earth was created in 7 days, so I recognize a lot of these arguments as ones I used to make. What I don’t see is a serious effort to engage with the evidence for evolution. I do see some ad hominem arguments and caricatures of evolutionists — often the same ones Ken Ham has been using for the last 20 years. Some of the arguments are based on discredited myths or a misunderstanding of established scientific principles.
Here they are…
1. Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?
This seems to be a loaded question, based on the “evolutionists are out to get your children” caricature perpetuated by Answers in Genesis. All I can say is, when someone like Bill Nye devotes their career (and a good chunk of their debate with Ken Ham) to urging kids to get out and explore the universe, I’d call that a positive influence.
2. Are you scared of a divine creator?
Another caricature popular among young-earth creationists is that most scientists who accept evolution are religion-hating atheists.
The reality is that more than 50% of scientists believe in God or a higher power. Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project — which, among other things, proved the human race could not have originated from a single primal couple — is an evangelical Christian.
Nye himself is an agnostic, but he freely admits that science cannot answer questions of ultimate origins. During the debate with Ken Ham, he said, “I see no incompatibility between religion and science.”
3. Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature, i.e. trees created with rings, Adam created as an adult?
Perhaps a more important question is: do we really want to worship a God who lies?
To make the universe look older than it is would be to weave deception into the very fabric of creation. Not only would this seriously undermine belief in God’s inherent goodness; it begs the question: why would God want to make the universe look older than it really is? What purpose would it serve?
4. Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?
I used to make the very same argument. So it’s important to note that it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding of thermodynamics.
The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy (or disorder) increases or stays the same over time…in a closed system. But we don’t live in a closed system. Our planet receives continual input of energy from that great big ball of gas known as the sun, thus negating the effects of entropy. (H/T BioLogos)
5. How do you explain a sunset if there is no God?
I don’t think this person was asking for a scientific explanation of the phenomenon by which the sun appears to drop below the horizon every night. More likely, she wants to know how we can account for the wonder and beauty of creation without a creator.
Subjective perception of beauty is not necessarily the best argument for the existence of God, but I get where she’s coming from. I’ve whispered a prayer of thanksgiving more than once while watching the sun dip over Lake Michigan. For many Christians like me, the beauty of creation prompts us to worship the God we believe made it all.
But I also believe the sun, the lake, the sand beneath my feet, and everything else evolved over billions of years.
Once again, Ken Ham’s depiction of evolutionists as religion-hating thugs who want to rid the world of any trace of the divine is a caricature.
6. If the big bang theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?
The laws of thermodynamics do not debunk said theories. See #4.
7. What about noetics?
Noetics is the study of consciousness. The question of how consciousness emerged is indeed a fascinating one. But just because we don’t have a full answer for something doesn’t mean that everything we DO know is suddenly thrown out the window.
This question offers some insight into another of Ken Ham’s favorite debate tactics. Instead of dealing with the scientific evidence we have, Ham will often fire off a series of unrelated “what about this?” questions as a diversionary tactic.
8. Where do you derive objective meaning in life?
Speaking only for myself, I derive it from the revelation of God incarnate, the Word who became flesh, a.k.a. Jesus. And I believe in evolution.
I’m not the only one who finds it possible to do both.
9. If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?
Science doesn’t answer questions of ultimate origin, which is one reason why many of us find it possible to believe in God and still accept the scientific consensus for evolution as the means by which the universe came to be in its present form.
10. I believe in the big bang theory. God said it and BANG, it happened!
That’s not a question. That’s a cheesy Christian t-shirt.
11. Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-God-believing people reject the idea of their [sic] being a creator God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?
There it is again, the conflation of evolutionists, secularists, and everyone who hates Christmas and the baby Jesus.
12. There is no in between… the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an “official proof.”
Another myth sold to evangelicals by proponents of young-earth creationism: the claim that scientists have only found one transitional hominid connecting modern humans to our primate ancestors.
The truth? Thousands of transitional fossils have been discovered. Here’s a partial list.
13. Does metamorphosis help support evolution?
On the surface, this seems to be a genuine, substantive question. I suppose it may also be an attempt at a “gotcha” question, but it’s hard to tell from a single photo.
If it was meant as a “gotcha” question, then it’s a good example of yet another of Ken Ham’s favorite debate tactics: take something that science doesn’t fully understand, like metamorphosis (insects changing form, say, from a caterpillar to a butterfly), and act as if any amount of uncertainty disproves everything we DO know. Never mind that scientists are always on the hunt for new discoveries — that they rarely, if ever, claim to have things completely figured out. Never mind that the whole point of science is to keep learning, keep exploring.
14. If evolution is a theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is evolution taught as fact?
Simply put, evolution is not like creationism. One is a scientific theory based on centuries of research from a wide range of academic disciplines: biology, chemistry, astronomy, etc. The other is an ideology which relies on cherry picking data and casting doubt on established scientific consensus.
15. Because science by definition is a “theory” — not testable, observable, or repeatable — why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught by school?
To start with, that’s not a very good definition. Science involves all kinds of testing, observing, etc. But the real issue is that young-earth creationists haven’t subjected their ideas to the same kind of academic rigor, testing, peer review, etc.
16. What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?
It’s called gene duplication, and you can read a short explanation of it here.
17. What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?
I’m not sure if she was asking what Bill Nye thought he was doing at the Creation Museum, or asking a larger question of spiritual purpose/meaning in life. Assuming she meant the latter, such questions, while important, are beyond the scope of observational science. Just like answering questions about the mechanics of the cosmos is beyond the scope of religion.
18. Why have we found only 1 “Lucy,” when we have found more than 1 of everything else?
The premise of this question is demonstrably false. See #12.
19. Can you believe in “the big bang” without “faith”?
The big bang theory isn’t based on faith but on observation — the very thing Ken Ham believes is missing from evolutionary science. We can observe that the universe is expanding. And from that we can deduce that a long time ago, the universe was located at a single point.
And as Bill Nye mentioned in the debate, cosmic microwave background radiation provides yet more evidence of the big bang. For more, go here.
20. How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It’s amazing!!!
The world is indeed an amazing place. I doubt there are many non-theists who would disagree. More to the point (and at the risk of sounding like a broken record), evolution does not presuppose the impossibility of a divine force bringing the universe into existence.
21. Relating to the big bang theory… where did the exploding star come from?
No one knows for sure how matter first came into existence. (Not that this has stopped scientists from trying to find out. Again, that’s what scientists do.)
But for those of us who are Christian, what’s wrong with believing that God brought the initial matter of the universe into existence, then used the big bang to bring order and form to the cosmos over billions of years? (Unless you insist on reading Genesis 1 literally. Which, actually, nobody does, at least not consistently. As far as I can tell, nobody thinks the earth is a flat disc that sits underneath a vault separating the firmament of stars from a heavenly ocean. But that’s how Genesis 1 describes the cosmos.)
22. If we come from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?
Even Ken Ham accepts that my Boston terrier descended from wolves, and there are still wolves around today. So I’m not sure how the continued existence of monkeys is proof that humans didn’t descend from primates.
We need a better conversation about creation and evolution. Our discussions are starting to look more like the 24-hour cable news shouting matches that we feast on in the place of real content. Which might explain why even though Bill Nye was the only one who showed up at the debate with any meaningful scientific evidence, it’s unlikely that many in the pro-young-earth audience were convinced by his arguments, much less inspired to take a second look at things.