Will RTB respond to the debate?
Reasons to Believe (RTB) has been aware of the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham since its public announcement several weeks ago. Our primary response is to offer resources that will help you as you talk with friends and family about this high-profile event. Above all, we urge you to engage with others in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15–16, giving reasons for your beliefs with gentleness, respect, and a clear conscience, maintaining integrity. Read more about our core values here.
We will also list venues where Dr. Ross has offered a more specific response to this event:
What is RTB’s position on the views presented in this debate?
Ken Ham and his organization, Answers in Genesis, represent a perspective called young-earth creationism. According to this view, Genesis teaches that the Earth was created in six 24-hour days no more than 6,000–10,000 years ago.
By contrast, RTB advocates an old-earth creation perspective. We interpret the “days” of Genesis as long ages. Convinced that both the world of nature and the words of Scripture come from the same Source, our scholars’ goal is to integrate the words of the Bible with the record of nature in a way that preserves a faithful interpretation of both. You can read a brief summary of the major Christian approaches to interpreting Genesis 1 and integrating theology and science here.
The integration of science and theology involves a complex, multidisciplinary approach, one that intertwines biblical studies with theology, philosophy, history, biology, astronomy, physics, and more. You can read a brief summary of RTB’s testable creation model approach to the interpretive process here.
Bill Nye represents an atheistic, no-creation/no-Creator perspective in this debate. For many people, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” evokes fond childhood memories. Learning science was never so much fun as when Bill taught it. In 2012, he published some statements about creationism (particularly the young-earth position and teaching) in a video entitled, “Creationism is not Appropriate for Children.” One of our staff scholars, astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink, offered a few comments about this video. Other comments appeared on RTB’s “Take Two” blog.
Will RTB debate Bill Nye?
RTB has a long-standing policy of judiciousness in how we dialogue or debate with those who hold positions different from our own. Many factors go into our decision to participate in any public forum. We prefer to participate in a format that includes qualified experts (preferably with PhD-level expertise in relevant academic disciplines), presentation of all sides, a balanced moderator, and an open, unscripted question-and-answer period.
Here are a few examples of past interactions we’ve had with scientists whose views are different from or even antagonistic to ours.
Will RTB debate Ken Ham?
RTB’s participation in debates with young-earth creationists is rare. We want to be cautious about how we resolve “in-house” matters of division between Christians because we know that many nonbelievers are observing our behavior and attitudes toward each other in the Christian community.
A few years ago RTB president and astronomer Hugh Ross (along with Old Testament scholar Walt Kaiser) did engage in a televised debate with Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham and astrophysicist Jason Lisle on the age of the earth. It appeared on the John Ankerberg Show and is available for purchase as a DVD.
Ideally, we look for opportunities consistent with our core values, as outlined above. In recent years, given that many arguments surrounding the age of the earth can be highly technical, we have given priority to venues that include peer review by qualified scholars. Here is an example of one such exchange.
Additional examples of past discussions with prominent leaders in the young-earth community (in order from most recent to oldest) are included below: