On February 4, 2014, Science and God will come to blows again.

Bill Nye has accepted an invitation from Ken Ham to join him in a debate, to the death, on Tuesday.

The debate will take place at the Creation Museum, the six-year-old, state-of-the-art, Ken-Ham-created jewel of the Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky border. Don’t bother trying to attend; tickets for the event reportedly sold out within minutes of their initial public offering earlier in January. But don’t worry, the debate will be streamed live, courtesy of Ham’s Answers in Genesis (of course), at debatelive.org.

To sum up the debate: Bill Nye worries that students won’t believe in Science because they’re too distracted by God, and Ken Ham worries that students won’t believe in God because they’re too distracted by Science.

I imagine God worries students won’t listen to Science because they’re too distracted by the debate, and Science worries that students won’t hear all it’s telling them about God over the sound of all the shouting.

I am filling out my bracket for the debate. Winners will be those evolutionists who shoot God down with a big bang after stringing Ken Ham up with a bowtie. Winners will be those creationists who are already so far gone, they can glimpse the backs of the turtles holding up the right-most edge of the flat earth. Winners will overflow the “comments” sections of every blog post that is remotely connected with the debate. Winners will walk away with nothing new, and a bunch of strengthened same-old.


I’m one of the losers. I’m one of those people who wishes the face would stop cutting off the nose. I’m one of those debate watchers for whom every blow is personal, every scoff is scathing. This because I stand in awe of the God who can speak into existence a world so complex that it can grow and change, evolve, over time. (Yes, I just used those two words in the same sentence, and the paragraph did not explode.)

To the winners, I’m definitely a loser. I slid off the slippery slope years ago. (I was tired of watching everyone around me trying to dance on the head of a pin.) I haven’t wrung every last bit of God out of the gaps of my science. I’m a coward and a cop-out for covering my ears against the din of the debate.

Yet as anyone around me knows (parents, husband, classmates… cat…), I will discuss science and faith until the cows swim home. Each day my research on asteroid dynamics picks the gray hairs out of the created solar system, so I have no choice but to take up the topic of origins. But I will discuss it without the savage mockery, the polite sarcasm, the singed straw men that haunt the Ken Ham debates.

I visited the Creation Museum in June 2007, one month after it opened. I craned my neck to catch the antics of the animatronic dinosaurs, and cringed my way through the skit demonstrations of students “standing up” to their naive science teachers. At one point I stood in front of a monitor, watching a clip by Dr. Andrew Snelling describing geological evidences for the biblical Flood. I questioned aloud the science behind the video’s claim that folded rock layers must have been soft and pliable (i. e., wet) when they formed.

A middle-aged woman with a delightful Australian accent spoke up in attempt to answer my question, and we began a conversation. Midway through, she suggested I talk with her husband, who was also watching the video.

“Oh, is he interested in geology?” I asked.

“He made the video,” she answered mildly, enjoying my reaction with a light smile.

I had a brief discussion with Dr. and Mrs. Snelling about sedimentary geology and a professor at Calvin that we both knew, then we parted ways. I am still amazed by how refreshing that conversation was. In that desert of dry mockery, I had the chance to talk in a civil manner to other scientists, with the shared goal of understanding the truths that God has placed in his word and his world.

I still think that Dr. Snelling is wrong. (Even solid rocks can be bendy on long enough timescales.) But our ten minute conversation looked a whole lot more like the sort of “debates” I love to have with both scientists and Christians alike.

I wonder how quickly the tickets to my next debate with Dr. Andrew Snelling would sell out.


Here’s an enlarged version of the clever cartoon Melissa drew for her post.



  1. Elaine Schnabel

    These kinds of debates suck me in every time. Every. Time. I think they’re going to be like the debates you’re talking about . . . and then they’re not. We have one on my campus tomorrow I’m trying desperately to avoid in order to save myself the disappointment.

    • Avatar

      I know what you mean… the debates always leave me feeling hollow and frustrated, “If only he could have said that,” or “Oh dear, not that”… Even after all of the work I did for this post, I’m debating about whether or not to watch the actual thing.

  2. Avatar

    Melissa, you’re right on. This debate is founded on the false premise that a created world can’t be an evolving world. It’s baffling that such a large percentage of the American Protestant community and the western secular one can’t see how ludicrous that is. It’s tragic because it makes belief in God contingent on an idiosyncratic, historically peculiar interpretation of three chapters in the book of Genesis. When kids who were raised with this teaching go off to college and study the actual data, they’ll feel like they have to abandon their faith to get rid of that cognitive dissonance.


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