Ken Ham, founder of Answers In Genesis, and Bill Nye, The Science Guy. Those who know me also know that I don't have much patience with either one of these men for reasons I have detailed in the past here (on Ken Ham) and here (on Bill Nye).
The topic of the debate was, "Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today's Modern Scientific Era?"
Because of my experience in observing both of them, I honestly had no interest in watching what I considered to be a waste of time. But, since many people I know and respect were interested in the event, I decided to force myself to sit through it. There was nothing surprising in the case either of them made but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the tone of their interaction. Good for them.
For what it's worth, here is my take on a summary of the debate:
Ken Ham is very good when talking Evolution -vs- Creationism, which is what the debate is supposed to be about. I think he did a great presentation of the differences in the views and the presuppositions on which they rest. Contra Nye, he showed some powerful evidence of brilliant scientists (including the inventor of the MRI) who are Biblical creationists. He made a great point about the fact that Creationists are perfectly willing to admit their assumptions while simultaneously accepting the actual evidence in question, while the Naturalists who defend Evolution also accept a religious belief system that they are not willing to admit is just that. In his first rebuttal, Ham did get into the "obvious meaning of the words of the Bible" (as long as you agree with him), death before the fall, and a "perfect" creation (I have addressed those topics here), and the fact that salvation depends on belief in Jesus Christ and not on the age of the Earth. Amen to that. I just wish he was that generous with the Christians he has debated on that topic in the past. Overall, he was more polite than I expected him to be and I think he did an admirable job.
Bill Nye keeps wanting to prove the age of the earth. Now, I happen to agree with him on that point ... but that was not the topic of the debate! Nye seemed so determined to show that a young earth model is preposterous, he forgot that wasn't the point of the debate. He never once -- in the entire two and a half hour event -- addressed the philosophical assumptions that underly his view of the world. He seems incapable of even comprehending what that means. Either that, or he is a master at avoiding the question. He resorted to "the-Bible-translations-rely-on-playing-the-telephone-game" nonsense that anyone who has any clue about the realities of textual criticism knows is nothing like how the Biblical text was transmitted. He repeated his previous empty assertion that Creationism stifles scientific progress and technological innovation -- a claim that is not only logically incoherent, but demonstrably false. The defenders of Naturalism need to find a better spokesman than the engineer-comedian turned "Science Expert," Bill Nye -- he couldn't even explain the simple concept of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It's unreal to me that he has kept this label of "science guy" when he is really more of an embarrassment to their cause.
Both debaters fell flat when asked what I believe was the best question of the night, "What would change your mind?" Ken Ham demonstrated that his presuppositional approach to apologetics is indestructible. While I admire his reliance on Scripture, he seems unwilling to accept two things that are made perfectly clear in that Scripture: 1) That it is perfectly acceptable, biblically, to seek and accept revelation from outside the Bible, and 2) that in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul challenges us with the idea that if the resurrection did not happen, our faith is in vain and we are all fools. I think he would have been more credible if he had admitted that. For his part, Bill Nye fell back on different naturalistic explanations than the ones his naturalistic presuppositions already demand are true, once again demonstrating his complete lack of understanding of his own blindness on the issue.
In summary, it is very frustrating to me that there seems to so little realization in the general public that there is a view out there that accepts the truth in both their points of view, and rejects their falsehoods. A view that accepts the obvious evidence about the age of the universe, is completely comfortable with the philosophical limitations and realities of human reasoning, and does both with a healthy and respectful view of the authority of Scripture. There are plenty of spokesmen out there for that point of view -- "Old Earth" Creationism -- but neither side in this debate seems interested in addressing it with some intellectual honesty.