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What is Falsely Called Knowledge

This past Tuesday night (2/4/14), creationist Ken Ham debated evolutionist Bill Nye at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.  This debate was precipitated by Nye's recent assertions that the United States will fall behind the world in the development of technology if parents insist that their children believe in the Bible's account of creation and reject the theory of evolution.  His contention is that rejection of evolution is rejection of science, and without science, the nation cannot produce scientists, engineers, and inventors.  Ken Ham's answer to Nye is that many accomplished scientists, engineers, and inventors have believed in creation and that the observational or operational science used for technology is different from the historical science that has produced the theory of evolution.  In other words, Ham denies Nye's contention that belief in evolution is necessary for the progress of the nation and that a rejection of evolution is a rejection of science.

The question debated was, "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?"  By its nature, this question puts creation on the defense.  It seems to imply that the Bible's account of creation might have been acceptable in a past, non-scientific age, but now the knowledge of science has progressed to an extent that creation is no longer a reasonable explanation for the universe.  This question did not challenge whether evolution is a viable model of origins. This setup put Bill Nye on the attack and Ken Ham, the defender of creation in this debate, on defense from the beginning.  Of course, the word of God prepares Christians to be in a defensive position and instructs them to be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks them to give an answer for their hope (1Pet. 3:15).

Bill Nye flatly denied the viability of creation as a model of origins, and he did so with a barrage of evidence that he considered conclusive.  For example, Nye said that cores of ice have been drilled in Antarctica that reveal up to 680,000 layers of ice with each layer representing one year.  The conclusion is that the ice has been forming for at least 680,000 years, which contradicts the Bible's account for the age of the earth (approx. 6,000 years). Another example concerns the number of species of life, which Nye estimated at 16 million and speculated to be much more.  He showed that if there were 7,000 kinds of animals on Noah's ark, then for the 4,000 years since the flood eleven new species would have to emerge every day. In Nye's opinion, these facts are devastating to the Bible's account of origins as a viable model.

On the surface, a creationist may be taken aback by Nye's evidence.  If these examples prove that the earth must be much older than 6,000 years, then how can the Bible be right?  Here is where Christians must be careful about how they receive such information.  Nye's conclusions are based upon assumptions about the evidence that Christians should not accept. In the example of the ice cores, the layers are counted according to a model that begins with an assumption that the ice has been forming for hundreds of thousands of years.  By this model, the lower layers of ice are extremely thin due to many thousands of years of compression, and the upper layers are much thicker.  Nye's use of this evidence is circular reasoning, for he assumes that the model is true in order to prove that the model is true.  This is simply bad science.  When viewed through a creationist perspective, the thickness of this ice does not demand a conclusion of 680,000 years.  Concerning the 16 million species, Christians should understand that Nye is counting not just air-breathing animals such as were on the ark (Gen. 6:17) but also every variety of aquatic animal as well as bacteria and viruses.  Christians know that the Bible's account does not require for all of these to have been on the ark.  By the biblical model, the number of species of air-breathing animals seen today certainly could have descended from the kinds that were preserved on the ark.

Christians must be on guard against such false science lest they become swept away by it.  When men like Bill Nye attack with a barrage of apparent scientific facts, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  Such attacks are designed to intimidate hearers and force them to surrender. Nevertheless, Christians must stand their ground and not be intimidated.  They must not assume that everything they hear is true, but instead they must be willing to consider the evidence carefully and find the truth. This can be hard work, but it is necessary.  Just because an answer to a question is not immediately known, this does not mean that the answer cannot be known, and it is not justification for abandoning the faith. The Bible warns about the danger of being captured by the reasoning of the world, saying, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:8).  Christians must stand in defense of the word of God and be prepared to answer or to find the answer for every challenge to their faith.  In 1Timothy 6:20-21, Paul wrote, "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called 'knowledge' -- which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.  Grace be with you."  Bill Nye and others like are professing arguments that are falsely called "knowledge," and Christians must be on guard against them.

Stacey E. Durham




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