Oh Those Pesky Stars, Species, and Other Questions from the Nye vs. Ham Debate
By Dr. Brad Harrub
Having prepared for debates in the past I know how daunting it is to try and remember every detail and be prepared for every possible question. During the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham there were several points brought up by evolutionist Bill Nye that to many in the audience may have appeared as good questions or points. I wanted to take a moment to address those questions and give a solid scientific answer that does not conflict in any way with the Biblical account of creation.
One of the beauties of living out in a more rural area is the night sky appears to explode with stars on clear nights. Man, from a very young age, has glanced up toward the stars, often in search for the answers to some of life’s most important questions. It’s those same stars that many evolutionists turn to in an effort to support an ancient cosmos—and ultimately their godless theory. In debates such as the one between Ken Ham and Bill Nye the question will often arise: “How can you believe the Earth is young when we are able to see starlight from stars millions of light years away? Wouldn’t that indicate the starlight that we are seeing today left those stars millions of years ago? Additionally, if the universe is expanding doesn’t that prove the Big Bang theory?”
Two men proved the universe is expanding: Edwin Hubble and Albert Einstein. This expansion proves that the universe is not eternal. In other words, it must have had a beginning. The Bible mentions at least eleven different times that God “stretched out” or “stretches out” the heavens (e.g., Isaiah 44:24 “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;” See also Isaiah 48:13). Thus, if the Bible were correct one would expect to discover this expansion. But couldn’t this expansion also represent evidence for the Big Bang? Yes, one would expect to see an expansion from that central explosion. But after the initial energy has expended itself one would not expect an acceleration of the stars today—which is what we see happening in the universe. Allegedly, the Big Bang happened billions of years ago, and the matter is no longer receiving energy from that initial blast. So things should be decelerating. But that is not we observe in science. There are many stars that are accelerating which would go against the expectations of the Big Bang. The only thing that makes logical sense is that God continues to stretch out the universe, defying many of the laws of physics that man tries to apply to the universe.
But still, the question of starlight and time is a stumbling block for many Christians. The assumption is that the light we are witnessing today “must” be millions of years old. The Bible is clear that the stars were created on Day 4 (Genesis 1:16)—an inspired truth that negates the possibility of the Big Bang theory. We also know starlight was visible to the early patriarchs, as God told Abraham that his descendants would be numbered like the stars: “Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Genesis 15:5). God’s Word also provides man with an idea of the size of the universe when the prophet Jeremiah reveals that the stars cannot be numbered (Jeremiah 33:22). But what about the starlight reaching the Earth?
The distance to stars is often recorded in light years. One light year is the distance light can travel in a vacuum in one year (approximately 5.88 trillion miles). Thus, we often read reports of stars being X light-years away. Evolutionists and those who believe the Earth is millions of years old argue that it would take millions of years for light from distant galaxies to reach us on Earth. However, the “starlight and time” argument has several flaws and assumptions of which Christians should be aware :
- God created everything mature. We know from Genesis 2 that the trees were already producing fruit, and, given that Adam was naming the animals before Eve was created (Genesis 2:19-20), one can logically deduce that God created Adam grown and not as a helpless infant unable to communicate. This same truth can also be applied to the stars and heavenly bodies.
- The Universe is expanding. This is a scientific fact that can easily be proven by the movement of modern-day stars. This movement indicates the Universe is not eternal, but rather is expanding outward. This constant expansion means that some of the light we are observing today originated from distant galaxies that were closer in the past. In other words, the light we see today must have began its journey when galaxies were closer (and also much smaller and less energetic) than today.
- It is a scientific fact that gravity plays a role on time, and could also play a role on the speed of light. We know that clocks on top of skyscrapers or mountains run faster than those closer to sea-level due to the fact that the lower elevation is closer to the Earth—the source of gravity. Some have suggested that the Earth is in a “gravitational well” and is located in the center of the Universe. If that is the case, this gravitational well would mean we experience things slower (like the clock at sea-level) than things further out in space.
- While light travels at a constant speed (186,000 miles per second) on Earth, we are not certain how (or how fast) light travels in distant space. In 2000, the Associated Press recounted how scientists had broken the speed of light. The report noted that: “an experiment in Princeton, New Jersey, physicists sent a pulse of laser light through cesium vapor so quickly that it left the chamber before it had even finished entering. The pulse traveled 310 times the distance it would have covered if the chamber had contained a vacuum. Researchers say it is the most convincing demonstration yet that the speed of light — supposedly an ironclad rule of nature — can be pushed beyond known boundaries, at least under certain laboratory circumstances. In other words, this “constant” does not always behave as a constant. If the speed of light is not the constant then our calculations for how far stars are from the Earth would be incorrect. Bear in mind that no one knows for sure how light behaves in deep space.
- In addition to the speed of light being variable, it is also unknown as to whether light has traveled at the same speed throughout the history of the universe. Dr. Lisle observed, “At today’s rate, it takes light (in a vacuum) about one year to cover a distance of 6 trillion miles. But has this always been so? If we incorrectly assume that the rate has always been today’s rate, we would end up estimating an age that is much older than the true age. But some people have proposed that light was much quicker in the past.” Again, if the speed of light has not been uniform throughout the history of the universe, then all of our calculations for starlight and time would hold no value.
- Some scientists have suggested that time synchronization may play an important factor in the starlight and time problem. This concept is best explained by considering the different time zones across the United States. For instance, on a normal weekend I fly home through the airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Normally the time I leave Atlanta is almost exactly the same time I arrive in Nashville due to a one-hour time change – leave Atlanta at 9:00pm and arrive in Nashville at 9:00pm, for example. From the perspective of a clock, it appears the trip was instantaneous. However, in looking at the actual time spent on a plane, it is obvious that the trip included an hour of travel. So looking at it this way, the trip began and concluded at the same time using “local time” (because I was traveling west), but it took an hour using “universal time.”
- Other theories have been given, such as the idea that the Universe may be curved and thus light travels more quickly along curved pathways. This concept of a curved universe is known as Riemannian Space and was first proposed by Parry Moon and Domina Spencer in 1953.
But the evidence is clear that several possibilities exist—and with those scientific possibilities, one need not be worried with the puzzle of starlight and time.
But what about all the different species? During the debate Bill Nye posted some rather impressive numbers regarding how many species there are—challenging Ken Ham to explain how all those could have appeared since the Global Food. The problem in answering Nye’s straw man argument is how he defines the terms. Ken Ham tried to demonstrate to the audience the difference between “kinds” and “species.” (Keep in mind man has come up with the species designation.) Consider the following question: How many species of dogs are there in the world?
A strict scientific answer would be one–Canis familiaris, a decendant of the wolf. However if you meant how many “dogs” in the dog family Canidae then we jump up to at least 36 (excluding what many would designate prehistoric dogs). However, if you meant individual breeds of dogs then that number explodes to more than 400. However, Ken Ham’s point was correct. If you have a single pair of dogs (Canis familiaris) then over the succeeding 4500 years through reproduction and cross-breeding you can get hundreds of different breeds.
So how do we explain Bill Nye’s numbers? Take this one example of dogs and multiply it out for each different “kind” of animal on the ark. Then allow those animals to breed (and some may be able to cross-breed) for approximately 4500 years and you begin to see why we have so much variation today. Many people still get shocked by the massive numbers. Surely those numbers required millions of years. Well consider that the first census recorded in the United States was performed in 1790, and it revealed 3.9 million people living in the United States at that time. Fast forward just 200 hundred years to 1990 and we learn that the population in the United States has exploded to 249 million. And that’s just within the past 200 years.
What Bill Nye failed to explain during the debate was how evolution accounts for that many species. Consider how many beneficial mutations would be required to account for such diversity. Why don’t we see species changing/evolving today?
One familiar evolutionary icon, and a staple in many textbooks, is ice core dating. Bill Nye touched on this several times during the debate. Between 1990-1992 a joint European Greenland Ice-core Project (GRIP) was carried out in Greenland. They recovered an ice core sample 3000 meters in length. The belief was that by counting the cloudy layers (representing snowfall) and clear layers (representing summer thawing) they could establish history and learn about what elements were present in the past.
This dating method (as with most evolutionary dating methods) depends on uniformity throughout the ages. Much of the field of geology has been based on assumptions and the theory of uniformitarianism—the belief that everything has basically been the same since the earth came into existence. But what if each layer does not represent a complete winter—but rather one snow event. Anyone living in colder climates recognizes you can have many different snow events during one calendar year. And yet, evolutionists still clinge to uniformitarianism.
William Stansfield observed, “Several methods have been devised for estimating the age of the earth and its layers of rocks. These methods rely heavily on the assumption of uniformitarianism, i.e., natural processes have proceeded at relatively constant rates throughout the earth’s history” 1977, p. 614, The Science of Evolution (New York, NY: Macmillian).]
It is a cardinal tenet of evolutionary biology. For instance, geologist Charles Felix observed:
Uniformitarianism is the great underlying principle of modern geology! …Uniformitarianism endures, partly because it seems reasonable and the principle is considered basic to other fields of study, but it also persists because this is the only way to arrive at the enormous time-frame required for placement of slow evolutionary processes. It is probably correct to state that evolution depends on the unqualified acceptance of Uniformitarianism! (1988, p. 29-30).
The physical evidence rejects uniformitarianism. Honest scientists recognize this earth has experienced catastrophes like the Ice Age or the explosion of Mt. Saint Helens. So why would I argue Bill Nye was scientifically inaccurate to use ice core’s as an example of an ancient earth? Simple—the evidence does not back him up.
In 1942, a squadron of p-38 airplanes had to make an emergency landing on the ice of Greenland’s east coast. The crew were eventually rescued by dog sleds, but the planes had to be left behind. Forty-two years later, in 1988 the planes were discovered using a sophisticated form of radar. Then came the herculean task of trying to recover the planes. After melting a hole in to reach the planes the researchers were amazed to discover that the fleet of planes had been covered in 250 feet of ice (75 meters)—in just fifty years!
What does this mean? It means the ice-core recovered by the GRIP team that measured 3000 meters would only represent some 2,000 years of accumulation! Given that the Flood happened more than 4,000 years ago, there would have been ample time for such a massive sheet of ice to build up.
OUT OF PLACE FOSSILS
During the debate Bill Nye challenged Ken Ham saying that we never found fossils out of place, which we would expect if man had been on the earth from the beginning of creation as the Bible indicates. Again, one wonders if Bill Nye has really looked at the archaeological evidence that doesn’t “fit” with the evolutionary theory (entire books have been written about “out of place” fossils). Consider just a few examples:
Metallic Vase from Dorchester, Massachusetts
In 1852, Scientific American featured an article titled “A Relic of a Bygone Age,” that described a discovery that poses a serious challenge to the Darwinian theory. The article stated:
A few days ago a powerful blast was made in the rock at Meeting House Hill, in Dorchester, a few rods south of Rev. Mr. Hall’s meeting house. The blast threw out an immense mass of rock, some of the pieces weighing several tons, and scattered fragments in all directions. Among them was picked up a metallic vessel in two parts, rent asunder by the explosion. On putting the two parts together it formed a bell-shaped vessel, 4-1/2 inches high, 6-1/2 inches at the base, 2-1/2 inches at the top, and about an eighth of an inch in thickness. The body of this vessel resembles zinc in color, or a composition of metal, in which there is a considerable portion of silver. On the side there are six figures or a flower, or bouquet, vine, or wreath, also inlaid with silver. The chasing, carving, and inlaying are exquisitely done by the art of some cunning workman. This curious and unknown vessel was blown out of the solid pudding stone, fifteen feet below the surface. It is now in the possession of Mr. John Kettell. Dr. J.V.C. Smith, who has recently traveled in the East, and examined hundreds of curious domestic utensils, and has drawings of them, has never seen anything resembling this. He has taken a drawing and accurate dimensions of it, to be submitted to the scientific. There is not doubt but that this curiosity was blown out of the rock, as above stated; but will Professor Agassiz, or some other scientific man please tell us how it came there? The matter is worthy of investigation, as there is no deception in the case (Scientific American, 1852, p. 298).
At the conclusion of the article the editors of Scientific American stated: “The above is from the Boston Transcript and the wonder is to us, how the Transcript can suppose Prof. Agassiz qualified to tell how it got there any more than John Doyle, the blacksmith. This is not a question of zoology, botany, or geology, but one relating to an antique metal vessel perhaps made by Tubal Cain, the first inhabitant of Dorchester” (p. 298, emp. added).
After consulting a recent U.S. Geological Survey map of the Boston-Dorchester area Cremo and Thompson determined that the pudding stone mentioned in the article is considered to come from the Precambrian Age—over 600 million years old (1996, p. 107). According to evolutionary timelines, that would place the vase over 300 million years before dinosaurs, and over 590 million years before man allegedly made his appearance on the earth. The physical evidence proves that the vase was blown out of the rock. The date assigned to those rocks is not as certain.
Grooved Spheres from South Africa
February 25, 1996 the late Charlton Heston hosted a one-hour special on NBC titled “The Mysterious Origins of Man.” During that show he discussed grooved spheres that were discovered in South Africa. He noted:
In Klerksdorp, South Africa, hundreds of metallic spheres were found by miners in Precambrian strata said to be a fantastic 2.8 billion years old. The controversy centers around fine grooves encircling some of the spheres. Lab technicians were at a loss to explain how they could have been formed by any known, natural process.
Even though Heston got the city wrong (they were unearthed in quarries closer to Ottosdal, West Transvaal rather than “Kerksdorp”), he did get one thing correct: lab technicians (and scientists) are at a loss to explain how these grooved spheres could have been formed by any natural process.
The physical evidence has been all but ignored by evolutionists, who instead offer up pitiful speculations such as the spheres are artificial or the grooves were cut after having been discovered. Arguing that a groove can be cut into a sphere “naturally” requires a great deal of conjecture. But to explain how three parallel grooves could have found their way encompassing an extremely hard sphere requires gymnastic tongue-work from professional spin-doctors who are more interested in defending their beloved theory rather than accepting the really obvious. The physical evidence does not lie.
Chalk Ball found near Laon, France
Maximilien Melleville, the Vice President of the Société Academique de Laon (France) and author of Dictionnaire historique du département de l’Aisne wrote a report in the April 1862, issue of The Geologist. His report described the discovery of a chalk ball from an early Eocene lignite bed. While finding a ball of chalk may seem unimportant or even trivial to some, consider that this chalk ball was found at a place and time that should have precluded any man-made objects. The conventional date assigned by evolutionists for these beds is 45 to 55 million years old. Melleville indicated that the chalk ball was discovered about 246 feet below the surface. There was no doubt that the ball was genuine, as it had been stained a black color by contact with the lignite. Cremo and Thompson reported:
In August of 1861, workmen digging at the far end of the shaft, 225 feet below the surface of the hill, saw a round object fall down from the top of the excavation. The object was about 6 centimeters (2.36 inches) in diameter and weighed 310 grams (about 11 ounces). Melville stated: “They looked to see exactly what place in the strata it had occupied, and they are able to state that it did not come from the interior of the ‘ash,’ but that it was imbedded at its point of contact with the roof of the quarry, where it had left its impression indented” (1996, pp. 107-108).
Evolutionists have no explanation for this physical evidence.
Letters in Marble Block, Philadelphia
Workers at the Henderson Quarry near Norristown, 12 miles northwest of Philadelphia, cut a block of marble found at a depth of 60-70 feet and alleged to be approximately eight million years old in November 1829. It was only after workmen began sawing into the block that they discovered a rectangular indentation, about 1½ inches wide by ⅝ inch high, with two raised characters inside it (Corliss, 1978, p. 657). Some have suggested these raised letters are the Greek letters pi and iota (ΠΙ). Marble is often cut using diamond blades or special cutting devices in order cut through this material. Horizontal and vertical lines in marble are the product of work and energy—and these were cut prior to the days of diamond blades. Also bear in mind that these letters were discovered inside the marble slab.
This discovery was reported in the American Journal of Science (Browne, 1831). In his report on the discovery, Browne remarked:
In the month of November last, a block of marble measuring upwards of thirty cubic feet, was taken out from the depth between sixty and seventy feet, and sent to Mr. Savage’s marble saw mill in Norristown to be cut in slabs. One was taken off about three feet wide and about six feet long, and in the body of the marble, exposed by the cutting, was immediately discovered an indentation, about one and a half inches long and about five eighths of an inch wide, in which were two raised characters. Fortunately, several of the most respectable gentlemen residing in Norristown were called upon to witness this remarkable phenomenon, without whose testimony it might have been difficult, if not impossible, to have satisfied the public, that an imposition had not been practiced by cutting the indentation and carving the letters after the slab was cut off (p. 361).
Is the physical evidence of these letters hard to explain? They are hard to explain if one is tied to the geologic timeline espoused by evolutionists. Once again, the physical evidence of these marble letters is undisputable, but the same cannot be said for the age attributed to the marble slab.
Metallic Tubes from Chalk in France
In 1968, molded metallic tubes were found in “Cretaceous Chalk” by Y. Druet and H. Salfati (see Corliss, 1978, pp. 652-653; Cremo and Thompson, 1993, pp. 809-810). They reported:
We would like to bring to your attention the following facts, and hope you will give our discovery some consideration. As speleologists and investigators, we have studied for several years the Pay d’ Auge region of Calvados. During the year 1968 we discovered some metallic nodules in a hollow in an Aptian chalk bed in a quarry being worked in Saint-Jean de Livet. These metallic nodules have a reddish brown color, a form absolutely identical (semi-ovoid), but are of different size. A central section had a form corresponding with the exterior form. These nodules at first seemed to be fossils, but having examined them carefully we became conscious of their entirely metallic nature. Experiments at the forge showed that the carbon content was higher than castings of today. We were lead to consider the hypothesis that they were meteorites, but five pieces were found all of the same nature, which lead us to reject this hypothesis. There remains only an intelligent intervention in the Secondary Era (the end of the Cretaceous) of beings who could cast such objects. These objects, then, prove the presence of intelligent life on earth long before the limits given today by prehistoric archeology.
P.S.: The Geomorphology Laboratory of the University of Caen is now studying these objects which we have sent them (without great hopes) [as quoted in Corliss, 1978, pp. 652-653].
Michael Cremo and Richard L. Thompson described that the chalk bed, exposed in a quarry at Saint-Jean de Livet, France is estimated to be at least “65 million years old” (1996, p. 117). That would imply that either intelligent beings existed 65 million years ago who could produce these metallic tubes, or the man-made and man-assigned evolutionary dating system is wrong. The physical evidence does not lie.
Shoe Sole From Nevada
While shoe prints are not exactly front-page news, a shoe print that was allegedly found in five million year old rock would be. An amateur geologist discovered the fossilized imprint of a shoe complete with thread marks and broken heel in Fisher Canyon, Pershing County, Nevada. On October 8, 1922, the “American Weekly” section of the New York Sunday American ran an article titled “Mystery of the Petrified ‘Shoe Sole,’” written by Dr. W. H. Ballou.
Some time ago, while he was prospecting for fossils in Nevada, John T. Reid, a distinguished mining engineer and geologist, stopped suddenly and looked down in utter bewilderment and amazement at a rock near his feet. For there, a part of the rock itself, was what seemed to be a human footprint! Closer inspection showed that it was not a mark of a naked foot, but was, apparently, a shoe sole which had been turned into stone. The forepart was missing. But there was the outline of at least two-thirds of it, and around this outline ran a well-defined sewn thread which had, it appeared, attached the welt to the sole. Further on was another line of sewing, and in the center, where the foot would have rested had the object really been a shoe sole, there was an indentation, exactly such as would have been made by the bone of the heel rubbing upon and wearing down the material of which the sole had been made. Thus was found a fossil which is the foremost mystery of science today. For the rock in which it was found is at least 5 million years old (p. 2).
A five million year old rock containing well-defined sewn thread? The fossil is physical evidence and is unquestionable. The date assigned to the rock however came from evolutionary assumptions.
Again, these were just a few examples. So why can’t school children be exposed to this physical evidence in the textbooks? Mr Nye, if you seek to really set the record straight why not allow young people the chance to critically evaluate the evidence and discern for themselves which theory is more logical. Of course, we can’t do that—because if we did many students would make the logical choice that there must be a God.
The evidence is clear. Real science—true science point back toward a creature and supports the Biblical account of creation