Before I get going on the central point of my concern regarding the two gentlemen above, I would like to direct you to the InternetMonk post that brought this whole thing to my attention. The concerns listed there summarize many of my own so I won’t restate the sentiments of IM here. That being said, I do want to consider a particular cultural aspect of the above event and others like it.
Debates like the one above are indicators of a lost sense of incarnational presence in the world with regard to Christian witness. The idea seems to be that Christians, a la Ken Ham, are called into the arena of naturalists to beat them at their own game via (especially in this case) colorful rhetoric. I’m quite certain that Ham will be preaching to folks who already agree with him and his particular method of biblical exegesis.
I’m all for rigorous debate, but let it be in a venue where all sort of folks have access to the discussion. In my mind, Nye is (culturally speaking) acting like a more faithful witness as he goes into foreign territory to defend a way of thinking that is not accepted by the majority audience.
I think Ham is playing it safe.
Beyond the matter of audience, is also the issue of locating the “otherness” of non-Christians in matters of secondary (if not tertiary) importance. Events like this confuse the issue of what the gospel really is, and what it means for the world. The fight is played out on the wrong battlefield, leaving behind casualties that could have otherwise been spared.
I’m not dogging biblical apologetics, I am, however, dogging bad biblical apologetics at the expense of informed dialogue about what the Bible is and what it is not. I get really frustrated with folks like Ken Ham, they give many of us a bad name which I guess is part of the whole call to follow Jesus in as much as we all get lumped in together for better or worse. To also be clear, Ken Ham has an organization to support which stands to benefit from events such as this upcoming debate…my suspicions are mounting.