This is where the debate was most important. Both men were asked if any evidence could ever force them to change their basic understanding. Both men said no. Neither was willing to allow for any dispositive evidence to change their minds. Both operate in basically closed intellectual systems. The main problem is that Ken Ham knows this to be the case, but Bill Nye apparently does not. Ham was consistently bold in citing his confidence in God, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the full authority and divine inspiration of the Bible. He never pulled a punch or hid behind an argument. Nye seems to believe that he is genuinely open to any and all new information, but it is clear that his ultimate intellectual authority is the prevailing scientific consensus. More than once he asserted a virtually unblemished confidence in the ability of modern science to correct itself. He steadfastly refused to admit that any intellectual presuppositions color his own judgment.
But the single most defining moments in the debate came as Bill Nye repeatedly cited the “reasonable man” argument in his presentation and responses. He cited Adolphe Quetelet’s famed l’homme moyen—“a reasonable man”—as the measure of his intellectual authority. Writing in 1835, Quetelet, a French intellectual, made his “reasonable man” famous. The “reasonable man” is a man of intellect and education and knowledge who can judge evidence and arguments and function as an intellectual authority on his own two feet. The “reasonable man” is a truly modern man. Very quickly, jurists seized on the “reasonable man” to define the law and lawyers used him to make arguments before juries. A “reasonable man” would interpret the evidence and make a reasoned judgment, free from intellectual pressure.
Bill Nye is definitely still a believer in the myth of neutrality, and nothing or no one was going to challenge that myth.
If you are interested in hearing more from Ken Ham about how the debate went, tonight you can watch Ken Ham and Georgia Purdom discuss the debate at 8:00 PM (ET).
Update 12 February 2013
Here is the video discussion with Ken Ham and Georgia Purdom:
Update 13 February 2013
Here is a post-debate interview by Piers Morgan of Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Sadly, he focuses the whole discussion on “global warming.”
Gary DeMar also weighs in with an article entitled Where the Bill Nye v. Ken Ham Debate Went Off Track.
As always, we welcome input from the blog’s readers.