Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye: If Only Christians Were This Passionate About Helping the Poor…

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As you’ve probably already heard, churches all over the United States are going to be simulcasting and broadcasting the Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate. They’re catering food, converting their sanctuaries into live theatres, and turning the affair into a huge publicity event—but why?

Is it because Christians simply love debating? Whether the topic is about abortion, gay rights, Calvinism, gender roles, politics, or evolution, nothing seems to attract American Christianity’s attention like a doctrinal conflict, especially concerning creationism—the very explanation of our existence.

In many ways Bill Nye is the perfect villain for many Evangelical Christians. He’s a TV star, a scientist, a liberal—representing everything that’s wrong with our secular society.

For many eager and excited Christians that are anticipating this showdown, Ken Ham will victoriously and authoritatively strike down Nye via the righteous truth of Jesus our Lord and Savior—it’s a guaranteed victory, even if the polls or data or anyone suggests otherwise. But what is the real message being broadcast to our world? How does this event reflect on Christianity?

When non-Christians watch tonight’s debate, I pray that they’ll understand that this is just one man (Ken Ham) who couldn’t possibly represent the complex and diverse and expansive belief system of Christianity that consists of millions of people and includes an infinite number of variances and differences.

And yet the legions of people utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Cable TV, Blogs, and other forms of media may not make such a careful distinction.

Unfortunately, I’ve already seen the descriptive labels that are being used to promote the debate: “Christian vs. Scientist” “Faith vs. Reason” “Creationism vs. Science” along with a litany of other descriptors that paint Christians as illogical and unscientific morons.

Whether I like it or not, my faith is being represented by someone other than myself. I’m guessing that the contest will quickly devolve into a war of words involving both scientific and Christian jargon that will become almost impossible to understand, but for me, the information won’t be nearly as important as the tone by which it’s delivered—and this makes me nervous, because as a Christian, my faith is about to be associated with terms, actions, attitudes, and information that I may—or may not—necessarily agree with.

But this is the world we live in, where our faith is often projected onto huge platforms that we have no control over. In the end, we’re often left to do damage control within our real lives—to the people we interact with daily—because of various “Christian spokespeople” that boldly represent us—whether we want them to or not.

Even more disturbing is that while Christians and churches are hyping up tonight’s debate, there’s far more serious problems that are receiving almost no attention: war, violence, poverty, economic inequality, human rights violations,and a variety of other horrible injustices.

Are churches scrambling to have their parishioners attend a fundraiser for the poor? Are they inviting people to donate their time and energy and money towards ending war and literally saving the lives of others? Are they simulcasting the violence in Syria or the famines in Sahel or the millions of people living in poverty-stricken conditions around the world? No, that stuff can wait, because right now we have more important things to do—like watch Ken Ham debate Bill Nye.

I wish it would end there, but it won’t. Because after the debate there will be post-debates, and debates debating the post-debates, and Facebook posts, and hundreds of back-and-forth Twitter wars concerning what Nye said and what Ham said and why this was right and that was wrong. Meanwhile, people will die and wither away, and the church will become distracted by something else. God help us.

This piece is currently published at redletterchristians.org

21 thoughts on “Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye: If Only Christians Were This Passionate About Helping the Poor…

  1. Excellent post! I love a good, intelligent back-and-forth, but you are SO right. There are hugely important things going on in the world that need our attention. And, really, is this debate tonight going to change anyone’s mind? Is anyone going to come to faith in Christ? I doubt it.

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I enjoy a good, hearty, intelligent debate. I love looking at issues from different perspectives. But Stephen Mattson is right on with this post.

  3. I absolutely agree with you that there are many better things to be debating about than the old tired issue of creationism, that, let’s face it, has been debated amongst Christians and non-Christians for quite long enough. I understand your concerns about one person representing our entire faith and maybe even representing it badly, but what we must remember as believers is that no matter how many of us come along and misrepresent the Lord and the Gospel and the truth of it all, it is still just that, the truth, and nothing can ever change that. And who are we to be pessimists and think that Christianity or Jesus will be misrepresented and that people won’t come to faith because of this broadcast. Brothers and sisters, do we not serve a huge, magnificent God who can and will work things out for His own glory? All we can do tonight is watch and see what happens, and most importantly be in prayer for our brother Ken Ham that he would receive wisdom and guidance from the Lord tonight. His will is sovereign and we can most definitely put our trust in that! ;) Yea I know I’m long winded….hehe….

    • Stephen Mattson

      Long winded is good! :) Thanks for the great wisdom! I’m curious to see what type of feedback will happen tomorrow via the media, etc.

      • Thank you for reading and for following my blog! I have enjoyed reading your posts! We will see how it is handled in the media, I saw one comment on Facebook already. Apparently Ken Ham ended his argument with the Gospel which is great! I was not able to watch it myself unfortunately.

  4. Dawn

    There is one reason why this is debate is significant. Where humans “come from” is the answer that people are searching for. Meaning for their lives. Truth for the nucleus of their worldview. While I agree that human rights have been neglected by the church, the church also needs to have their heads on straight in order to help.

  5. Anonymous

    Although attention must be directed towards helping the poor and defending the orphan and widow, we must validate creation. If we don’t, there soon won’t be any more christians left in the world.

  6. I think this must be why I didn’t watch. Ham does know a lot of good stuff, but, yes…we Christians love to debate….to prove we are right. Honestly, I’m just so tired of it all. The Church has no many problems of our own. We need to get our house in order. The frustrating thing, though, is what you laid your finger on. We are constantly being represented by Christians who are poor representatives of Christ. And, yes, we constantly have to do damage control. We as a Church in America have veered so far from where Jesus wants us to be.

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