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Reflecting on the Ham-Nye Creation Debate: Intelligent Design Stands in a Great Scientific Tradition

Michael Egnor

I’ve been reflecting a bit on the debate a few nights ago on origins and creation science between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. I may see this a bit differently from some of my Discovery colleagues. I think that Ham did very well — he pointed out the important differences between observational/experimental science and historical science, and he made the important point that historical science is particularly influenced by metaphysical assumptions. Darwinists like Bill Nye do their historical science from a materialist and atheist perspective, and it clearly taints their insights.

Unlike Nye, Ham was honest about his own perspectives — which are Biblical and for which I have great respect and much agreement. 

My own perspective is that revelation and reason are not, and cannot be, in conflict. Nature speaks to us of our Creator. I seek to "follow the evidence," as do other advocates of intelligent design. But it would be na�ve to think anyone’s quest for scientific truth is without a specific metaphysical perspective.

To follow the evidence, one must begin with some very specific assumptions. I presume that nature is real, and that the laws of nature are rational and that we have access to the truth about nature through our reason. I presume that it is good to explore nature, and that the truth about nature is in accord with a broader understanding of creation and with my personal faith.  

When I follow the evidence, I begin with a set of quite specific assumptions. Those assumptions are the product of the great Western tradition, which is the marriage of Athens and Jerusalem — the marriage of reason and faith. 

The intelligent design movement stands in that tradition, which gave us the Scientific Enlightenment and modern science. That tradition has been derailed in science today by materialists like Nye who presume atheism and presume Darwinism. 

Intelligent design rejects the dogma of materialism. Materialist science is a betrayal, not a fulfillment, of modern science.

Intelligent design science is a call for a reawakening of the great scientific tradition that arose in the Christian West — the science of great scientists like Copernicus and Galileo and Newton and Kepler and Pasteur and Faraday and Maxwell. All of the great scientists who gave us modern science inferred intelligent design in nature. The great scientists of the Scientific Enlightenment followed the evidence and openly testified to the design in creation.

Intelligent design stands in the tradition of the Scientific Enlightenment. We follow the evidence, confident in the consilience of faith and reason, trusting in the rationality and purpose that is evident to all of us in nature.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.