In the summer of 2000 I participated in my first nationally televised debate on the subject of the age of the universe and Earth.
The debate took place on The John Ankerberg Show at a studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was broadcast in September and October of 2000 in eight episodes on the Inspiration Network, the DAYSTAR Network, and the Sky Angel Network. A live audience of about a hundred people, including several noted Christian theologians, witnessed the debate. Dr. John Ankerberg (doctor of ministry) moderated the debate between me and Dr. Kent Hovind (doctor of Christian education), who at the time was the president of Creation Science Evangelism. The debate concluded with Hovind and I fielding several questions from the live audience. The total length of the debate minus the advertisements is about 160 minutes.
This debate was my first appearance on The John Ankerberg Show. Hovind had appeared on six previous episodes where he was Ankerberg’s sole guest. After the debate I learned from several people in the audience that many of the questions Ankerberg posed to Hovind during the debate arose from the context of his previous appearances on the show.
The evening before the debate, Ankerberg and his wife, Darlene, had both Hovind and me over for dinner to meet one another and to review his goals for the debate. John mentioned that many other leaders of young-earth creationist organizations had wanted to debate me on his show. He explained that he had picked Hovind because he wanted a gentlemanly, civil dialogue and that he was impressed with Hovind’s demeanor during his previous appearances. Ankerberg also explained that he did not want Hovind and I talking past one another, as often happens in formal debates. He wanted us to engage one another. Thus, we would be seated in comfortable arm chairs facing each another, asking one another questions, and responding to questions from Ankerberg and the audience. Ankerberg also reassured me that in spite of all he had written previously in support of young-earth creationism that he would treat me and my old-earth perspective fairly.
Since the broadcasting of the debate, two different DVD versions of the debate have been distributed: one by Reasons To Believe and one by Creation Science Evangelism. The Reasons To Believe version presents the entire debate, without additions or subtractions, in exactly the same form as it was broadcast, minus only the advertisements. The Creation Science Evangelism version includes about six additional hours of cutaways. After virtually every statement I make in the televised debate, additional video material is spliced in to rebut my comments—rebuttals prepared several weeks after the debate where I am not present and where I am given no opportunity to respond.
However, we see value in preserving an unaltered record of the debate. Thanks to The John Ankerberg Show, we have carried the original DVD set in the past. We are now able to post the entire debate with no changes or alterations on our website. It can be viewed at no charge here. You may also visit our website to purchase DVDs of nationally televised debates I had with other young-earth creationist leaders (Danny Faulkner, Ken Ham, and Jason Lisle) in 2006 and 2010.