Hey, Bill Nye, Why the Hell Would You Agree to Debate a Creationist?

For reasons that I can’t understand right now, Bill Nye the Science Guy has agreed to debate Creationist Ken Ham at the Creation Museum on February 4. The topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

1l09UUZ

There’s no debate to be had here. The answer is already an unqualified “Not a snowball’s chance in hell.”

So why bother with the charade? No matter what Nye says, this will only end in victory for Answers in Genesis. Here’s why:

  1. Ken Ham will get to tell his acolytes that there’s a genuine debate in the scientific community about the viability of Creationism.
  2. Look at that promotional image. Ham puts himself on a level playing field with Bill Nye, as if their ideas also carry equal weight.

Richard Dawkins has explained all of this when talking about why he refuses to participate in such fake debates:

“When the debate is with someone like a Young Earth creationist, as the late Stephen Gould pointed out — they’ve won the moment you agree to have a debate at all. Because what they want is the oxygen of respectability… They want to be seen on a platform with a real scientist, because that conveys the idea that here is a genuine argument between scientists… They may not win the argument — in fact, they will not win the argument, but it makes it look like there really is an argument to be had.”

The only reason I could even think of that could justify this debate is if the money was going to a mutually-agreed-upon charity. But there’s no sign of that happening. It’s $25 per ticket and, as far as I know, that money goes right back into the coffers of AiG. Nye is likely getting paid very well to take part in this “debate” and it’s possible he’ll donate his share of the money to The Planetary Society (of which he’s CEO) or a legitimate science organization, but I don’t know that for sure yet.

(Bill, do you just need some money? I’ll loan you some.)

You may recall that in 2012, Nye made a video saying that Creationism was “not appropriate for children“:

Answers in Genesis responded to that video with one of their own:

Ham responded, too, with the laughable line, “Bill Nye really doesn’t understand science,” which one Reddit commenter joked was like a blind person telling other people they’re ugly:

And days after that, still capitalizing on the popularity of Nye’s video, Ham challenged Nye to a formal debate.

Of course, there’s no reason someone who knows the world is round would debate someone who believes the world is flat.

There’s no reason for a mathematician to debate someone who believes 2 + 2 = 5.

And there’s no good reason for a proponent of science education to lower himself to debate someone who is actively working to destroy it.

Tickets for the end of Bill Nye’s career will go on sale Monday.

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  • Rationalist1

    An astronomer and an astrologer are not equal in intellectual stature. A chemist and an alchemist are in no way equivalent as authorities. A medical doctor and a homeopath are not different medical options. And a creationist has no more credibility than the guy who yells at streetcars outside my office.

    Education, evidence, and reason matter. The beliefs of these people should be ridiculed, not respected.

  • God’s Starship

    Maybe Bill is doing this for the same reason we debate creationists here. Because we sometimes have free time and it’s good for a laugh.

  • creativerealms

    it’s bad enough that he agreed to the debate to to let Ham control the debate by allowing it to happen at the creation museum was an even bigger mistake.

  • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

    No, Bill! Don’t do it! Ham will bring you down to his level of stupid and then beat you with experience!

    Even if that doesn’t happen, Ham will edit the video footage to make you look like a moron.

  • paulalovescats

    Maybe “Bill–Bill–Bill–Bill” will bring his own camera person.

  • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

    It would not surprise me if he will engage his own camera crew for this event. Nye is an old hat when it comes to TV production and presentation after all.

  • Brian K

    I find myself completely agreeing with your objections, yet doesn’t it seem a bit defeatist to just completely wash our hands of the young earth creationist folks? Yes, they’re not on remotely sound intellectual footing, but they are also very numerous. I doubt ignoring them to death will be successful. Nye is indeed being counter-productive if his goal is to enlighten Ken Ham, but I hold out hope there will be come kids in the audience that are surprised to find themselves attracted to the scientific method for the first time.

  • Rationalist1

    Do we debate the geocentrists next? Then the ones that believe the earth is hollow? Or UFO abduction advocates?

  • Brian K

    Are you suggesting that geocentrists and UFO abduction advocates weild a comporable level of political power to young earth creationists? I agree that the three are analogous, but that doesn’t mean the same strategy for dealing with all 3 is warranted.

  • Rationalist1

    Agreed on their importance. But intellectually all are equivalent.

  • God. Money. Sex.

    Given the recent poll that less Republicans believe in evolution today than five years ago it seems like a public shaming of the Creationism poster boy might be in order.

  • Rationalist1

    A public shaming yes, but this isn’t the way. Just wait until his museum goes bankrupt.

  • God. Money. Sex.

    Ha! But I don’t see that happening anytime soon, unless he goes the tax evasion route like his buddy Kent Hovind.

  • Brian K

    Then I read Hamm say this in the ABC news release, and I despair.

    “Having the opportunity to hold a cordial but spirited debate with such a well-known personality who is admired by so many young people will help bring the creation-evolution issue to the attention of many more people, including youngsters.”

    So yes, Nye is just being used, but I still foolishly try to believe that presenting people with the mountain of evidence for evolution has a net positive effect.

  • WallofSleep

    Heh, does Ken realize that these “young people” he’s referring to are likely to be in their thirties and even forties by now?

    I mean, not to diminish the awesomeness that is Nye, but it’s been a pretty long time since his tv show was on the air, right?

  • Pitabred

    It has. But they still sell it for school use, and I watch it with my kids 😉

  • WallofSleep

    Awesome. I must admit I’m not terribly worried about kids raised on watching Nye being fooled into thinking this debate lends credibility to creationism.

  • Spuddie

    What is depressing is I can’t find anywhere his show is in reruns. Many of those kids raised on watching Nye are adults right now. His show went off the air 16 years ago.

    The guy needs more exposure. Maybe a webcast or a cable show.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I’ve gotten some of them on DVD from the local library. But yes, that, or an updated version, need wider exposure.

  • Babbling Brooke

    He had more exposure recently. He was on Dancing With the Stars. :)

  • Spuddie

    True. But we need more Science Guy, we have enough dancing fools. Plus, nobody can compare to Buzz Aldrin for sheer awesomeness of guest appearances on that show.

  • Babbling Brooke

    Breaking News: Bill Nye was interviewed tonight on CNN’s Situation Room about the upcoming debate. Unfortunately, Wolf Blitzer was on vacation.

  • Spuddie

    I must stream the video.

  • Babbling Brooke

    Zip to the end. He was on about 25 minutes into the show.

  • Spuddie

    Thanks again!

  • SeekerLancer

    I still see it on PBS once in a while, and I’m sure some elementary science classes (and maybe even some high school classes) still show it as supplementary material.

  • Alex

    Bill Nye’s videos are still used in schools. Young people don’t exactly admire him, but many would probably recognise him.

  • Black Leaf

    Not necessarily. My high school biology teacher used some of his videos when I took the class six years ago, and probably in the years since then as well.

    Not to mention that I watched his show on my own time in the nineties. Not exactly recent, but still a decade or two short of what you’re suggesting.

  • dandaman

    I used his videos in my high school bio class all the time and the library had a complete set. All the kids knew who he was, and I worked in Guatemala. I think Dawkin’s is right not to debate; but Nye is different, he has focused on children (and people like Ham with “child-like mentalities”) and may be better at bringing him down.

  • Amanda Smith

    I follow Brian K’s hope that Bill Nye willingness to go into this debate will reach a few creationist children. Maybe even an adult. Chances are slim, but the possibilities only there if he Bill Nye does go.

  • ScottK

    There are some YECs that are YECs because they’re convinced their salvation depends on it. I don’t think they can be reached; their defenses are too thick.

    But I think there are more that are misinformed or just ignorant of what evolution really means, and those are the people I hope Nye can educate.

    I expect that much of the debate will be Hamm and Nye talking past each other, since I don’t think they can agree on what ‘evolution’ really *is*.

  • https://nowebsite.nolink.com Destroyer of Lies

    No – don’t wash your hands of them! Don’t give up on reaching out to your community as an atheist, where creationists may notice you, don’t give up on billboards which clarify our position. Don’t wash your hands of so many confused 12-year-olds who login to answers sites with questions, looking for better answers than they have been handed. We don’t get much opposition or questions here because the demographics are mature, and this channel is mostly undiscovered by those who would object, but there are thousands of kids looking for answers over on Yahoo. Not to mention doing shows like Nye is doing for kids now! It’s just better to deal with those who can be helped, than to help those who despise intellectual reason destroy its place in society. Going for a wider audience at risk of helping the enemy is a gamble which he is most unlikely to win.

  • Art_Vandelay

    This only became en vogue after Dawkins turned down WLC and then PZ jumped on board. Hitchens and Harris would debate YEC’s all the time.

  • Godlesspanther

    This is disgusting. Has Bill Nye lost his mind? Ken Ham is a dangerous psychopathic cult leader. He should be given a fair debate like Charles Manson should be given a fair debate.

  • JA

    A tiny part of me hopes that Nye will wipe the floor with Ham, but logical debate doesn’t work on fanatics. The fanatic will simply reason out any dissent from his views and demonstrate why they’re wrong and point to it as proof that he’s right.

  • Rationalist1

    The entire creationist tactic on evolution is to point out gaps (real or imaginary) in the scientific theory and then claim victory as Bill Nye won’t be able to explain the evolutionary reason for ….. And at no point does the creationist have to offer one shred of evidence to support their claim.

  • God’s Starship

    Nye won’t win the crowd, but he just might win the internet.

  • Brian K

    Not the vocal crowd, but maybe a few who had never been exposed in earnest to evolution.

  • Keyra

    William Lane Craig would be a much better debater for Bill than Ken (not that he’s even a good representative in the first place). I would just avoid debating young earth creationists altogether, the same way I avoid debating those under the delusion that Jesus never existed; it’s pointless.

  • John O’Brien

    There is quite a lot of evidence that Jesus never existed.

  • WallofSleep

    Bullshit. I had second period algebra with him. Jesus Alvarez. He was kind of a dick, though.

  • John O’Brien

    You have me there lol.

  • Godlesspanther

    You’re just saying that because Jesus got a better grade in algebra than you did.

  • TCC

    I don’t even think mythicists would make that claim. They might claim that there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that there was a historical Jesus and that the figure would be best explained as a combination of several mythic personages, but there isn’t really evidence that Jesus didn’t exist – and there doesn’t have to be, since the historicists have the burden of proof.

  • John O’Brien
  • TCC

    Congratulations for missing the point. Whatever the merits of Fitzgerald’s book may be, the “myths” that he expounds are not evidence that Jesus didn’t exist – they are arguments against evidence that he did. That is not at all the same thing.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    It’s been a while since I read it, but, as I recall it includes the utter lack of recording of Jesus during his life, by people who did write about that kind of thing.

    It’s a case were absence of highly expected evidence is evidence of absence.

  • Neko

    Why would there be a high expectation of evidence for an apocalyptic prophet from the sticks of a Roman colonial backwater?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Like I said, it’s been a while since I read the book. I’m just reporting what I recall from it. It wasn’t just “We really don’t know” but “We know he probably didn’t exist”.

  • primenumbers

    ” they are arguments against evidence that he did” – we don’t actually have evidence of an existing Jesus. The best we have is evidence that appears to show that some anonymous early-ish Christians believed that he existed.

  • TCC

    We don’t have good or early evidence, but it is undeniable that there is evidence nonetheless. (The 1st and 2nd century Christian writings are that, at least.)

  • primenumbers

    Yes, as I say, we have evidence that some early Christians believed he existed. That is not the same thing as saying we have any evidence he existed, not least in that it’s not necessary for a real Jesus to have existed for early Christians to believe a real Jesus existed.

    The kind of primary evidence we do have for similarly ancient historical figures that actually do exist are their own writings, letters they wrote to, and letters to them, mentions in the contemporary historical record, contemporary images of them on buildings or coins, etc. We have none of these unequivocal primary sources of evidence for Jesus, just equivocal secondary evidence that doesn’t necessitate a real historical person to have actually existed.

    Now that is not to say that there is no historical Jesus, but that a historical Jesus is only one explanation for the secondary evidence we have, and not necessarily the most probable explanation either.

    It would be nice (from a historical standpoint) to have much better evidence on the issue, either a proper mention in the contemporary historical record, or copies of letters that he wrote, but we don’t have them. Similarly, for non-existence, it would be nice to have contemporary accounts of Christians inventing a mythical figure, either from Roman pagan sources or Jewish sources. We don’t have such accounts either.

    What we’re left with should probably lead us to agnosticism on the issue due to lack of primary sources on the matter.

  • TCC

    I’m going to hope that you typed that all out merely as an instructive post for lurkers, as it has nothing to do with anything I’ve claimed. All I said is that any arguments against the historicity of Jesus must rely on a lack of good evidence, not positive evidence that indicates there was no such person. That’s it.

  • primenumbers

    What I’m getting at is that we’re not even at the stage of having a lack of good evidence for a historical Jesus. We only have evidence (and it’s actually good evidence) that some early Christians believed there was a real physical person behind the stories. To get from this good evidence of belief in a real person to an actual real person is an inference, not something actually evidenced. That there was a historical Jesus is an inference from evidence, not something actually evidenced itself.

  • TCC

    Okay, but why you feel the need to draw a distinction when you agree that there is evidence at base being drawn from is beyond me.

  • primenumbers

    I’m drawing a distinction between evidence, and an inference from that evidence. I think it’s important because too often we read apologists (not that you’re one) point to non-Christian writers mentioning what Christians believe (in their historical Jesus) as evidence for a historical Jesus, rather than for evidence that some early Christians believed in a historical Jesus. The jump from what people to believe to that belief being true is a large one.

  • TCC

    That’s true of Suetonius and Tacitus, but not so much of Josephus (insofar as the passages we have resemble what Josephus originally wrote at all, which of course is part of the problem), nor of the various gospels (there the problem is secondhand information reported by non-eyewitnesses, again assuming the truthfulness of the authors, itself a big leap). That’s fine to mention when people bring up some of the non-Christians writing about Christians, but it’s not universally true of all the purported evidence for a historical Jesus.

  • primenumbers

    It’s also the case of Josephus as he’s not mentioning Jesus first hand, but what believing Christians believed, if we can actually believe that he mentioned Jesus at all.

    The Gospels fall into this as well – they’re the words of believing Christians believing what they believe and don’t constitute evidence for an actual historical character, but evidence that early anonymous Christians believed in such a historical character.

  • TCC

    That’s a bait and switch – we were talking merely about the subject of the references (Suetonius and Tacitus only refer to Christians, Josephus and the gospels refer to the person of Jesus), and then you suddenly start talking about the quality of the references. I agree that Josephus and the gospels are all secondhand, but they do talk about an alleged historical figure named Jesus, and that’s all that I need to make my point.

  • primenumbers

    Yes, they refer to Jesus, but they don’t refer to Jesus in the sense that they provide historical evidence for Jesus, but in the sense that they’re reporting on what believing Christians of the time believed. In both the case of Josphus (if we grant the apologist that reference) and the Gospels, we’re not reading primary evidence, but reports of what some early Christians believe. This is evidence of what some early Christians believed, not that what they believed was true. Just because Jesus is referred to in name, doesn’t bridge the gap between reporting on beliefs and reporting on the subject of those beliefs. Christian apologists want us to think that a historical mention of Jesus means that there was a real person behind it. I object to that for the reasons I outline above.

  • TCC

    Just because Jesus is referred to in name, doesn’t bridge the gap between reporting on beliefs and reporting on the subject of those beliefs.

    This simply isn’t true. If someone experiences something and I report it to someone else after hearing it from the original source, I am not “reporting on beliefs” – I am conveying information given to me by another person. Calling it “reporting on beliefs” is just an indirect way of insisting that there’s no way that the gospels could be based on truthful testimony – which is fine if you want to make that claim, but you ought to be forthcoming about it.

  • primenumbers

    “If someone experiences something and I report it to someone else after hearing it from the original source, I am not “reporting on beliefs” – I am conveying information given to me by another person. ” – no, you’re engaging in hearsay, and because hearsay is exactly what I claim, the reporting on beliefs, it is not thought of as good or sound evidence of fact.

    The information, in your case, that you’re conveying is that you heard someone express a belief that something occurred. Because you’re not in a position to verify that belief (or else you’d be able to report on the event from your own testimony), all you can tell us is that the person you heard from believed what they reported.

  • TCC

    The fact that you can’t (or won’t) distinguish the content of evidence from its quality makes me think that this is a fruitless discussion.

  • primenumbers

    I think it’s a very important discussion. It’s on why we need primary sources rather than hearsay, and that a report of hearsay is evidence someone heard something, and not evidence about the content of what they heard.

  • Neko

    So the author is an atheist with a history degree. Clearly he’s competent to settle the enigma of the historical Jesus once and for all!

  • Neko

    I agree with you, except that whoever makes an argument has a burden of proof. Since there isn’t enough evidence to establish with absolute certainty whether Jesus did or did not exist, it becomes a matter of plausibility and probabilities based on the best available evidence. As is the case for many figures of antiquity.

    Jesus mythicism has become a point of atheist orthodoxy to the extent that someone can expect a pat on the back for posting nonsense like there is quite a lot of evidence that Jesus never existed and offer a vanity press hack job by a non-scholar (albeit with appreciative blurbs by the usual suspects) as backup. I mean really.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I suppose it’s arguable whether Fitzgerald is a ‘scholar’ but I would certainly think Richard Carrier qualifies.

    As for ‘vanity press hack job’- it’s self published. Much like Hemant’s latest books.

    It’s not worth arguing the details here, but it’s also technically an ad hominem to dismiss Fitzgerald and Carrier based on their credentials or publisher.

  • Neko

    John O’Brien didn’t link to Carrier, nor was I discussing Carrier. I doubt Carrier would ever write something so reckless as “there is quite a lot of evidence that Jesus never existed.”

    So what if Mehta self-publishes? He’s not writing on a subject that requires facility with ancient languages and millennia of theology, philosophy, and literature, and hundreds of years of critical scholarship. So yes, credentials can matter quite a lot when it comes to issues like the historical Jesus.

    I read some of that Fitzgerald book that amazon made available, and it was obvious Fitzgerald set up a bunch of straw men that he could grandly knock down. Few of his “ten lies” would be taken at all seriously by NT scholars.

  • TCC

    I agree that anyone making a positive claim has a burden of proof, yes. I was merely saying that any reasonable mythicist (and I think there are at least a few) would show how the evidence we have for a historical Jesus is insufficient. We’re in agreement, I think.

  • Bad_homonym

    I hope it goes like this

    Ken : Where you there?

    Bill : No were you?

    Ken : [ head explodes ]

    I see why these creationists love living in a fantasy!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Ken has a book from someone ‘who was there’. It’s all he needs to keep his head from exploding.

  • God. Money. Sex.

    It’s a fair point, but while we ignore young earth creationists they are growing in size and political influence. If nothing else it should be entertaining!

  • Spuddie

    1. Because the royalties from Bill Nye the Science Guy won’t pay for a new car.
    [Is it in syndication anywhere?]

    2. His stint on Dancing with the Stars has filled him with an unusually high level of confidence in his sheer awesomeness.

    3. His house is being fumigated that week and he needs to keep himself occupied for that time.

    4. It was a really really big check

    5. After Matt Smith left Doctor Who, bowties are no longer cool.

  • Miss_Beara

    Hey now, bow ties will always be cool.

    Always.

  • http://ripplingbrainwaves.blogspot.com/ Gideon

    Whenever I read about public debates of creationism’s legitimacy as a scientific theory, I keep thinking that we already did this. Creationism lost. It was called Kitzmiller v. Dover. Has ancient evidence seriously changed that much since 2005?

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Though I agree that Creationism is no scientific theory, Kitzmiller vs Dover was a court case. Science is not determined by lawyers and judges, but by scientific consensus. (And yea.. evolution has won that one too.)

  • Spuddie

    Nice try, but you put the horse before the cart.

    Unlike mass debaters, lawyers have to qualify scientific evidence before it can be evaluated. They don’t make determinations of scientific merit. They leave that to the scientific community. Without scientific consensus, or at least a showing of merit, it can’t be introduced through lawyers.

    There are 2 standards they have to use:

    1. Is it reasonably supported within the scientific community recognized through scientific methods [Daubert]

    2. Is it recognized and accepted as the standard employed by those in the field of study. [Frye]

    Kitzmiller demonstrated that Creationists cannot cough up
    proof of valid scientific merit and lack means to make rational fact
    supported arguments. There is no need for a debate because when given a forum where evidence and arguments have to be objectively evaluated on their merits, Creationists come up empty.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Ideally yes, but there have been many cases such as vaccine injury lawsuits where scientific evidence on the safety takes a backseat.

    And I agree with you that I did “put the horse before the cart.” (I think you meant “cart before the horse.”) The 2 standards you cited show that scientific consensus is the deciding factor, not the court. Lawyers have to show that there’s consensus before bringing it into court. Scientists are the “horse” who pull the lawyers, the “cart”.

    Kitzmiller vs Dover was great because it showed ID to be empty in a very public way and added a nice shiny stamp of approval to our side from a court. I’m not saying that it was made no difference in a debate. But I think we both agree that its the science that determines the validity of a hypothesis.

  • Spuddie

    Yes I messed up the expression. Sometimes I write stupid things. I am a big enough person to admit that. =)

    As for the vaccine injury lawsuits, as with any pharmaceutical liability lawsuit, it is a battle of competing expert witnesses. Its not that science takes a backseat, is that the other side has experts who can convince a jury more easily.

    The tough part is for the plaintiffs to make the causal link between the damages and the vaccine. It is a necessary element to prove to such cases and requires a medical expert testimony to survive long enough for a trial.

    Kitzmiller vs. Dover was also a battle of the experts. But in this case the Plaintiffs had experts who showed up in court, were willing to support their views with scientific consensus and expose themselves to cross-examination.

    The defendants were constantly being hammered with clear evidence that their textbooks used word substitution of religious phrases with psuedo-scientific jargon. The alleged experts in “intelligent design” never bothered to take the stand to support their documentary briefs. Their experts surrendered before they could even get a chance to be cross-examined.

  • Rationalist1

    from reddit

    http://i.imgur.com/OkYXQzk.jpg

    Perhaps that should be Bill Nye’s opening line.

  • suzeb1964

    Just once I’d like to see Hindus (or other non-Judeo Christian group) debate Christians over creation myths. That would be entertaining because it would come down to my fairy tale is better than your fairy tale because…

  • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

    That’s just silly. Everyone knows that Midgard (the Earth) was made from the eyebrows of Ymir by the sons of Bor.

  • Anymouse

    TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!

  • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

    I’d like to see Ken Ham debate Kent Hovind. That would be entertaining.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Especially since Hovind is as much of an embarrassment to his side, if not more.

  • Spuddie

    Preferably Thunderdome style. This way either only one leaves or neither of them.

  • delicate white.

    How bout Odinism VS Christianity. Christianity would be smashed.

  • Castilliano

    No, Hulk smashes.
    Thor smites.
    Jeez.

  • Without Malice

    I’d like to see a debate between Christians and Jews, with the Christians trying to explain how their three person god is really just one god and thus not a bastardization of the beliefs of Judaism.

  • MNb

    Oh, debating creationists can be fun if you’re well prepared. Nye could begin with “when science conflicts with the content of the Bible then science wins” and proceed with exposing all of Ol’ Hambo’s lies, beginning with the two contradictory creation stories in Genesis.
    But this

    “that money goes right back into the coffers of AiG”
    is unacceptable. Period. Nye is sponsoring a bunch of liars.

  • WhatTheWhat

    “that money goes right back into the coffers of AiG”

    That is an assumption. It very well may, but we don’t actually know if it does.

  • Spuddie

    Or maybe it is going to the IRS. Ham and co are compulsive tax evaders.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    *eyeroll*

  • Richard Thomas

    Yeah, this is silly, but what I’m getting from this story is that Bill Nye is going to be about 20 minutes from my house and there is no way I’m missing that.

  • Brian K

    Can you write them a bad check to get in?

  • Richard Thomas

    I’ll slip them some of those fake $10 bills that actually have bible tracts on the back, like those guys like to use to tip servers. By the time they figure out the ruse I’ll be long gone.

  • $84687101

    Not me. Even Bill Nye isn’t enough for me to drop a penny in the Creation Museum’s coffers. Maybe we could work out another speaking engagement for him while he’s in town, instead? Looks like the Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati is aware of this event, I wonder if they could put something together?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I was wondering what Jerry would say about it all, and although he thinks Nye is making a mistake, Father Jerry approves of you attending http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/this-may-not-end-well/

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    The “debate” will take place on Ham’s turf, surrounded by the lunatic exhibits in the Creation Museum, not a neutral and unpolluted forum. Who will moderate the debate? Will that person be unbiased? Will the answer to the question be formally judged according to who presented the most cogent and credible arguments, or will everyone think the winner was whoever came up with the most clever smart ass zingers, like the farces we call political debates, that more resemble celebrity roasts?

    Regardless of any of this, 99.999% of the people who see the debate will emerge more deeply entrenched in their original opinion. Worse than futile.

  • Stephanie

    I agree with Brian K. Perhaps this could be an eye opener for many young listeners. It’s hard to believe, but this could be the first exposure to real science for many kids. Imagine being a teenager that has only ever attended fundamentalist Christian schools. All they have been taught is the creation myth. It’s all they know, evolution is taught as some crazy unprovable “theory”. And we all know that those “theories” are just that, some off the wall guess by a nutty scientist. Yes, that’s sarcasm.
    This “debate” (if that’s even a good description) may very well hit home for those wanting more evidence for their beloved creation fairy tale.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    This is very true. LibbyAnne of the Love Joy Feminism blog here at Patheos has written that this was one of the things that started the cracks in her fundamentalist worldview. Until college, she had only been taught a straw-man version of evolution that was obviously false. Once she learned what evolution actually is she saw how dishonest the creationists were.

  • TCC

    She’s not the only one, I’d bet; I went a similar way.

  • TommyBenz

    I think largely it will fall on deaf ears. There are certainly some middle of the road religious folks who probably can be swayed, which I think is probably the only real audience here. We know BN is a champion of science and reason. If anyone can sway the undecideds, it’s him.

    The only real debates are ones where the speakers sit down next to each other with a moderator asking questions and pushing them. Calling them on their BS. These podium debates are worthless.

  • $84687101

    This is a case where Dawkins quote (which originated with someone else), “Good for his CV, not so much for mine”, applies exceedingly well. Maybe even better than it does for Dawkins. Nye is one of the foremost public advocates of science working today. He should not take part in an even that people will elevate the likes of Ham, nor should he take part in an event that will bring him down to Ham’s level. And like it or not, it will. He’s taking part in a circus act with an unconscionable flim flam man. I’m not sure how Nye will do, he’s good on camera and he’s smart, but he’s also not an expert in the fields necessary to take on every fake science argument Ham can bring up. Nor do I know how well suited his skills are to the debate format. But win or lose the debate, Ham has already won the event.

    And as I point out almost every time debates come up: formal debates are for matters of opinion. They don’t work unless both sides can agree before hand on matters of fact, which is impossible in the case of evolution vs. creationism.

  • KEHalfaker

    Okay, I’m just going to throw this out there. But perhaps Nye’s intentions are good, and his reasoning is that you can present evidence to people, and their perspectives will change or be altered accordingly.

    Just refusing to debate does not keep people from proselytizing or trying to institute creationism in public schools. Perhaps Nye feels that being more vocal about these issues will persuade some audience members to think more critically.

    Not everyone has to act as Dawkins, and I think a peaceful debate can be had. After all, there have been quite a few SSA panels with people of other faiths and why people are what they are, among other issues. Why not engage in this as well?

    It’s like saying Jon Stewart’s formal debate with O’Reilly was a waste. At the very least, it will be entertaining.

  • dandaman

    “Not everyone has to act as Dawkins, and I think a peaceful debate can be had”, I don’t recall Dawkin’s ever assaulting anyone. Peaceful does not mean keeping your mouth shut.

  • Guest

    I thought “not…act as Dawkins” translated to “willing to debate a creationist” in this case. I mean, referred to unwillingness to debate, not assault.

  • dandaman

    sorry, I have a soft spot for RD

  • Art_Vandelay

    Did anyone else see the picture before the headline and think that Ken Ham was debating Mike Shanahan?

  • WallofSleep

    My gut tells me there will be some last minute restrictions on what Nye can bring up/discuss, Bill will protest and perhaps threaten them with “breach of contract” or whatever. They’ll tell him he gets paid just the same whether he debates or not, contract still valid, but if he wants to debate that these are the new terms of speech. Naturally he’ll decline, they’ll say he chickened out and claim victory.

    Geez… my gut is being extra suspicious today. Must be that fried weasel I had for lunch.

  • Dwayne Walker

    He better be getting good video out of this. The only ‘productive’ thing that has come from Creationist/Evolution debates has been giving Creationists the excuse to say, “We were invited to UCLA! We debated respectable scientists like Bill Nye.” This gives them cred with churches congress and results in Creationism practically dominating the discussion in public school classrooms. Find another way to promote reason and evolution!

  • Jane Chiarello

    Please please please. I’m from the UK but I really hope Bill Nye (I’ve only seen him on Bones tho so his reputation is not direct) wipes the bloody floor with Ken Ham. It’s so hard to get past the rhetoric and contortions that some Xtians get to to extol their beliefs. They will make any excuse to get their thoughts and ideas to fit the facts. Not entirely scientific is it ??? I sometimes watch Xtian progs on Sky (boredom??) and within nano seconds I’m swearing and shouting at the screen. Wonder why ????

  • randomfactor

    Nye could always open with “The answer is no.” and walk off the stage…

  • WallofSleep
  • WallofSleep

    Who knows, maybe Bill Nye is just the type of guy to do this sort of thing. He’s seems such an affable fellow, perhaps there will be some old fans in the audience that could be swayed by his intellect and likable manner into considering the facts.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Remember how you were, when you still believed? Your doubts, your questions, something like this would have been the thing that pushed you to say Allah you are a lie.

    And you can bet that there are other kids in the audience who think, who have the exact same questions and doubts that you had at that stage. Let Bill throw them a rope, show them that Joe Smith was not only talking into his hat, but also talking out the other end.

  • WallofSleep

    I’m of two minds. On the one hand I can see the wisdom in Dawkins’s position. On the other… well, I was a wingnut in my early twenties, and I didn’t manage to pull my head out of my ass by sequestering myself from differing opinions, I can tell you that much.

  • digibud

    My review is as follows:
    The winner of the debate was a foregone conclusion. While Bill Nye may have had reality on his side none of the illogical bad science of creationist Ken Ham can be countered by reality. Time and time again Bill’s attempt to inject proper science was “refuted” by Ken in a manner that pleased the creationist audience that by its very nature depends on a rejection of science. Debating people that reject basic science while claiming their bible based mythology IS science is an exercise in futility that Bill foolishly dove into for no good reason and he paid the price by furthering the “cause” of creationism.
    I sincerely hope my review turns out to be entirely off the mark.
    +1 for suzeb1964’s comment

  • TheShadow

    Ham just has to trot out his trademark “Were you there?” Game, set, match. Nye just doesn’t have a chance against that airtight logic.

  • observer

    “Yes I was, prove me wrong.”

  • Spuddie

    Produces Ham’s birth certificate. There, proven.

  • MN Atheist

    Nobody was there during creation either, but someone wrote a book about it many years later…I guess that is “eye witness” enough…

  • Jonathan Autry

    2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2

  • WallofSleep

    Teaching math like that would leave young adults woefully unprepared for the black market drug trade. Terminally so. Not even creationists want that.

  • Jonathan Autry

    It is a Lawerance Kraus joke. 2.4+2.3 = 4.7. If you round them all you get 2+2=5.

  • focusserpidiys

    I can’t wait to see how this debate unfolds on YouTube’s skeptic channels. : )

  • Arthur Dent

    Nye has long been a promoter and popularizer of science. If, by participating in this debate, he changes the mind of one creationist or one indoctrinated young person who happens to be watching, then it will be worth it. It’s not about Ham; it’s about exposing the otherwise unexposed to real science.

  • PrimateZero

    I understand everyone’s concern over giving an A-hole like Ham the appearance of creditability but I agree the exposure to evolution could help. Ham might have the ability to immune himself from rational thought but someone in that audience has got to have some sparks of brain activity left.

  • Andrew Klein

    Listening to the creationist retort videos, I feel like I have become a little bit more dumb.

  • MN Atheist

    I don’t know. It’s hard to debate against these people when they just revert to “but the bible says”. He will prove the age of the Earth using the bible, refuting scientific dating methods. And its funny after watching the three videos above and listening to the creationists saying “eye witness accounts”. Hmmmm…who was they eye witness to creation? Humans were not created until after the universe was in place. And even if you count Adam and Eve, they didn’t write any part of the old testament! It was written many, many years later by several people using stories they heard from others (telephone game anyone?). So the idea that they have eye witness testimony is laughable at best.

    My prediction is that they will get Bill so frustrated to the point that he either gets upset or simply gives up on the whole thing. These people will not listen to what he has to say. They only want to refute science with the irrefutable source of the bible, and then call it science. Funny how all over the world, science changes based on new evidence and we embrace it. But creation science CANNOT change at all because the entire house of cards then collapses.

  • Brent

    I disagree. While I was on the fence in my personal process of deconverting, these sorts of debates played a critical role in helping me make the leap and understanding that science had reasonable, well-considered answers to the bull I’d been hearing my whole life. When you hear the same old ridiculous creationist retorts in debate after debate being ably answered by atheists, it begins to sink in. This won’t work for everyone, of course, and some people will just listen to the creationist side and flatter themselves with the conceit that they’re on the correct side. However, I have to believe that these debates win more converts to our side than they lose. Furthermore, not debating allows them to claim that atheists are afraid to debate, which can be a powerful rhetorical coup in itself.

  • Andrew

    I do honestly get the feeling, that the majority of people here are actually terrified of this debate taking place! Maybe it is because Mr Ham may be the more convincing of the two simply because his arguement holds more than a grain of truth whereas Mr Nye has to put his point of view forward without the “missing link” justifying his position.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    I’m curious from where you get the notion that how persuasive an argument is bears any relationship to the truth content it possesses.

  • Spuddie

    Nah, we just know a fixed fight when we see one. Ham can’t convince himself out of a wet paper bag.

    Ham is a dishonest huckster who has made millions appealing to morons and attacks education and critical thinking. Bill Nye is a well respected proponent of science education, reason and critical thinking, who has brought delight to millions (but is not as well paid for his actions as Ham).

    Ham will play dirty because his position demands it. Nye will have to resort to snark, which will not go over well with an ignorant fundie crowd.

    There is no such thing as a valid or honest creationist argument. All creationists are either liars or ignorant. I am trying to figure out which one you are.

  • Crazy Russian

    But 2+2 does equal 5! For extremely large values of 2 :)

    edit: never mind, somebody already made that observation.

  • PrimateZero

    Yes, you are correct…. I see it now! It can only be five and as always been five. Now please!!!!….do it to Julia! She’s the one you want….

  • SansDeus

    At least it’s a start.

    If there’s no dialog whatsoever between creationists and scientists, creationists will continue to use the same arguments and continue believing they’re correct.

    Lets put it this way: Should society refuse to educate an uneducated person?
    Refusing to approach it, is akin to the childish taunt of: “If you don’t know now, then you’ll never know!”

    Exposure to any information that conflicts with your ideas (correct or otherwise) is the first way to examine them critically. Even if Bill doesn’t “win” this debate, he’ll walk away with something to analyze, then the matter can be approached differently. If anything it’s a foot-in-the-door to the minds of others.

  • Artor

    Ham’s crowd are already in the bag, and won’t be swayed by anything as flimsy as evidence or logic, so of course there’s no net gain to be made there. But Ham is about as sharp as a sack of marbles, whereas Nye is, well, he’s the fucking Science Guy! Nye has more charisma in his little finger than Ham could ever dream of, and he happens to have reality on his side. Of course, Ham will claim that he “won” the debate, regardless of the outcome, but there is a large population of middle-of-the-road people who haven’t thought about science or creationism much. It’s these people who will be swayed by a good argument, and I for one look forward to seeing Nye scrape Ham off his shoes with a stick. I just hope he has his own camera & sound people, as Xians have shown they can’t be trusted to follow through on their promises when they are made to look like the idiots they are in a debate.

  • Pitabred

    Hopefully the parents in Ham’s crowd also allow their children to watch. Maybe that’s what Bill Nye is banking on… kids have a keen bullshit detector. Even if they have to keep it hidden from their parents.

  • Jo Child

    What I find interesting is I just finished watching a youtube video with Richard Dawkins ‘debating’ with a creationist…

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Was that Wendy Wright? Which makes me wonder if Bill will be allowed to bring in a selection of homonid skulls.

  • Jo Child

    No, I cannot remember the man’s name but he was very polite and ignorant

  • James

    I don’t claim to be a former fundie, but I am an atheist who formerly attended fundie churches, who has many fundie friends and is well-acquainted with how fundies think. Fundementalism does not believe in evidence: simple as that (see “reformed epistemology”). Sure, one uses evidence in everyday life, but fundies use special pleading to argue it somehow doesn’t apply to “properly basic beliefs” such as their own particular beliefs in god. Sure, Ken Ham is one of the unusual fundies who *says* a literal reading of the Bible can be demonstrated by evidence; however, like most other fundies, he rationalizes away any/all evidence because, to him and those like him, the evidence doesn’t matter. One could spin his wheels forever talking about evidence in favor of evolution and the lack of evidence in favor of Creationism – none of which matters, because to fundies *the evidence doesn’t matter.* Participating in such a debate is a Sisyphean labor; it’s like walking into a casino with a reputation for cheating the players and betting on the roulette wheel; it’s being an intellectually honest man choosing to participate in an intellectually dishonest debate.

  • LesterBallard

    Yeah, very disappointed. Unless it was Hitchens, so they’d have to mop up the blood.

  • paulalovescats

    “The oxygen of respectability”–beautiful, Richard! I love you.
    “But evolution is believed to be false in the Mooslim world (he said it, not me), creationism is certainly taught in South Africa, India, South Korea, Brazil”…Well, I was surprised by South Korea. But Catholics are making inroads there. Makes me want to be like the people in those MUCH more progressive countries. Wait..

  • James

    The American college debate format favors the person who has the weaker case – which is why exactly nothing of note has ever been settled by this particular debate format.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Of course, there’s no reason someone who knows the world is round would debate someone who believes the world is flat.

    There’s no reason for a mathematician to debate someone who believes 2 + 2 = 5.

    I’m not sure how a theory composed of educated guesses and assumptions compares to mathematical and geometric certainties.

  • Pitabred

    Wanna know how I know you don’t really know that much about the Theory of Evolution?

  • The Starship Maxima

    Sure, enlighten me.

  • Gehennah

    The theory of evolution isn’t a series of educated guesses, it is a theory supported by the evidence from over a hundred years of testing.

  • Pitabred

    You equate the theory of evolution to “educated guesses and assumptions” when it wouldn’t be even called a theory unless copious experiments were consistent with the hypotheses put forward.

    I’m sure you’ve heard it, but gravity is a theory with even less direct evidence than evolution. Do you also call it “educated guesses and assumptions”?

    I’ll link you to a good starter guide as to why absolutely none of the Theory of Evolution is “guesses”, it’s simply the result of experimental evidence: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_01

    The most concrete evidence is DNA, and all the baggage it carries with that is perfectly predicted by Evolution, and perfectly stupid by any measure of “design”.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I took a look at your starter guide (thanks btw, I’m going to give a more thorough reading later) and have seen others.

    They all seem to read the same “Life has changed during it’s time on earth”, which I fail to see how that removes the idea of creation.

    They all say “this gives us clues to what happened” and then mention “we’re still figuring out more.”

  • http://www.earwicker.com Daniel Earwicker

    “which I fail to see how that removes the idea of creation.”

    But you can’t fail to see that it totally destroys any possibility that all plants and animals were deliberately created some time in the last 10,000 years, right?

  • The Starship Maxima

    I’ve stated before that using radiometric dating does seem to suggest that that is true.

    However, radiometric dating itself depends on assuming you have an accurate idea of what the radiometric material was like 4 million years ago (or was it billion?) and that you actually know how radiometric material really behaves over that period of time. As far as I know, no one has literally sat down with a piece of radiometric material and observed it over the course of even 100 years.

    Does that prove that a God spoke it all into being 10,000 years prior? Of course not. But it seems to suggest there are still questions to be asked.

  • http://www.earwicker.com Daniel Earwicker

    “As far as I know, no one has literally sat down with a piece of radiometric material and observed it over the course of even 100 years.”

    No one has literally taken a huge measuring tape and unravelled it between our Sun and the nearest neighbouring star to find the distance to be 4 light years or so.

    No one has ever placed an individual carbon atom on a weighing machine to find its true weight.

    No one has actually visited the outer gas giant planets to confirm that they look like the images we got back from the Voyager probes (maybe their cameras were defective, who knows?)

    Can you see a pattern here?

  • The Starship Maxima

    Yes, I do. I’m not sure it impacts the validity of my point.

    No nobody has tape measured the distance from the Sun to Alpha Centauri, no.

    But if someone says “We know there’s no other life in space,” and I retorted with “you haven’t been to even a handful of the other stars to know this” I’m not sure I’d be wrong.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Talking about live on other planets is not, at this point, an evidence based claim. Evolution, including common descent, is. That’s the difference. There are a lot of things that we don’t have to observe in person with our naked eye to confirm as true. There are other things that confirm them as true. The same is the case with evolution. Evolution doesn’t disprove God by any means. But it stands on its own as an accepted fact of science, just like the distance to Alpha Centauri.

  • http://www.earwicker.com Daniel Earwicker

    Indeed you would not be wrong. But you’ve accidentally changed the subject. Maybe analogy is not your strong point. You were talking before about radiometric dating, and you said something that indicated that you didn’t understand anything about how people discover knowledge, and I thought maybe a few broader examples would help, but they didn’t. So let’s focus back on radiometric dating.

    If I have some tritium, it has a half life of about 12 years. That means at the rate that it decays, it takes about 12 years for half of the tritium to turn into helium-3.

    On the other hand, if I have some Samarium-147, that has a half-life of 100,000,000,000 years. That’s nearly 10 times the age of the universe so far. What does that mean? Obviously no one has timed it with a lump of the stuff and a stopwatch. What it means is that if you detect electrons coming out of it with a certain characteristic energy, that’s when a decay has occurred, and a decay happens with a certain predictable average frequency. And that frequency is often enough to count the decays happening one at a time. And it turns out that based on the mass of one atom and the mass of a sample, by which you can get the number of atoms in your sample, then if you work out how long it would take for half the sample to decay, you get your answer.

    It’s like everything else we know about the universe – it’s a ton of evidence that is all mutually supportive and consistent. No one single thing is reliable and definitive and authoritative on its own. All the pieces of evidence back up the stories of the others.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    The alternative is that God decided to change the fundamental laws of physics at some point. AND God decided to change the rate of continental drift to coincide with the change in radiometric decay to fool us.

    If the science isn’t sound and reliable, then it’s because a god is fucking with us.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Yet another alternative is that God, or some other heretofore unknown being, used the science as it exists just on a level we’re not yet aware of?

    I mean saying a person can be come back from the dead sounds absurd, but medically induced comas and resucitations are a thing.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    That’s kind of like saying maybe mom put muddy kid sized foot prints on the kitchen floor, and left the lid off the cookie jar, and rubbed chocolate on the kid’s face to make it look like the kid stole a cookie.

    Like I’ve said, evolution doesn’t disprove God. Maybe God created the first ‘life’ and plunked it on earth and let evolution go from there. Sure.

    But anything beyond that, and God is actually going to great pains to make it look like no intelligence is involved.

  • Vanadise

    Nuclear radiation is an incredibly well-understood phenomenon, and even suggesting “Maybe it worked differently 100 years ago” to a physicist will get you laughed out of the room. If you’re going to try to use that as an argument against carbon dating, you might as well suggest the idea that God all created us yesterday and all of the our memories and knowledge were planted in our heads by him in order to fool us. That idea has roughly as much merit.

    But seriously, feel free to read up about the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_radiation

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Really? Really, TSM, really? That’s just embarrassing. Nuclear decay is an extremely well-understood phenomenon. Things decay at different rates, so we cross-check rocks and things to make sure the different isotopes all give us approximately the same date. Shockingly, they do.

    That’s how we’re pretty sure that the Earth is ~4.5 billion years old, though of course most of the rocks on the planet aren’t nearly that old.

    So no, there are not still questions to be asked. This is as close to a settled question as exists anywhere in science. You’d get more traction arguing that germs don’t cause disease than you would saying that radiometric dating is inaccurate.

  • Mary C

    But there is zero evidence that all life was just poofed into existence 6,000 (or 10,000) years ago. In fact, there are truckloads of evidence directly contradicting that claim.

  • Pitabred

    That raises the question, what would you consider as evidence? If the mountains of evidence out there aren’t enough, what more do you need? Be specific. Otherwise you’re saying that “I don’t know” is necessarily equivalent to saying “God did it”, which I hope you know is silly.

  • The Starship Maxima

    ROTFLMAO!!! Never.

    I don’t know means I don’t know. I choose to believe God made the universe as we know it, but I have no proof.

    Unless and until God comes down and brings me back to that fateful day he said “Y’know what? Today, I think I’m going to make the universe,” I can’t even blatantly lie and say I have proof.

  • http://www.earwicker.com Daniel Earwicker

    “Unless and until God comes down and brings me back to that fateful day he said “Y’know what? Today, I think I’m going to make the universe,” I can’t even blatantly lie and say I have proof.”

    And when God does that, you’ll no doubt say “Hey, what if you’re not really God? Or I’m imagining all this? How can I really be sure you’re not Satan trying to fool me? This doesn’t really prove anything, does it?”

    Why change the habit of a lifetime?

  • dandaman

    Life’s origins and evolution are related, but not not mutually exclusive. You can talk about evolution without referring to the origin, though I find it more interesting that way. There are good hypotheses being tested (RNA world), though there may never be an clear answer, or if we would know even if we had it, but Jesus sure as hell isn’t the answer.

  • Bender

    I’m not sure how a theory composed of educated guesses and assumptions compares to mathematical and geometric certainties.

    You forgot the mountains of evidence.

  • The Starship Maxima

    There’s a difference between clearly observed phenomena and the assumptions and suppositions based on the aforementioned phenomena.

  • Pitabred

    It’s not just based on observed phenomena. Try copious direct experimental evidence, though on a smaller scale due to human lifespans and all that. But I’m guessing nothing short of making a second Earth and watching evolution shape it all differently the second time ’round would allow you to understand the evidence.

    Stop parroting Ham’s non sequiturs, go look on some non-fundie sites, really try to understand the evidence for evolution. There’s plenty of it out there, lots of people willing to explain it in copious detail, letting you see their experimental design and inferences and calculations and everything. Seriously. It’s not some conspiracy of scientists, it’s absolutely the best and only explanation for everything we see in biology and medicine.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I don’t think I said it was a scientific conspiracy or some such, besides, who would attempt it.

    But yes, there are some considerable question marks in the theory and yes, the limits of our science and our lifespans mean I have to take it on faith rather than see it demonstrated first hand. Kind of like religious faith in that regard.

  • Pitabred

    What question marks? Go look up any single one of your “question marks” on a scientific site, and there will be an experiment or explanation of how it matches Evolutionary theory. Do you also take it on “religious faith” that America was founded a few hundred years ago? Or do you have more concrete evidence of it, even though you weren’t there? Evolution is like being in America and recognizing it didn’t happen by magic, that there was a very direct growth from previous governments and peoples and so on. There’s way too much evidence to just say “Hey, you know? God created America in 1776, and it’s been the same ever since”.

  • Bender

    But yes, there are some considerable question marks in the theory

    There aren’t, unless you mean there are gaps in knowledge, but these gaps do not (and cannot, by definition) contradict the theory.

    I have to take it on faith rather than see it demonstrated first hand. Kind of like religious faith in that regard.

    Or you could try understanding the theory, so you didn’t need to “take it on faith”.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Okay, sorry gaps in knowledge. And yes, I’m trying to understand the theory better because evolution as a science, as others have stated, has yielded some clear answers we’re using today. Like vaccines and plant breeding.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    If you’ve got a few hours per week, I highly recommend this course https://www.coursera.org/course/geneticsevolution

    It’s not ‘proving evolution’ per se, but it’s very interesting and informative. And since it’s free, you can do as much or as little as you like.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Ah. Thanks.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Please, if I buy you a copy of “Why Evolution is True” will you read it? Or get it from your library? You don’t have to live millions of years and watch multiple generations to observe evolution or know that it is true. There are multiple lines of evidence, including DNA, that make it as obvious as the fact that the earth is not the center of the universe.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I believe I mentioned that. I don’t know that since we have proof living beings change and adapt relative to their environment, and because they have similarities, this now means a god, or some other sufficiently advanced being, didn’t create life and create different life at that.

    However, I will add that book to my list.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    This isn’t about a god or not. It’s about the very observable fact that we are all descended from a single common ancestor. We are closer cousins to chimps than chimps are to gorillas. If there’s any god involved, then it’s making it look exactly like a natural process.

    IMO Jerry’s book is the best on the subject, but Dawkins’s “The Greatest Show on Earth” is also very good, and perhaps more ‘browse-able’ (and illustrated).

  • Mary C

    You know, the scientists I know (and I know quite a few through my line of work) who are religious generally seem to believe something like “god started the world with the big bang.” Some go on to say “and it has evolved as he intended ever since.” But as a whole, they (my scientist friends who are religious) have no arguments against the validity of evolutionary theory.

    It seems you have an internal conflict – that if you believe god created the world, you cannot also believe in evolution. Of course I don’t know you at all. Just going by what I’m reading in your posts.

    I do hope you read some of what has been suggested here, and that it brings you some internal clarity.

  • Spuddie

    Never mind over a century of accumulated knowledge and research on the subject vetted through a process which ensures an objective level of credibility.

    Do you think scientists accept evolution because they are just a non-faithful bunch of people and just want to annoy fundamentalists?

  • The Starship Maxima

    Scientists are heroes who allow me to have this conversation with you on a computer, over the internet, and in a heated room, rather than arguing this over stone tablets.

    I’d never sneer at scientists, I respect them too highly. I just think they, like all human beings, don’t have all the answers.

  • Spuddie

    Not having the answers does not mean acceptance of something outside the realm of the questions. the answer to the square root of X is never going to be banana.

    Creationism is never going to be considered a legitimate credible scientific idea which can supplant evolution. It fails to adhere to scientific principles, lacks any evidence to support it, and relies far too much on rhetorical and logical fallacy.

    Creationism betrays a level of ignorance of religion as well. It attacks the fundamental basis of religious belief, faith. It posits the idea that its proponents believe in God because evidence demonstrates it. Despite all indications that their evidence is garbage, they continue such belief. Therefore, their belief is not based on such things. It is really based on faith. The absence of evidence.

    Creationism forces believers to lie in public about their beliefs.When a Creationist finally breaks down and admits their belief in God is based on faith, they have refuted Creationism.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I don’t. I choose to believe it, I could never, with a straight face, say I have proof.

    Now, that I think about it, who could?

  • Spuddie

    And that is a God’s honest belief in God if ever there was one. =)

  • The Starship Maxima

    I see what you did there. Well played sir. :)

  • Artor

    I think that maybe you are respecting scientists for the wrong reasons, since you don’t seem to understand what it is they do, and how they do it. Is there ANY scientific theory you accept over Biblical teachings? Do you believe that the Earth revolves around the sun? There is actually more and stronger evidence for evolution than there is for heliocentricity. Preferring to believe Goddidit because science “doesn’t have all the answers,” is intellectual laziness at best, shading toward willful ignorance.

  • Mary C

    Deleted because I was mean.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Mean isn’t necessarily a crime.

  • Iothisk

    I hope Mr Nye can use this as an opportunity to teach at least some of the audience about what is scientific and how science works, and I hope Mr Ham can use this as an opportunity to make as big an idiot out of himself as he can.

  • Artor

    Ham is an opportunist of the first order. I’m sure he’ll make the worst of this.

  • Ian

    Bill Nye is being most unfair entering into a battle of wits with someone who is, clearly, unarmed!

  • http://www.earwicker.com Daniel Earwicker

    As tempting as it is to accept all your reasons to run screaming from this kind of debate (and I’ve often thought like that in the past), unfortunately it is increasingly clear that someone has to start doing an outreach programme.

    The reason? Religious fundamentalism is an aspect of poverty. All over the world (and within individual nations) there is a strong correlation between religion, lack of access to education and poverty.

    “Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” (Gallup poll, last year).

    It’s an utterly extraordinary fact and it’s a shaming indicator of stark inequality between two groups. Material poverty is worsened and deepened through poverty of enlightenment, and vice versa.

    Polarisation, the increasing separation of a country into two cultures that only talk to themselves, echo chambers, all that stuff. It will just work like a feedback loop, trapping half the country in a self-fulfilling cycle of destitution.

    Imagine a room full of atheists laughing together at those dumb creationists, patting each other on the back for being smart. Now imagine a room of rich people congratulating each other on avoiding being poor. It’s kind of the same thing.

    Doesn’t it feel a bit more morally upright to try to do something help the poor? The alternative is distancing yourself from them and just contenting yourself with laughing at them and saying “Phew! Glad that’s not me!”

  • Bec

    And their numbers are growing, this should be of serious concern to ALL educators, religious or not in the USA. There is no point in turning away from this and pretending because its stupid that its not happening. Of course its stupid, but not acknowledging and taking action only makes it worse. IMO, standing up and speaking for truth can never be a negative, even if the response is mockery and ignorance. Keep speaking the truth and eventually things begin to change.

  • Neko

    Yeah!

  • seculargal

    While I completely understand why most people agree that it is a ridiculous idea for Bill to engage in a debate with Ham, I also am glad to see him do it. I hear an awful lot about freedom of religion and public schools mentioning “Intelligent Design” in their science curriculum, but what I don’t hear enough of is actual scientists and educators standing up and calling out these religious, delusional idiots on their CRAP!

    I hope Bill gets up at the podium and says: “Hi, I know none of you will believe a word I say because of your faith in Jesus. However, you are all ignorant by your own choice and you shouldn’t be allowed to poison others with your ignorance without SOMEBODY saying something about it. So, I am telling you to all STFU and go live your dumb Christian lives where you can praise your lord and thank him for everything you have. Meanwhile, us scientists will be busy curing diseases, discovering new solar systems, finding new energy alternatives and expanding our knowledge of the Universe.”

    Sometimes, someone just has to say the Emperor has no clothes on before everyone else will acknowledge his junk is out for all to see.

  • Kurt

    Has this been confirmed anywhere other than the Answers in Genesis blog? Nothing on Bill’s Twitter and the only sources I find all link back to AiG.

  • bickle2

    You’ve never had a real debate with a fundy have yiu? I see yiu being friendly to them all the time

    A religious person is your enemy. A debate is a n hour of fun time to beat the living tar out of the , to berate and punish them, and violate every aspect of their being yiu can in the allotted. Time. I’ve broken pastors to tears on stage.

    You fight dirty, go for the nuts straight off and keep punching

    That we why you debate a creationist to make them suffer, and to wipe the floor with them. Bill anyway appears disgusted with the ham to maybe get somewhere close.

  • primenumbers

    I’d love to see Bill take your “pull no punches” approach. It’s the only way to deal with them – to openly and viscously ridicule their position.

  • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

    The topic of the debate is about creation, but I know Ken Ham. He’ll spend the whole time shifting the focus to evolution. He can attack other people’s claims, but he can’t even begin to defend his own.

    Bill Nye: What process did God use to create Adam from a lump of clay?
    Ken Ham: *cough*Magic*cough* Now let’s talk about evolution…

  • primenumbers

    Exactly – attack them on their weakest most absurd points. This cannot be a discussion on science that requires a rational eduction and respectful dialogue. It must be a full frontal attack on the absurdity that is creationism.

  • josiah_thompson

    False. Nye should keep the focus on evolution too. That’s what the evidence is for, and that’s what he is an authority on. Science. Slam another person’s belief’s and your only accomplishment will be to destroy your chances of reaching out to the children and teens out there who desperately need a real education. I speak from personal experience.

  • primenumbers

    And how is keeping a focus on evolution going to work in such a debate format? To adequately and robustly defend evolution from the nonsense attacks of creationists who don’t just deny evolution, but by necessity deny science, you need much more time and careful dialogue than a debate can provide for.

    All that will happen is the Nye will loose the debate, and make evolution look bad, and help Ham further push his anti-science agenda.

  • NotThatGreg

    Given the way Ham thinks, the initial focus should be on the difference between evidence and knowledge, vs. lore, mythology and belief. The difference between supporting a claim with evidence critically gathered, and confirming a belief with cherry-picked observations. And he needs to do that without being perceived as ‘attacking’ beliefs… not so easy. Remember, Nye is the fellow who got booed out of a lecture for saying that the Moon doesn’t emit light ‘contrary to Genesis’.

  • primenumbers

    You don’t debate a creationist. A debate should only be for a rationally based discussion. With a creationist you attack. You give them no respect for their religious faith, but attack them by rapidly and eloquently giving them a gish gallop over the most nonsensical and whacky elements of their belief. If they try to rebut any, you make sure you’ve given them vastly more things to rebut than they can possibly answer in the time allotted. In other words, you play their game against them and win.

  • Jean

    my brain hurts so much…

  • Rebe

    Hemant, referring to your first line — are they reasons you can’t understand, or reasons unknown to you at this point? I enjoyed your speech at Freethought Festival 2 about talking to the source before writing — have you talked with Bill?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Somewhere along the line we made the jump from “Young Earth Creationism” to “Creationism…”

  • Marc D. Irvin

    i understand your disagreement with this but calling it the end of Nye’s career is just stupid, sure Dawkins refuses to debate creationists now but he has debated them in the past several times, along with people like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Lawrence krauss, many still do, and so far it has ended none of their careers.

  • Marc D. Irvin

    also worth noting that comments and downvotes have been disables on these vids most probably so people can’t point out the obvious flaws in their logic and their blatent dishonesty. such as “science means knowledge” which is deliberately not the full definition “science: knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation” you know because the actual definition uses words like “facts” which obviously means nothing the creation museum teaches can be called science.

  • TommyBenz

    It’s really a mistake I think for Bill Nye to lower himself like this. As your article details, it’s just lending respectability to this argument. By agreeing to a debate, it’s agreeing that the argument should be had.

    Frankly debates are just PR stunts unless the moderator can really play an active role. Both sides will have prepared notes, which we can probably predict accurately. No one will cede to the other, and it won’t make a difference. If anything it’s just giving un-necessary publicity to Ken Ham, who by all accounts has no scientific or critical thinking bone in his body.

    It’s annoying because it’s a lose lose for Bill, so I suppose he just decided he should say his piece. If he didn’t, KH would just say “See I told you, he won’t debate because he knows he’ll lose. that his side is wrong.”

    It’s really a genius move on their part and it’s frustrating they are in that position. Scientists don’t need to grand stand and debate someone to prove their ideas. Evidence and research speaks for itself.

  • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

    I think the bigger audience for this is going to be in churches, where Bill Nye will be able to speak to a previously unreachable audience. Young people in fundamentalist congregations all over the country may, for the first time in their lives, be exposed to information about the way the universe actually works.

  • Atheist55

    The buybull and everything in it and the whole idea of gods is just unadulterated bullsh*t to me. Why the hell would I teach my child that there’s a choice? I never understood that. I’ll answer questions honestly and ultimately, whether they would want to dumb themselves down and throw reason out the door to even entertain the idea that this shit is real is up to them. Luckily, I’ll never have to worry about that because my child came to reason before I did. But let me tell you, if I were to have a child now, they wouldn’t hear one voluntary word about gods from me. I’m an atheist. The buybull is bullsh*t. Religion causes mass delusion and is at the root of every kind of evil. Why would I tell my child that kind of shit is any kind of choice? Ugh.

  • Jim Hughes

    Bill’s approach should be “Convince me. Show me your evidence.” and only present evidence to refute Ham’s hypotheses.

  • Matt Bowyer

    Bill Nye shouldn’t even be considering this. All this will do is legitimize Ken Ham and his quackery.

  • Jon Weatherly

    Quite! But are you sure you want to compare Bill Nye, TV presenter, to a “real scientist”? I mean, a BA from Cornell is nothing to sneeze at, but this qualifies him as, say, a really interesting high school science teacher. “Of science,” of course.

  • http://kokuntumbler.tumblr.com/ Cody Awarforworldpeace Wyatt

    If he wants to teach both creation and evolution and whats “wrong” in evolution. He should be prepared to also teach whats wrong with creation….

  • NotThatGreg

    But, which flavor of creationism? Just the one, or why not include all the others? This is the biggest, rarely-discussed fallacy used by creationists attacking evolution: finding ‘holes’ in evolution doesn’t make creationism any more true. Newton made a Law of Gravity, which held until Einstein found it to be incomplete. What happened then? Did we float off into space? Did we reject science as a lie, and go back to Flat Earth, or geocentrism? No, but creationists are pushing the argument that if there are any holes in the theory of evolution, then Christian Creationism must be true. They are implicitly making that argument, and it needs to be aired out since it’s insanely flimsy and results in a lot of wasted effort – mostly defending evolution against ‘holes’ made up by people who don’t understand or care to understand the topic.

    From what I’ve read, religious people seem to see Evolutionism like this: Darwin wrote a book, a bunch of people read the book, and believed it; and then proceeded to go out in the world looking for evidence to support this book, and to convince others about it; and to write more books supporting it. (Wonder where they got that idea..) So when they discover that it’s common for the later books to question, refine, improve, yea even contradict some of Darwin, then it looks like a pretty darn shaky kind of scripture compared to the kind they are used to. If this is what’s actually going through the minds of creationists, I’ve no idea what can be done. Except to try to avoid a situation where all of their children think the same way.

  • Beth Purkhiser

    It’s hardly the end of Bill Nye’s career. I do understand his desire to take part in this. He is an educator and hopes to reach some of the younger creationists who only believe this crap because all the adults they respect have told them to believe it. We like to think that creationists won’t get a following if only important people in the science community refuse to take them on but that’s simply not true. Creationism has a larger following in the US than science does, so Ham is providing an audience for Nye – not the other way around.

  • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

    I agree. The creationists are going to think they won, no matter what, and they will confidently show this debate in churches all over the bible belt, unwittingly exposing their young people to the real world. The possible gotcha here is that they may edit it in a deliberately dishonest way, though I would think the task of making creationism appear to be valid an impossible one. This may very well result in young Christians questioning the things they’ve been taught since infancy.

  • becauseisaidso

    I don’t have to tell you all what my position on the science vs. creation debate is because I know what I believe is right. It is right because I believe it. If it wasn’t right I wouldn’t believe it and if I didn’t believe it, it wouldn’t be right. If you believe what I believe then you’re right, too. If not. then you’re wrong. Because I said so.

  • truthissubjective

    Truth is a subjective experience. Knowledge is demonstrative.

  • NotThatGreg

    This in Ham’s position in a nutshell. Also, the validity of an argument depends only on its conclusion. If you use an argument to prove God exists, and then use the exact same argument to prove invisible purple unicorns exist, then it was a valid argument in the first case and obviously invalid in the second. You think I’m exaggerating? http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2011/05/27/feedback-circular-reasoning (warning, dangerous levels of stupid)

  • Randy C Cone

    Anyone who believes further discussion and dialogue is not valuable is either a quitter or arrogant beyond belief. One never knows what may come of discussion. This is one reason why we have them. To open new doors, to find common ground. Not talking to creationists or Christians serves no purpose but to strengthen their isolation from humanity, contemplation, reflection, questioning their reality. Dialog is needed more than anything else and Bill Nye should be lauded for his efforts. He deserves our support, not childish incredulity. All a cold shoulder does, in the long run, is prop up a weak ego.

  • jesse

    So what. let Nye show him to be the fool he is. Ham has thousands in investment to “education”.

  • Pain.Strumpet

    I disagree with Hemant’s position on this subject.

    I think the entire idea of the debate looking better on Ham’s CV than on Nye’s is predicated on very few people ever seeing the debate itself or getting an accurate review of how it went. But that failure can be countered easily by someone with the professional experience and the legal rights to spread the audio and video far and wide.

    A major issue with some debates between atheists and theists is that they’re operated by a religious organization which retains all the rights to the audio and video. Thus, only the edited material gets presented afterward, and sometimes with supplemental material included that serves to bolster the theist’s side.

    I would hope that Nye, with his professional media history, will be prepared against this. He should be sure to have the rights to post the debate everywhere possible.

    Could he prepare to counter Wendy Wright-levels of boneheadedness? Possibly so. Maybe he couldn’t raid a real museum of its actual fossils to bring along, but he could pull a Lewis Black: “Whenever anybody tries to tell me that they believe it took place in seven days, I reach for a fossil and go “fossil!” And if they keep
    talking I throw it just over their head.”

    I think we could get a lot of mileage out of a YouTube clip of Bill Nye winging a real fossil over Ken Ham’s head.

    The goal would be not merely to win the debate, but to produce so many clippable moments humiliating to the YEC position that it dies of shame. Then Ham’s problem is not how to properly highlight the event on his CV, but to find some way to make everyone forget the event ever took place.

  • NotThatGreg

    Another way to walk that line, “You know, many, many people believe in a God who made this billions-year-old universe and all of what we are discovering with science (look at this picture of Saturn, from the back!) Now, the God described in Genesis would have seemed pretty powerful to people writing that book thousands of years ago. But today, we have a hugely different understanding of the universe. Why do you choose to limit your God to those notions, of playing games with apples in gardens, and stories of impossible boats? Look, planets!

  • Georgina

    I will be watching this site in the hope that the debate will be posted on the internet.

  • Steve

    I think you are being too hard on Nye. Knowing what I know of the man, Nye cares about science education. And I think most of us agree that YEC pseudo-science is a major obstacle for good science education. If he thinks he can help by debating a leader of nonsense, I fully support him.

    If you really think about it though, Nye has an easy debate on his hands. All he really has to do is give a lecture on Ancient Near-East cosmology, and use verses from the Bible to support how people believed the earth was at that time. Nye could even accuse Ham of teaching and incomplete creation story since Ham believes the earth is spherical and not flat with a dome-shaped firmament over it. There are so many parts of the Bible that are glossed over because of modern science, but if the earth actually was flat as described by ANE cosmology, those verses would be quoted all the time. And there would be a LOT more creationists. As long and Nye gives this information in a respectful manner, he can change minds.

  • Dark Jaguar

    I think that when it comes to something like this, leave it to personal taste. Bill Nye wants to reach out to a crowd that otherwise might not give him the time of day, and there’s the possibility that something he says will reach them. That is EXACTLY how I started the path away from creationism, so don’t say it doesn’t work. Different personalities respond to different things, and in my case I needed a light touch (like some kind of cat, I’ll shy away from direct confrontation, I hate that stuff).

    I don’t think there is much chance of Ken changing his mind. His life and self-image are far more tightly bound to this than the majority of his listeners (the frank truth is I think that’s pretty much the ONLY thing that matters when it comes to whether or not someone can change their mind on something), but his listeners? If they’re like me, there’s a chance something will get in there.

    Your viewpoint is very well thought out and I agree with it, but only as one justifiable option. I’m not advocating that this is some sort of responsibility, but that it is simply one option that someone CAN pursue and I support it either way.

    There is one last thing I want to say. Creationism differs from “flat earthers” in one significant way: public acceptance. Debating a flat earther is a waste of time because I think there’s like, 7 of them total. However, there’s a LOT of creationists out there, so it is worth the time to try and get some of them to change their minds. Also, slowly but surely, they ARE. A recent post over at Pharyngula seems to indicate the slide of progress is occurring.

    One might argue that even taking the time to do such a debate “damages” our side because it might be seen as equal. My thinking is that ship has sailed. The time when the viewpoints were seen as equals passed when the majority opinion shifted, and I don’t think a public debate, by its existence alone, is going to come along and shift it in the other direction. I think that’s giving Ken’s desperate attempts too much credit. I only see the potential to help swing minds that may be just open enough to let in some doubt, something to start a long journey towards accepting the truth.

  • Dark J aguar

    I wonder if something like an anti-gish gallop could work. That is, rattle off a big list of evidence FOR evolution faster than Ken can respond to each. It puts him on the defensive at least.

  • WalterWhite007

    Doctor (?) David Menton is such a lightweight. He confuses consensus with correctness as many faith heads do. It is completely irrelevant how many people believe a thing to be true if they don’t have evidence on their side. Defenders of religious idiocy are their own worst enemy and a bonus to non believers in the long run.

  • WalterWhite007

    Why was the female ‘doctor’ (?) ‘created’ to be so unattractive? What cruel maker would do that? :-)
    Eye witness? accounts in the bible? haha
    These idiots are not worth debating Bill!!
    Stay away BIll…..sane people should never attempt to debate or argue with the insane!!
    Ignoring them is the best policy!

  • Amanda Smith

    If Bill Nye goes in there and treats Ken Ham well during the debate and treats the creationist audience well, which I’m pretty damn sure he will, he’s such a good guy, then Bill Nye has a very good chance of earning the respect of the creationists there. Chances are low he’ll convince them completely, but if this is handled well then he’ll be lowering tensions between the groups, and opening some of the creationists to the idea of evolution. There’s plenty of Christians who do believe in it, and its perfectly possible for these to believe it also. If we focus only on “converting” fundamentalists, then yes this as a losing battle. But we need to change our goal and not be so fucking absolutionist either.

  • NotThatGreg

    “opening some of the creationists to the idea of evolution”
    Unlikely to happen, I’m afraid. All they need to do is open a book. They mostly believe creationism simply because they want to, not because they want to know the truth. What he can do, is help convince the mainstream of American Christians that this nutbar fringe (Ham and friends) is a serious and avoidable threat to their children’s education, and that will go a long way to reducing their influence. The terrible fallacy that someone thumping a Bible is automatically right needs to get more public discussion (see also Palin’s apalling support of Phil Roberston, “because Bible” http://assholeoftheday.us/post/71270003933/asshole-of-the-day-for-december-26-2013-sarah )

  • Amanda Smith

    Palin’s put her foot in her mouth repeatedly. “[…]she didn’t have to read the interview to defend Robertson in the first place because the substance of his comments didn’t matter. He was invoking the Bible, she said, so his critics are actually taking issue with Scripture itself.” That blind, defend all attitude causes so much trouble.

    “[…]help convince the mainstream of American Christians that this […] is a serious and avoidable threat to their children’s education[…]” I definitely agree with all of that. And it does seem to be working, I’ve talked to quite a few Christians who agree with evolution. And a few who don’t. :/

    “They mostly believe creationism simply because they want to, not because they want to know the truth.” The chance of convincing creationists ARE low, but the chances of opening them up to talking and reading more about evolution are there, especially if we treat them well. It’s part of what happens when an issue gets extremely polarized, each side starts closing up, listening to the other less and less. But if the opposing side treats them with respect, the shells come down a little bit.

  • NotThatGreg

    Well, Dawkins engaged in ‘such a debate’ (more or less, arguably) with Deepak Chopra in November, and did quite well.
    His main point was “but you keep talking nonsense. Do you really believe atoms have consciousness? Do you even know what you mean by that? Tell me.” Chopra had no way to deal with that. Dawkins also maintained an admirably well-tuned level of seething hostility to Chopra’s absurd responses; it might be a lot harder for Nye to hit the right note there.

    I think the best strategy Nye can use is along the same lines: to generally avoid engaging the nonsense itself, but focus on pointing out that it is nonsense, with no factual basis, and thus doesn’t need engaging. I.e. you don’t even let Ham have the debate he wants to have, until he can establish that there’s anything valid to debate (which there isn’t).

    To this end, if Nye can be prepared to talk in detail about the origin of the Genesis text – where it came from, and by what route – it will be very helpful. It’s possible that Ham doesn’t know that much about it; that information is of no use to him, since it can only conflict with his beliefs.

    Also, there’s plenty of fodder on the AIG website, it basically says ‘we refuse to believe the evidence of our own eyes if it conflicts with Genesis’. That’s your point of debate right there. And if Ham also doesn’t even know (or accept) where Genesis came from, then you’re done. Simply empty faith. “I’m standing across from a man who admits — no, celebrates — that his own eyes are closed to anything except one 2000-year-old book. With that view, what can he and his group possibly add to our knowledge of the actual universe? We need to start with that question.”

  • Without Malice

    I think you’re wrong on this one, Hemant. In an audience made up of both believers in the bible creation story and believers in science and evolution, there is no way in the world that a creationist is going to convince those who believe in science and evolution that the world was created in six days the way the bible says it was. But there may well be a few on the other side who might be convinced by logic that the bible story is all wet. I used to be a bible believer, but upon studying science and evolution seeds of doubt were planted and I eventually became a non-believer. I don’t see how it can hurt for Bill to take on this guy and wipe the floor with him.

  • mudskipper5

    I find the topic addressed in the “debate” very interesting, and a little surprising: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

    Obviously, this deserves a very short answer (“No”), but curiously, there is absolutely no mention here of evolution and evolutionary theory. Given that the focus is entirely on the validity of creationism, Nye never has to really address any ridiculous challenges to evolutionary theory likely to pop out of Ham’s mouth, which is where many scientists who have attempted debates like this get bogged down, trying to address the mountain of misconceptions and nonsense thrown their way. Nye could just say ‘we are here to discuss the validity of creationism, as *you* specified, not the validity of evolutionary science, which is not in question here” and move on to the topic itself. Nye can present what actually makes an idea testable and falsifiable, why that is important to science, and then explore if this is possible with the creationist model. Not saying that Ham still won’t try to turn it his way, but with the way this topic was framed, Nye has the potential of keeping the focus where is belongs… on the uselessness of the creation story as a scientific origins model.

  • https://nowebsite.nolink.com Destroyer of Lies

    Why this is a bad move for Bill Nye and for anybody who’s sick of hearing about Creationism:
    1. It’s as Hemant said, couldn’t agree more – this is what Creationists do, and they would never draw much attention to their inanely stupid ideas if they never got anybody of known intellectual weight to debate them!

    2. You know that Creationist saying “Teach the controversy”? Controversy is what they live for, it’s like moving water for a shark! They know as well as we do that no matter how well they are disproven, they can always claim “victory”, and use that moment to rally for more contributions from those who they’ve managed to dupe. Don’t give them that moment, and then you won’t help them rebound from the obscurity which they deserve to fade into when smart people ignore them! They are not people to be dealt with on the presumption that they have any interest in truth at all, other than to destroy it – what they live for controversy, and they’ll do anythng to get some from you!

  • SeekerLancer

    I’m of two minds about this. While I agree with Hemant that we shouldn’t be putting Ken Ham on an equal playing field, Ham is someone who goes after kids with his pseudoscience museum and Bill Nye is well known for his talent of explaining complicated science in simple, easy to understand ways.

    If anyone can lay the smack down on Ken Ham in a wonderfully amusing way, it will be Bill Nye. He’s taken up the role of science defender in recent years, and I can’t say he hasn’t been doing a fine job.

    So while I can understand the sentiment of not feeding the trolls and I’m sick to death of these kind of ultimately pointless debates, part of me still wants to see this debate happen. I think Nye could change a few minds, or at least plant a few seeds of doubt in some of the young minds Ham has tried to corrupt.

  • sol

    though definitely not as “fun” as Bill Nye, i think Richard Dawkins can also do a pretty good job of explaining complicated things to kids:

    http://youtu.be/Nwew5gHoh3E

  • Scarlet Letter J

    I agree to an extent. How many young minds do you think will be watching this? If they are kids, their parents likely won’t let them watch it until it has been deemed appropriate (making sure Ham is clearly the winner).

    I love Bill, and will watch the hell out of this debate, but Ham has already won by getting a credible person to share the stage with him :-/

  • http://brielle.sosdg.org Brielle

    I don’t think its fair that you are calling out Nye on having this ‘debate’.

    We all know that this is basically an attempt by Ham to use Nye to further his own gains – that is undisputed. But, Nye is also an extremely charismatic individual, who could very easily create discourse and questions in Ham’s own ‘flock’, without them even knowing or realizing.

    All it takes is _one_ of the creationist junkies in the audience to want to know more about what he said, for this to be a success.

    The religious fanatics know that once you start to question one aspect of the fiction book they all so feverishly drool over, you will start to question other aspects. The most dangerous thing, as they keep verbally repeating over and over again much to our delight, is knowledge.

    Bill Nye will bring knowledge to them, even if they don’t want to hear it. He will sow the seeds of doubt, even if it takes 10 years for it to have an effect.

  • NotThatGreg
  • piyush2

    Fair points on why not to debate and in the comments we see reasonable arguments on why to debate (looks like there is a debate here on whether to debate or not, based on sound logic of course). Since Nye has already made the decision, the best we can do now is to think what would be helpful in the debate from his side:
    1) He maintain his humbleness and simplicity in how he explains science to kids and stick to speaking the truth and not be aggressive, this will likely open the hearts and minds of the creationism audience.
    2) He give examples of what people use in day to day life that is enabled by science that would not be possible if the assumption that earth was created a few thousand years exists and challenge the other side to give an explanation of how these man-made things are possible with creationism. Bill probably already knows a lot of good examples of this since he teaches science to kids.
    3) Come up with examples in engineering that depend on the knowledge and understanding of evolution, because the other side has challenged on this one. There are probably a few in bio engineering. This is not to debate whether they are bad or good for the society. The creationists exploit the overwhelming use of physics and chemistry in engineering.
    3) He clearly explain the basis of scientific thinking that “if you believe in the scientific process i.e a theory that is validated by evidence and modified or rejected in light of new contradicting evidence and evidence itself is always questioned, then the results of this process when there is reasonable consensus over long periods of time is what you tend to believe in. Your belief is further enhanced when you see real-world applications that were not possible before the understanding.”

  • nkrishna

    Jesus, there are PhD’s that believe that crap? Not so sure I should be trying to join this doctoral club anymore…

  • Ed Hensley

    Several members of Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers tried to get tickets, but they were sold out in less than a minute. No videotaping will be allowed, but AIG will sell their edited versions on DVD later. Bill Nye needs to contact NCSE. The topic of the debate is “Is Creationism A Valid Model.” They will use presuppositional tactics, and if Nye is not careful he will be made to look foolish in the eyes of creationists.