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Science Guy versus "God" Guy
February 3, 2014 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Bill Nye is debating the head of the Creation Museum tomorrow. Ken Ham, founder of Northern Kentucky tourist attraction "Answers in Genesis" Creation Museum, has challenged Science Guy Bill Nye to a duel, errr, a debate. Nye, while tolerant of Ham's religious beliefs, draws the line at creationism creeping into science curriculum. More pre-event throwdowns are here.

Tickets for the debate, which will be held at the Creation Museum, sold out in under five minutes, but it will be live-streamed at some churches and here at 7 pm EST on Feb 4. Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by tizzie (350 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something something battle of wits; unarmed man something.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:14 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


The trouble is, every time this happens, the creationists move the goalposts at some point and declare that they've won.
posted by Sequence at 11:16 AM on February 3 [30 favorites]


So, basically, Bill Nye is helping the Creation Museum make money.
posted by perhapses at 11:17 AM on February 3 [41 favorites]


Prediction: Nye will be a gentleman and relent to a "agree to disagree" position.

Alternate prediction: Nye will proclaim their two systems inherently incompatible, and as such further debate on the issue is counterintuitive and walk away.

Wishful prediction: Nye will say "I aint debatin this hokey honky" and drop the mic.
posted by mediocre at 11:18 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


Something something wrestling with pigs.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:18 AM on February 3 [14 favorites]


You know what they say about wrestling with a pig, right?

This was a bad idea from the start.
posted by Seamus at 11:18 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


I find it somewhat telling that when you open both videos on YouTube, Bill Nye's video is open to comments while Ken Ham's is not.
posted by banished at 11:19 AM on February 3 [15 favorites]


Playing chess with a pigeon.
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 11:20 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]




So, basically, Bill Nye is helping the Creation Museum make money.

Just don't look!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:20 AM on February 3


This seems sort of problematic. Science is not a thing you can take on by engaging one guy in a debate. Creationists aren't going to change their minds if Bill Nye hands this guy his ass, which he will, but these people aren't coming at this from a position where they're open to scientific evidence and scientific theories to begin with. This is a soapbox for the Creation Science guy.
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]


I'm going to tune in!
posted by cashman at 11:22 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I heard some rumors that all or most of the tickets were sold to churches, quite deliberately.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:25 AM on February 3


Maybe Bill Nye will also use his science skills to debate Greil Marcus about the best rock band of all time.
posted by perhapses at 11:27 AM on February 3 [8 favorites]


At some point in high school I did a report on the Scopes-Monkey trial and it seems like afterwards both sides thought they'd won the religion vs science debate (the actual outcome of the case involved him getting off on a technicality). This seems like another setup for the same thing; I am a Christian but I'm going into this believing Bill Nye is right and the most pro-Ken Ham thing I'm likely to conclude is "Bill Nye made some strategic mistakes in that debate". I think it's likely that everyone will come out of this believing their side won.

The only possible utility I can see in this debate is potentially presenting these ideas to some kids who are watching at church with their families. Sure, they'll be getting a lot of "Ha ha ha look at that dopey scientist he's going to hell" but at least the ideas will be there and they will have heard of them and it gives those kids who are not getting full scientific information one more channel for some ideas outside of their families' orthodoxy.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:29 AM on February 3 [8 favorites]


On one hand, I hate to be overly dismissive of it. People do change. I was a creationist until at least age 20, and there are probably going to be a few young creationists who watch this debate at their churches and start quietly thinking "Hey, that Nye person made a good point." A journey of a thousand miles can begin with that single step.*

On the other hand, there's no such thing as winning this. One of Ham's famous arguments is that you can't really know how life began, no matter what evidence you think you have, because you weren't there. But God was there and he told us in his book. Eyewitness accounts trump theoretical reconstructions. Ham's followers pretty much agree with that. You can't win this with science. What I would really like to see is Ham take on a Bible scholar. That would be fun. Then you could directly challenge his presuppositions using the book he claims as his evidence.

*This is why I keep telling churches that if they make anti-evolutionism a requirement to be a Christian, the vast majority of their bright young people will conclude that they can't be Christians, anymore. But no one listens to me, anyway.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:29 AM on February 3 [67 favorites]


These debates are dumb to get involved in because creationists know how to make a logical argument. The problem with creationism isn't logic, it's the premises, and you're not going to be able to present an evidence-based argument in a staged debate.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand how this can be a debate. Nye presents peer-reviewed evidence [X], and Ham says no that can't be because Bible verse [Y].
posted by stinkfoot at 11:32 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


These debates are dumb to get involved in because creationists know how to make a logical argument. The problem with creationism isn't logic, it's the premises, and you're not going to be able to present an evidence-based argument in a staged debate.

I think this is also a really good point -- the issue isn't that you're drawing different conclusions from the same set of facts which is how a debate works, it's that you're arguing which set of facts is true which is how crazy nonsense works.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:34 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


Billy Nye is fucking great. I love his videos, I'll really enjoy watching this if I can!!! I actually ONE one of these debates with a creationist once..... can you believe it? I mean it took like a year of debating I think....

So I mean, if you start out saying it's hopeless, you're sort of starting from a place of self defeatism that seems unhealthy.

I mean yes pick your battles and all but I think Bill Nye digs a throw down and he's up for it, if he's having fun with it AND there's a chance a bit of reason might creep through, I say it's worth it.

My cousin was a creationist until college and then she changed, and my classmate what a creationist until I debated him in noble battle and one! Won. Spelling is hard. Erm.. anyways. Science power! YAY!

I'll be praying that GOD helps his silly fallible creatures get closer to the truth. Also-- given that is likely a useless activity, I'll be hoping for Bill to have great luck and skill in his quest!

I won by discussing the fallibility of humans writing the bible and that they may have been interpreting "God's" will but through their own human understanding, therefore taking the bible literally is not useful and can be harmful. Also discussing the many many contradictions (which are so many as to be ridiculous) in the bible and and and.

Further more discussing how bible verse have been used to justify horrific human endeavors like slavery, murder, torture and more, and further more how christians utterly fail to follow the laws of their own bible and maybe that is wrong.
posted by xarnop at 11:34 AM on February 3


Clearly it's turtles all the way down.
posted by cccorlew at 11:35 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


How can you have a debate between science and a-bunch-of-fairy-tales-some-people-just-made-up?

I means, seriously? C'mon.
posted by freakazoid at 11:35 AM on February 3 [10 favorites]


I like how I have beliefs and principles and you have an agenda. It's a very warm blanket. But yeah, I mostly agree with Pater Aletheias above.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:36 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Nye presents peer-reviewed evidence [X], and Ham says no that can't be because Bible verse [Y].

Absolutely - you can't argue unless you start with the basic premise being flawed. From Ham's answers in the first link:
"Is Christianity incompatible with evolution?

I’m not saying you’re not a Christian because the Bible doesn’t say you have to believe in six days (of creation) and a young earth. You have to believe in Jesus Christ to be a Christian. But you have to change the Bible to fit with the millions of years theory, and that undermines the Bible’s authority."

(emphasis mine) Well, yeah. The Bible's authority IS undermined by science. You can't just say "Well it is wrong because the Bible is fact" because the Bible is not a provable factual tome. Using Ham's own argument - was he there when the bible was written to know that it was a representation of the truth being observed?

No? Well that kind of screws your argument for dismissing all the other non-observed data, doesn't it?
posted by Brockles at 11:37 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


it's that you're arguing which set of facts is true which is how crazy nonsense works.

It's worse than that -- they are arguing about how to determine which facts are true to begin with.
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on February 3


You can't just say "Well it is wrong because the Bible is fact" because the Bible is not a provable factual tome. Using Ham's own argument - was he there when the bible was written to know that it was a representation of the truth being observed?

Doesn't matter. Faith.
posted by empath at 11:39 AM on February 3


Ham is not going to quote the Bible. He'll probably quote JT Chick tracts, claim Hitler believed in evolution and used it to justify the Holocaust, reference some obscure article and proclaim if you haven't read it, you don't know the subject, reference other comments out of context, e.g., Einstein said God doesn't play dice with the universe, emphasize how evolution is random change and violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Second Amendment to the Constitution, point out that fossils have not been found to fill in a complete stop-motion animation of evolution and bring up how difficult it is to begin life from nothing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:39 AM on February 3 [13 favorites]


"Atheists are so aggressive. They’re in the minority but it’s causing Christians to become more active in defending their faith. We’re being aggressive too and we’re challenging Christians that they need to be aggressive."

Well, it's like Christ himself said during the Sermon on the Mount: "the best defense is a good offense."

If you're having trouble finding that passage in your Bible, it's across from the very clear explanation as to how to use certain mentioned numerical figures to calculate the Earth's correct age. Because if there's one thing the prophets intended, it was that the Bible conveniently double as a handy calendar.
posted by griphus at 11:40 AM on February 3 [12 favorites]


I enjoyed reading the transcript of the Saladin-Gish debate back in the day. I imagine this debate may go down in a similar way.

Ken Miller's lecture on the Collapse of Intelligent Design is another example of the anti-ID position well articulated.
posted by milquetoast at 11:42 AM on February 3


So, basically, Bill Nye is helping the Creation Museum make money.

This is the part that annoys me the most about this. Why scientists shouldn't "debate" science is well-trod ground, but this event appears to be a fundraiser for the Creation Museum. Nye claims the ticket sales may not cover his fee 1 but I read earlier his only fee was travel expenses. It seems hard to believe that an 1,000-seat auditorium2 full of $25 tickets wouldn't cover domestic travel expenses.

1 "Bill Nye and Ken Ham go head-to-head," Cincinatti.com.
2 "Always 'Evolving'—What's new at the Creation Museum!" Answers in Genesis.
posted by grouse at 11:43 AM on February 3


Maybe Bill could come out and go even crazier than Ham. Like, Ham believes dinosaurs existed 6000 years ago and lived alongside mankind? Nye should go full nutjob and say no, the bones were placed there by God and/or Satan to trick non-believing hucksters like Ham.
posted by Hoopo at 11:44 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


I enjoyed reading the transcript of the Saladin-Gish debate back in the day. I imagine this debate may go down in a similar way.

I was going to say: "bet we'll get to see a perfectly formed 'Gish gallop' out of this."
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:46 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Well, it's like Christ himself said during the Sermon on the Mount: "the best defense is a good offense."

Where is your God now Peyton Manning
posted by Hoopo at 11:46 AM on February 3 [19 favorites]


It is very, very difficult to use facts against someone who insists on believing in fairy stories and magic. I hope Nye has some extreme cleverness up his sleeve.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:47 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


What I would really like to see is Ham take on a Bible scholar. That would be fun. Then you could directly challenge his presuppositions using the book he claims as his evidence.

It would be like watching a student try to give a report on a book, except he had only seen the movie version on cable and also kept forgetting to switch back to it after the commercials ended.
posted by griphus at 11:48 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


Im awaiting word from Bill Nye's weed-smoking alter ego on Twitter, Bill Nye Tho
posted by discopolo at 11:49 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Where is your God now Peyton Manning

Cut to billboard in Denver with a picture of Tim Tebow peering around a corner. Caption: "Miss Me Yet?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:50 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


The trouble is, every time this happens, the creationists move the goalposts at some point and declare that they've won.

Having a "debate" at all -- suggesting there actually is a debate -- already does that.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:50 AM on February 3 [12 favorites]


Bill Nye is a smart guy. What are the chances he's considered all this and is pulling some seven-dimensional chess shit?

You know, like Obama always does.
posted by charred husk at 11:53 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


Faith isn't knowledge. It is a state of mind possible only in the absence of knowledge.

Confusing the two does a disservice to both.

If Ham believes in the Abrahamic God, then he believes in a deity that is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, a being who stands outside time and space and transcends reality itself.

So in that context, if evolution doesn't make sense to Ken Ham, it's because He IS A TINY LITTLE SPECK AND GOD IS REALLY BIG. So STFU and STFD and get on with the IMPORTANT stuff, like TENDING TO THE POOR AND NEEDY, YOU ARROGANT FUCKWAD.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:55 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


Ken Ham on the CNN Belief Blog: Why I'm debating the 'Science Guy' about creationism
posted by Peccable at 11:57 AM on February 3


I choose not to hold the belief that one large group of americans is some sort of conspiracy of self-indoctrination, but that I am a true believer who is on the right side of justice.

i mean, yeah, that is my default stance. But it was before I was converted away from fundamentalism. That makes me hold such opinions suspect.


I hate the notion that "These people believe X. They are of political party X. They are members of X group. Therefore, it is a waste of time to talk to them." This line of reasoning leads to cyberbalkanization, a narrowing of perspective, ignorance of other cultures and ideas.

Even the most cynical of you, who believe that Nye will merely play the straight man for Ham's self-promotion, should not be opposed to this. After all, everyone loves a good bit of self-congratulatory entertainment, sciency-folk included. If we cut off all ties to creationists, how will we be able to invite them to our dinner events and lay the smackdown ourselves?
posted by rebent at 11:57 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


It's kind of interesting. Nye gets tons of criticism for this from scientists. Ham gets criticism from Christians.

Whatever happens here, the real losers are Christians who aren't into all this pseudo-scientific creationism, such as myself.

Just like in any community, there are educated people and there are ignorant idiots, who get all the attention, and shape the world's picture of the whole.
posted by brenton at 12:02 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I don't think face-to-face debates are that useful as tools for discovering truth, they rely too much of performance.

One of Ham's famous arguments is that you can't really know how life began, no matter what evidence you think you have, because you weren't there.

I'd respond to him, how could you know how life began even if you were there? Seeing something "with your own two eyes" is often used as if it was some directly method of attaining knowledge, but as any scientist will tell you, what you see is only the beginning. Hearing a voice say "Let there be X," then X appears, would be a process that demands examination. Saying "we don't need to examine it, there's this uncritical book written thousands of years ago that itself provides two differing accounts of creation," well, that's obvious not a recipe for blazing wrongness and incorrectitude, and my keyboard isn't dripping in sarcasm right now.
posted by JHarris at 12:04 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


What are the chances he's considered all this and is pulling some seven-dimensional chess shit?

Which is of course the whole point. This isn't a debate in the sense that something is going to be settled. This is a debate in the sense of...well, here, let me get biblical: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (I Peter 3:15)

Nye has a style that touches a lot of people. Giving him this broad platform, to be viewed by an eager audience of creationists, is a great science evangelism tool. Get people interested, get them thinking past what they're thinking now, give them the resources they need to research it further. You have to get in front of people who disagree with you; otherwise you're preaching to the choir.

Ham is...well, he's more salesman than evangelist. He's been selling this line of young-earth merchandise for a long, long time, much longer than the museum has been around. If you've ever had the misfortune to sit through one of his videos, you know what I mean. He very much is preaching to the choir, because that's the target audience.

So, I'm in favor of this.
posted by mittens at 12:04 PM on February 3 [9 favorites]


Well, I admire Nye for trying this, because we need to do something. There are people out there who don't even understand how snow works.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:16 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


In my family, and even in the Catholic elementary school I attended, we were taught that the Old Testament was filled with allegoric stories that helped to explain things to people who didn't have the benefit of scientific knowledge. Believing in Adam and Eve, or Noah, or Moses parting the Red Sea always seemed silly to me, even as a child - those were just stories, right? The idea that you have to believe the Old Testament in order to be a "Christian" - I never understood the connection.
posted by tizzie at 12:17 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


Yeah, we need to do something, but that doesn't mean we need to do what they want.
posted by edd at 12:19 PM on February 3


One of Ham's famous arguments is that you can't really know how life began, no matter what evidence you think you have, because you weren't there. But God was there and he told us in his book.

I suppose it doesn't bother him that none of us were there to see the book written, either. Anyway, I look forward to watching this debate bog down over the nature of deduction and appeals to radical nihilism.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:20 PM on February 3


The only possible utility I can see in this debate is potentially presenting these ideas to some kids who are watching at church with their families. Sure, they'll be getting a lot of "Ha ha ha look at that dopey scientist he's going to hell" but at least the ideas will be there and they will have heard of them and it gives those kids who are not getting full scientific information one more channel for some ideas outside of their families' orthodoxy.

I agree with this. For a lot of people in the audience, this may prove their first exposure to some actually scientific theory and evidence instead of the creationism they've been taught, and Nye's the guy who can give it to them in a palatable form. There will be at least a few people in the audience who walk away from the debate with news ideas and questions. It may seem like trying to bail back the ocean with a teaspoon, but it's worth doing. Respect to Nye for manning up and doing this, because I would never have the patience.
posted by orange swan at 12:21 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


I think what some non-evangelicals don't know is that one side of this "debate" is already being aired out in church meetings and youth groups. Evangelicals are already getting all the reasons why creationism is true and evolution is a myth. Nothing Ham says will be new information to most of the Christian viewers. Ham is literally preaching to the choir, and I think that gives Nye an opportunity to step up and surprise people in any number of ways. One interesting outcome would be if he refused to debate what we know, and instead talked about how we know it, both for evolution and the kind of young-earth creationism that Ham subscribes to.
posted by muddgirl at 12:27 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Man what I wouldn't give to see, in the middle of the debate, a religious Jew just hop up on stage during Ham's vociferous confusion of the Old Testament for a court transcript, rend his Bible in twain, hand him the half that starts with Matthew, yell STAY ON YOUR SIDE and depart the scene.
posted by griphus at 12:34 PM on February 3 [31 favorites]


The idea that you have to believe the Old Testament in order to be a "Christian" - I never understood the connection.

Not to throw the thread off-topic, but: The connection lies in the fact that much of what Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John write about involves echoes and interpretations of passages from the Old Testament.
posted by Greenie at 12:35 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


These debates, I used to think "What's the fucking point? These guys are unconvincable." But then I was reading Sam Harris' website and he reminded me that the point isn't to convince the other guy: remain calm and rational and you'll be convincing people in the audience.
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:40 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


What is the term for the theological concept about events in the OT presaging specific things that Jesus says or does?
posted by griphus at 12:40 PM on February 3


What will be the relative ratio of the people in the audience who might have the seed of doubt planted compared to the people who only read about it on a creationist website and have their disbelief in this sort of science more firmly entrenched?
posted by edd at 12:42 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Biill Nye is assertive but not aggressive nor acerbic, and he knows his subject and believes passionately in it. I think it's pointless to get into debates with creationists for the most part, but I believe not showing up or engaging at all is not going to bridge any divide. Someone has to be the ambassador every now and then, and I personally think Nye is well suited to that role. I do believe that one or maybe more kids growing up creationist will see the debate, and it will plant seeds for them and inspire them to inquire further, perhaps even inspire them to become scientists. It doesn't happen unless those kids are exposed to science, the earlier the better.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:43 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


In general, I prefer Dawkins' policy: he refuses to debate creationists. They're clowns and cranks. For a renowned evolutionary scientist to stand on a stage and debate a creationist, grants a legitimacy to creationist ideas that they don't deserve. A geologist wouldn't debate a flat-earther; an epidemiologist wouldn't debate a believer in the miasma theory of disease—why should a biologist waste his time pretending that stories about Noah's Ark and the Garden of Eden are even remotely legitimate sources of guidance in his field of inquiry?

But if Nye can expose a few kids to facts and ideas that their parents and churches are withholding from them, I guess it's a worthwhile effort. He has a stronger stomach than I, though.

I just can't wait until Americans start turning away from this nonsense en masse, just as they've been doing lately w/r/t homophobia.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:50 PM on February 3


What will be the relative ratio of the people in the audience...

220, 221, whatever it takes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:57 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I don't think people are turning away from homophobia because of science. Mostly I think it's because more and more Americans know actual homosexual people, know that they are good people, and can see the real harm that homophobic laws and actions do to others. You just don't have this sort of environment when it comes to creationism.
posted by grouse at 12:58 PM on February 3


But God was there and he told us in his book. Eyewitness accounts trump theoretical reconstructions.

What about theoretical eyewitness accounts?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:58 PM on February 3


Naturally, "debating a Creationist" is a terrible idea, because what ends up happening is nothing close to a proper debate, and thus there's nothing you can win. Nobody's saying that Ken Ham might finally throw up his hands and say "Okay, Bill, I guess you've got me there." But part of what happens in the meantime is that Bill Nye gets to express a few of his ideas on the topic to an audience of believers who may not have ever been exposed to them before. Some small number among the observers might even wonder why they had never heard those ideas before and become curious to learn more about them. You can call Nye foolhardy, but you can't accuse him of preaching to the choir.
posted by Flexagon at 1:01 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I want to reiterate, I think is a GREAT thing for Nye to do, because it WILL reach a few minds. It will likely change at least one life if not multiple. My cousin needed only one course in college for her mind to change.

A lot of people dig their heals in and won't change, but some people do. For some number of people you endlessly debate with and get nowhere, there's someone who sees the debate happening and changes their views. These things aren't pointless. People are learning and growing all the time, sometimes even when they CLAIM not to be. It hard to admit mid debate "You made a great point and you're right" and people dig their heels in even more but down the road that point might stick, and grow.

I'm proud of Nye, I think it's a good thing. And I agree too many people aren't GETTING access to the "other side" of the story at all, so even in this rather suspect circumstance where there is the illusion of "sides" and Nye is accepting their terms of the discussion-- it's still information that wouldn't get to some of these people otherwise.

I don't think I could do it.

I think the key however is going to be in remaining agnostic and even permissive about the idea of god. These are people who want to believe in god, give them permission to believe in god that is not so counter factual science. That's a difficult tactic for a committed atheist to take, but I think if you're willing to remain agnostic about the idea of god, and create at least the possibility that EVEN IF there were god, god might have given us the capacity for complex thought and to grow as individuals and as a species and perhaps we can honor our ancestors and their gifts to our understanding of life, ethics, wisdom and god without presuming every statement they made was fact.

Perhaps, if there were a god of compassion, such a god would be hoping for us to take on this challenge.
posted by xarnop at 1:05 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


For a renowned evolutionary scientist to stand on a stage and debate a creationist, grants a legitimacy to creationist ideas that they don't deserve. A geologist wouldn't debate a flat-earther; an epidemiologist wouldn't debate a believer in the miasma theory of disease—why should a biologist waste his time pretending that stories about Noah's Ark and the Garden of Eden are even remotely legitimate sources of guidance in his field of inquiry?

To me, the difference is that Nye isn't a evolutionary scientist, geologist, or biologist. He's a science educator and an entertainer. I think this sort of public outreach is right in his baliwick.
posted by muddgirl at 1:06 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


I also think given Nye tends to be an educator of children, it strengthens the importance of this, because kids who have seen the show will have more reason to check out his thoughts on this and consider another perspective than what they're getting at home.
posted by xarnop at 1:07 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Most people who care are familiar with what both of them will say. Still, it's good for public debate to still be a social event.
posted by michaelh at 1:10 PM on February 3


It strikes me that most of the people commenting in this thread haven't read any of Ken Ham's work (particularly his books) or been to any of his revival meetings. As someone put it up thread, he's a salesman. He presents a bunch of pseudo-facts and strings them together with "logic" to arrive at the "biblical" position. If you're not someone that's been exposed to a lot of science, or actual logic it can be incredibly convincing. The more so because it's presented as science.

For people that have bought Ham's line, Nye actually has the real possibility of winning hearts and minds. Giving another perspective that's also supported by facts and logic is exactly the right tactic. Because if you're a follower of Ham, you believe that you're only believing what's support by facts and logic. (I know that seems impossible, but it's seriously true.) What Nye's doing is incredibly important, especially if this is going to have the sort of audience in evangelical circles that it seems it will. I'm looking forward to tuning in.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:19 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


There's going to be what, 2 hours of debate? Maybe 3 at most? That's less than 90 minutes Nye will get talking, the majority of which will be spent having to fight pure poppycock and not actually explaining evolution. It's a terrible format, and he should find better ways to do it.
posted by edd at 1:24 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I'm excited for an updated and smart collection of rebuttal points to creationist arguments!
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Hearts and minds are not going to be won, or even engaged by ignoring one another. Of course it isn't a debate, neither participant will fall victim to the enumerated traps of the other side, I suspect it is totally about outreach to those tuning in, and given that the creationist side has stacked the decks by making sure the faithfull have a majority of the audience, well Nye has a bigger audience to bring his message to whereas Ham has to make sure Nye doesn't plant that seed of doubt... I understand why people think it's a bad idea, but I think from a purely number of people reached it's a great idea. Talk about walking into the lion's den.

I just hope they serve shrimp as an appatiser
posted by edgeways at 1:26 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I guess today's the date for the debate debate debate.
posted by rebent at 1:34 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


All I'm saying is, if there isn't a huge marquee at the entrance that says "TONIGHT: HAM ON NYE," then everyone really is wasting their time.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:35 PM on February 3 [79 favorites]


"Atheists are so aggressive"

And "smug"! Don't forget "smug"; everyone hates "smug".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:42 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


> Evangelicals are already getting all the reasons why creationism is true and evolution is a myth.

Ugh. This is totally wrong. I grew up in evangelical churches, where nothing of the sort was ever taught. I went to an Evangelical college where the biology department taught evolution and the physics department taught that the earth is millions of years old. I went to the biggest evangelical seminary in the world, and the vast majority of my teachers and classmates laugh at this sort of creationism pseudo-science.

I'm assuming you are basing that opinion on a few ignorant people you've heard of. Stop doing that.
posted by brenton at 1:56 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Does it matter whether people believe in evolution or creationism?

You can have it in religion textbooks, or philosophy, or history, but you can’t have it in science textbooks.



That rather says it all, doesn't it?
posted by nicodine at 1:58 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Funny to scroll down and read the twitter feeds in that link from the OP.

Ham: Debate, debate, debate, debate, debate, #creationdebate.

Nye: Science, Space, Asteroids, Moon, Science, Climate change! My friends!
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:59 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming you are basing that opinion on a few ignorant people you've heard of. Stop doing that.

Actually I am basing that opinion on growing up in a protestant religious community, attending evangelical bible meetings which discussed creationism, and attending youth group summer camp where, among other things, someone with a bachelor's degree in geology presented the 10 reasons why evolution is wrong.

I tried very hard not to imply with my comment that the evangelical community is a monolith, but I am speaking from personal experience.
posted by muddgirl at 2:00 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


I grew up in an evangelical church and my experience is the same as muddgirl's.
posted by winna at 2:11 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I do regret the "preaching to the choir" joke. I couldn't resist.
posted by muddgirl at 2:22 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I think you people may be overconfident. All Ken Ham has to do is mic drop a banana on the podium and he'll get a standing ovation until the debate time runs out.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:35 PM on February 3


No matter how the debate turns out, the Creationists win because they get to say, "This is the debate that should go on in all the biology classes in the country."
posted by dirigibleman at 2:36 PM on February 3 [9 favorites]


All Ken Ham has to do is mic drop a banana

When somebody attacks you with a banana, shoot him and eat the banana.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:39 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


The only way I can see this actually being not a total fustercluck is for Nye to show up and say "I'm not here to debate. There is no 'debate'. Science is real. I'm here to give to some facts that we, as scientists, have discovered over the years".

He'll probably get booed offstage, but at least it will be honest.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:41 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Hopefully, Nye has his own guys recording this thing, because otherwise he's likely to get 'creatively edited' by the hacks at the Creation Museum, as has been done in the past by related tool Ray Comfort.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:46 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


BitterOldPunk: then he believes in a deity that is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, a being who stands outside time and space and transcends reality itself.

So.... Ken Ham likes Doctor Who?
posted by dr_dank at 2:50 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


"Why not teach the controversy?"

"Okay. The Controversy, Lesson One: There isn't one. While we certainly have a few things to learn about evoloution and a lot about biogenesis, by contrast the actual evidence for an intelligent creator is simply nonexistent. The remainder of today's class is a free period. You're welcome to draw pictures of Jesus riding a dinosaur in crayon if that floats your boat."
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:58 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


I just hope Nye has taken the time to review their junk arguments, like the "half an eye" one, which sounds nice and compelling if you're careful not to learn any biology before or after you hear it or to even think about it too hard. If you know it's coming you can just blow it out of the water, but you have to keep your sentences short for this kind of "debate".

Here's Richard Dawkins demolishing that at a second grade level what looks like about forty years ago judging by his shirt. Here he does the same for the parallel "half a wing" objection.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:14 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I wanted to make a joke about asking whether Ken Ham's wife's name is Barbie Bratwurst but then thought that'd be tactless but then I thought perhaps it could work as a metajoke such as this one right here but then ended up thinking sadly that the actual debate will never get to these kinds of silly levels of pointless intricacies but then remembered that actual biologists sometimes do such as whether being selected means something is useful or because something is useful it therefore is selected and then clicked the "Post Comment" button having forgotten all about Ken and Barbie because the other thought was much more interesting and I also got hungry.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:21 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Feynman, from Surely You're Joking:

One day, two or three of the young rabbis came to me and said, "We realize that we can't study to be rabbis in the modern world without knowing something about science, so we'd like to ask you some questions."
Of course there are thousands of places to find out about science, and Columbia University was right near there, but I wanted to know what kinds of questions they were interested in.
They said, "Well, for instance, is electricity fire?"
"No," I said, "but... what is the problem?"
They said, "In the Talmud it says you're not supposed to make fire on a Saturday, so our question is, can we use electrical things on Saturdays?"
I was shocked. They weren't interested in science at all! The only way science was influencing their lives was so they might be able to interpret better the Talmud! They weren't interested in the world outside, in natural phenomena; they were only interested in resolving some question brought up in the Talmud.
And then one day- I guess it was a Saturday- I want to go up in the elevator, and there's a guy standing near the elevator. The elevator comes, I go in, and he goes in with me. I say, "Which floor?" and my hand's ready to push one of the buttons.
"No, no!" he says, "I'm supposed to push the buttons for you."
"What?"
"Yes! The boys here can't push the buttons on Saturday, so I have to do it for them. You see, I'm not Jewish, so it's all right for me to push the buttons. I stand near the elevator, and they tell me what floor, and I push the button for them."
Well, this really bothered me, so I decided to trap the students in a logical discussion. I had been brought up in a Jewish home, so I knew the kind of nitpicking logic to use, and I thought, "Here's fun!"
My plan went like this: I'd start off by asking, "Is the Jewish viewpoint a viewpoint that any man can have? Because if it is not, then it's certainly not something that is truly valuable for humanity... yak, yak, yak." And then they would have to say, "Yes, the Jewish viewpoint is good for any man."
Then I would steer them around a little more by asking, "Is it ethical for a man to hire another man to do something which is unethical for him to do? Would you hire a man to rob for you, for instance?" And I keep working them into the channel, very slowly, and very carefully, until I've got them- trapped!
And do you know what happened? They're rabbinical students, right? They were ten times better than I was! As soon as they saw I could put them in a hole, they went twist, turn, twist- I can't remember how- and they were free! I thought I had come up with an original idea- phooey! It had been discussed in the Talmud for ages! So they cleaned me up just as easy as pie- they got right out.
posted by Killick at 3:28 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


Because if you're a follower of Ham, you believe that you're only believing what's support by facts and logic. (I know that seems impossible, but it's seriously true.)

That's very hard to believe. I think people follow Ham because they want to believe in Creationism despite all of the evidence to the contrary. Evidence that is readily available just about anywhere, if you really want to seek it out. I think it would be next to impossible for people not to have been exposed at all to anything Nye is going to bring to the table here. It's just that they reject it.
posted by Hoopo at 4:29 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


This is good publicity for Nye, Ham, and the Creation Museum.

And I don't understand why people are so concerned whether someone believes in Creationism or recognizes evolution. Do any countries other than the US have these widely publicized events?
posted by FJT at 5:35 PM on February 3


Okay, so I'm trying to get through listening to this Ham guy, and he's going on and on insulting Bill Nye, but not really making much of an argument. Then he starts talking about how evolutionary science and engineering are two totally different kinds of science and he hopes that engineers don't think about evolution when they’re supposed to be engineering. Now I'm screaming at him through my computer and I'm like what the fuck are you talking about?! Of course engineers are thinking about evolution. They're even using evolutionary processes to create new substances! Take RuBisCo- it’s an enzyme that plays an important role in photosynthesis- more specifically in carbon fixation. The problem is that RuBisCo is not a very good enzyme. Most enzymes catalyze reactions so that they occur millions of times faster, RuBisCo- just a few hundred. So researchers, who have been trying to engineer more efficient RuBisCo because it would significantly increase the ability of plants to remove CO2 from the environment, engineered bacteria that rely on RuBisCo to survive. They then let natural selection run its course over a number of generations. After so many generations they found that the selection pressure had evolved organisms with significantly more efficient RuBisCo.
So, yeah. Fuck this dude.
posted by brevator at 5:46 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


And I don't understand why people are so concerned whether someone believes in Creationism or recognizes evolution.

It's not a question of whether or not someone believes in divine creationism. It's a question of whether it should be taught in science classrooms, either alongside or in replacement of evolution.
posted by muddgirl at 5:53 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


I tried very hard not to imply with my comment that the evangelical community is a monolith, but I am speaking from personal experience.

If there's ever a Christianity 101 to go along with religious FPPs, I think something like muddgirl's comment above should be the sort of thing that gets mentioned again and again. There's right-wing, media-hungry, politically active Christianity, and then there are tens of millions of Christians who are actual individual people, with different beliefs and experiences. Even among evangelicals, there is variation. Even among fundamentalists! (My experience in a fundamentalist childhood, home and school: must draw dinosaurs everywhere. must draw them on books. must draw them on walls. must draw them in the hymnal while the preacher is screaming.)

When someone mentions above that Ham's followers believe they're following truth and logic, I think that's actually true. It's not that they're spitting on science, they just think they're one up on scientists. Kind of like those people who read Evidence That Demands a Verdict...Josh McDowell may be writing shitty history, but the people who read those books think they're getting the real facts, things hidden from them by the secular world. It's not an outlook driven by a distrust of logic, observation and fact. The distrusts are elsewhere.

Quick fact that blows my mind: Fundamentalist Christianity is only about 100 years old. To put that into perspective, it's only 50 years older than Scientology!
posted by mittens at 5:55 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Okay, so I'm trying to get through listening to this Ham guy, and he's going on and on insulting Bill Nye, but not really making much of an argument.

Well, what else can he do? He doesn't have any arguments that make sense.

So, yeah. Fuck this dude.


Word.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:58 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Do any countries other than the US have these widely publicized events?

I vaguely remember going to one back in the mid 90's at the local university. Between faculty and some sort of imported brain, and on the other hand a local TV pastor.

I honestly cannot remember seeing or hearing about anything similar since, but it may not have been on my radar since I know science has the right idea so such debates hold little interest for me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:09 PM on February 3


I think it's actually specifically something that the conservative establishment in the US does in order to bolster its claim that it actually isn't anti-intellectual. The Federalist Society at my law school imported a lot of high-powered conservative brains for "debates" about various social and legal issues, who were inevitably pitted against my very bright but certainly not world-class liberal constitutional law professor. But, see, it wasn't their fault that the ACLU couldn't afford to fund similar august guests.

They also had the best food of any student group in the school, by a long shot. It shouldn't have been enough to attract as much membership as it had, but it was.
posted by Sequence at 7:29 PM on February 3


The two most active and public atheist debaters in recent years were/are both British. This debate happens to feature an American.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:11 PM on February 3


Why did Nye agree to debate Ham at the Creation Museum? It really should have been in a neutral location.

Ham will just stack the joint with believers. Further, plenty of potential attendees will not attend because they don't want to give money to a sham operation like the Creation Museum. Nye will be in hostile territory.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:29 PM on February 3


Why did Nye agree to debate Ham at the Creation Museum?

Particularly since he's just going to have to debate Shem and Japheth next.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 PM on February 3 [11 favorites]


It really should have been in a neutral location.

Where would "neutral" ground be? A Buddhist Temple?
posted by FJT at 11:16 PM on February 3


A park, maybe? For one, evidence of God's majesty and the beauty of His creation. For the other, an object demonstration of nature and evolutionary principles.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:26 PM on February 3


Where would "neutral" ground be? A Buddhist Temple?

I was thinking a conference centre or something, as opposed to Ham's actual seat of power.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:12 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Oh no! Ken Ham was born is my home state in Australia. So ashamed.
posted by panaceanot at 1:02 AM on February 4


I learned today that I could care less if anyone debates with someone who purports that the world is only 6000 years old because they take the Bible literally.

I hold in contempt anyone who displays an inability to understand metaphor, as well, it seems.
posted by daq at 1:37 AM on February 4


Here's video Richard Dawkins demolishing that at a second grade level what looks like about forty years ago judging by his shirt. Here video he does the same for the parallel "half a wing" objection.

posted by George_Spiggott at 3:14 PM


Swooon.
posted by panaceanot at 1:44 AM on February 4


Do any countries other than the US have these widely publicized events?

I've never heard of one in the UK, although there is an undercurrent of creationism rumbling along in some circles. There's a creationist museum down in Devon somewhere, which had a fairly innocent-looking website and pitches itself to schools as fulfilling parts of the curriculum for primary school kids. When you get there (I haven't been, but a friend of mine took photos) it's plastered with sciency-looking signs and kids' games, attacking evolution and promoting (Christian) creationism. Funded by a big American church, or so I read.

The new breed of "Academy" schools - free from curriculum requirements and most other govt oversight - include a lot of religious institutions, and there are reports of creationism being taught in some of those.

So creationism doesn't have the traction in the UK that it does in the US, but it does seem a bit like it's on the ascendant.
posted by metaBugs at 2:17 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


That creationist zoo (rather than a museum) in Devon recently won an education award, bafflingly. The nearest thing to a museum might be Portsmouth's Genesis Expo. I'm pleased to say I had the local council's tourist information site reclassify the Expo a while back so that it wasn't a museum any more, and now it appears to have been removed from the site entirely. It's free to enter for the curious, and if I'm in town you can claim a free recovery pint after you've been in.

Debates with creationists are fairly infrequent, but not unheard of.
posted by edd at 5:35 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


i always feel that these debates are really just two speeches given to different audiences.
posted by echocollate at 5:59 AM on February 4


I dunno. I suppose my feeling is that people aren't as fixed in their ways as we seem to assume, and that a lot of people who currently believe in creationism don't see themselves as close-minded dupes but as earnest seekers of the truth. That there will be people listening to this debate with as aopen a mind as they can muster, and they will be left considering what was said, especially if it was said with respect.

I mean, I know a lot of atheists, and a lot of them are former believers. They didn't turn toward skepticism and science without somebody, in some way, communicating an alternative to them. And while I am not one to say that athesist, or anybody for that matter, should be evangelical, when somebody i vites you in their house to have a discussion, it's not necessarily a bad thing to accept the invitation.

Of course there are people who won't listen. That's the nature of these things. But there are some who will, and we do them a disservice by deciding for them wnat they want to know.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:37 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


The point is not to "disprove" creationism, but to show that it's not like science, and therefore shouldn't be part of science class. A clever secularist can turn the C.S. Lewis argument against the creationist, showing them that putting the Bible in to a science classroom "cheapens" it and opens it up to the same sort of questioning and debate as science. Ultimately, people don't want their faith questioned this way, and care more about their personal religious experience than the thin intellectual veneer that creationism/Intelligent Design strives for.

As scientific knowledge grows, religion retreats further and further into mysticism. It is the scientist's job to help it along.
posted by spaltavian at 6:43 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I was always an atheist. The models presented to me in Sunday School were full of contradictions, and I just couldn't understand why, in 2000 years, nobody had shown up to reinforce the concepts with a few showy miracles or at the very least a resurrection. At no point did I stop believing due to hearing another's thoughts. I simply never was able to believe in the first place, and never felt "another presence.". Logic played a part but feeling an even bigger one. When I describe my non-belief to religious friends, they respond that they always believed because they just knew they were not alone, that they sensed a presence.

When you get into matters this murky, argument becomes like trying to separate water from oil with chopsticks.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:48 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


In church, there was an oft-stated adage that the average person has to hear the Good News seven different times before they believe. In my experience, that's true for a lot of conversions. Exposure to thoughts and ideas outside of the community I was raised in absolutely affected how I thought about what I was taught in church.
posted by muddgirl at 7:01 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Contrarily, I grew up in a church (Anglican/Episcopalian) that had no problem with evolution, and it seems to me encouraged a love of nature and God's works. (They were still pretty regressive about lots of other stuff though, so don't get your hopes up.) I still don't understand why evolution is such a huge problem that you have to denigrate all of science to justify your obsessive literalism. That's not good for anyone in society.

And best of luck to Bill Nye! I hope he is able to inject some humour into the proceedings.
posted by sneebler at 7:45 AM on February 4


I still don't understand why evolution is such a huge problem that you have to denigrate all of science to justify your obsessive literalism.

The theory of human evolution, and natural selection in particular, is extremely challenging not just to the idea of biblical literalism, but even to the allegorical reading of Genesis - that Humans are special and set-apart creatures in the eyes of God. Biblical literalism and young-earth creationism were resurrected in the US in the early/mid 20th century partly as scientific challenges to evolution. It really was (still often is) believed in fundamentalist communities that scientific evidence proves that the earth was created 6000 years ago, and that scientists who disagree are blinded by their adherence to natural selection as a culturally satisfying idea rather than a scientific one. It's all tied up with the "culture war" that fundamentalists are fighting against what they see as the overwhelming force of secularism.
posted by muddgirl at 8:43 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


This gives creationism the same credibility as evolution. Debates are supposed to be about opposing, but supposedly equally compelling, viewpoints. All this does is open the door to debating this in schools around the country by using the specious argument--"well, Bill Nye felt it was important enough to argue against!" The problem is those of us who accept science view this as a stunt, but the creationists view this as validation of their beliefs.
posted by Kokopuff at 9:10 AM on February 4


It's curious that this is even going on, given that the Catholic, Anglican and Episcopalian churches, all very traditional, accept the teaching of evolution, as do the majority of better established Protestant sects. Really, the only ones I can find who don't (in a cursory search) are Southern Baptists (admittedly huge in the US) and the Missouri Lutheran Synod.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:12 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


In the Presbyterian church support of evolution was pretty divided on Fundamentalist-Modernist lines. Modernists won, more or less, and continue to win. This was generally true for most churches in the US. The actual number of firm Young-Earth Creationists is quite small - something around 10% of the US population depending on the poll question.
posted by muddgirl at 9:20 AM on February 4


As to why evolution is considered so evil by fundamentalists who have long ago been happy enough with work-arounds regarding other Biblical conflicts with science, (pi equals three or the sun stayed still in the sky) I think there are several reasons.
First, there is a misunderstanding of evolution. Evolution is the science of new speciation or viewed from another perspective, describes scientific reasons for the variety of animals. By itself it does not eliminate God from the equation anymore than a scientific explanation of lightning prevents someone from accepting God (Job 37:15) or believing that God could use lightning for vengeance (2 Samuel 22:15).
Secondly, fundamentalists claim a belief in the Genesis chapter one explanation of speciation. But that contradiction with evolution is not their main gripe. It is that they believe evolution eliminates God from creation, that something as fundamental as "why are we here?" is subtracted from faith and added to the ledger of a cold, mechanistic explanation.
Third, (when I read a biography of Charles Darwin I picked this up) evolution was radical in the sense that it suggested a type of meritocracy among living things. Kings and heads of churches were considered appointed by God. Some believed it to be literally revolutionary.
Fourth, there are some fundamentalists who believe that evolution necessarily entails social Darwinism. There certainly were a number of people who jumped on the bandwagon of evolution because they believed they were the master race. Fundamentalists view "survival of the fittest" as being equal to "might makes right" (rather than fitting into a niche). To them, they are taking a principled stand against an historically odious philosophy. (They see abortion as a continuation of this, but that's another rabbit hole.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:13 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Fifth, a belief that Genesis is a literal infallable historical document rather than an allegorical creation myth calls into question the literal infallable history of the rest of the books of the Bible. Maybe Moses didn't lead the Israelites through the desert for 40 literal years? Maybe God didn't blot out all life except that found in Noah's ark literally? And thus, maybe Jesus wasn't really literally the Son of God and Savior of the world?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:21 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Here's Richard Dawkins demolishing that at a second grade level what looks like about forty years ago judging by his shirt.

Not to mention that swamp-dwelling, tail-dragging sauropod in the background. Great link, by the way.
posted by brundlefly at 10:50 AM on February 4


I think it is great that this is happening at the Creationist Museum. Bill Nye has been given a chance to go to them and speak about science education? This isn't a sporting event so as long as it is run by an impartial moderator there isn't going to be a home field advantage.

I think the value of this will depend a lot on how closely they stick to the agreed topic, "Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins in Today's Modern Scientific Era?" This is not about God vs Science, this is about what is appropriate to teach in schools.


From the first in the OP: Ham: "I came out with a video as well challenging Bill Nye... I said that teaching children about animals and that there is no God is harmful because that’s the basis for morality"

I also don't think it is appropriate to teach that there is no god in science classes. This is one of the things I'd like to see highlighted, that Ham believes that evolution necessarily means no god. This and related elements of his Young Earth Creationism will not do well under scrutiny.


I say this as someone who has been to an Answers in Genesis seminar because I was mostly on board with the ideas. I am not going to claim that it was the poor logic, dubious "facts" and other ridiculous assertions (Nessie is real and a dinosaur!) of that seminar that made me lose my faith but it was part of the package (especially after I talked with other people about some of the ideas and arguments I had heard).
posted by mountmccabe at 12:00 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


This is why I keep telling churches that if they make anti-evolutionism a requirement to be a Christian, the vast majority of their bright young people will conclude that they can't be Christians, anymore.

Indeed. Insisting on a literal interpretation of Genesis (which isn't even possible, given the dual creation narratives) is as damaging to Christianity as it is to science or public education.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:30 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


When Bill Nye says that the seated admissions aren't enough to pay for his debate fee can I assume that means that the Creation Museum is putting up extra money to pay him? And that is on top of paying for event staff (mostly theirs?), a moderator or moderators (presumably not their staff?), plus whatever they are paying for the filming and streaming.

After the fact they can sell DVDs of the livestream but so can Bill Nye.

I see Bill Nye getting a nice paycheck and future sales. I don't see how this is a money-making venture for the Creation Museum, except maybe in the long, long term if they manage to come away looking good (in the eyes of a subset of the population that is un/less familiar with them) from the exposure.
posted by mountmccabe at 2:17 PM on February 4


I wonder if Mr Ham was bullied in school, "you descended from a pig!".
posted by panaceanot at 2:30 PM on February 4


Bill Nye should make it a condition of his participation that he gets to sit on the saddled stegosaurus while he debates.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:18 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Are y'all watching this? I hope someone else is in the thread. I'm watching this with nothing stronger than water and Ham's speaking first.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:04 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, i'm watching. And working. It's doubly painful.
posted by brundlefly at 4:06 PM on February 4


I'm watching. I probably shouldn't be. I'm already yelling at my computer.
posted by dnash at 4:08 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is already real fucking gross.
posted by Timmoy Daen at 4:09 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


No surprise that the creationist scientists he trotted out, as such, were an engineer and a doctor.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:09 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


bowties are cool
posted by Taft at 4:10 PM on February 4


For a minute there I was kind of hoping Nye was just going to tell random stories and not actually dignify this debate by responding to it. Alas...
posted by Le Ton beau at 4:13 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Winner is the one with more stickers on his Mac
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:13 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


One difference between Bill Nye and me is he's getting paid to listen to this crap. Muted.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:16 PM on February 4


This list of non-biologists is pretty hilarious.
posted by brundlefly at 4:18 PM on February 4


Okay, I'm commenting too much but appeal to authority? Really? Because if it's a numbers game yer gonna lose huge, Ham.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:18 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


"Hi, I am scientist in a field not actually related to evolution. Therefore you can completely trust my opinion on the topic; it's as good as yours!"
posted by Panjandrum at 4:20 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


With fully one of three of his appeals to authority being someone on his payroll, indeed!
posted by Le Ton beau at 4:20 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


evidence doesn't confirm these things. my soul is sad.
posted by Taft at 4:25 PM on February 4


Let the quote mining begin!
posted by brundlefly at 4:28 PM on February 4


So, if I'm interpreting Ham's position correctly, he thinks children should be learning in school that the current laws and principles of physics, chemistry, and biology didn't apply in the past?

BOYLE'S LAW USED TO BE PV=K/2

TEACH THE CONTROVERSY
posted by Panjandrum at 4:29 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Ken Ham agreeing with evolution to disprove evolution.
posted by Evilspork at 4:31 PM on February 4


Lookit them goalposts go!
posted by Countess Elena at 4:32 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


He does say he'll teach us about the bait & switch technique, after all.
posted by mr. digits at 4:32 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it seems to be a pretty common creationist canard that maybe the laws of physics were different back in the day... Apparently different in some way that creates the illusion of a coherent set of evidence for an old universe.
posted by brundlefly at 4:32 PM on February 4


Oh, and now the evolution = racism bullshit starts.
posted by brundlefly at 4:34 PM on February 4


I have skimmed through the video so far. Ham has shown pictures of Craig Venter a couple of times. Can someone explain to me what he has to do with anything? Has Ham attempted to say how Venter's work or statements are relevant to this discussion? Or has he just flashed his photo before going on to the photos of creationists who are scientists in non-relevant fields?
posted by grouse at 4:34 PM on February 4


Microbiologist is from Liberty University.

Liberty University = Jerry Falwell's college.
posted by Evilspork at 4:35 PM on February 4


Lenski on his E. coli cit+ experiments:
We (my group and scientific collaborators) have already published several papers that document beneficial mutations in our long-term experiment. These papers provide exact details on the identity of the mutations, as well as genetic constructions where we have produced genotypes that differ by single mutations, then compete them, demonstrating that the mutations confer an advantage under the environmental conditions of the experiment. See papers #122, 140, 155, 166, and 178 referenced on my website. In the latest paper, you will see that we make no claim to having identified the genetic basis of the mutations observed in this study. However, we have found a number of mutant clones that have heritable differences in behavior (growth on citrate), and which confer a clear advantage in the environment where they evolved, which contains citrate. Our future work will seek to identify the responsible mutations.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:36 PM on February 4


One of the chatters by the screen posted this with no further explanation:

Zoidberg
(V)(;,,,,;)(V)

I really can't think of a better analogy for Ham's debating style.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:37 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


woop woop woop woop!
posted by brundlefly at 4:38 PM on February 4


Isn't microbiology kind of anti-Biblical? I mean God did not see fit to tell us about germs, preferring us to believe we got sick because he made bets with Satan about us. We made up all this "tiny little animals everywhere" stuff ourselves. So this Bible College Microbiologist is a heretic anyway.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:38 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


So, basically Ham doesn't believe carbon dating is true? He just stops at "we don't believe millions of years because we weren't there for all of those years" but doesn't address why methods for measuring age are wrong.
posted by dnash at 4:38 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Also this bullshit - he's said it twice now - that the mere existence today of different languages means the Tower of Babel was real... I mean... That's so completely stupid and backwards.
posted by dnash at 4:40 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


[obligatory gay marriage swipe]
posted by brundlefly at 4:41 PM on February 4


Tower of Babel, huh. I wonder if there are any tame linguists at Liberty or Patrick Henry or so forth. What do they believe? Do they discuss language families and spread? Are they allowed to believe in Amerind or any theories relating to language spread over the Bering Strait?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:41 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


WHERE IS THE MODERATOR!??!
posted by Evilspork at 4:43 PM on February 4


I have been watching for 8 minutes and it's been all Ham lecturing. Am I on the wrong video?

I mean, clearly, but.
posted by mountmccabe at 4:44 PM on February 4


They're both doing a full presentation, as part of the format of the debate.
posted by brundlefly at 4:44 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


If this is Ham's A game, Nye's going to steamroll him.
posted by brundlefly at 4:44 PM on February 4


30 minutes opening, folks. Nye gets one after this 'bloke'
posted by Taft at 4:45 PM on February 4


Ham's turn finally over. Whew.
posted by Evilspork at 4:45 PM on February 4


Alternating presentations is a much better form of discourse than the stupid interruption-filled quickfire stuff we get in presidential debates. I approve.
posted by grouse at 4:46 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I think the audience is basically Ham's congregation. The purpose of this event is to reassure them that the devil can be faced, not to convince them of what they already believe.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:47 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Wow. Tough crowd.
posted by vverse23 at 4:56 PM on February 4


They're Ham's crowd. You're not allowed to laugh at the devil's jokes.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:57 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Is everyone in the congregation white or am I imagining that? If so, what does it mean?
posted by mr. digits at 4:58 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I haven't before see someone argue for evolution on the basis of the Noah flood story being absurd. I suppose it's a pretty good argument since a literal interpretation of the flood story is so preposterous. Maybe Nye agreed to debate Ham because he knew Ham would be one of the worst possible proponents of creationism, arguing for the most unbelievable young-earth dogma possible.
posted by grouse at 5:03 PM on February 4


"Traditional fish sex," everyone! This is risque material for the crowd.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:04 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


They have sex with themselves!

*gasp*
posted by brundlefly at 5:05 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


The attendees are not entirely white. I saw at least one African-American.

Also Nye is not arguing for evolution. He is arguing that Young Earth Creationism is not reasonable.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:05 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


You know who else tries to district true believers with sex?

Satan.
posted by grouse at 5:05 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I wonder if he'll bring up that the Big Bang was first theorized by a priest. It might be the worst possible thing to suggest, though.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:08 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


https://twitter.com/search?q=TraditionalFishSex
posted by Evilspork at 5:08 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


What I love is that Nye can make such simple points. "We went to the ice, and we looked, and it's definitely not 6000 years old". Vs Complex Point about Types of Science from Ham.
posted by ElliotH at 5:08 PM on February 4


Well, to be fair, the underlying question of the debate is "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific era?" so I think that's why he's pointing out that Creationism is, you know, not in any way viable.
posted by Timmoy Daen at 5:09 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


(To clarify, simple points > complex points)
posted by ElliotH at 5:12 PM on February 4


Loving Nye's emphasis on "science should be able to make predictions." Feels to me like that negates Ham's nonsense about "we weren't there 4000 years ago so we don't know."
posted by dnash at 5:12 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Nye's wrapping it up, and the knives are coming out.
posted by vverse23 at 5:15 PM on February 4


5 minute rebuttals now, then 5 minute counter-rebuttals.
posted by Evilspork at 5:17 PM on February 4


5 minute rebuttals are very fast. Ken'll be able to pick and choose his points to answer.
posted by ElliotH at 5:17 PM on February 4


What is the format for the rest of the debate? Is young Michael McKean our moderator going to get more to do?
posted by mountmccabe at 5:23 PM on February 4


"Are the fish sinners?"
~ Bill Nye
posted by Timmoy Daen at 5:23 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Well the fish are having sex with themselves. So.
posted by zennie at 5:24 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


But the lions aren't eating broccoli.
posted by tizzie at 5:24 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


How does Ham know all the animals on the ark were vegetarian? He wasn't THERE, so by his own words he cannot claim that.
posted by dnash at 5:27 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


The Bible said it, duh.
posted by Evilspork at 5:28 PM on February 4


We didn't see what happened, so we can't know what happened, so let me tell you what happened.
posted by mr. digits at 5:30 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


He's from Bizarro World, where eye-witness testimony is preferable to physical evidence.
posted by brundlefly at 5:30 PM on February 4


Yes, panda teeth are sharp - they have to chew through bamboo - tough stuff.
posted by tizzie at 5:32 PM on February 4


Bill's getting pissed. :D
posted by Evilspork at 5:33 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


re: kinds and the number of species

Clearly the post-diluvian world was highly mutagenic (with no ill effects). Noah was basically living in the same world the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were from.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:34 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Ken Ham has the strangest Kentucky drawl I've ever heard.
posted by maggieb at 5:34 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Really one-sided commentary here guys. Is this Metafilter or Satanfilter
posted by naju at 5:35 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I came into it late (during Bill Nye's presentation), but after being raised religiously, hearing Ham speak even during these short rebuttals is just making my skin crawl. I mostly keep hearing WARGBLARGLE WARGBLARGLE and feeling uncomfortable and kinda squicky. I don't know how much more of it I'll be able to watch.

I do applaud Bill Nye for keeping his composure and using "extraordinary" instead of "ridiculous" when describing Ham's claims. I hope that at least one mind is opened from this. I've reached a point in life where I just can't deal with listening to people who are so willfully ignorant anymore.
posted by HermitDog at 5:36 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I once encountered a Creationist who argued that all the dinosaurs... uh... somehow changed into modern day lizards. The example he used was that Iguanadon turned into iguanas. Because of the name, I guess.
posted by brundlefly at 5:37 PM on February 4


HermitDog, it was even worse during his intro presentation. The Gish Gallop mentioned above was apt.
posted by Evilspork at 5:37 PM on February 4


I'm excited about the q and a.
posted by mr. digits at 5:37 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Way to appeal to the conservative sensibility with the reference to the future of American industry and economy, Nye.
posted by vverse23 at 5:38 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Beginning 2 minute Q&A, with 1 minute rebuttal, lasting ~45 minutes.
posted by Evilspork at 5:38 PM on February 4


...and out comes the banana!

A man can wish, right?
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:39 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


That's a... different kind of back and forth, Joey.
posted by Evilspork at 5:40 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


God makes stars in the sky to impress humans.

Stars in sky make aliens because that's what happens.

Aliens better know why they even exist.
posted by Taft at 5:41 PM on February 4


God makes stars in the sky to impress humans.

Stars in sky make aliens because that's what happens.

Aliens better know why they even exist.


Burma Shave
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:42 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


I don't think I would have even made it to Bill Nye's first presentation if I'd started with Ham's. :/

Not to be...whatever, but I feel the same way listening to Ham as I do talking to someone with a mental health issue that causes them to have a limited grasp on reality. Or like my old boss who would tell me they didn't say things they had or they did say things they hadn't. It's the "BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL, WHY DO YOU THINK THAT? IT ISN'T BASED ON REALITY AT ALL!" feeling of futility and unnerving anxiety of dealing with someone like that. I don't know if I'm explaining this well, but...it's the same feeling of just "must flee, not a safe person to interact with!"

The "BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAID SO, SO OBSERVABLE REALITY DOESN'T MATTER!" insistence that I see from Ham and so many other people is a huge trigger to me after my upbringing. And my upbringing wasn't necessarily "young earth creationism", but...definitely not encouraging of evolution as a given.
posted by HermitDog at 5:43 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


These "there is a book out there" comments are very frustrating.

The answer, even if it were true, is so unsatisfying. "God Did It" holds as much information as "We don't know".
posted by ElliotH at 5:51 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Nye said, "I don't know" to the question about the nature/origin of consciousness.

Ham says, "the bible explains all that."

Which answer is more honest. Which answer will lead to taking a closer look at the subject of the question?
posted by Taft at 5:53 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


"I don't know" is the most honest answer out there.
posted by Evilspork at 5:55 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Wait, so Ham is OK with meteorites being billions of years old, but the Earth is only a few thousand? I understand creationism even less now.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:57 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I live about 20 minutes from the Creation Museum, and we're having a serious ice storm right now. What if Bill Nye gets iced in and has to spend the night at the museum? That thought has to be scaring him!
posted by tizzie at 6:00 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


I had to give up. During his "we definitely address this on our website" about continental drift I started getting a stabbing headache, I'm taking it as a sign from god that I should find something on netflix to watch to dull the pain from this.
posted by HermitDog at 6:02 PM on February 4


Bill Nye in NIGHT AT THE CREATION MUSEUM, coming soon to a theater near you!

Or, I guess, to your computer screen right now.
posted by Timmoy Daen at 6:02 PM on February 4


Favorite color question, one word answer:

Bill Nye: Green, and tried for more words.

Ken Ham: "Observational science, blue"
posted by Evilspork at 6:02 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


...I thought he was about to strip off there
posted by ElliotH at 6:03 PM on February 4


I missed it, did someone trot out the entropy canard? Pffft. Knowing a scientific term is not the same as knowing what it means.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:04 PM on February 4


My friends had the debate up on FB, so I put up a joke post proposing that Science and Christianity are like the Two-Party system for this debate, and thus shutting out all the 3rd way alternative ideas from participating.

And I do admit, I am a little disappointed that there aren't more ideas out there on the origin and development of life on Earth, and it's always, always down to evolution vs creationism.
posted by FJT at 6:08 PM on February 4


No entropy, but the second law of thermodynamics came up.
posted by Evilspork at 6:08 PM on February 4


That's what I was referring to.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:09 PM on February 4


I am a little disappointed that there aren't more ideas out there on the shape of the earth, and it's always, always down to flat vs round.
posted by grouse at 6:11 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Oh, sorry. Not familiar enough with the science. :)
posted by Evilspork at 6:12 PM on February 4


earth ain't round. It has a complex shape that you are contributing to right now with the way you're sitting.
posted by Taft at 6:13 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


That sucker's weak. To argue against evolution on thermodynamic grounds is the same as arguing against life itself on thermodynamic grounds. A single cell becomes many, differentiates and becomes a hugely complex system. Life is a dissipative process that in no way violates the second law in its use of energy even as a complex organism develops from a simple one. Evolution is the same by extension.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:13 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I didn't say the earth was spherical.
posted by grouse at 6:14 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I keep forgetting this is live and find myself looking for the fast forward button everytime Ham starts to spout off.
posted by phoque at 6:18 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Science produces [insert any product of modern science]
Creation science produces. . . creation scientists!
posted by Taft at 6:19 PM on February 4


Newton was a creationist. He was also an alchemist. Let's get some NSF grants to look for the philosopher's stone.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:20 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Gah, you just beat me to the prima materia.
posted by mr. digits at 6:20 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I'm glad it is Bill Nye up there and not me. When confronted with some of this nonsense, I would make Al Gore appear to be the paragon of patience.
posted by grouse at 6:21 PM on February 4


Ham's folderol is easier to get through if you do not watch him.
posted by maggieb at 6:21 PM on February 4


I can't wait for the moderator to call for the vote. By a show of hands, who rejects the wiles of Satan and wants to live forever in the bosom of Christ? Opposed?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:21 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


playing freecell
posted by maggieb at 6:22 PM on February 4


spider solitaire!
posted by benito.strauss at 6:23 PM on February 4


The live voting on the website has gone from 67%/29% Nye/Ham to 71%/26% now.
posted by Evilspork at 6:23 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


uhoh, he mentioned beer. demerit.
posted by maggieb at 6:24 PM on February 4


Final question, 2 minutes each, Ham then Nye.
posted by Evilspork at 6:25 PM on February 4


Damn he's stupid.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:25 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Moderator just announced a "level 2 snow emergency" and cautioned people to drive safely.
posted by Evilspork at 6:29 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Where can I vote?
posted by grouse at 6:30 PM on February 4


People shouting "Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!" in the background of the end applause.
posted by Evilspork at 6:30 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Ham got deNyed!
posted by phoque at 6:30 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Snow and weather alert systems being something I read about first in Genesis
posted by Taft at 6:30 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Grouse: http://news.cincinnati.com/interactive/article/20140130/NEWS01/140130027/Watch-live-Bill-Nye-Ken-Ham-debate-creationism-Creation-Museum?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

Chat box on the right side. Bill is up to 72%.
posted by Evilspork at 6:31 PM on February 4


I take back what I said about it being a bad idea for Bill Nye to do this. He was awesome.
posted by grouse at 6:32 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Already almost 109,000 votes total.
posted by mr. digits at 6:32 PM on February 4


(well, almost 108.5 K)
posted by mr. digits at 6:33 PM on February 4


Holla at my boy Bill Nye. Your vocabulary was inspiring and mellifluous. I was inspired. Love the nod to your old prof Sagan at the end.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:34 PM on February 4


I tuned in late. Can anyone tell me who mentioned "traditional fish sex", and what the heck it is?
posted by benito.strauss at 6:38 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Bill mentioned it, I believe the context was referring to asexual reproduction, which gave way to "traditional fish sex".
posted by Evilspork at 6:40 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


It takes a special kind of stupid to call upon "the laws of logic" as often as Ken Ham did and at the same time violate them so constantly.

"There's this book, the Bible, it's a special book"... No, it's not special. Not even remotely. There are creation myths and compendiums of ancient remembered history all over the Earth. At NO point did Ham offer any reason or evidence why his Bible is more true than the Bhagavad-Gita, or Hesiod's Theogony, or the Norse Eddas. And really, without that, everything else he said is meaningless because he based his entire argument on it. His entire argument is "the Bible is true and all science that doesn't agree with that is wrong."
posted by dnash at 6:41 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


I feel like from here on out when anyone makes (and stands by) a pants on head crazy viewpoint I may just walk away muttering 'sex fish'. Dunno if that's a good or bad thing...
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:57 PM on February 4


I'll just leave this here.
posted by Evilspork at 7:01 PM on February 4


Favorite color question, one word answer:

Bill Nye: Green, and tried for more words.

Ken Ham: "Observational science, blue"


This seemingly stupid section was so much more telling than I think the questioner could have imagined. Here's how it went down, for those who missed it:

"One word answer: what's your favorite color?"

Nye: [paraphrased, obviously] Green, and let me tell you why, mentioning interesting scientific points about the green wavelengths-

Moderator: That was more than one word. Mr. Ham?

Ham: "May I have three words, since he got about thee hundred? (points to his blue tie) Observational Science: Blue."

Ham was trying to make a point about how we can't know more than we observe, I guess, but instead answered a question about himself by saying that since all you can know is that he's wearing a blue tie, that's the answer. It was a joke promoting ignorance in a debate about the scientific validity of his own model.

Whereas Nye tried to teach science and was cut off because all they wanted was an answer.

Bee-yeautiful
posted by Navelgazer at 7:05 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


My question for Ham after this would be: Given his stated belief that the laws of nature are not predictive in any way* (his central theme is that if you don't directly observe it happening you can't "know" it) - how does he not go to sleep every night in abject fear that the sun won't be there in the morning? (And does he not see [I'm sure he doesn't] that this leaves him with the exact same ignorant worldview as ancient savages who didn't understand the sun and moon and believed they had to propitiate gods every day to keep the world alive? He seems to think his Bible is superior to all ideas that came before it, but his conception of the Bible has more in common with the Stone Age.)

*This, despite the fact that he cited "the laws of nature" several times as if they're a constant. Yet, if you cannot use them to measure and understand the past, then you cannot use them to understand or predict the future either. He tried to have it both ways - when he needed laws of nature to be constant, they were constant. When he needed them to be "unknowable without observing them in present activity" they were unknowable and changeable.
posted by dnash at 7:08 PM on February 4


I tuned in late. Can anyone tell me who mentioned "traditional fish sex", and what the heck it is?

Nye mentioned it by way of explaining the Red Queen Hypothesis, showing why asexual reproduction is inferior to sexual reproduction as a means for species survival.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:09 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Ham then later attempted to rebut evolution by stating that cave fish losing their sight provided no benefit, therefor survival of the fittest doesn't make sense.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:12 PM on February 4


Cave fish having sight provides them no benefit. And if god wanted them to be blind, why did he give them vestigial eyes?
posted by empath at 7:24 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Yea, the cave fish example was a total swing and a miss logically on Ham's part, not that there weren't plenty of those.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:26 PM on February 4


So that they wouldn't be mocked at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance! Hush, heretic!
posted by Navelgazer at 7:26 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Ham then later attempted to rebut evolution by stating that cave fish losing their sight provided no benefit, therefor survival of the fittest doesn't make sense.

It really is the Fox News formula all over again, isn't it? It doesn't matter that the assertion is trivially easy to refute, what matters is that it sounds good enough to people who have this vague notion that somewhere out there the infidels are challenging their worldview, and they want to be reassured that their side has an answer. It doesn't need to be a good one because they're not really listening.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:41 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


The takeaway for me isn't that creationists are unintelligent or ignorant or unread - Ham comes across as none of those - it's that some of us have such a strong need for our beliefs to be the truth of the world, that those beliefs attach to us like phantom limbs, and everything around us gets fitted in to support that reality. When your beliefs tie so deeply into your identity, to your social network, your profession, your loved ones, and if you feel like all of that will collapse if you accept anything else into your worldview - that's a powerful thing. And the power of the human mind to skew facts to fit into our strongly-held beliefs, rather than examining facts and formulating beliefs based objectively on those facts, is amazing. We're weird creatures.
posted by naju at 7:51 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


The bible has done so much damage to intellectual progress that we need a national debate to teach 10th grade bio.— Vince Edwards (@metalvinny) February 5, 2014
posted by Evilspork at 7:52 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Will there be a highlights reel?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:56 PM on February 4


I swear the profile view of Nye looking, frowningly, at Ham is going to become internet-meme gold.

Basically, 2:04:53 on this video. "Really.... really?"
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:25 PM on February 4


Until tonight I had never heard any fleshed-out version of Young Earth Creationism. It is astonishing mental gymnastics. It's an overwrought rationalization of a false premise. It's smug in its assertion that one book holds all the answers anyone will ever need. It's dogmatic and illogical. It's reductive and reactionary. I'm flabbergasted that a man could speak so confidently of the "laws of logic" and then work so hard to violate all of them.

There is a place in the world for religious belief. And there is a place in the world for science.

They are not the same place.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:11 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


There is a place in the world for religious belief. And there is a place in the world for science.

They are not the same place.


Keep in mind Young Earth Creationism is a very small subset of religious belief.
posted by naju at 9:30 PM on February 4


Young Earth Creationism is a very small subset of religious belief.

Thank God.

< /irony>
posted by wabbittwax at 9:35 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Tower of Babel, huh. I wonder if there are any tame linguists at Liberty or Patrick Henry or so forth. What do they believe? Do they discuss language families and spread? Are they allowed to believe in Amerind or any theories relating to language spread over the Bering Strait?

I can't speak for linguists, but I once bought a book on orchestra theory at a used bookstore that was apparently originally from Bob Jones University and it had a disclaimer slip in it stating 'The fact that this volume is being used as a text or reference in Bob Jones University does not mean that the University endorses its contents from the standpoint of morals, philosophy, theology, or scientific theory.', which I understand is the practice for all books sold in their bookstore that are not Bibles.

So I assume that would also perhaps be the guidance for classes, but who knows.
posted by winna at 9:54 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Evolution, You’re Drunk. And thus a bad influence on children.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 PM on February 4


Best exchange:

Moderator: Mr. Ham what could change your mind?
Ham: (paraphrase) Nothing.

And, that is the bottom line. Even if Jesus Christ himself returned and told Mr. Ham that he was wrong, it would not change his mind.
posted by hworth at 12:29 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


grouse: "I read earlier his only fee was travel expenses. It seems hard to believe that an 1,000-seat auditorium2 full of $25 tickets wouldn't cover domestic travel expenses"

Well, he took a trip to CrazyVille. That has to be expensive, right?
posted by Deathalicious at 6:03 AM on February 5


I got sick of the debate shortly into the question and answer period, partially because they noted that this section would go on for 45 minutes or so.

From what I saw I think Bill Nye sounded good, mostly stayed on target and made good points. There were a few odd choices - I don't know that I would have spent that much time on the Ark, and I would have brought up taurine, etc. for obligate carnivores such as Lions rather than sharp teeth and I would have pushed Ham more to debunk the far more popular old-Earth creationism - and he didn't seem prepared for Ham's main refrain (observational science versus historical science) but overall he was convincing.

Ham did not sound as crazy as he could have. I missed half of his opening presentation so maybe he spent more time defending the distinction between observational science and historical science than I saw. He is working from some crazy premises and has clearly done a lot of work to bend everything else possible to work with them. That said I stopped watching because I couldn't bear to hear "you don't know, you weren't there" again.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:27 AM on February 5


This, from Christian Post, is a decent though biased summary of some of the main arguments made during the debate.

The structure of this article is based on five arguments by Ham, with some rebuttal by Nye. There is no corresponding set of five arguments by Nye with accompanying responses by Ham.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:30 AM on February 5


The bible has done so much damage to intellectual progress that we need a national debate to teach 10th grade bio.— Vince Edwards (@metalvinny)

To be fair, the Bible isn't the problem, fundamentalists are. Nothing in the Bible claims the earth is young, and perpetually lost in all the creationist nonsense is what a powerful and and astonishing vision Genesis is, when contrasted with the ancient near Eastern mythologies it was responding to. Instead of the creation of earth as a byproduct of a war among competing (and capricious) deities, Genesis pictures it as the intentional creation of one powerful God who created order from chaos just by speaking. Instead of humans being created as a slave race to serve the gods, humanity is created to share in God's power and to be in a relationship with that God. It is a beautiful, compelling vision, and there is a good reason it has outlasted every story it was reacting against. But instead of teaching in Sunday School that Genesis is a liberation creed, an epic insistence that the world is, at the core, ordered and rational and good, against theologies that would picture humans as disregarded slaves in a chaotic universe, we get this damned creationist nonsense which almost completely inverts the story to say that humans are not in a rational world, that it is fundamentally mysterious, and that we have no real ability to interact with the world outside of what God tells us.

And that's why fundies drive me up a wall. They constantly miss what is amazing about the book they read all the time.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:57 AM on February 5 [40 favorites]


Indeed, Pater Alethias. What is more, Genesis is actually an early attempt to place biology on a rational basis, wherein each life-form is considered a whole and complete expression of the essence of Being. This mystic outlook is identical to Plato’s doctrine of forms. The theory of evolution, on the other hand, dissolves all life-forms into a continuous flux, and thus robs biology of stable objects for scientific inquiry and practical activity. As Hegel puts it:
There is essentially understanding in Nature. Nature's formations are determinate, bounded, and enter as such into existence. So that even if the earth was once in a state where it had no living things but only the chemical process, and so on, yet the moment the lightning of life strikes into matter, at once there is present a determinate, complete creature, as Minerva fully armed springs forth from the head of Jupiter. The Mosaic story of creation is still the best in its quite naïve statement that on this day plants came into being, on another day the animals, and on another day man. Man has not developed himself out of the animal, nor the animal out of the plant; each is at a single stroke what it is. In this individual, evolutionary changes do occur: at birth it is not yet complete, but is already the real possibility of all it is to become. The living thing is the point, this particular soul (Seele), subjectivity, infinite form, and thus immediately determined in and for itself. Already in the crystal, as a point, the entire shape is at once present, the totality of the form; the crystal's capacity for growth is only a quantitative alteration. Still more is this the case in the living thing.--The Philosophy Of Nature, p. 284.
In targeting creationists, proponents of the theory of evolution are ignoring more serious objections to their position. Nye could make a start by taking a look at Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.
posted by No Robots at 8:27 AM on February 5


Proponents of the theory of evolution aren't targeting creationists - it's quite the other way around, in that politically-minded creationists want to influence science curriculums by removing or minimizing evolution as much as possible. Nye doesn't address Nagel and philosophers like Nagel because they don't present a pervasive challenge to scientific discoveries being taught in science curriculums.
posted by muddgirl at 8:39 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Yep, we gotta do something about all those folks tryin' to shove Hegel into our schools. That should be our first priority.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:51 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Evolution isn't targeting Creationists (and certainly not Hegel) anymore than Astronomy is attacking Crystal Sphere models.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:54 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution

(Can't comment, laughing and crying too hard.)
posted by kmz at 9:05 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


kmz, I just learned that the word "their" should probably be stricken from the English language, seeing as none of these (apparently?) native speakers seem to know what it's for...

[edited for inevitable grammar mistake in grammar-nazi comment]
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 9:09 AM on February 5


"How do you explain a sunset if their is no God."

Wow. Just... Wow.

(Rotation of earth, refraction of sunlight, t-h-e-r-e, the end.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:09 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Love the ones that answer their own question, like "If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?"

Yes, probably.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


The sunset one is just amazing, but my favorite is the last one. How can there still be English people after the Pilgrims left England?! Explain that one, historians!
posted by kmz at 9:18 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Mountmccabe, I think Nye may have talked about the Ark because that is the next attraction that Answers in Genesis hopes to bring to Kentucky. Sigh.
posted by tizzie at 9:19 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I don't think those questions are necessarily more ignorant than from evolution supporters. The fact that they have questions at all is a great start. I'd like to have a conversation with any of them.
posted by muddgirl at 9:21 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


That buzzfeed link shows why it is futile to debate with young earthers. They are all such tried gotcha questions that aren't really gotcha questions where there are perfectly good answers, most of them being "Irrelevant".

I mean because the world is amazing it must have been made. Ummm Irrelevant.
Where do you get your morality etc etc. Irrelevant.
Sunset without god? Irrelevant.
posted by koolkat at 9:23 AM on February 5


Wish I caught this thread earlier. I caught the Buzzfeed link and thought some of the questions were pretty stupid, others a little thought-provoking. I think it's safe to say that some people think of God as residing in the unknown. I don't mean to dismiss this, I think it's an appropriate concept to employ. Faith is as illuminating as fear, if not more so.

One thing I'm surprised I don't hear more creationists pointing out is the underpinning of science itself: the existence of immutable, natural laws. The ability to repeat scientific experiments and have predictable results.

Why is a universe consisting of physical objects this way? Why does such a framework exist? Stipulating a tabula rasa of truly infinite possibilities, it seems odd that things would be so, consistently. One could argue that logic and reason are evolutionary adaptations to such a world and that is why we are able to operate with such success. But still, the phenomenon puzzles me. At the very least, I would argue that we know far less than we claim to know.
posted by phaedon at 10:00 AM on February 5


One thing I'm surprised I don't hear more creationists pointing out is the underpinning of science itself: the existence of immutable, natural laws. The ability to repeat scientific experiments and have predictable results.

More liberal interpretations of creationism do talk about this all the time. It's a version of the "fine-tuned Universe" argument.
posted by muddgirl at 10:11 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I have to say I enjoyed seeing that the study cited by Ken Ham as purporting to support his view that dogs only ever evolved from dogs and not some other species, states right in the abstract that domestication happened about 11,000 - 16,000 years ago. Even his "supporting" evidence, rejects the idea of the earth as only 6,000 years old.
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:13 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


One thing I'm surprised I don't hear more creationists pointing out is the underpinning of science itself: the existence of immutable, natural laws. The ability to repeat scientific experiments and have predictable results.

This was actually a major part of Ham's argument, which he took way too far in my opinion, claiming that all science is Christian at heart because you can't have logic and natural laws without GOd (and apparently can't have God without Christianity, or something, but his "logic" was so far off the rails anyway, that I stopped trying to pick every nit.)
posted by Navelgazer at 10:14 AM on February 5


More liberal interpretations of creationism do talk about this all the time. It's a version of the "fine-tuned Universe" argument.

Thanks for the link, I really enjoy rigorously academic discussions on this topic.

And yeah, I need to go over the original links. I just kind of assumed you guys were done talking about this. :)
posted by phaedon at 10:14 AM on February 5


#11 left me scratching my head.
posted by brundlefly at 10:26 AM on February 5


Also.
posted by brundlefly at 10:29 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


The repetition of the "Thermodynamics" question in that Buzzfeed link is more evidence that these folks are being deliberately misled; because it was concocted to mislead, there isn't even a rational way to frame the question if you understand the topic. Hamlike entities hand out these pseudoscientific arguments even though they themselves have heard their refutations many times, as if they had never been refuted. Their purpose isn't to be answered, its to be just tricky enough to make the unprepared secular lay person pause long enough for the believer to go "ha, I told you so."
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:29 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Only one Ricky, so only one Lucy.
posted by Killick at 10:36 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Yes but science can't explain spitty slurpy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:57 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


I do appreciate being told that my theory disobeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics by people whose theory disobeys every single scientific law.

I mean, believe what you want, but at least have a sense that if your starting point is "miracle," you may not actually have a full understanding of Carnot, Jules, and Clausius.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:03 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


"How do you explain a sunset if their is no God."

Magnets.
posted by rifflesby at 11:36 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I swear the profile view of Nye looking, frowningly, at Ham is going to become internet-meme gold.

The first of what I hope become many.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:52 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


#11 left me scratching my head.

It is related to the Watchmaker argument.

SETI projects look for radio waves and technosignatures as evidence of extra-terrestrial life. #11 suggests that there is a contradiction in (potentially) taking regularity and complexity as evidence of intelligence in those instances but not accepting the complexity of life and the universe as evidence of an intelligent designer.

I am blanking on the name of it but there is an attempt to get Design Recognition Science (not that name, but that's the idea) recognized as a field of study.
posted by mountmccabe at 11:55 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


"How do you explain a sunset if their is no God."

It's awesome in a rather unassuming way that this lady, apparently unaware of heliocentrism, has the cosmological conceptions of a medieval peasant and (I imagine) a f*cking smartphone in her handbag.
posted by sukeban at 12:00 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Design Recognition Science

DRS 105: Obtuse Misinterpretation of the Word "Theory" (3 Credits)
DRS 207: Straws and the Grasping Thereof (3 Credits)
DRS 300: Yelling Louder Than The Scientist (3 Credits)
DRS Practicum: Letter-Writing Campaign To The University To Have DRS Classes Counted As Credits Even Though We Have To Meet Off-Campus In A Starbucks And Look We Bought These Coffees That Means We Can Stay Here As Long As We Want I Know My Rights (4 Credits)
posted by griphus at 12:07 PM on February 5 [13 favorites]


I swear the profile view of Nye looking, frowningly, at Ham is going to become internet-meme gold.

I really like that image. So much that I made one myself.

And thanks to Imgur, you can make one too.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:15 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


How do you explain a sunset if their is no God.

Sun goes up, Sun goes down. Can't explain that!
posted by dirigibleman at 12:25 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


You explain it by pointing out that the sun doesn't actually go anywhere. We move relative to it. The fact that the transition is pretty means precisely nothing at all.
posted by Brockles at 12:31 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


That was a paraphrase of Bill O'Reilly claiming that tides can't be explained by science thus are proof of God.

(i.e., it was a joke)
posted by dirigibleman at 12:38 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


11 suggests that there is a contradiction in (potentially) taking regularity and complexity as evidence of intelligence in those instances but not accepting the complexity of life and the universe as evidence of an intelligent designer.

Because if SETI found a radio signal from space exhibiting regularity and complexity, we would immediately conclude ALIENS with no further study.
posted by Hoopo at 12:42 PM on February 5


Called it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:55 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I think what the sunset lady probably meant to say was that you can't explain things like overwhelming beauty (or whatever) through the evolutionary model. That nothing science can reveal to us (aside from some unsatisfactory evolutionary psych stuff) really accounts all that well for the shiver/tear-inducing emotions you feel from, like, a sunset, or a really transcendent piece of art. No doubt there's a great rebuttal for this, and there's probably a better way to put it than she or I have done, but yeah. I'm just trying to give her some credit.
posted by naju at 1:03 PM on February 5


Yeah, #11 is sort of in the same genre as #20. My response would be that scientific understanding does nothing to negate the beauty of the natural world (indeed the opposite) and crediting the beauty of the natural world to a single creator does nothing to enhance that beauty (indeed the opposite).
posted by brundlefly at 1:32 PM on February 5


"How do you explain a sunset if their is no God."

Magnets.


FUCKING SCIENCE, HOW DOES IT WORK?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:06 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]




Pat Robertson implores creationist Ken Ham to shut up: ‘Let’s not make a joke of ourselves’

It's a bit late for that, isn't it?

Anyway, talk about posts and kettles. This is the same guy that thinks that a natural disaster is God punishing sinners, including the claim that Haiti being destroyed by an earthquake was due to Haitians having made a pact with the devil.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:55 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


scientific understanding does nothing to negate the beauty of the natural world (indeed the opposite) and crediting the beauty of the natural world to a single creator does nothing to enhance that beauty (indeed the opposite).

Also the world ain't all sunsets. There's also poo and dental abscesses and brown recluse spiders. Singling out the human perception of "beauty" out of of all things in existence as proof of God (or a case against science or evolution or something?) seems to overlook the existence of a lot of less beautiful things and even terrible things. It's an odd argument. A sunset might be a numinous experience for you and a scientist both, rolling around in carrion might be a numinous experience for a dog. None of this constitutes a problem with science, the theory of evolution, or lends support to Creation.
posted by Hoopo at 3:58 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]




Pat Robertson implores creationist Ken Ham to shut up: ‘Let’s not make a joke of ourselves’

It's a bit late for that, isn't it?

Anyway, talk about posts and kettles. This is the same guy that thinks that a natural disaster is God punishing sinners, including the claim that Haiti being destroyed by an earthquake was due to Haitians having made a pact with the devil.


He's also worried that hate crime legislation is just a tricky way to protect people that want to have sex with ducks.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:18 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Phil Plait: The Creation of Debate
posted by homunculus at 5:54 PM on February 5




Oh for Christ's sake, the school I used to teach at is on homunculus's map. Craptastic.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:32 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Man, it's disheartening to see Louisiana riddled with green dots. Fuck you, Bobby Jindal.
posted by brundlefly at 7:38 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Also the world ain't all sunsets.

"Typhoid and swans, Clarice, they all come from the same place."

(I may be misremembering the exact wording of the quote)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:25 PM on February 5


The Patrician took a sip of his beer. ‘I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.’
—Terry Pratchett in Unseen Academicals
posted by sukeban at 11:16 PM on February 5 [22 favorites]


Damn. That's a great passage. I need to read more Pratchett.
posted by brundlefly at 12:13 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I am absolutely impressed with the level of science outreach that Nye did in that debate. So so much of it was coded specifically to Ham believers with dog whistles that already Evolution believing people would pass right by as rhetorical flourishes. He did three things that had me just cheering, and one thing that made me cry because Holy Shit I wish this debate had happened 15 years ago and saved me some pain. In no particular order:
  • The repetition of "Extraordinary" for so many things. One of the things that comes up in Answers in Genesis a lot. It's something they stole from Sagan, but it gets used to say that evolution (and intelligence coming spontaneously from matter) is the extraordinary claim that requires proof. Nye hammering on that subtly was genius. Calling out Creationism and the specific facets that he was talking about as extraordinary was brilliant. That is going to plant a lot of seeds for further thought.

  • Hammering in over and over and over Ken Ham's Creationism? That was beautiful. It took it out of the realm of debating God. vs Science and said "Hey, this guy? Why do you think he's the one who gets to interpret things? Why is what HE says better than what you can see with your own eyes?" Nye never once went after just "creationism" or even just Young Earth Creationism - he always always tied it to Ken Ham. He turned Ham's appeal to authority around, and I think it worked. It gave fewer openings in the debate, and made it clear *exactly* what Nye was arguing against.

  • The plants thing was freaking awesome. The ice core thing is something that's dealt with pretty extensively on the Answer in Genesis site, and it's something that just doesn't carry weight. Everyone knows that trees make pretty much one ring a year. You learn that as a really little kid and it gets in deep. But that's not even the part that was brilliant. The part that is going to change some kid's life is the "How did they survive under water? All the plants? For a year?" In fact, there was a crowd shot pretty shortly after he said it one of the times and you could see a few kids with the questioning look on their face. It was like their brains were going "How indeed?!" And it wasn't something that Ken Ham was prepared for. He didn't rebut the part that was compelling, he went for the ice thing again.
The part that actually made me cry (and I watched it last night, and I'm about to cry again):
"If there were 7,000 kinds ... let's do some math. .... We need 11 new species every day." Ken Ham didn't even understand how much he had just been blown out of the water. He just didn't get it. He in fact went and made the problem worse by saying there were only 2,000 kinds. That part would have changed my life if I'd seen it as a teenager. Watching the crowd - there were definitely other people that were having their minds blown. Bless Bill Nye. He did the Lord's work.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:52 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


Oh - and Nye making Ham say THREE TIMES that you're a bad Christian if you don't believe in Ken Ham's young earth creation? I could have danced for joy.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:54 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Yes, the Ken Ham's creationism was something I noticed too and was very glad to hear. I finally watched the whole thing last night and this morning. I was a little nervous since a friend on facebook thought that Ken Ham had won the debate essentially on style, saying that Bill Nye was unprepared and stammering in places. Having watched it, I couldn't disagree more. Bill Nye may not have had the slick presentation of Ken Ham, but man did he have the facts (of course) to back up his points. The whole thing (especially the Q&A) felt like

Bill Nye: Here's how we know this is true [cue science]
Ham: You can't prove that because you weren't there

By the end of debate, Ham's logic was so twisted he had done a full 180. He went from 'You can't prove that because you weren't there' to 'We can only be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow and the laws of nature remain constant because of God's laws'. He rebutted his own thesis, in trying to score a point.
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:27 AM on February 6


(I kind of wish Bill Nye had a chance to respond to that and ask 'Well which is it, you can't have it both ways')
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:28 AM on February 6


I was a little nervous since a friend on facebook thought that Ken Ham had won the debate essentially on style, saying that Bill Nye was unprepared and stammering in places.

Nye may have stammered, but Ham was full on incoherent at times. I don't mean in the sense that he's really, really wrong (because, duh) but his "arguments" seemed like creationist Mad Libs. At one point he arrived at gay marriage and I had no idea how he got there.
posted by brundlefly at 11:02 AM on February 6


My favourite part was when Ham equated belief in evolution to "getting rid of old people".
posted by sparklemotion at 11:41 AM on February 6


You know what I just keep returning to is how compassionate Nye was. He could have gone in and mocked everyone there. He could have made them all out to be idiots that didn't have a thinking cell in their brains. But he didn't. He went in and addressed everyone in that room (and everyone watching on the internet) as though they were completely capable of looking around them and drawing rational conclusions based on the evidence. He didn't talk down to anyone, and he wasn't condescending. He went in with a teacher's heart full of love for science and the people who he wanted to reach. That made so so much difference . Bless him for it.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:54 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Yeah, Nye isn't primarily a scientist, but a science educator. Most of us here (including me) would be crappy doing what he does, because we want others to admit that we're right. Nye wants you to share his joy. I think it's a much more effective approach.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:21 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]




From that link:
Science is not about twisting the knife and standing over the body. Science is about standing over the knife, instead, asking why we had it in our hands to begin with -- knowing that the answer is not simple and may never truly be fully known.

We need more Bill Nye. America does not have enough people confidently celebrating the great personal value in admitting how little we all know, and how that’s the only way to know anything real at all.
Hell yeah.
posted by brundlefly at 1:54 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Answers for creationists, wherein Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) shows far more patience than I would have believed possible in writing out non-obscene answers to the %^%^$%^$ questions in the aforementioned Buzzfeed feature.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:18 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


This reminds me that I wantes to pitch a science show to the great British actor Bill Nighy. I'd call it Bill Nighy, a science guy, he.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:31 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


To think I knew of him when he was on Almost Live.

Next time, I think Ken Ham should have to "debate" Billy Quan.
posted by JHarris at 6:24 AM on February 7


22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution

Selected Responses:

Are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?

No! 666! 666!

How do you explain a sunset if their is no god?

Clearly written by a Frenchman, because the sun never sets on the British Empire.

Where do you derive objective meaning in life?

Participation trophies.

How did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?

This was no chance encounter between the ATP's rock sensibility and RNA's soulful twang. Lipids were in the air at Sun Records, and the rest is music history.

Does metamorphosis help support evolution?

No. Kafka worshipped Pan, the goat god.

If evolution is a theory, then why is it taught has a fact?

To turn your kids gay.

If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?

De-evolution.
posted by spaltavian at 6:51 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Omnivore: This is your brain on religion
posted by homunculus at 2:14 PM on February 10


Creationist's questions reinterpreted. Imgur, would be funnier if the underlying science illiteracy wasn't so sad.
posted by RedOrGreen at 4:21 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]






AskMe about the subject of homunculus's link.
posted by XMLicious at 11:52 AM on February 15




Pater Aletheias: "Genesis is a liberation creed, an epic insistence that the world is, at the core, ordered and rational and good, against theologies that would picture humans as disregarded slaves in a chaotic universe, we get this damned creationist nonsense which almost completely inverts the story to say that humans are not in a rational world, that it is fundamentally mysterious, and that we have no real ability to interact with the world outside of what God tells us. "

I feel like if I were a Christian and you still had a church, I would really like having you as my minister.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:21 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]




Nye seems to have handled that well. He's one of the good ones.
posted by JHarris at 6:21 PM on February 16


Darwin's Next
posted by homunculus at 11:08 AM on February 17




Darwin's Next

I was really hoping this was going to be an article about how they were using Chuck Darwin's DNA to bring him back in clone form to tell the Young Earth crowd to STFU once and for all.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:51 AM on February 18




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