Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Bill Nye Lost The Creationism Debate (s/o)

Posted by on Feb. 5, 2014 at 11:32 AM
  • 9 Replies

I didn't see the webcast.  But thought I'd share this take. Do you agree with the author, that scientists shouldn't even debate creationists becasue doing so gives legitimacy to their views? - MsD

Science vs. Fiction

Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate evolution at the Creation Museum.

When you make up your own rules, you can always win the game-and no one is better at making up rules than Ken Ham. In the course of constructing his now-crumbling creationist empire, Ham has created an alternate reality in which humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction a few thousand years ago after peacefully using them for transport and companionship. Anyone who says otherwise-that is, anyone who accepts basic science-is just spreading the devil's lies. (That includes me.)

Bill Nye's decision to debate Ham at the Creation Museum Tuesday night, then, was a puzzling one. Nye, "the science guy," plays by the rules of the scientific method and accepts the fundamental principle of biology: evolution by natural selection. Ham fabricates elaborate tales about Adam and Eve coexisting with vegetarian ceratosauruses in the Garden of Eden. There's not much to debate about these views: One is fact, based on empirical scientific evidence; the other is fiction, based on biblically inspired fantasy. Nye is an earnest educator; Ham is an exploitative fabulist. What substantive issue could the two possibly debate?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is absolutely none at all. In fact, the Nye vs. Ham showdown simply illustrated why challenging creationism is so frustrating futile. Creationists begin with their conclusion-the text of Genesis is the literal history of the world-then work backward to find their justifications. It doesn't matter if this leads to bizarre, preposterous pseudoscientific theories; logic, for creationists, can always be sacrificed on the altar of blind faith.

And there was a lot of blind faith on display at the Creation Museum on Tuesday night. Ham opened his presentation by whining that those of us who accept evolution are "secularists hijacking the word science" and "imposing the religion of naturalism-atheism-on generations of students." Evolution, Ham asserts, is "based upon man's ideas about the past"-but "we weren't there, and we didn't observe it." It's hubristic, Ham claims, to accept a human-developed theory about the origin of life; the only reliable source of such information is "the biblical account of origins."

Ham supports this strange and sinister version of creationism with a pet theory of bifurcated biology. According to his opening remarks, science is actually composed of historical science and observational science. The only apparent distinction between the two categories? "We observe things in the present; we're assuming that that's always happened in the past." In case you didn't get that point, Ham drives it home again: "There is a difference between what you observe and what happened in the past." And because we can't "directly observe" evolution in action, we must instead the God's word (as interpreted by Ham, of course-the authors of the Bible were surprisingly silent on the subject of dinosaurs).

This isn't a retort, or a theory, or a philosophy, as Ham repeatedly insists. It's an inane and baseless fallacy, a conclusion with no reasoning, a judgment with no facts. Yet every time Nye presented a careful explanation of evolutionary processes, Ham responded with the same smug line: "You don't know that. You weren't there."

Ham's next project, a life-size "replica" of Noah's Ark, is currently teetering on the brink of collapse.

To his great credit, Nye grinned through his exasperation, patiently reminding Ham that his curious theory of "historical science" carries no currency on "the outside"-that is, beyond the walls of the Creation Museum and the wacky fantasies of young-earth creationism. And though Nye visibly clenched his jaw when Ham called radioactive dating "assumptions" immediately before proclaiming that biblical genealogy proves that the Earth is 6,000 year old, he kept his composure the entire evening. Nye wisely avoided overly intricate explanations of natural selection, which Ham is adept at jumbling into nonsense. Instead, he stuck to basic, blindingly obvious empirical evidence: Neanderthal skulls that point directly to evolution; layer upon layer of rock formations, each millions of years apart; carbon dating and fossil records; even the impossibility of fitting 16 million species on a single ark made by eight humans with no power tools.

Yet it all fell on deaf ears. When Nye noted that a tree in Sweden is older than Ken Ham's Earth, Ham scoffed: "We didn't see those tree rings actually forming. We didn't see those layers being laid down. You're assuming things in regard to the past that aren't necessarily true." When Nye pointed out that carbon dating places the Earth's age at about 4.5 billion years, Ham sneered: "There's only one infallible dating method. The witness who was there and told everything and told us. From the word of God." And when Nye explained that astronomy provides a glimpse into the past and the astonishing age of the universe, Ham held that "there is nothing in observational astronomy that contradicts a young universe. The reason I believe in a young universe is because of the Bible's account of origins."

Exasperated? Perfect-that's just how Ham wants you. For all his witless rejection of data, Ham displays a certain brilliance in rankling non-creationists with his insistent irrationality. The maddening aspect of his creationism is not just that it's ridiculous, but that he insists it's a perfectly logical, empirically verifiable scientific explanation of the universe. It doesn't matter how meticulously or forcefully Nye rebuffs the illogic of Ham's views; Ham is always ready with a red herring rejoinder, a straw man riposte, an indignant counter-argument based on nothing but his own opportunistic exegesis. Nye has the burden of being tethered to facts; Ham has the luxury to create his own fiction.   

And that's why, despite presenting an overwhelmingly more cogent case for evolution than Ham did for creationism, Nye walked away from the debate the clear loser. By seriously engaging with Ham at the international home of creationism in front of more than half a million people watching the webcast, Nye legitimized Ham's creationist lunacy more than any weird and declining museum ever could. Nye's presentation was flawless, but his mere appearance was an error. Rather than keeping creationism tucked away on the fringes of intelligent discourse where it belongs, Nye inadvertently lent his esteemed brand to one of the most despicable pseudoscientific cults in the United States.

Tuesday night's debate, however, may be less of a victory than a swan song for Ham, whose next project, a life-size "replica" of Noah's Ark, is currently teetering on the brink of collapse. To finance the more than $100-million project, Ham's company Answers in Genesis recently began selling junk bonds, unrated high-risk investments with no secondary market. Unsurprisingly, the bonds aren't selling nearly fast enough, and the project faces default as soon as this Thursday. Given that the rest of Ham's creationist conglomerate is already flailing, such a collapse might signal the beginning of the end for Answers in Genesis. Should that happen, Ham will likely be ready to lay the blame on his despised enemy, "the atheist lobby"-though he'll really have no one to blame but himself. Ham may be able to deny the validity of evolution, of natural selection, of carbon dating and fossil records and basic physics. But it won't be so easy for him to swat away the looming financial ruin that, through his own arrogance and myopia, he's brought upon himself.

Mark Joseph Stern is a Slate contributor. He writes about science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

 

by on Feb. 5, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-9):
AtiFreeFalls
by Silver Member on Feb. 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM
2 moms liked this

 Yes, I do.  There is no such thing as debate with these people.  They have no evidence.  None.  It was a total farce.

lga1965
by on Feb. 5, 2014 at 12:07 PM
The creationists lose every time....but they're too simple minded to know it.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
furbabymum
by on Feb. 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

 Huh. I've not heard of Ken Ham before this debate thing. I hadn't heard that he thought humans used dinosaurs like the Flinstones. That's interesting to me and officially makes the "22 things" post make more sense to me.

paganbaby
by Teflon Don on Feb. 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

I never heard of Ham before last night either.

Quoting furbabymum:

 Huh. I've not heard of Ken Ham before this debate thing. I hadn't heard that he thought humans used dinosaurs like the Flinstones. That's interesting to me and officially makes the "22 things" post make more sense to me.




I will not have a temper tantrum nor stomp across the floor.


I will not pout, scream or shout or kick against the door.

I will not throw my food around nor pick upon another.

I’ll always try to be real good because I am the mother.

I am the mother.

I am the mother.














paganbaby
by Teflon Don on Feb. 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

And does that man really believe that humans interacted with dinosaurs??

greenie63
by Silver Member on Feb. 5, 2014 at 1:47 PM
1 mom liked this

LOL so it seems, watch this:

Quoting paganbaby:

And does that man really believe that humans interacted with dinosaurs??


AdrianneHill
by Ruby Member on Feb. 5, 2014 at 2:26 PM
People like him are dangerous. I knew a guy who didn't believe in dinosaurs because their existence contradicted biblical truth. I asked about the surprisingly large number of fossils since they never existed. His reasoning was that the fossils looked different before being subjected to the heat and pressure underground. So those dinosaur fossils really are from an elephant or a cow or something but the flood and other natural phenomena conspired to change all of the fossils to trick people into thinking dinosaurs existed. I asked why would God be such a jerk as to add false evidence to his creation so people make a mistake by believing what God's creation states. Then he went off on the fossil record being a test of faith, one of many lies God put on the earth to try and distract believers from his word. Yes, god wants to trick people into disbelieving in him and then get all vengeful when they follow his game evidence to logical, ungodly conclusions.
He still couldn't explain why god would be such a jerk to people he claimed to love and desire, no matter how many times he insisted it was something to do with free will, it seemed even more insane that direct lies from God were an illustration of God's love and desire for worship.
romalove
by Roma on Feb. 5, 2014 at 2:30 PM

I asked in the other thread on this topic of Bill Nye had added credibility to Ken Ham simply by debating him. 

I worry about that, as the author does here.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Feb. 5, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Yes...and I know other people who do also because they are young earth creationists.

Apparently, my niece is attending a college that supports this stuff in its history and science programs.

Quoting paganbaby:

And does that man really believe that humans interacted with dinosaurs??


Next Window Please

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)