Yup. The day has come for the awaited debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. It’s archived here for the next few days, and I’d encourage you to watch it if you have opportunity.
I’d give a bunch of links and whatnot to set it up, but I’m pounding this out and if you found this blog, you can use Google and find this or this. There’s more, but I’ve already done your work for you and that will get you started.
To sum it all up, Evolutionists and Creationists don’t agree.
Now that you’re up to speed on world history, let’s go.
I wrote the following notes live as I listened to the debate, so they’re rather incomplete. I’d recommend watching the video itself and filling in the massive blanks I’ve left (I’m not a very fast typist…doh!) My comments are far below (for those who are looking). I also will use pictures to show who’s talking (and there’s a few I couldn’t help but add), and I did toss in a few comments (in brackets) throughout while I was typing..
Live Blog Notes:
Thesis: Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?
Ken’s opening statement:
1. Creationists are real scientists – Has video of Stuart Burgess, a creationist who’s a legitimate scientist.
2. Definition of Scientists – Comes from Scientia, which means ‘to know”. Ken talked about observational science (contemporary science involving observation & experimentation), how “molecules to man” has nothing about developing technology, historical science (not involving contemporaneous experimentation), “Science” is generally defined to include both observational and historical science and assumes naturalism, the conflict is between two philosophical worldviews, therefore creationism is viable.
Bill Nye’s opening statement:
– Bill Nye opened up with a story about why he wears bowties…
– Nye asks “Is Ken Ham’s creation model viable”.
– Says that Ken’s distinction between observational science and historical science is fabricated.
– Takes on the story of the flood, saying that it has no evidence.
– There’s not a single place where the fossils cross strata – he suggests that this is stupid since drowning animals would attempt to swim up…
– Talks about a 6,000 year old earth.
– The US’s technology is what sets us apart and creationism will prevent us to move forward.
Ken Ham’s 30 minute presentation:
– restates his opening case quickly.
– Played a clip of Raymond Damadian, Danny Faulkner, Stuart Burgess.
– Dropped some presuppositional apologetics (talked about laws of logic and nature) and how evolution cannot account for them.
– Talked about how we cannot observe distant history, and how even secular science textbooks differentiate between modern observation and history.
– Discussed the difference between observation of data and the interpretation of the data.
– Discussed how technology and research is done via the same observational data & evidence when done by evolutionists and creationists.
– talked about the evidences for a biblical view:
– After their kind:
– Darwin’s finches; they’re all finches.
– “Kind” is most likely “Family” in the Latin nomenclature, with a secular example from a scientific paper printed in Jan, 2014.
– Evolutionists use a “bait and switch” technique with terms and the trees of descent.
– Talked about Richard Lenski’s study on e-coli (I’m not sure I got this name right).
– Talked about the source of races:
– In 1914, the idea of 5 different races, with Caucasians being the highest, was taught in schools.
– Study has since changed that idea to one of common descent.
– Talked again about the observational vs/ historical science issue.
– Talked about the underlying religious views of each system.
– Talked about the moral relativism that comes from evolution.
Bill Nye’s 30 minute presentation:
– Does Ken Ham’s creation model hold up?
– First example is one of ancient sea creatures that lived their lives in one spot, and are found in layers and layers of geostrata in Kentucky. Asked how could those animals have lived their lives and formed the layers in only 4,000 years?
– Talks about ice cores with 680,000 layers of snow that equate winter/summer cycles, which means 170 winter summer cycles every year for 4,000 years.
– There’s a tree in Sweden that’s 9,550 years old.
– Kept suggesting that the earth was only 4,000 years old.
– Assumed that a global flood would have involved churning, bubbling and boiling…but geostrata are uniform.
– If there was a flood, there should have been grand canyon’s everywhere.
– Commenting on fossil records: there’s never cross fossilization where a fossil is found “out of strata”.
– It’s absurd to think that animals from the flood somehow could have got to Australia without leaving a trail (of fossils).
– Ken says that there are 7,000 “kinds”, but there’s now around 16 million species, that would mean that there are 11 new species every day.
– Talked about the rocks on the now-nonexistent lake in Missoula.
– Noah couldn’t have built a ship that held all the animals on the ark. Nobody has ever built a wooden boat as large as the ark.
– Science wants a natural law that can make predictions.
– The finding of Tiktaalik in northern Canada.
– The reason for sex: the creation of a new set of genes.
– The Top minnows who reproduced asexually had more parasites than the ones that didn’t.
– The Big Bang:
– Edwin Hubble on Mt. Wilson saw that the stars are moving apart, and Fred Hoyle suggested that there was an original explosion that fueled the universal expansion.
– Ronald Wilson & his partner listened to radio signals from space and found the background radiation in the universe.
– Talked about Rubidium and Strontium and volcanic rocks.
– In Kentucky, people cannot get trained in Rubidium based nuclear medicine (and this is significant WHY?)
– Brought up the Starlight question.
Ken Ham’s First Rebuttal:
– One cannot observe the age of the earth.
– Discussed radioactive decay.
– Different methods produce different numbers
– The amounts of parent isotope aren’t known.
– There’s no knowledge of closed system decay
– 90% of the 100+ dating methods give dates far less than billions of years for the age of the earth.
Bill Nye’s First Rebuttal:
– Says that Ken Ham takes the English translation of the Bible as more accurate than all science.
– Asks “were the fish sinners” since they got diseases?
– Astronomy is observing the past.
– Even sight involves looking at the past due to the speed of light…(sigh).
– Nye says that natural laws haven’t changed but Ham apparently does.
– Challenged that all the animals were vegetarians on the basis of Lion’s teeth and how they don’t look designed for broccoli.
– Talked about “telephone” and Bible translation. (Oh dear. Nye doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about).
– Challenged whether “the Bible as translated into American English serves as a science text”.
– Nye points to the authority claim that we have to trust Ham’s translation of the Bible.
Ken Ham’s Second Rebuttal:
– Natural law hasn’t changed, but only creationism can account for the uniformity of the laws of nature across history.
– Ken rejected that the model of YEC was exclusive to him.
– Talked about the how Nye confuses “species” and “kind”.
– Ken addressed the fact that history isn’t currently observed; uniformity is assumed and must rather be proven.
– Panda’s have sharp teeth but eat bamboo.
– The Missoula rocks are a result of some sort of post-flood catastrophism.
– Rejects the assumption that Noah was unskilled and didn’t know how to build boats, and ancient societies had smart methods of building large boats.
– Mentioned the horizon problem with uniform background radiation.
Bill Nye’s Second Rebuttal:
– Bill was entirely unsatisfied.
– Bill didn’t address “fundamental questions” like how 680,000 of ice that require seasons could be established.
– Bill suggested that Ken is suggesting that Noah had superpowers and could build the best boat ever.
– The fundamental disagreement is on the nature of what you can prove to yourself.
– He says that Ham claims that natural law changed 4,000 years ago.
– He suggested that religion is great for support and community, but many Christians don’t accept Ham’s point of view. What is to become of the liberals?
– Bill admitted he’s not a theologian, but creationism is from the Old Testament, but when you bring in the New Testament, isn’t that “a little out of the box?”…?!?
– In the scientific community, when untenable ideas are found, they’re thrown away with joy (sure thing buddy).
– We need scientists for the future, and creationism will destroy engineering and science.
The Question and Answer Period: (B = Bill, K = Ken)
1. How does Creationism account for the celestial bodies moving further apart and why?
– K – God says that he spreads the heavens. God created the celestial bodies to show us his power and glory and reveal his power and infinitude.
– B – He wants to know how, but Ken Ham is happy reading “he created the stars also” and leaves it there. Nye wants predictive models from creation.
2. How did the atoms that created the Big Bang get there?
– B – Nobody knows. He then comments on the increasing speed of universal expansion and admits that nobody knows why? He makes a point that whatever is out there causing the universe to expand is also here but we just don’t know how to detect it?
– K – The Bible tells us.
3. What evidence outside the Bible supports creationism (in the face of all the evidence of scientists)?
– K – Majority doesn’t dictate truth. Mentioned single human descent as a prediction.
– B – If a scientist overturns the agreed order, everyone welcomes and loves it (Bill needs to study history…).
4. How did consciousness come from matter?
– B – Dunno. Good question. Rants on the joy of discovery, and it’s something inside us. Goes on again about how we need to embrace science.
– K – “There’s a book out there that does document where consciousness came from”. Questions why “the joy of discovery” matters if life is all their is.
5. What would change your mind?
– K – God would have to show him through the scriptures.
– B – 1 piece of evidence. A polystratic fossil. Evidence that we can re-set atomic clocks. Ham cannot prove anything.
6. Outside of radiometric methods, what evidence is there for the age of the earth.
– B – The age of stars. Deposition rates. Without radiometric dating, you’d be ignoring reality. The fact that there was a flood is not-provable. Ham didn’t address the many steps of human skulls.
– K – 4.5 billion years is a number that comes from meteorites. Talks about the hundreds of dating methods and the assumptions that make them work, which render them in disagreement.
7. Can you reconcile the rate of change in continental drift in the present vs. a YEC model.
– K – Don’t claim to be an expert here, references Andrew Snelling. Contemporary movements are assumed to be uniform with the past, but that’s fallacious. Mentions catastrophic plate tectonics. Mentions John Baumgardner on this issue.
– B – Talked about sea floor spreading and magnetic shift.
8. Favorite Color
– B – Green.
– K – Blue.
9. How do you balance the theory of evolution with the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
– B – Explained the 2nd law. The energy from the sun is what drives the open system of the earth.
– K – Energy or matter doesn’t produce life.
10. If you were shown that YEC was false, would you still believe in God and believe in Christ?
– K – You cannot prove, using the scientific method, that the earth was old. You can only make assumptions on current data. There is no hypothetical.
– B – You can prove it with robustness. We need to take Ken’s interpretation of a book written thousands of years ago and translated into American English. We need predictions.
11. Is there room for God in science?
– B – There are billions of people who are religious and accept science. If you have a mobile phone, you apparently accept science. It’s not connected to your belief in a higher power. Ken Ham is the sole exception.
– K – God is necessary for science. God provides the only concrete foundation for science in that it accounts for the uniformity
12. Do you believe that the Bible should be taken literally, like should people who touch pigskin be stoned?
– K – Depends what you mean by “literally”, if you mean “naturally”. You take history as history and poetry as poetry. The laws to the Israelites aren’t given to us.
– B – There are certain parts that are literal and certain parts that are poetry? Ken’s inconsistent. Bill Nye then says he’s not a theologian.
13. Have you ever believed that evolution was done via a higher power? Why or why not?
– B – You cannot know if God was involved, but I.D. has a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of nature. Evolution is a process that “adds complexity” through natural selection (WHAT?) and the assumption of a designer is less compelling than natural selection.
– K – We need an example of increasing complexity brought about by random chance.
14. Name one organization that is using creationism to develop it’s product?
– K – All scientists are using creation because they’re using the laws of logic and nature. They’re stealing our worldview. There’s lots of creationists (gives some names) who are getting published and doing scientific work.
– B – The reason he doesn’t accept Ken Ham’s theory is that it doesn’t offer predictability. He wonders if Ken Ham has ever told anyone that they’re lost.
15. How do you explain the numerous evidences of man’s intelligent in the past?
– B – There’s no evidence is that man is getting smarter. The survival is of the fittest, not the smartest. Our intellect allows us to dominate the world…but if the right germ shows up we’re dead.
– K – It’s not survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the survivors. There’s no new information added.
16. What is the one thing, more than anything else, upon which you base your belief?
– K – The Bible. The Bible makes sense of what we see. The Bible reveals God to us.
– B – Carl Sagan said “when you’re in love, you want to tell the world”. He bases his beliefs on the information and the process that we call science. He gets joy from finding things using science. We are one of the ways that the universe knows itself.
We are constantly wondering if we’re alone. What’s at stake here is if we abandon all that our ancestors learned, the US will be out-competed by other economies and we’ll be passed by other countries.
1. General ideas:
– The topic was too vague to be really “proven” or even really fruitful. Coming in, I suspected that this would be a clog dancing show more than a real debate. I was not disappointed and my table has several new marks from my head.
– Five minutes for an opening statement was too short.
– Audience questions are usually a waste of time.
– Bill Nye didn’t know enough about Ken’s position to offer any intelligent responses. His knowledge of Christianity, beyond the level of the average T-shirt, is alarmingly bad. I likely know a whole lot more about science than he does about Christianity/theology/the Bible.
– Bill Nye also made a rookie mistake: he used the “shotgun technique” where he asked 40 questions, ignored the ones that were answered and complained about the ones that didn’t get addressed.
– Bill Nye also made another rookie mistake: he didn’t address a single question given to him by Ken Ham. On that basis alone, Ken Ham definitely won the debate.
– Ken Ham is good when he’s on his notes, but he needs to practice his ad lib (he tended to “shotgun” too). I don’t say that because I’m better, but because he’s at the top of the creationism heap and should be worthy of the level (and he generally is). A guy like Ken Ham needs to shine and he should probably work on focusing on the issues and hand and refraining from taking jabs or addressing peripheral issues (ignore the urge to address all the buckshot fired at him). It tosses red meat to the crowd when you land a zinger, but it’s not effective debating.
2. Opening Statements:
– Ken was strong. Slick, focused and well honed. You could tell he had done that a lot before.
– Bill Nye was far weaker. He’s at a debate; that’s not the place for anecdotes. Debating isn’t the type of public speaking he’s used to. His presentation was all right after that, but his closing was also weak and rather came off as a plea rather than an argument.
3. 30 minute presentations:
– Ken had obviously given that presentation (or elements of it) a lot. That came out. He was really good with pacing, flow, and argumentation. If I had a criticism, I would have picked 2 lines of argumentation and driven them home. I wouldn’t have wandered into as many issues as he did, but that’s just me (I’d suggest that focused debating is easier to win…if you’re on the strong side).
– Bill Nye’s presentation was actually a case-in-point example for presuppositional apologetics and the noetic effects of sin. He assumed his definitions of Ken Ham’s terms, he assumed his system when describing Ken Ham’s position, and he basically showed at length that he had never really be challenged on a presuppositional level. It was fairly painful to listen to as his form of argument was either “if uniformitarianism is true, then how does your non-uniformitarian understanding explain this uniformitarian interpretation of this natural process?” or “that sounds stupid”. He didn’t really come to win the debate; he seemed to come with hopes of landing some zingers on Ken Ham and making Ken Ham look stupid…and implore all the kids to embrace science so that the U.S. wouldn’t be surpassed by Japan in the future (which begs the question of why he doesn’t just embrace natural selection and move to Japan…).
4. The Rebuttals
– Ken Ham’s First – Ken did all right, sticking to 2 major arguments…though he changed his tactics and went into an evidentialist stream during his rebuttals. That didn’t work for him, not because I’m all giddy about presuppositional apologetics, but rather it seemed like he changed tactics (which breeds obvious questions as to why).
– Bill Nye’s First – This just is where Nye absolutely crashed and burned. He seemed to semi-abandon the science stuff and start addressing idiotic points of theological disagreement (i.e. the idea that fish were sinners…). When Nye started going off about “the Bible as translated into American English” and how this 3,000 year old book comes from a “game of telephone”, I was actually embarrassed for him. He could not possibly think that he could come into a place like that, say whatever popped into his head on the matters of scripture, and then get a pass with “I’m not a theologian”. If you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about in a debate, you need to not touch the subject. 10,000 blogs will catch you when you don’t.
– Ken Ham’s Second – I thought Ken actually did a good job, given the tiny amount of time, and addressed most of the questions Bill Nye brought up. The time limits were stupidly short, but I would have completely axed the audience questions for more good interaction like this.
– Bill Nye’s Second – It was awful. His line about “fundamental questions” and then the line about the ice cores was hilariously illustrative. The fundamental questions aren’t about the data, but rather how one approaches all data. Bill Nye simply didn’t get this for a second, and his responses showed it with bells on.
What’s worse was how he dropped to outright mockery, what with the line about Noah having superpowers. Like every evolutionist I’ve ever encountered, Bill Nye couldn’t give Ken Ham his premises within Ken’s worldview, in which they made a whole lot more sense (i.e. Noah got the plans from God and he’s a decent boat builder). Another really bad point was in re-asking questions that Ken had already answered, like his questions about whether people who don’t hold to Ken’s view of creation could be Christians (Ken had already clearly said that salvation was based on Christ, not one’s view of Genesis).
5. The Q & A:
– This was brain melting. Both Ken Ham and Bill Nye ran miles off topic in this section, which absolutely stole from the questions and removed the punch of the answers. More than half the questions were either stupid (i.e. question 8…I mean, people paid money to be there, right?) or unnecessary (i.e. question 3 was clearly written before the debate and was clearly answered, at length, in the debate). There were some decent points where we saw people reveal their cards a tad, like when Bill Nye pointing out that we need to accept Ken Ham’s interpretation of the Bible (as opposed to Bill Nye’s interpretation of the Bible…and everything else in existence), but I mostly found the Q & A painful.
When I heard about this debate, I honestly had cold shivers thinking about when Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort debated the Rational Response Squad back some years ago. That was possibly the most painful debate ever and I imagined that this would be along those lines. I’m glad to say it was much better than that, but it wasn’t really a productive debate outside of providing illustrations for how badly an opponent looks when he doesn’t really come with an understanding of the subject matter.
That’s not saying that Bill Nye is stupid or doesn’t understand evolution.
Remember the thesis: Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?
The debate was about creation and its viability and because of that, Bill Nye was on the offensive and Ken Ham was on the defensive. On a pure debating level, Bill Nye didn’t really touch the topic because he didn’t really have any demonstrable understanding of the creationism that Ken Ham was defending. They talked past each other and Ken was the measure of the debate (since his position was the position of debate; they weren’t debating the gap theory or the day-age theory), hence Bill clearly lost.
I don’t know what Bill Nye was thinking agreeing to that thesis, but the cards were stacked against him going in.
Clear and irrefutable win for Ken Ham.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Now let the comments go crazy! ENGAGE!” Unger