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RocketGuy's avatar

What strategy should Bill Nye take when debating evolution vs Ken Ham?

Asked by RocketGuy (6463 points ) 2 months ago

Bill Nye will be debating evolution against Ken Ham, a Creationist, on Feb 4. I don’t see a way to debate using facts to go against non-facts. I think his strategy ought to be that some Creationists are intelligent, and should not forgo science just because certain concepts seem to go against certain interpretations of the Bible. Scientifically literate Christians will be able to participate and thrive in our technological society. They won’t be left behind as mere observers (and purchasers) of high tech.

What do you think?

Here is a link: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/01/regarding_that_081511.html

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33 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

He should not go. This is a mistake and no more than a publicity stunt for the Creation Museum and Bill Nye. My estimation of Nye has plummeted with this, and it seems like he’s out for one person, Bill Nye.

kritiper's avatar

Bill Nye, amazingly enough, is agnostic. Go figure!

ETpro's avatar

If even a few people who haven’t already got their minds made up on young earth creationism versus science watch the show and realize that Ken Ham’s claims are patently absurd and inconsistent with all observable evidence for the age of the Earth and the Universe, progress will have been made. Not all publicity is good, even if they do spell the name right. Even trees are smart enough to dismiss obvious myths.

ragingloli's avatar

A mix of stressing the mountain of evidence in favour of evolution, and stressing the irrationality of creationism.
The problem is that Nye is not an evolutionary biologist, he is a mere engineer, and as such I feel he is ill equipped to take on a professional liar and word twister such as Ham.

RocketGuy's avatar

My biochemist friend told me about how evolutionary biology is able to track when different species differentiated. Essentially the record of evolution that Creationists keep claiming doesn’t exist.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

This is just a publicity stunt. Bill is an engineer of course he is agnostic. Engineers are taught never to accept anything without thinking about all of the possible alternatives and ways beliefs or theories can go wrong. If this is a fair debate he’ll demolish the creationist…should be fun to watch.

Seek's avatar

I won’t be watching.

I say that as someone who grew up with Bill Nye the Science Guy, and is now watching those same videos with my son.

Bill, this looks way better for Ham and his failing Creation Museum’s coffers than it does for the scientific community.

Let the “museum” die the slow, agonizing death it deserves. Quit giving them attention.

Rarebear's avatar

^^ Exactly. Nothing good can come of this.

AdamF's avatar

A debate implies there is something to debate. Mere participation is in this case misleading, as akin to a geologist debating a flat Earther.

Second, debates are great for comparing the two opponents debating skills, but they suck for determining truth. Ham will inevitably play the “Gish Gallop” strategy. Bill will be unable to put out all the fires in time, with those remaining claimed as evidence for creationism. Unfortunately truth is actually disadvantaged under time pressure when pitted against nonsense, as truth is anchored to reality and takes time to explain, whereas bullshit is limitless and can be rapidly fired off in an endless sequence of turd soundbites.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

Robert May nailed it when he declined to debate a creationist. He rightfully remarked “That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine.”

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t feel that competent people should waste their time debating young earth creationists since the position is so irrational when considering everything we currently know about the universe. Young Earth Creationism isn’t even a hypothesis, and when YEC scientists who should know better outright stated themselves that the Word of God supersedes even the strongest scientific evidence you’re simply not going to get anywhere with them. People, including scientists, buy YEC because of religious and cultural reasons, not scientific ones.

A much better tactic is to just make a great deal of scientific information available through books, magazines, tv and the Internet. Access to readily available information kills ignorance, even if at a painstakingly slow pace. This is why during the middle ages the Christians would kill as many literate and intellectual individuals that they could, burning books and other things. You can’t debate a Young Earth Creationist, it’s that simple. Maybe Ham will pull a Hovind and ask were you there?

Rarebear's avatar

To me, this is a much more fruitful debate
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/sean-carroll-to-debate-william-lane-craig/

As opposed to Bill Nye, Sean Carroll is a bit of a hero to me.

Seek's avatar

At least William Lane Craig is capable of stringing together multisyllabic words.

kritiper's avatar

Darwin was agnostic. (Just a note I found.)

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@kritiper I’m not surprised, he looked at the world in a very objective way.

Paradox25's avatar

I’m not sure why so many nontheists give Craig such credit. I’ve watched Craig debate and I think his tactics are very poor. On top of that the foundation for his arguments, Christianity, is also very weak. I’ve seen less popular non-religious theists debate much better than Craig. I think I could easily defeat Craig in a debate and I’m not even an intellectual.

@Rarebear We can’t be experts in everything, so if a debate is specifically geared around a certain discipline then the person who’s an expert in that field should be able to crush even a somewhat witty philosopher. Craig isn’t no physicist, but I’ll bet you the media will still crown him as the winner over Carroll after the debate, like they usually do.

Seek's avatar

All I said was that he’s able to complete a sentence. Which he can, with stunning regularity.

I didn’t even imply that the sentences were sensible or well thought out. Just complete.

rojo's avatar

I think this is one of those things that, had Nye declined, then the Creationists would have claimed victory anyway. At least by confronting their ignorance, he stands a chance of saving some of the more savvy ones.

Paradox25's avatar

I was referring to many atheists in general giving Craig credit. I wasn’t referring to anybody on this thread.

ETpro's avatar

This post on the Skepticblog the day before the debate is relevant.

ETpro's avatar

Here’s an article in Slate which I think makes a compelling argument why Bill Nye was right to take on Ken Ham

RocketGuy's avatar

Seems he did not practice with a Creationist beforehand. I think he lost, based on some news reports.

rojo's avatar

I read numerous articles, blogs, responses, etc.(you can read ‘till your eyes bleed) but it seems to me that people heard what they wanted to hear and the “loser” was whoever they were against to begin with. Quite frankly I have to wonder if these people were all listening to the same debate.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I watched it on youtube, both debate well and nothing said changed my opinion on anything. I’ll give the nod to Bill he really won.

Seek's avatar

No one’s mind was changed, and the Creation Museum gets to stay out of bankruptcy another year.

All around loss, I say.

kritiper's avatar

Just saw an excerpt from that debate and Bill Nye was FABULOUS!!

Brian1946's avatar

@kritiper

Do you have a link to or do you remember where you saw the excerpt?

kritiper's avatar

@Brian1946 – Saw it either on NBC Nightly News or The CBS Evening News.

ETpro's avatar

For anyone who is still trying to find the debate, here it is in its entirety on YouTube. It’s 2:45:32 long, so pop up some popcorn and grab your favorite libation before launch.

Seek's avatar

From what I hear, there’s plenty of time to grab a sandwich and another beer during Ken’s half-hour “Because Bible” rant.

ETpro's avatar

Here’s Rachel191The Daily Kos analysis on who won. So it’s up to each American who wants to see reason and science prevail to decide. Are we most likely to achieve that by quietly standing on the sidelines, or getting our hands dirty in the debate.

ragingloli's avatar

I just finished watching the “debate”. All Ham did was misrepresent and twist science, and appeal to the bible (how predictable).
What a joke Ken Ham is.

RocketGuy's avatar

Do you think anyone was converted to one side or the other?

ETpro's avatar

@RocketGuy I seriously doubt Ken Ham convinced any rationalists to give up reason and observation in favor of a book of ancient myths. I also don’t think Bill Nye (or anyone, for that matter) can ever convince a faith-based community by presenting evidence. They work in the opposite direction, as became quite apparent during the debate. They start with what they are determined to believe and look for evidence that can be twisted to support their belief system. They redefine words, deny truth, and do whatever is necessary to support the flawed myth they wish to embrace.

What I think did happen is that some people who had not made up their mind got a chance to see Bill Nye saying that new evidence could easily persuade him to change his opinion; whereas Ken Ham honesty admitted nothing could change his mind. There is no evidence that he would accept. To him, it is a literal interpretation of the Old Testament, other parts of which he claims are poetic and not to be taken literally, and nothing else. I think that will win over open minded people to real science versus the absurdity of Young Earth Creationism.

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