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Bill Nye To Debate Creationist Museum Founder Ken Ham

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  • by WilliamGeorge (816305) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:54PM (#45851137)

    I hope it is easily view-able online, either live or shortly after. I'd go see it in person except, you know, wrong part of the country and all :)

  • Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:55PM (#45851143) Homepage Journal

    If Bill Nye accepted this invitation, it gives the creationists far more exposure than they deserve.

    Remember, if you wrestle a pig, you both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

  • Waste of Time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jratcliffe (208809) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:56PM (#45851157)
    Reminds me of that old (possibly apocryphal) Twain quote: Don't try to teach a pig to sing - it'll waste your time and annoy the pig. Ham has his view, and no amount of actual data will change that. Heck, even the old Earth creationists think the guy's fundamentally dishonest.
  • Wasted effort? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte.drunksnipers@com> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:56PM (#45851175) Homepage

    If creationist were open for debate, then they wouldn't be creationist and believe what was written by somebody hundreds of years ago without accepting any revisions.

  • by gameboyhippo (827141) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:56PM (#45851181) Journal

    Naw... My definition of a good debate is that you have opponents who both have equally insightful arguments. A better debate might be Bill Nye vs Dr. Hugh Ross.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Galaga88 (148206) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:02PM (#45851267)

    The debate isn't about convincing the creationists - it's about convincing anybody on the fence.

    It's an unfortunate fact that it's necessary to constantly have fact-based evidence floating out there to counter the enormous amount of irrational nonsense. It's not necessarily the best voice that wins, but often the loudest.

  • by Red_Chaos1 (95148) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:06PM (#45851303)

    "Bill Nye to publicly punch self in genitals repeatedly."

    I mean, the result will most likely be the same, will it not?

  • Re:Wasted effort? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:09PM (#45851335)
    Exactly you cannot preach logic, reason and facts to people that think logic, reason and facts are the work of the Devil.
  • Re:Bad call (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:13PM (#45851377)

    Any God who would condemn their children to an eternity of pain and suffering solely based whether or not their beliefs match their story is a self-righteous prick and does not deserve to be a God.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PlastikMissle (2498382) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:13PM (#45851385)
    I'd upvote this if I have any points today!

    I used to be a creationist who was closer to the fence than most, and it was material like this proposed debate that finally lit a bulb in my head and allowed me to cross over.

    I listened to an old interview with the late Carl Sagan on Science Friday last week, and one of his bones of contention was the haughtiness of the scientific community in regards to reacting to pseudo science.
  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:13PM (#45851387) Homepage Journal

    I have a question for the readers with professional qualifications (ie - PhD's):

    Is Bill Nye qualified?

    His Wikipedia article [] lists him as a scientist. He has no advanced degree, only a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell. He has a couple of patents, including one for ballet pointe shoes, and served as "honorary professor" for five years.

    Every time the "can amateurs do real science" question comes up, the response is always a resounding NO! from the professional readers of this site. You can't do real science without an advanced degree, institutional funding, and collaboration.

    In particular, he doesn't have a degree in evolutionary biology. He's an entertainer.

    Does he qualify as "gentleman scientist" []?

    Is he the right person as spokesman for science in this debate?

    (I applaud Bill Nye's contributions to science and education, and think he's eminently qualified. I just wanted to hear what the professionals think of his status as a scientist.)

  • Re: Bad call (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:18PM (#45851441) Journal
    The ancient city of Trollandia. Seems there is a timewarp that lets them post here because there are a lot of them around.
  • Re:Bad call (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:19PM (#45851443) Homepage Journal

    The debate isn't about convincing the creationists - it's about convincing anybody on the fence.

    I don't think there are anyone on the fence. The whole creationist idea is so patently ridiculous that no-one believes it.
    I think creationists pretend to believe it and defend it so fiercely precisely for two reasons:
    1: Because they don't really believe it, and need to convince their pastors and congregation that they do.
    2: Because coming out and stating that it's utter bull would be such a major loss of face - it takes less courage to defend a lie to the end than to admit to having lied consistently for a long time.

  • Re:Waste of Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robot_love (1089921) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:20PM (#45851451)

    I've always found this particular combination confusing. If evolutionary theory is true, there were no physical Adam and Eve. If there were no Adam and Eve, there was no original sin. If there was no original sin, we do not need Christ's atonement.

    If we don't need Christ's atonement, what possible use could there be for being a Christian?

    Not trying to be confrontational, just wondering how you reconciled these things.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PlastikMissle (2498382) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:23PM (#45851497)
    Bullshit. The theory of evolution does not require that you prove that god does not exist. It just redefines what god (if you believe in him) did and didn't do.
  • Re:Bad call (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erikkemperman (252014) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:25PM (#45851527)

    What is the difference between "belittling other people's beliefs" and what you just did? Warnings about hell and damnation are actually quite condescending if you think about it.

    If you want to be free to interpret your particular favorite holy book literally, go right ahead. I believe you should be able to. The price of that freedom is allowing others to choose a different fairytale. Or none at all. And as a consequence of allowing each to freely chose their own belief is that none of them have a place in public places like schools, court rooms, or halls of government.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by future assassin (639396) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:30PM (#45851591) Homepage

    All of the scientific 'facts' are easily explainable

    Please you have plenty of text area to write in and use several posts. We slashoters can handle it BUT you can't use the bible to explain it. You need to explain it your self to us after all its really easy.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:31PM (#45851601) Homepage Journal

    Thinking that your opponents don't believe what they say they believe is almost always a mistake.

    There are millions of creationists who believe, utterly and sincerely, that God created the world and everything in it in six days a few thousand years ago. They believe that the same way you believe in gravity. Of course their beliefs are "patently ridiculous"--it doesn't matter. The belief itself is real, and you underestimate that reality at your peril.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:2, Insightful)

    by petteyg359 (1847514) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:39PM (#45851737)
    Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? The whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? -Epicurus If he exists, you have four options: fuck him, fuck him, fuck him, and fuck him. If he doesn't exist, then who gives a fuck.
  • by (919212) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:59PM (#45851959)

    Probably more qualified than most scientist. Being used to public speaking puts him ahead of the game if anything. This kind of thing tends to be more broad than deep. In the occasions where it does go into deep and narrow specifics, those are mostly gotchas, they normally do have answers but unless you know that specific one it is hard to come up with an answer without time to think about it.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @08:02PM (#45851991)

    Especially when it will be in Kentucky at their pet "Museum" in front of a cheering section consisting of a stacked deck of closed minds.
    Really, what's the point?

    If Bill Nye is able to ignite the flame of reason in even one mind, then it was a sacrifice worth making. This is a war of minds and we're fighting an uphill battle.

    People are stupid by nature--we are biologically wired for faith of all sorts. Most people will never actually see reason for themselves. Human beings pretty much require some form of faith system and best we can probably hope for is that those systems will eventually accept a quieter, more private role in peoples' lives.

    Besides that, theists are necessarily skilled and practiced at this. They know how much work it requires. How many times do you think those Mormon kids get doors slammed in their faces in just one day? I doubt most of them get beyond a brief confrontation in a parking lot, but I bet they live for the chance to make a difference in just one person's life. I think a lot of critical thinkers could learn something from that. It's easy to humanity as a lost cause because most of it really is. But you have to be willing and eager to fight for the few that are ready to listen.

  • Logic Puzzle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @08:57PM (#45852443)

    If you use the scientific method and break the question down, you end up with this. Does the Universe require something to exist, or can it just happen?

    This question does not have anything to do with theology, or evolution, or science because we can not prove the answer. The only thing you can puzzle over is the logical aspects. It's a very interesting and thought provoking question, that tends to be ignored. Atheists will claim "it does not matter because "big bang" and theists will claim "God did it", and neither of those two things answer the question.

    That said, if you can determine that the Universe does require something to exist, then theology becomes important. Not because it's true, but because there is really something we can't explain. If you claim "it can just happen" you don't end up in the same with something unexplained, but you basically just made an anti-thesis for everything we know about physics.

    As I said, it's a great thinking exercise if nothing else.

    But since we can not prove either side correct, it's wrong to claim either side is incorrect. Not only do the theists hate that fact, but atheists do as well.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:05PM (#45852497)
    My definition of a good debate involves people who are open-minded to the opposing viewpoint. If you have one or more sides that aren't listening, that's not a debate, that's a cable news segment. Or at best, it's entertainment.

    Lets say hypothetically, there was a really good argument in favor of creationism that somehow had not come up in the hundred plus years that creationists have been denying science. It's possible that Bill McNye is open-minded enough to accept the possibility that creationism is valid. I doubt I could, but McNye is pretty awesome.

    Ham, on the other hand, has undoubtedly been exposed to numerous arguments in favor of evolution that convince virtually everyone who doesn't have a religious bias. And he hasn't been convinced. He's not open to the possibility that his religion is wrong.

    It's not going to be a productive debate: one side can't possibly win in the "convince the other side" way. The other side can't win in the sense of "being right."
  • Re:Bad call (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:13PM (#45852567)

    Fortunately, with science you don't have to believe. Belief is for when you want the same warm fuzzy feeling your parents have about whatever religion is popular in that particular region. Science is for when you want the right answer.

  • by xevioso (598654) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:19PM (#45852613)

    Why? The point of a proper debate on stage is not to convince the other person. It's to convince the audience. No one believes either Ham or Nye will change their views; that doesn't mean there's no value in an audience hearing their viewpoints and making up their own minds.

    I think you have a misunderstanding of the point of a public debate.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:57PM (#45852905)

    I'll have you know I had to type this almost twice because I fumbled my mouse. :)

    So there is video evidence of the big bang happening.

    Yes, actually, there is. Tune an old TV to an unused channel. A certain percentage of the static you see is a remnant of the Big Bang: the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. Mapping the CMB helped us understand the cosmology of the early universe.

    That said, the Big Bang is just the leading hypothesis. In fact, the Big Bang is probably also one of the LEAST interesting (or perhaps most "conservative") of the modern hypotheses out there now.

    And also video evidence that god does not exist?

    Um... what? Do you have video evidence that invisible pink unicorns do not exist, too? Or perhaps you caught a leprechaun on tape in the act of not existing? Seriously, think that question through for a minute.

    What everyone on both sides needs to realize is you literally cannot prove either theory. And when I say literally, I mean literally. It is impossible.

    Yes and no. Mostly no.

    For starters, a scientific theory is basically just a big hypothesis. A hypothesis is only valid if it is designed to be falisfiable. That is you must be able to design an experiment or collect data that could prove it false. You cannot prove a hypothesis true, because that is not how the scientific method works.

    Gravitation is still a theory, by the way. Is gravity impossible to prove? Well, no, because gravity is both an observable fact (objects with mass clearly do "gravitate" toward one another) and a set of hypotheses (various explanations for this phenomenon, some of which are pretty far out there because we're still not sure).

    Evolution is the same way. We observe evolution as a fact all around us. Modern biology and medicine are basically entirely about evolution on various scales. Practically everything we eat comes from sources we have manipulated directly through evolution to be more productive or more appealing. New species exist today that would have been "literally" impossible even a few decades ago (bacteria that depend on man-made materials and waste like the famous nylon-eating colonies, for example). In that sense, evolution is an unavoidable fact. The study of it is where the theories come in, but we have pretty much reached consensus on the big picture; now we're just working on the details.

    The problem for deniers is that the theory of evolution is "literally" better supported than even the leading theory of gravitation. There is simply overwhelming evidence. If we were wrong about how evolution works, you would be dead right now, many times over, from disease or starvation or worse. Scratch that. You probably would not have been born.

    The theory of evolution requires that god does not exist, which cannot be proven. The theory of creationism requires that god does exist, which also cannot be proven.

    Let's break this into four parts:

    "The theory of evolution requires that god does not exist."
    False. The theory of evolution says nothing about any sort of deity. There are many theists (pretty sure the Pope is one) who are quite content to accept both the fact and theory of evolution with their deity being the "agent" responsible. So basically this deity saw fit to give live the means to evolve so that it might fend for itself, express free will on a greater scale, and perhaps as part of a bigger plan for humans to learn the skill of genetic manipulation to prosper. Numbers from those recent polls would suggest this position actually being more common than evolution denial among Christians.

    "The theory of Creationism"
    Creationism is not a theory. It makes no predictions and there is no experiment to perform or evidence to be collected to render it falsifiable. Creationism is a faith. By definition.

    "The theory of Creationism requires that god does exist."

  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:28PM (#45853111) Homepage
    So is Jesus, yet a ton of people treat his (second or third hand reported) words as universal truths. Your point?
  • Re:Logic Puzzle (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:29PM (#45853119)

    > But since we can not prove either side correct, it's wrong to claim either side is incorrect. Not only do the theists hate that fact, but atheists do as well.

    This is wrong. You're correct to say we don't know whether the universe requires something outside of the universe to exist. However, there are two approaches to not knowing something, and we must be very firm in pointing out the horrible and dangerous flaws and consequences of bad thinking.

    1) Theistic approach. We don't know, therefore, God. All other research or inquiry will now stop. You must not question my assertion that God did it or you will be punished in hell, or indeed by direct human on human violence. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
    2) Scientific approach. We don't know, therefore, we will continue to search for answers. A number of theories are developed, reasoned with and peer reviewed. The best theories continue, the worst theories are logically disproven. Sophisticated experiments are conducted to examine and understand the universe at early stages of development, including for example the data coming out of the large hadron collider project. Knowledge and understanding will continue until all questions are irrefutably answered.

    As you can see from the very logic underlying the theistic approach, it is not wrong to claim that theists are incorrect. They don't even approach the question logically.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:30PM (#45853129) Homepage
    Science is inherently about skepticism. Challenging one's views, improving upon them, outright invalidating them on occasion. If you're skeptical about science, you should be even more skeptical about religion, which is about none of those things.
  • Re:Bad call (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:06AM (#45853623)

    this is not about science, this is directly NON-observable by all of us!

    ask a religious person for some proof and he won't be able to give it to you. he can't, it simply does not exist.

    has anyone here REALLY got an answer from 'god' when asked? for the first several decades of my life, I tried _real hard_ to believe. I wanted to believe. I was brought up to believe. but you know, after so many years of 'nothing', I had to conclude that I was wasting my time and hoping for something that would never come. I did not need science to help me with this; it was all about personal observation.

    when a person sincerely wants a deity to show itself and it never does, how much science do you need to realize that its (religion) just mind games and fairy tales?

    religion is purely about emotion. its never been about rational thought. it may take decades (like with me) but if you are honest with yourself, there is only one conclusion that an honest person can come to. the variable is how long it takes to self-conclude this. for some, its years; for others, it never comes.

  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal @ g m a i> on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:32AM (#45853929) Homepage Journal

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, for real, and I used to do intercollegiate debate so from that end I agree it could be interesting...

    What gives me pause is that doing these debates just lends credence to the idea that there are two sides to the "creation debate." There is really only one side: SCIENCE.

    Anything else should be reserved for religious institutions, religious studies classes, etc.

    If Ken Ham or whoever thinks they have scientific proof that the entire earth was flooded in a cataclysm ~3000-4000 bp then lets **publish it in a peer reviewed research journal**

    I always want to hear new ideas, but if anyone wants to use the language of science they can't pick and choose.

    Also, as others have pointed out, this doesn't really seem like a "debate" rather a dog show where everyone has decided before the event which dog is their favorite, and the playing out of the actual event is more like a pep rally.

    When both sides want to talk the same language and genuinely are willing to be proven wrong and change I'll be able to share your excitement.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <> on Friday January 03, 2014 @09:09AM (#45855443) Homepage

    Unfortunately this isn't a proper debate. It's a trap. Creationists are experts at this kind of non-debate.

    They complain about missing links. You show them a fossil that is the link. Now there are two missing links either side of it. You tell them about fossils they can see in a museum and they will tell you they saw them and were unconvinced, even though everyone else was. You show them vat scientific consensus and they will reel off names of creationists pretending to be scientists and claim you are wrong. Then they usually try to make out you are some kind of extremist and they are the moderate ones.

    Basically they rely on presenting a positive image of themselves and FUD. Debating with them just gives them a legitimate platform to work from.

  • Re:Bad call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Friday January 03, 2014 @11:09AM (#45856399)

    Fortunately, with science you don't have to believe. Belief is for when you want the same warm fuzzy feeling your parents have about whatever religion is popular in that particular region.

    I'm a big fan of science. If you search through my posts here, you'll find cases where I've defended evolution vehemently.

    But I think you're wrong about science for most people. For 99% of people, they don't have sufficient scientific background to evaluate technical claims in science. Quite a few years ago, for example, when the "intelligent design" movement was first making headway, there were a few credentialed scientists who were supporting it and writing books about it, etc. I got a little intrigued and started reading. Some of the arguments sounded interesting -- after all, archaeologists have to deal with issues of "design" all the time -- is that a random rock formed naturally, or is it an arrowhead carved with intention? How do we know for sure that something could have been formed naturally? How do we know our scientific explanations for those causes are correct?

    I never really bought into "intelligent design," but I found it hard to refute on its face, assuming you allowed a possibility for an intelligence to "guide" evolution (not necessarily a god, perhaps an alien species, whatever...).

    It was only after spending time literally reading thousands of pages of books on evolutionary theory and the stuff from the "intelligent design" crowd that I eventually felt I could actually dismiss the anti-evolution people and their arguments. Today it all seems a little silly to me, but I was younger and still tried to keep an open mind to all perspectives.

    Most people don't have that kind of time, nor the technical expertise, to even evaluate the professional literature in a field like evolutionary biology, let alone perform their own experiments. Same thing for issues like climate change, etc.

    So, when it comes to evolution, what it boils down to for most people is whether you trust your pastor or minister or priest... or whether you trust your friendly neighborhood scientist. A lot of classic evolution arguments are not about predictive science in the normal sense where you can say, "watch this thing going down an inclined plane, and let's measure what happens..." which instantly proves your point.

    Many people strongly feel that their religion also does something meaningful in their lives, regardless of whether they've done a scientific experiment to test it. And then scientists come along and say that what their religious leaders say is false. Most of these people aren't completely dumb -- they recognize that science does good things and reliably makes predictions and gives right answers. But interpreting past events and creating a narrative of evolution is a little more fuzzy for many people.

    So, they listen to the arguments on both sides, and they go with what sounds reasonable to them. Unless they have time and knowledge to investigate further, they go with which authority seems strongest to them -- whether that's science or their church or whatever.

    In the end, it does come down to "belief" for >90% of people, including even many people educated in science who also don't have the technical background in that specific area.

    Science is for when you want the right answer.

    What makes it "right" when we're talking about interpretation of past events? If you're building a bridge, you need scientific data on the physics of the bridge design, the strength of the materials, etc. to conclude what is the "right" strategy to make a safe bridge that won't fall down. If people don't follow those principles, the bridges will fail.

    But when you're talking about evolutionary theory and events from many millions of years ago, the way to judge whether something is "wrong" is much more nebulous. Obviously you can't have a theory that directly contradicts

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