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Earth Education Science

Bill Nye To Debate Creationist Museum Founder Ken Ham 611

Posted by timothy
from the confidentially-few-minds-are-likely-to-be-changed dept.
New submitter cusco writes "Creation Museum Founder and AiG President/CEO Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye at the Creation Museum on Tuesday, February 4, at 7 PM. According to the Washington Post, 'Ham had been hoping to attract the star of TV's 'Bill Nye The Science Guy' to the northern Kentucky museum after Nye said in an online video last year that teaching creationism was bad for children. The video was viewed nearly 6 million times on YouTube.'"
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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 :)

    • I respect Bye a great deal, but I wouldn't cross the room to listen to Ham.

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @11:18PM (#45853405) Journal

        I respect Bye a great deal, but I wouldn't cross the room to listen to Ham.

        I agree. This Ham on Nye thing really doesn't cut the mustard.

      • by daem0n1x (748565)

        Never argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and then beat you with his experience.

        What kind of argument is possible with people like this? His fans will go on believing any stupid shit he tells them, they are not rational, so why trying to convince them using rational arguments? Just leave them be. The problem will fix itself eventually.

    • 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.

      • 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."
        • 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.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@worldCHEETAH3.net minus cat> 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.

        • by gameboyhippo (827141) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @10:57PM (#45853273) Journal

          I think you would find Dr. Ross to be quite open minded and not anti-science. But he is in fact a creationist... He's even debated Ken Ham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgueGotRqbM [youtube.com]

    • by Evil Pete (73279)

      Don't forget it is easy for idiots to ask questions that the smartest person cannot answer. He will have to be careful of such tactics.

    • 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

      • by darkonc (47285)
        To properly debate this, Bill Nye needs to powerfully understand both Science and the bible -- so that he can point out the biblical fallacies inherent in Creationism. -- such as the internal inconsistencies within the biblical bits, and the fact that the length of God's day is never specified in Genesis... (how long is a day where the earth doesn't yet exist? When does the sun set for god? What order do things REALLY occur in? What is god's image?

        A proper understanding of the bible would allow him to a

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arth1 (260657)

        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

        • 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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by innerweb (721995)

        Serious question: Is this a real problem anywhere in the world besides the US and certain Middle Eastern countries?

      • Fact based? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Doomsought (3407379)
        The Creationist museum did something interesting you don't seem to be aware of: It went back, taking the same primary evidence (Facts) that was used in creating the current evolutionary model of history, and then re-interpenetrates it using the Bible as another source of facts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054)

      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?

      • 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.

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      It's impossible to debate a scientific subject with someone who doesn't know the science. You end up with a Gish gallop [wikipedia.org] that's impossible to keep up with or refute reasonably.

    • Either way, I expect for a wildly entertaining evening.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tom (822)

      This, a thousand times. You especially don't battle them on their own turf, giving credibility not only to the idiot, but also to his idiot theme park.

  • 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.
    • Ham... pig....

      We see what you did there. :-D

  • by rs79 (71822)

    Since they hold no precept to reason, they've already cut press releases to the faithful saying they won; in their world it's true.

    Those who do abide by reason already know it's true; this won't make it any more true.

    I really don't see what this will accomplish. If somebody *wants* to learn, they'll wiki it and learn from that starting point. It they don't, pushing it in their face just wastes time and annoys the pig.

  • by quax (19371) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:56PM (#45851173)

    Guess somebody has to do this kind of yeoman's work.

  • Wasted effort? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <.elmuerte. .at. .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 Naatach (574111)
    /popcorn
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:59PM (#45851217)

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @06:59PM (#45851221)

    This won't turn out well. $25/ticket, supporting the morons in a profit making venture. Fuck no. Not that I'm in the neighborhood.

    Only creationists will show up, bog knows who they'll get to moderate. Local southern baptist minister?

    I see. 'if monkeys turned into humans how come there are still monkeys?' followed by a shout down in this 'debate'.

  • 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?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:11PM (#45851353) Journal
    In philosophical debates, and in legal courtroom battles, both sides get equal time. That seems to be fair. But when it comes to science, equal time for both sides is unfair. When science has so much more evidence to show, restricting it to the same time whatever the other side manages to come up with is unfair.

    Further, most of the "arguments" for creationism is asking questions, asking for proof about evolution or to explain this anomaly or that observation. Asking questions is easy, answering them takes much longer. So again it is unfair to give equal time to questions and answers.

    Science demands full disclosure, sufficient time to review the evidence and to get a consensus on what the data is. Then the argument is about what explains the data. This creationism debate is not likely to persuade the creationists, it is likely to frustrate the scientists.

    It is a fools errand. Best thing to do is to let them disbelieve in evolution and let us trust evolution to drive the creationists to extinction. In the last 400 years science has done a lot to reduce the influence of creationists and reduced their numbers a lot. Just read the Creationist rhetoric from 1920s or 1950s or 1870s and compare it the current set of arguments, you will see how weak their ilk has become. The only serious bastion for creationists are the fundamentalists in Islam and fundamentalist right wingers in the USA. Almost all the rest of the developed world have moved on, most of America has also accepted the explanatory powers of evolution. Just wait for these creationists to join the Dinosaurs.

  • I'm glad (Score:5, Funny)

    by istartedi (132515) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:11PM (#45851357) Journal

    Finally, it will be settled and we can all get on with our lives.

  • I wish Bill Nye would do something actually useful.

  • 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 [wikipedia.org] 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" [wikipedia.org]?

    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.)

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:18PM (#45851423) Homepage

      A rhododendron bush is qualified to make Ken Ham look like an idiot.

    • by genner (694963)

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

      Is Bill Nye qualified?

      His Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] 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" [wikipedia.org]?

      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.)

      That's interesting so Ham actually has more related schooling with his BA in Applied Science, with an emphasis in Environmental Biology

    • by Yosho (135835)

      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.

      Where has anybody here ever said that amateurs can't do real science? Freaking high school students can do science -- and anybody who has a BS degree in mechanical engineering is not an amateur, anyway.

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

      So what? You don't need a degree in evolutionary biology to understand how evolution works. Any high school student who pays attention in their biology class should understand it. He's a skilled public speaker and understands the scientific process, and those are really the only credentials he needs to de

    • by siwelwerd (869956)
      I've never thought of him as a scientist, but as a science educator. Two very different things.
    • by jd.schmidt (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.

    • First time I heard a professional needs a PhD.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      I think the big thing here is that we don't need amazing scientists, we need amazing popular scientists. I don't particularly like the English term for this; a more appropriate term would be simplifiers or plain and simply teachers. We need people who can take complicated concepts, as seen by the common layperson, and explain them using simple words that everyone can get. Not only that, but those simple words must also form a cohesive, easily understandable whole. Even further, they must be interesting to l
  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:17PM (#45851417)

    Debate is predicated upon reason. To be a creationist you need to be irrational, so there cannot be a debate here. Instead we'll get the polite (or maybe not so polite) equivalent of a shouting match and people will point to it as if it were a debate.

    Not to mention that there is nothing to debate. The debate is settled: creationism is not an accurate description of reality. If you think it is then you are wrong, unless you have some pretty bad-ass evidence, like winged humanoids without free will or DNA, or a giraffe skeleton from the Cambrian.

  • The AiG this guy is from is the young-earth creationist group, with a lower-case "i". The AIG we hear of more often in the media is the "American Insurance Group", which is not related. The font that slashdot renders this in does not help in distinguishing a lower-case from a capiltalized I.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:27PM (#45851559) Journal
    The genus of Creationists has many species.

    The most common one is Creationist vulgaris. (vulgar means common in Latin, it does not mean crude). They are the rank and file people who chip in money and votes. The votes and the money form the base of the food pyramid of this genus. The C vulgaris can be relied up on to show up for rallys, to cheer their side in "debates".

    One level up the food chain comes Creationist predatori minoria. These are the local parish level civic leaders, community organizers. They too sincerely believe in creationism and believe not believing in it would cause gloom and doom. And they convince themselves, that to have strong faith means they have to believe in creationism despite the obvious and patent evidence they see against it. But mostly these people go for local fame, some local power and a feeling of self importance. These are the ones used by the species higher in the food pyramid to access the nourishment created by the C vulgaris.

    The highest level of this ecological niche is occupied the head honcho, the top predator, Creationist predatori majoria. Their meal ticket is C vulgaris. They will send newsletters, gather them into lectures and scare them into donating big money for the "cause". They will convince C predatori minoria to gather the flock and deliver them to the creation museum each paying $24.99 or whatever and buy "Jesus" T shirts at 40$ a pop.

    So please do not treat all the Creationists as one and the same. Pity the C vulgaris, for he does not know what he is doing. Try to show the self aggrandizement and obvious exploitation of the C predatori majoria to the minoria to make them less enthusiastic about being hand maidens in this enterprise. Starved of the nutrition, the majoria will diminish greatly in size. Hopefully.

  • by organgtool (966989) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:38PM (#45851705)
    "Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference"

    Besides the advice in that quote, the outcome of this "debate" won't change a thing. Creationists argue from emotional responses generated in their amygdalas. You can't change their minds with facts and reasoning because they are not open to the possibility of being wrong or learning something new. If it's possible to change their minds at all, and that's a pretty big "if", you will have to first win them over emotionally before they will let their guards down and attempt to actually follow the lines of reasoning you lay down for them. The most likely outcome in this debate is that you stomp the creationists with facts which will cause the people on your side to feel that they have won, but the reality is that you will probably be perceived by your opposition as a pompous jerk who is attempting to destroy their belief system just for fun, causing the rift between the two sides to grow bigger.
  • by harvestsun (2948641) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:41PM (#45851749)
    Debates are built on logic and facts.

    Creationists choose faith over logic and facts. This isn't me being judgmental; they openly admit this, and take pride in it.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:48PM (#45851849)
    If Nye wants to minimize Ham's influence then debating him is probably not the right approach to take. It serves to increase Ham's popularity among the set of folks that's already ideologically in line with his position. I may be wrong, but I don't see many folks who are "on the fence" both 1) watching the debate and 2) being swayed by it. If anyone is swayed by it then it will most likely be due to the two mens' "tone" rather than the actual facts they present during the debate. If Nye comes off looking smug, shrill and/or hostile to religion in general (as opposed to merely hostile to Ham's interpretation) then he may end up having the opposite effect of what he'd prefer.
  • by Kagato (116051) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:11PM (#45852553)

    Bill is a great guy, good writer and presents well on script, but he's not the best debater or off the cuff speaker. I've seen him do many talk shows. He doesn't always connect with the audience. I think he just thinking a mile a minute and he needs some time to organize them together. Tyson is just much better at this kind of stuff.

  • by flyhigher (643174) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:01AM (#45853603)

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

    “If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    – St. Augustine of Hippo, 5th Century AD (considered by some Protestants to be one of the theological fathers of the Reformation)

    - See more at: http://truecreation.info/ [truecreation.info]

  • by tpstigers (1075021) on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:34AM (#45853941)

    Bill Nye: Show me scientific evidence of Creationism.

    Ken Ham: Show me Scriptural evidence of evolution.

    Debate over. Everyone loses.

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