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Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live 593

New submitter Max McDaniel writes to point out this live stream of the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham concerning the viability of creationism in a scientific age taking place at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky (of which Ham is the founder). Note: the presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern; the live feed is likely to remain less interesting until then.
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Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live

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  • bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:53PM (#46151633)

    This is a bad idea because it gives an air of credibility where it doesn't belong. What's next, debating 9/11 truthers? I respect Bill Nye and his decision, however i feel he degrades himself doing this.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:55PM (#46151653) Homepage

    You're expecting something worthwhile from this?

    It will be a complete waste of time. Mr. Ham isn't there to change his opinion of anything.

    Mr. Nye should know better than to participate, let's hope he learns that today.

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:56PM (#46151667) Homepage Journal

    we don't have debates in the US these days. Debates imply that the discussion is fact based.

  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:01PM (#46151753)

    I love Bill Nye's work, but personally I think he made a mistake in getting involved in this. He's not going to convince the die-hard creationists of anything. The only thing that can be accomplished here is to provide the nutter museum high-profile publicity (which is, almost certainly, the reason Ham was interested in doing this in the first place).

    Creationism is, even still, a fringe group of nutters that seem to psychologically thrive off of single-minded obstinance and a belief of personal exceptionalism in their willingness to throw away actual logic and facts. The fact that their beliefs are so fringe is the reason why, almost anywhere else in society outside their individual congregations or this crazy freak show^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HMuseum they have to try and water it down by calling it "Intelligent Design" in an attempt to get somewhat more rational people to go along with it.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:02PM (#46151779) Journal

    It will be a complete waste of time. Mr. Ham isn't there to change his opinion of anything.

    It's not about convincing Ham. It's about exposing Ham's congregation to actual arguments. If fundie parents sit down and watch this with their kids, the kids might come away with a few new ideas. That's a good thing.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:09PM (#46151889) Journal

    Anyone with a web browser can see the falsity (indeed the sheer inanity) of Ham's claims. Debating people like Ham only gives them a platform, and in a peculiar way gives them legitimacy. It would be rather like a historian debating a Holocaust denier. Sure, the historian will probably be able to trounce such a person, but at the expense of giving the denier a platform and the inherent legitimacy that goes along with "I want you to be an interlocutor."

    Ham's nonsense was debunked long ago (in many cases long before Ham was even born). At this point I doubt even Ham believes it any more, but it's a way to make some cash.

  • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] []> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:09PM (#46151903) Homepage
    They usually boil down to who's the better public speaker. A written debate where there's time to think and avoid misstatements and marshal the best evidence and arguments might be useful, but a verbal debate's just a stunt.
  • Re:Debate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:12PM (#46151955)

    The idea that the best way to deal with Creationists is to ignore them is a ridiculous one. These people don't go away if you ignore them. On the contrary, you have to engage them. You have to deal with their claptrap whenever and wherever you find it, because these people have political power in this country.

  • by csnydermvpsoft ( 596111 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:17PM (#46152039)

    This isn't going to be pretty. Just as the oil industry uses FUD to create false "uncertainties" about climate science, Ken Ham misrepresents evolutionary science to make it appear that there is a debate. There is no way for a logical person like Nye (who is a mechanical engineer by training, BTW) to effectively counteract Ham's bullshit.

    The very fact that this debate is happening is already a win for Ham (and not just because of the millions of dollars that AIG is raking in): The amount of media coverage that this "debate" has received creates the impression that there is a debate to be had - when the basic science is very well-understood and unambiguous. Ham's work is FUD at its finest.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:18PM (#46152061) Journal

    I never said ignore them. I'm just saying debating them is the wrong way to go about it. On the first score, Duane Gish's infamous approach to debating; the Gish Gallop, is used by a lot of Creationists. A large number of claims are thrown out, almost all spurious, but so thoroughly overwhelm the other debater that the Creationist seems to have won. On the other score, it gives them the venue and legitimacy they crave.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:21PM (#46152127) Homepage

    Why do I think Ken Ham will "win" this debate? Well, not because I think Ken will prove conclusively that Evolution is wrong and Creationism is right. I don't believe that at all. Evolution has a ton of evidence supporting it and Ken would have to pull out an Everest-sized mountain of hard evidence (*not* coming from "the Bible says...") to even come close to proving Creationism.

    The reason Ken will "win" is because when Creationists "debunking" Evolution, they don't require proof. They spew a talking point or three and then declare victory. Those supporting Evolution, however, are careful to lay out all of the facts and supporting evidence. This takes more time than spewing talking points. Ken will rattle off a dozen talking points and Bill will only have time to tackle one or two. Of course, given enough time, he could refute every talking point Ken Ham spews, but I'm sure Ken can toss out the talking points faster than Bill Nye can refute them merely because refuting with evidence takes more time than making a baseless accusation.

    So unless Ken speaks in slow-motion and Bill Nye channels an auctioneer, Ken Ham will "win" the debate.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:26PM (#46152193)

    It's about exposing Ham's congregation to actual arguments. If fundie parents sit down and watch this with their kids, the kids might come away with a few new ideas.

    So right. There is no easy solution to the problem of excessive religiosity. No matter what you do you will have a very high failure rate. But if you don't try you will have a 100% failure rate.

  • Re:huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:26PM (#46152199) Homepage

    Even if Ham leaves out the Bible verses/devil talk and goes straight "Intelligent Design" (aka Creationism Where God Is Hinted At Instead Of Explicitly Mentioned), Ham can toss "talking points" out faster than Bill can refute because it takes less time to say "X is a reason Evolution is false" than it takes to give the proof why that isn't the case.

    Ham: {Creationist talking points #1-10}
    Nye: {Refutes 1, 2, 3.... runs out of time}
    Ham: {Creationist talking points #11-20}
    Nye: {Refutes 11, 12, 13, 14.... runs out of time.}

    End of the debate. Ham declares himself the winner because Nye "couldn't" counter points #4-10 or #15-20 so "obviously" that means Evolution is wrong.

  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:26PM (#46152215) Homepage Journal

    an engineer should never get into a mud wrestling match with a pig. everybody is going to get dirty, but only the pig enjoys it.

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:33PM (#46152361) Journal

    It's not a debate, it's...

    pep rally. A high school pep rally mixed with a never ending argument.

    each side cheers for themselves & at the end everyone debates the other side as to who won the debate.

  • Not worthless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mugnyte ( 203225 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:38PM (#46152463) Journal

    Nye isn't stupid, he's thought about the implications of this debate. He's already talked about the promotion of the debate as a leveling effect of the two approaches, when really they are nowhere similar. (Creation Mythology and Scientific Inquiry).

    However, I think if Nye plays his cards right, he'll not fall into the trap of a tit-for-tat banter of each little Creationist pseudo-doubt. Instead, he'll address the general sociology of the subject: The Christian religion is just one of dozens of creation myths, popular in certain places of the world at this time in history. It simply cannot admit it is wrong, although it has been proven wrong many times and simply abandoned those historical issues (Copernicus onward, for just a few examples). Additionally, there are still the hangups in Christianity with gender (both women and gays) as lesser actors on the stage. Combined with the peculiar Politically-rightward stance in the US, defining their positions on the environment, poverty and interventionism - Christianity cannot explain many parts of the modern world well, let alone creation.

    Nye could also simply state that there are too many religions to include them all in an Origins class, and all of them arrive with only scriptural evidence that it's best left to a comparative-studies class on mythologies. Which is exactly where they are today.

    Also, if everyone started empirical scientific exploration over again (really, we do this all the time in teaching) - the same models would be arrived at - simply because the models fit the observations. They aren't dictated from any secret cabal, exactly opposite the Christian method. Nye can do this, as well as any of us. The evolutionary discrepancies Ham will blubber on about are not worth the time, but this entire use of one religion to define all things in the universe can easily be made to look silly.

  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:39PM (#46152485)

    You think in a fight that features Bill Nye trying to wield what is essentially a barbell, that Bill Nye would win that fight? Have you seen him? He's not Bill Nye The Fitness Guy.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:40PM (#46152503) Homepage

    There is no downside to this debate.

    Apart from all those parents telling their kids "Look, there's still a debate! They've been debating for years and they've never won, not once!"

  • Re:Debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:52PM (#46152703) Journal

    And how is that worse than never exposing these people to any contradictory information at all?

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:03PM (#46152849)

    I've heard Ham speak, he's not inexperienced. He is also in command of his facts and excels in making is point in easy to understand. I suspect that Nye will be at a disadvantage, unless he has studied the creationist positions and arguments well. I can assure you that Ham has studied evolution and is ready to debate the ideas and can articulate his position well. He's written a couple of books on this subject. Nye had better be prepared.

    I expect that, as in politics, what observers will take away from this debate will be largely defined by what opinion and world view they bring in. Few will be swayed, although I expect many will be forced to think deeper about what they choose to believe on both sides. Which in my book, is generally a good thing.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:15PM (#46153031) Homepage

    Only one of those was claiming moral superiority.

  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:20PM (#46153083)

    Ken Ham is well spoken and should provide a reasonable point-counterpoint.

    I don't think that the idea that we should not wrestle with pigs is the attitude of a responsible scientist. Eventually, all conventional wisdom needs to be challenged. At one time, you'd have been laughed out of a room of distinguished scientists for rejecting geocentricity. An idea has nothing to fear from examination if it is sound.

    The problem with your point is you expect both sides to act like responsible scientists and approach the debate with an open mind. However, the creationists are not interested in being proved wrong as much as punching holes in the other side's arguments so they can say they "won" and gain legitimacy for their point of view. They are not interested in the scientific method, as far as they are concerned the Bible says it so it must be true. That is not a debate. Scientists test theories and see if they continue to explain what they observe, creationists have a belief and anything contrary to that is incorrect. Scientists, by nature, are open to new ideas and generally don't speak in absolutes, which put stem at a disadvantage to those who believe in absolutes. Even scientific language, such as theory, is used to argue that the creationists viewpoint is equally valid since sit is a theory as well; although the creationists generally leave out the crackpot in from of their theory.

  • Re:Debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:26PM (#46153159)
    It's basically the same thing the global warming skeptics do: "the climate always changes," "we have data for only 0.01% of Earth's history," "humans are small and Earth is big so humans can't affect Earth," "the warming stopped 20 years ago," "carbon dioxide is plant food," "it was warmer in the past," "warming is a good thing." All these statements are easy to throw out, but they take time to explain why they don't mean we shouldn't reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the people who have already made up their minds about which way they believe don't listen to the long-winded explanation and just take the snarky remark and repeat it.
  • Re: bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:36PM (#46153307) Homepage Journal

    regardless of truth, what could you possibly gain by subscribing to the 911 conspiracies?

    Not being a blind idiot who believes everything a known-to-be-corrupt government tells him?

    I don't know much about "truthers," but I do know that some of the "facts" of that event, as the government has presented them, do not pass scientific or logical muster.

    Considering that we have government agencies who truly believe their job is to lie to the American people, I'm hard pressed to say that "truthers" are as out-there as some people want me to think.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:47PM (#46153483) Journal

    First off, there is a lot of confusion about what "creationists" actually believe.

    If you tried believing only in what there is evidence to support there would be a lot less confusion.

    From a Christian standpoint, we've got two parts - primary doctrine, and secondary doctrine.

    See, you've got this entirely backwards here. If creation is fact, you should be able to infer the Christian doctrine from observations made in the real world. Forget about what's in the book, and just look at the world. Do your observations lead you to the same conclusion the book does?

    Everything else, regarding God's implementation, and the methods He used to actually perform the act of creation...that's secondary doctrine, and in any room of ten creationists, you'll have a dozen answers.

    That's because they're all making it up. If you ask a room of biologists about the actual method by which speciation occured, you'll get one answer. Evolution by natural selection. That's because that's where the evidence actually leads.

  • by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @04:01PM (#46153661)

    It depends on what you mean by "poke holes". I watched a video last night about transitional fossils. Creationist often like to bring them up as an example of a "hole" in evolution. In reality there are hundreds of transitional fossils, but no matter how hard you look, there will always be some gaps. Short of finding every generation linking a modern human to the bacteria from which we evolved there is no way to convince a creationist. At no point do you need to assume that "man is correct about everything he knows" but you can weigh up two options and either choose the one with hundreds of fossils that seem to fit the theory, or the one with no proof which doesn't fit with what we already know.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @04:10PM (#46153795) Homepage

    but no matter how hard you look, there will always be some gaps.

    Not only that, but as soon as you find a fossil to close of the gaps, you end up with two more gaps on either side.

  • by martinux ( 1742570 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @04:17PM (#46153887)

    While I agree with the general concept that everything should be examined and not taken at face value I would stress that this is not equivalent to "my non-fact based theory deserves as much time and attention as your evidence-based theory."

    Ken Ham cannot provide a reasonable point-counterpoint because all he can do is make assertions that sound like science but are in fact not. It doesn't matter how polite and well spoken he is.

    As Issac Asimov stated:
    “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    The only value that this 'debate' will have is it will further reinforce exactly how delusional creationism is.

  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @04:35PM (#46154171)

    You're mistaken if you think all people reading the Bible agree on what it teaches. Especially, those unconvinced by any amount of rational scholarship on the age of the universe and the descent of humankind are likewise unconvinced by any amount of rational scholarship on Biblical exegesis. When addressing people frozen in to a shallow, reactionary 19th century worldview of both science and theology, one is likely to encounter rigid beliefs on what "the Bible teaches" every bit as shoddily constructed as their scientific views. So, perhaps the Bible doesn't teach you the world is 6,000 years old, but it does teach this to people who believe the world is 6,000 years old.

  • by fatphil ( 181876 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:20PM (#46154837) Homepage
    Or to punctuated equilibria.

    I took a photo, there was a bird. I took another photo, there was no bird. Your logic would lead to the conclusion that birds don't move, as we haven't seen it in motion.
  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:41PM (#46155187)

    Exactly; it's not like we have the luxury of fossils existing of every single species to have ever existed. Fossils only form under certain conditions; usually animals decompose when they die, and eventually there's nothing left. Rarely, something different happens, and we're left with a fossil: for instance, an asteroid strikes, or a volcano erupts, or the animal gets stuck in some tar pits. These occurrences are abnormal, so there's no telling how many species we're missing out on because none of their members happened to get caught in a fossil-forming event.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard