No doubt about it, Bill Nye dissects Ken Ham in creation-evolution debate

This we can’t argue: Bill Nye’s debate with Ken Ham on Tuesday night in Kentucky sparked healthy discussion about heady topics. After that, well … it gets tougher.

Here’s what all the fuss was about. Nye we all know. He’s “the Science Guy” of TV fame. Winner of Emmy awards, dancer with the stars and best buds with some guy named Obama. 

Ham is popular in his own right, too. He’s CEO of the Answers in Genesis ministry and founder of the Creation Museum, a facility that’s boasted 2 million visitors since 2007.

They posted dueling YouTube videos last year, with Nye suggesting kids must be protected from creationist thinking. Ham countered with a roster of accomplished scientists committed to the Bible’s version of events.

They continued the argument this week in Petersburg, Ken., inside the Creation Museum, speaking for about 2½ hours.

Here’s where the debate focused: Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Declaring a clear winner isn’t going to happen because both sides are firmly entrenched. Still, since you’ve lasted with us this long, we should probably get off the fence and tell you this: Nye won by a landslide.

Why? He presented evidence while Ham relied upon the Bible. Ham said he relies on Genesis for his answers, and Nye offered easy-to-understand science lessons. Among his best was counting the rings on trees.

It seems plausible to anyone who has ever chopped firewood that each single ring of a tree stump represents roughly one year in that tree’s life.

So as Ham based his entire argument on the assumption that Earth is only 6,000 years old, Nye spoke about a tree called Old Tjikko.

Scientists who carbon dated one of the world’s oldest trees — a Norway spruce located in, oddly enough, Sweden — and said it was 9,550 years old.

To that, Nye asked: “How could these trees be there if there was an enormous flood 4,000 years ago?”

Here’s what else we learned:

The debate was widely popular.
CNN reporter Tom Foreman, who mediated, told the sold-out auditorium of about 900 people that “hundreds of thousands” were watching online. He said representatives from 70 media organizations attended the event. 

Both men are accomplished academics and speakers.
Nye has won 18 Emmy awards and continues to host and produce television programs. He’s a mechanical engineer by trade, and is executive director of The Planetary Society, the world’s large space interest organization. He’s also adamant science education is vital if the United States wants to remain a world power.

“Without scientists and engineers to create new technologies and ways of doing society’s business, other economies in other countries will out-compete the United States and leave our citizens behind,” he wrote on CNN.com explaining why he accepted the debate.

Ham is a transplanted Australian who also has a science degree (environmental biology) and has appeared on a raft of TV shows, from CNN’s The Situation Room to Fox and Friends.

Noah’s ark was the focal point.
The Bible preaches that God cleaned the slate 4,000 years ago, telling Noah to collect two of every animal (14,000 in all) as 40 days of rain fell on the earth.

Nye said if the ark was built in the Middle East, how did kangaroos end up aboard, and how did they get back to Australia?

“You don’t want to raise a generation of science students who don’t understand how we know our place in the cosmos,” Nye said.

They were unapologetically polite.
Nye reminded his audience that he’s not against spirituality. He said millions of scientists find comfort in religion, but many of them can’t accept Ham’s assertions. Ham suggested science and religion are linked.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a creationist or an evolutionist. You can be a great scientist,” Ham said.

Neither conceded defeat.
During a Q&A after the formal debate, they were asked what would sway them to the other side. Nye said “we would just need one piece of evidence” from his opponent, while Ham said nothing could persuade him “the word of God is not true.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/06/2014 - 09:22 am.

    To have a real debate

    You must first agree on basic assumptions.
    In this case, Nye and Ham agree on their desire for publicity for their cause; after that they diverge.

    Nye starts with the assumption of ‘naturalism’ — that all observable events have causes that obey natural laws, even if those laws are not yet known.
    And that extraordinary claims thus require extraordinary proof.

    Ham, on the other hard, starts with the assumption that G-D is the primal cause of everything that has, can or will happen, and that any statement that conflicts with the truth according to King James’ committee is questionable at best.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/06/2014 - 04:12 pm.

    Science

    Creationism and its cousin intelligent design are not science. You cannot use either of them to predict the future nor the past, how we came to be nor where we’re going. And that doesn’t apply to just biology either, although that’s what creationists like to concentrate on. Their point of view can’t be used to make any predictions in rock formations, astronomy, mathematics, physics, or any other science subject.

    Which is what the heart of science is all about: to explain the natural universe and by understanding it, figure out how we came to be here today and where our actions will take us tomorrow. If people want to believe that a sky daddy created everything, then that’s fine. But spiritualism should be taught in a social studies or religion class, not alongside science classes like biology or geography.

  3. Submitted by on 02/07/2014 - 08:37 am.

    NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION: Only micro-evolution, or evolution within biological “kinds,” is genetically possible (such as the varieties of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.), but not macro-evolution, or evolution across biological “kinds,” (such as from sea sponge to human). All real evolution in nature is simply the expression, over time, of already existing genes or variations of already existing genes. For example, we have breeds of dogs today that we didn’t have a few hundred years ago. The genes for these breeds had always existed in the dog population but never had opportunity before to be expressed. Only limited evolution or adaptation, variations of already existing genes and traits, is possible.

    The genes (chemical instructions or code) must first exist or otherwise the evolution cannot occur. Genes instruct the body to build our tissues and organs. Nature is mindless and has no ability to design and program entirely new genes for entirely new traits. Nature can only work with the genetic ability already existing in species. Nature cannot perform the genetic engineering necessary to increase that genetic ability.

    Many people have wrong ideas of how evolution is supposed to work. Physical traits and characteristics are determined and passed on by genes – not by what happens to our body parts. For example, if a woman were to lose her finger this wouldn’t affect how many fingers her baby will have. Changing the color and texture of your hair will not affect the color and texture of your children’s hair. So, even if through physical exercise an ape’s muscles and bones changed so that it could walk upright it still would not be able to pass on this trait to its offspring. Only changes or mutations for traits that occur in the genetic code of reproductive cells (i.e. sperm and egg) can be passed on to offspring. Read the author’s popular Internet article, HOW DID MY DNA MAKE ME? Apes, by the way, are quite comfortable in how they walk, just as humans are quite comfortable in how they walk. Even a slight change in the position of a muscle or bone, for either, would be excruciatingly painful and would not be an advantage for survival.

    The new science of epigenetics shows that certain acquired traits from the environment that affect how genes are expressed may be passed on (i.e. whether a gene is turned on or off), but these certain acquired traits do not change or alter the fundamental structure or function of the genes themselves.

    Modern evolutionists believe and hope that over, supposedly, millions of years random genetic mutations in the genes of reproductive cells caused by environmental radiation will generate entirely new genes. This is total blind and irrational faith on the part of evolutionists. It’s much like believing that randomly changing the sequence of letters in a romance novel, over millions of years, will turn it into a book on astronomy! That’s the kind of blind faith macro-evolutionists have.

    When evolutionary scientists teach that random genetic mutations in species over, supposedly, millions of years caused by random environmental agents such as radiation, produced entirely new genes (i.e. genetic code or genetic information) leading to entirely new forms of life, they are not teaching science but simply a faith, a belief!

    What about natural selection? Natural selection doesn’t produce biological traits or variations. It can only “select” from biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. The term “natural selection” is a figure of speech. Nature doesn’t do any conscious selecting. If a variation occurs in a species (i.e. change in skin color) that helps the species survive then that survival is called being “selected.” That’s all it is. Natural selection is a passive process in nature, not a creative process.

    How could species have survived if their vital tissues, organs, reproductive systems, etc. were still evolving? A partially evolved trait or organ that is not complete and fully functioning from the start would be a liability to a species, not a survival asset. Plants and animals in the process of macro-evolution would be unfit for survival. For example, “if a leg of a reptile were to evolve (over supposedly millions of years) into a wing of a bird, it would become a bad leg long before it became a good wing” (Dr. Walt Brown, scientist and creationist). Survival of the fittest actually would have prevented evolution across biological kinds! Read my Internet article: WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS! (2nd Edition).

    All species of plants and animals in the fossil record are found complete, fully-formed, and fully functional. This is powerful evidence that species did not come into existence gradually by any macro-evolutionary process but, rather, came into existence as complete and ready-to-go from the very beginning, which is possible only by special creation.

    All the fossils that have been used to support human evolution have been found to be either hoaxes, non-human, or human, but not non-human and human (i.e. Neanderthal Man was discovered later to be fully human). Textbooks and museums still continue to display examples and illustrations supporting human evolution which most evolutionists have rejected and no longer support. Many diagrams of ape-man creatures over the years were reconstructed according to evolutionary interpretations from disputable bones that have now been discredited but still being taught in school textbooks.

    What about genetic and biological similarities between species? Genetic information, like other forms of information, cannot happen by chance, so it is more logical to believe that genetic and biological similarities between all forms of life are due to a common Designer who designed similar functions for similar purposes. It doesn’t mean all forms of life are biologically related! Only within a true species can similarities be used as evidence for relationship because only within a true species can individuals be capable of mating and producing offspring.

    Also, so-called “Junk DNA” isn’t junk. Although these “non-coding” segments of DNA don’t code for proteins, they have recently been found to be vital in regulating gene expression (i.e. when, where, and how genes are expressed, so they’re not “junk”). Read my popular Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

    The real issue is what biological variations are possible, not natural selection.

    Visit my latest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION .

    I discuss: Punctuated Equilibria, “Junk DNA,” genetics, mutations, natural selection, fossils, dinosaur “feathers,” the genetic and biological similarities between various species, etc., etc.

    Sincerely,
    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. theology/biology)

    Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have had the privilege of being recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who In The East” for my writings on religion and science. I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterward) before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges/universities.

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