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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Bill Nye and Ken Ham Debate

Last night, I finished watching the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on YouTube. Taking place at the Creation Museum, it was a fairly decent debate, though it's only the second debate of any sort that I've seen. Predictably, I found Ken Ham's points to be well organized, finely argued, and clearly expressed, while Bill Nye's arguments were pedantic and circular, to say the least.

Mr. Nye repeatedly misrepresented Mr. Ham's position, referring to creationism as "Ken Ham's creation model," no doubt in an effort to distance Mr. Ham and his fellow creation scientists from the wider academic community. Mr. Ham actually addressed this problem at length in his statements, where he took the position that Biblical Creationists can be great scientists, such as Issac Newton, or Raymond Damadian, the guy who invented the MRI machine. Mr. Nye thoroughly misrepresented the creationist viewpoint as "magic" as opposed to "science." He is clearly completely ignorant about what Creationists actually believe, speaking in a way that is so utterly pompous and patronizing that I wonder how he manages to have any following at all, least of all in Kentucky, where the even takes place.

Mr. Nye also committed multiple logical fallacies, such as argumentum ad populum (If many say so, then it is so), oversimplification, and several appeals to emotion. Furthermore, he insisted on harping on how ancient civilizations like that of Noah couldn't possibly build a wooden ark larger than any of his examples of the largest wooden European ships. What he blatantly ignored (as Mr. Ham pointed out), however, was that the Chinese had been building huge wooden ships called junks for many years before the construction of any of the ships he mentioned. Mr. Nye seems to be one of those "scientists" who think that we are so much smarter than our ancestors, who were so obviously complete idiots because they didn't have cell phones. Of course, he didn't address the quite apparent phenomena that without our precious technology, we modern civilized people would be (and are) helpless. I found myself asking as I watched the debate, "Good grief, did he listen to anything he said?"

Despite my frustrations, I remember from hearing somewhere that the true purpose of a debate is not for one party to refute the other, but to get the audience thinking. This debate certainly got me thinking. You can listen to the whole debate down below. Mind you though, it's nearly three hours long.