It’s been well publicized that Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum, and Bill Nye will be debating the validity of evolution vs. creationism next month (note: that is the first time I’ve ever linked to Answers in Genesis – I hope I never have to again). Most people in the atheist community seem to have an opinion about the debate and whether or not it should even happen. Hell, the last episode of The Thinking Atheist was devoted entirely to discussing whether or not Nye should’ve even agreed to step in the ring with Ham.
I, for one, don’t think Nye should’ve agreed to a debate. Not so much because I don’t think Nye couldn’t win, but more because there seems to be no benefit to anybody besides the Creation Museum. Ham and his people have complete control over the location of the debate, ticket sales, and profits from this debate. To the best of my knowledge, AIG will have complete rights to the recording, and will be able to edit the content however the feel like after the fact, as well as earning all the proceeds from DVD sales. With the exception of Nye’s original fee, the Creation Museum and related organizations seem to be the only people benefitting from this debate.
Perhaps if he showed up to the debate dressed like this, I could support it more.
That’s not the only criticism aimed at Nye for accepting this debate, though. A number of people argue that scientists shouldn’t even debate creationists in the first place because it only gives credence to the the claim that there is an actual debate going on. Richard Dawkins described it when when he wrote an article explaining why he never debates creationists. He said,
“Winning is not what the creationists realistically aspire to. For them, it is sufficient that the debate happens at all. They need the publicity. We don’t. To the gullible public which is their natural constituency, it is enough that their man is seen sharing a platform with a real scientist. “There must be something in creationism, or Dr So-and-So would not have agreed to debate it on equal terms.” Inevitably, when you turn down the invitation you will be accused of cowardice, or of inability to defend your own beliefs. But that is better than supplying the creationists with what they crave: the oxygen of respectability in the world of real science.”
It must be understood that there is no debate to be had between evolutionary scholars and creationists. The vast majority of scientists accept evolution as an accurate model of how life developed on Earth. Creationists always howl about “teaching the controvesy,” but the fact is there is no controversy. To put it another way, Dawkins says he, “wouldn’t expect a gynecologist to have a debate with somebody who believes in the Stork-theory of reproduction…”
Dawkins with the rare “stork” burn.
Yet Dawkin’s suggestion seems to have proven true. In a recent interview, Ken Ham admitted as much. He said,
“I hope my debate with Mr. Nye will create a bigger spotlight on the whole creation vs. evolution debate and to the Word of God and its gospel message. The debate will help point out that there is significant dissent in the scientific community about whether or not molecules-to-man evolution is a true explanation of origins.”
It’s just as Dawkin’s said, the fact that the debate is even happening means the creationists have won. There’s no dissent in the scientific community, but this debate gives Ham a platform to claim one.
Ham is a liar. He always has been. Most of his lies are idiotic, such as claiming that tyrannosaurs had sharp teeth only for the purpose of cracking open coconuts. But sometimes he tells lies of a more insidious variety. In the interview, he throws around pseudoscience in such a way that it would sound like fact if you weren’t versed on the subjects he talked about. He makes claims like,
“The Creation Museum uses fossils to present evidence that there was a global catastrophe, Noah’s Flood, that killed and preserved the remains of creatures all over the earth. The fossils that we display throughout the museum are a testimony to the reliability of the Bible’s account of the Flood in Genesis chapters 6-9.”
But the fact is there is absolutely no evidence of a global flood. On the contrary, the geological record’s total lack of evidence indicates there never was such an event. There is evidence of a catastrophic flood in the area of the Dead Sea around 7500 years ago, and that event is suggested by some to be the origin of the numerous flood myths in middle eastern based religions. But a total worldwide flood? It just didn’t happen.
Pictured: Not geological evidence.
Ham claims he learned to, “defend the historical narrative of Genesis using observational science, ” but what he does is the very opposite of science. The scientific method demands that when you try to answer a question, you start with no preconceptions. You start with evidence, and you see where it leads you.
What he does, on the other hand, is presuppositionalism. He begins from the position that god is real and the bible is true. If he comes across evidence that doesn’t fit that narrative, then he assumes the evidence is wrong, or he twists things to make them make sense with his preconceived notions. That’s not science, and he’s not a scientist.
And it is for that very reason that I wish that Bill Nye hadn’t agreed to debate him. I don’t want to give Ham a reason to suggest that his nonsense ideas bear equal weight as real scientific discovery. Ham is the very opposite of that. Nye is only giving him the “oxygen of respectability” Ham so craves. Creationist ideas are no more equal in the scientific arena than flat-earth theories.
Since I can’t stop the debate from happening, though… Mop the floor with him, Bill.