Today, February 4, 2014, Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' will debate Ken Ham 'Creation Museum' and 'Answers in Genesis.' The topic is, as one would expect, evolution vs. creationsim. Some are calling this a big mistake - primarily on the part of Bill Nye.
One author, in Salon, believes this whole show will solve nothing. His premise is that the science-rejecting, anti-intellectual stance of Ken Ham has nothing to do with the text of the Bible. Rather, it is politically motivated by the American evangelical movement that rejects science as a threat to their belief system. The more scientific discoveries, the less acceptance there is for the miracle stories of the Bible. It is a belief, according to the author, fueled by the streak of egalitarianism found in American historical myths, coupled with the Protestant rejection of the control represented by Catholicism - more political than religious.
Another author, in the Christian Science Monitor, takes a harder view against Nye for participating in this. His premise is that those that follow Ham probably don't have enough intelligence or intellectual acumen to understand evolution in the first place. Therefore, by debating Ham, all Nye is doing is giving a stage for Ham to espouse crackpot ideas to the true believers, and thereby give the credence of legitimacy to his ignorance promoting propaganda.
I can see the point of both of these authors, and each raises legitimate objections. On the other hand, if knowledgeable individuals don't stand up to these crackpots and charlatans, is that then a tacit acceptance of the frauds attempts to drag us back to the time of medieval superstition and witch burnings?
The debate will not solve anything but it will reinforce my belief that Ken is a ham and there are "No Answers In Genesis."
Considering Ham - a religious huckster with his own agenda - and the venue - the creation museum - and the fact that Ham has had control of ticket sales (and the event was sold out literally seconds after it was available), this whole business smells like a setup / ambush of the first order. Oh, and did I mention that Ham's organization is getting the lion's share of the profits from this little soiree. As I understand it, the event is being streamed by Ham and will (I sincerely hope) be recorded by SOMEONE of our ilk and preserved against malicious editing.
Richard Dawkins won't appear with William Lane Craig, because Dawkins has no desire to elevate Craig in importance on the issues which are important to atheism. From where I sit, Nye should have made the same decision.
I don't think the debate will go well. Audiences have the power to sway debates, something Bill Nye has less experience with than the likes of Hitchens (RIP) and Dawkins. That being said, I think dialogue between atheists and theists is a good thing, as long as it isn't mean-spirited. I imagine Bill Nyes motives are good, but i think his expectations of increased awareness may be unrealistic.
I didn't watch it either, SB, though for other reasons. I yell at the TV often enough these days without adding to that getting apoplectic at my computer monitor in similar fashion!
Also, Nye is worth my time and attention. Ham isn't. End of discussion.
I watched it on YouTube, but couldn't stand to listen to what the Ham said, so I just mostly skipped him and listened to what Bill Nye said. I thought he did a passable job, and was glad to see they gave him as much time as the Ham.
I don't think that this debate is well advised -- sort of like debating which is better, Merlot wine or a blankie, and holding that debate in a preschool. But I don't completely agree that it's granting legitimacy to an illegitimate idea. After all, blankies are nice and comfortable! If I walked around this neighborhood for a day interviewing my neighbors I'd be surprised to find one that didn't subscribe to a mostly literal (sort of an oxymoron) view of biblical creation. You don't "grant legitimacy" to that worldview, because it's already widely established. It is the mainstream view, at least around here.
What you do is offer an alternative hypothesis that very many may never have heard. Almost all who hear it will have minds already made up, but a few -- maybe little kids, maybe wavering adults, maybe critical thinkers -- might find in the debate a spark that ignites a flame, whether for reason or faith. It's not some zero sum game in which one side gains adherents at the expense of the other. It's, at least I hope, ideas added on all sides. I personally don't see what the creationist side has to offer, but we haven't had the debate yet. If Ham somehow comes up with something worthy of consideration we who are rationally minded are obligated to consider it. What 'the other side' does may be fodder for criticism, but is otherwise of no concern in the realm of this particular debate.
If actions by 'the other side' project into public action, and they have and will, then we have something to gripe about and rally for or against. Two representative of those sides on a stage could be seen as part of that battle, or an attempt to understand and perhaps reconcile disparate views.
i didn't watch it but i'll catch the highlight reel later on. ultimately it doesn't matter - creationism is very stupid. shame so many people get so badly deceived.
question for you, Pat. did you write this yourself? if so very well done.
Ken Ham is a very primitive thinker, and as far as I can tell, his followers--and many other evangelicals-- are, as well. It seems apparent that "science guys" like Nye and creationists like Ham are simply not on the same epistemological page. Bill Nye is very likeable in a nerdy, bow-tie sort of way, but in watching his interviews, I've come to think he doesn't express himself well off the cuff, yet he is willingly entering the rhetorical equivalent of the lion's den to debate the alpha male in the pride. Ham is an idiot when it comes to logic. He says of the Bible, "If you can't believe this bit over here, how can you believe that bit over there?" It's actually a very intelligent statement that might have come from Robert Ingersoll or Christopher Hitchens, but for the great Ham of Backwardland, it means that if you think that a 2,000-3,000 year old anthology compiled by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall is correct in asserting that a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua is actually the son of God who was killed and came back to life, then you have to believe that snakes can talk and that the earth is only a few thousand years old, whereas the atheist and/or the agnostic would say that because snakes cannot talk and the earth, science tells us, is billions of years old, perhaps the Bible got a few other bits wrong. Perhaps the Bible got damn near all the bits wrong. Ham and his ilk will never see that. Never, never, never, never, never.
I wonder if it's that Ham is a "primitive thinker" so much as he is a dog with his bone. His "bone" is young-earth creationism, and it's made him a lot of money and gained him a lot of attention and fame in the evangelical christian community. To give up that bone would be just about to give up his raison d'etre, to the point I suspect of losing a portion of his identity, and he would no more do that than William Lane Craig would give up his "self-authenticating witness of the holy spirit."
Letting go of that bone or admitting error would mean a massive loss of face, and neither Ham nor Craig nor any other of their ilk have that capacity for humility.
Zero argument, Pat ... none at all.