The Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate has just concluded, and Nye has emerged the clear winner. The event has been widely anticipated for weeks, and was available for free on YouTube. The recorded event can also be accessed on YouTube for a period of time. DVDs and downloads are also available for purchase on the Creation Museum’s website. Here is an in-depth recap and synopsis of the events as they unfolded, leading up to the dramatic victory of Nye, much to the delight of the secular community.
7:00 p.m: There’s a strange animated commercial for the Creation Museum. Ok, here comes Tom Foreman from CNN as the moderator. The stage looks good. The question that will be asked is “is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era.” Where are Nye and Ham?
7:01: Here they come! They shake hands and exchange what looks like pleasant words. Ham will go first because he won the coin toss. Foreman is doing introductions.
7:04: Ham gets five minutes for an opening statement. He says secularists have “highjacked” the word science. He’s carting out Stuart Burgess, a scientist and inventor… whoa… he jumps over to defining the word science. He says there are different types of science: observational and historical. Again he says the word science has been highjacked. Aaaand right on to the Bible verses. His main point here is that historical science is basically the Bible.
7:10: Nye’s turn. He’s counting bowties. Uh oh. He’s telling a story about bowties. Why is he doing that? Oh boy. Tuxedos… bow ties… his grandfather needed help tying a tie. Ohh it’s a joke. Ok. Now he’s talking about CSI. Ah, ok, he is explaining that there’s no such thing as “historical” science. That’s a Ken Ham construct, he says. Ham has a remarkable view about a worldwide flood. Nye asks if the story of the flood is reasonable. He’s moving on to fossil evidence and how there is no fossil evidence of the great flood. He says that we have to embrace science to keep up with technology and that Ham’s model is not viable.
7:15: Ham is carting out the small group of scientists who are young earth creationists: Raymond Damadian who invented the MRI scanner; Danny Falkner is into astronomy; Dr. Stuart Burgess invented some piece for a satellite. Ham admits that these scientists are “a small minority in the scientific world.” Burgess says that a lot of scientists are just afraid to speak out because of the “atheist lobby.” Again Ham is back on the “historical science” idea. He uses “historical geology” to illustrate this idea of historical science. “There’s a difference between what you observe and what you interpret with regard to the past,” says Ham. He explains that it’s a battle over philosophical world views and that you either believe God is the ultimate authority or man is the ultimate authority. He says kids are not being taught to think critically in schools and that there are different animal “kinds” and a “creation orchard”; and that observational science confirms this.
He says that the evolutionary tree is “belief” because we can’t see one “kind” changing into another. He says we can see and observe animals being different from each other and that’s observational science. Again, he says the word science and the word evolution have both been high jacked. Andrew Fabich is on screen giving his credentials and says he believes in creationism. Ham is excited to announce that the antiquated view which used to be taught was based on Darwin’s ideas about the highest race being Caucasian. He says that because this “foundation” of Darwin is wrong, all of Darwin’s ideas are wrong.
7:40- Still on Ham. Ham says you can’t observe the age of the earth and that students are being confused by terms. Ham says evolution is a belief, and that his beliefs stem from the Bible and what he can observe and see today. He says he admits his historical science idea is based on the Bible and that he takes Genesis as literal history. Now he’s quoting the Bible again and telling the story of the Bible and Jesus.
7:41: Jesus. More Jesus. More Jesus. Back to the difference between “historical” and “observational” science. Again he asserts that God is the ultimate authority. He says he wants children to be taught the right foundation. Back to Jesus dying on the cross… aaaand… his turn is over.
7:74: It’s Nye’s turn. Nye says thanks to Ham because he learned something from the presentation. He leads with a fossil and explains that we’re standing on millions of layers of ancient life. There is not enough time in 4,000 years for there to be millions of years of fossil layers present, he says. His colleagues drill out ice rods called snow ice and he finds 680,000 layers of winter/summer cycles within the layers. It’s impossible that the ice could have formed in 4,000 years. He’s showing trees that are 6,800 years old and 9,550 years old. How could those trees be there is there was a flood 4,000 years ago? he asks. Trees can’t survive under water.
He explains that scientists study and see exactly how long it takes sediment to turn to stone. He’s showing pictures of the Grand Canyon and says there should be a Grand Canyon on every continent if the flood had happened. He says as we look at fossils we are looking at the past. You never, ever find a higher animal mixed into the lower ones, but if the water drained away so fast after the flood, there would be many animals mixed together. He says scientists challenges one person to find one example of animals existing concurrently in fossils.
If there were just man and all other species, where would you put modern humans among all the animal skulls in fossil history? he asks. He says that if a giant wooden ship went aground safely in the Middle East, we would expect that some evidence of kangaroos traveling from the Middle East to Australia would be found in the last 4,000 years. There is no land bridge like the one claimed, and there are no fossils to support the creation theory. Nye says there are about 16 million species that exist today. If these species came from the 7,000 “kinds” as Ham claims, we would expect to find at least 11 new species every day. We would have seen these changes among us, but there is no evidence for that.
Inherent in the Ham’s view, says Nye, is that Noah’s family would have built a ship that would have housed 7,000 kinds of animals, and they would have had to feed those animals, but we can run a scientific test that disproves their ability to do so. A huge wooden ship was actually built many years ago, but that ship would twist in the sea, and in all the twisting, it leaked and eventually sank. The best ship builders in the world could not build a ship that would be viable.
“What we want in science is an ability to predict,” Nye says; a natural law that we can understand. He gives the example of the Tiktaalik which is an animal that is a cross between a lizard and a frog. Scientists predicted they would find it and they indeed discovered it where they thought they would. Nye is talking about “traditional fish sex” now, and is asking why does anybody have sex? The answer, he says, is your enemies. Your enemies are germs and parasites and the purpose for sexual reproduction is that it causes genes that are susceptible to fewer parasites.
He goes on to say that the explanation provided by evolution gives scientists the ability to make predictions, and he says it is generally agreed that the Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago. Oh no. It’s the periodic table of elements. He explains that elements come into being when stars explode and that it’s possible to tell exactly how old each fossil is and therefore how old the earth is. It is easy to observe these fossils and the animals represented therein, he says. He asks Ham how there can be billions of stars that are much older than 6,000 years old. How can we have rocks and trees that are “far, far, far older than you claim the earth is?” he asks.
He concludes with saying that the Constitution states we should promote science and pleads with Kentucky to not let students fall behind in science education.
Here comes the five minute rebuttal. Ham goes first: He repeats that we can’t observe the age of the earth. He says his understanding of science is built on the Bible and that God created the world in six days. Adam, Abraham and Christ equals 6,000 years. He says different dating methods give different dates and that you can’t age date a rock. Then more Jesus, Jesus, the Bible, Christ. The Bible. Death is a result of man’s sin. Adam and Eve, Jesus. The Bible, the Bible, God, God, the Bible. There are hundreds of dating methods out there and they are all fallible, he says, and he claims that the word of God is the only fallible dating method.
Nye says dating methods are very reliable and that using the Bible as a dating method is “troubling.” Nye says we can definitely observe the past and that’s all they do in astronomy. The heart of the disagreement, Nye says, is that Ham is using magical thinking and it’s not conventional mainstream science. He refutes Ham’s claim that animals were all vegetarians. He concludes by saying The Bible is not a science text and we should not use it as such.
Ham’s counter rebuttal:
Ham again carts out the small minority of creation scientists and says they agree with him. He says Nye is confusing terms. He says species did not get on the ark, but rather “kinds” did. He says Nye’s fossils illustrate his (Ham’s) point and that since we didn’t see the layers of fossils being laid down, we can’t say how old they are. It all comes down to interpretation, he says. He says Nye can’t claim Noah was unskilled because Nye never met him.
Nye’s counter rebuttal:
Nye says he is completely unsatisfied because Ham did not address his questions. In Ham’s view, Nye says, we would have 35-40 new species every day. Nye is skeptical of Noah being a great ship maker because he would have had to have superpowers to do so, and that’s not reasonable. Nye wants to know why we should accept Ham’s word for it that natural law completely changed 4,000 years ago but there is no record of it. Nye says that there are millions of religious people who do not accept creationism. What is to become of all those people who do not see it Ham’s way? He says if Ham can come up with any fossil to prove the theory he would love to see it and that we need scientists and engineers for the future so that we can continue to innovate. “We need innovation and that means science education,” he says.
Time for audience questions! The following is a synopsis of a sampling of questions and answers:
How do you account for celestial bodies?
Ham’s answer: the Bible accounts for it. God is all-powerful. More stuff about God. “Wow, what a God.”
Nye’s answer: Astronomy, natural laws, science.
How did the atoms that created the Big Bang get there?
Nye: It’s a mystery. We want to know, so let’s keep trying to find out. The universe is accelerating and we don’t know exactly why. “This is why we get up and go to work every day.”
Ham’s answer: “God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible, the Bible, God, the Creator.
What evidence besides the Bible supports creationism?
Ham’s answer: Just because the majority says it’s true does not mean it is true, because the majority often gets it wrong. I made predictions and my prediction about one race was right. We are not scientifically able to prove it but we can investigate the present.
How did consciousness come from matter?
Nye’s answer: “We don’t know.” It’s a great mystery. We want to know and that’s what we are trying to find out.
Ham: The Bible. God. The Bible. God gave it to us. God’s glory.
What, if anything would ever change your mind?
Ham: I can’t prove it to you, but basically, God and Jesus. “The Bible is the word of God.” No one will ever convince him that the word of God is not true. Like, ever.
Nye: “We just need one piece of evidence like a fossil that swam from one level to another.” We would need evidence that rock layers could form in 4,000 years. Bring me any of those things and I would change my mind immediately.
What scientific evidence supports your view of the age of the earth?
Nye: Radiometric evidence, radioactivity. “If things were any other way, things would be different.” These are provable facts.
Ham: Scientists are just making assumptions and most of them contradict each other.
Can you explain the speed of continental drifting?
Ham: I’m not an expert in this area. Scientists are just making assumptions when they measure the rate at which continents drift.
Nye: We can measure sea floor spreading and we can measure exactly how continents drift.
What’s your favorite color?
Ham: “Observational science, blue.”
Is there room for God in science?
Nye: Billions of religious people accept science. Everyone uses science. Using science is not all that connected to spiritual beliefs yet science and belief are compatible.
Ham: “God is necessary for science.”
Do you believe the entire Bible should be taken literally?
Ham: “I take the Bible naturally.” Some parts are more poetic and some is prophetic. God, God, God etc.
Nye: It seems like Ham is cherry picking.
What is the one thing upon which you base your belief?
Ham: the Bible. There’s no other book like it. It tells us everything we need to know. Man is a sinner. The Gospel…Jesus died on the cross. Salvation, Jesus, God, God, the Bible. The Bible, the Bible, the Bible. God will reveal himself to you.
Nye: “I base my beliefs on the information and the process that we call science. It fills me with joy. It is a wonderful and astonishing thing to me. If we abandon all that we have learned, if we let go of everything we have learned before us, if we stop looking for answers, we will be defeated…We have to embrace science education. We have to keep science education in science classes.”
In the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate, the answer to those asking who won is: it’s clear Nye emerged the winner because he relied on a large amount of fossil and scientific evidence. Ham relied almost exclusively on the Bible and provided no fossil or scientific evidence whatsoever. As predicted, the debate was friendly and completely civil. In addition to this in depth synopsis and recap, the debate will be available at debatearchive.org for a few days, and on YouTube.
By: Rebecca Savastio
Source: Live debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham