Bill Nye Ken Ham Debate Was Necessary [Video]

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By now, critics and supporters of evolution and creationism have all but certainly watched the proceedings or read the commentary of the recent Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” and Ken Ham debate that was streamed for free from Ham’s creation museum in Kentucky. This debate was entirely necessary, despite what its various detractors have to say, and it clearly represents why dialogue is so crucial to developing a scientifically literate society.

It should be noted that what is important has very little to do with the perception of who won. That is entirely at the reader’s or viewer’s discretion. What is important is understanding why this dialogue is necessary, regardless of which side is right.

However, it is important to acknowledge that this conversation should not be framed as two interpretations of science. Let it be made perfectly clear that creationism is not a scientific theory. Creationism instead is a philosophic, metaphysical, and religious outlook that searches for scientific verification. It can be argued scientifically, but as Ham rightly acknowledged, his basis is not peer reviewed journals, but rather a religious text.

It may be understood in another way. Evolution works from the bottom up; it assumes what is true today must have been, by and large, true in the past. It extrapolates that adaptation as seen on the micro may be interpreted as logical on the macro, and it works in tandem with what is already understood to be valid scientifically speaking. It starts with answering the question of human development before considering the development of matter and energy. Nye did make this distinction in the debate by acknowledging that before the Big Bang, scientists have no necessarily agreed upon explanation for how everything came to be.

In contrast, creationism works from the top down. It tackles the question of what brought energy, matter, and life into existence before looking at what evidence is present to us. Creationists ration that the best answers for life and the universe are fundamentally philosophic in nature, so they determine that there is intelligent design, and that the Bible outlines the best or most complete explanation of the designer. From there, creationists look for scientific justification to validate their theories. So creationism can be scientifically justified, but it is not a scientific theory. It can challenge contemporary science on a theoretical basis, but it is not science on its own, it is instead philosophy.

By Bill Nye agreeing to debate Ken Ham, it was demonstrated that further discourse is necessary for the scientific community to convince a wider audience that their theories are in fact valid. After all, if there was no debate, it would have continued to play into the notion that proponents of evolution are just afraid of valid criticisms.

In defense of mainstream science and evolution, Nye made an important case for the traditionally held wisdom that life on earth developed in an entirely natural and explainable way. His arguments were clear and concise, focusing not only on why this version of events is more logical, but also on why Ham’s theories are flawed. Nye did not shy away from the idea that there is a lot in his own theories that require further explanation and evidence, and he often used comparison and wit to deliver a refreshing defense of his ideas.

Many in the scientific community have critiqued the idea that this debate was at all necessary. Suggesting that debating with creationism only gives it credence was their usual line of reasoning. However, what is important to understand is that in America, the most recent polls suggest that a higher portion of the population agrees with creationism over evolution. Ignoring that fact will in no way convince others that evolution is a viable theory that is rooted in research and analysis.

On the flip side, Ham’s arguments were entirely necessary for creationists. By showing himself to be an intellectual man who is a part of a larger community of creationists and proponents of intelligent design, Ham demonstrated that his world view is not inherently invalid.

Essentially, what Ham attempted to articulate was that creationism is metaphysical in nature; that support of a creator as the Bible argues necessitates a world view that accepts God’s existence as a theory, and then looks for support of that theory.

Ham did indeed show support for his theories while pointing to some flaws in contemporary evolution. It is important to note that if there were no flaws in the evolutionary theory, it would no longer be presented as a theory and instead would be considered a fact. Ham argued that Nye’s version of events requires a similar element of belief that creationism requires; both are not infallibly true, though both are valid.

What served to benefit Ham was that his theories were put in front of the world to see. Of course they are not perfect and they are not without legitimate criticisms, but they do indeed represent a system of belief and logic that does require consideration. Whereas the scientific community often works from the starting point that evolution is true and any sort of creation-based or intelligent design model is wrong from its inception, Ham argued that such contemporary reasoning deserves legitimate scrutiny.

Whether or not Bill Nye or Ken Ham were right in their arguments is to a large degree subjective, which is why this debate was so necessary. There are plenty of reasons to critique both schools of thought, and there is ample scientific and logical support for both. In understanding that, one might be hopeful that through continued intelligent discussion, a more clear picture of what we are and where we came from might be deduced.

Editorial by Brett Byers-Lane

Sources:

Fox News
NPR
Time

12 Responses to "Bill Nye Ken Ham Debate Was Necessary [Video]"

  1. scott yasi   November 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    We spliced E.Coli to make insulin for humans. That was not naturally occurring good sir.

    Reply
  2. james george   February 7, 2014 at 3:54 am

    I don’t believe the earth is just 6,000 years old and the bible never says that. natural selection the way evolutionists believe requires an intelligence of some sort. something does the selecting, does it not? I personally believe in a literal six day creation but if I had never read or even heard of the bible and I believed in evolution I would be convinced of intelligent design. I couldn’t believe in a random process that anything might be possible. any intelligence that is smart enough to create and sustain life would certainly have a plan and all the results of that plan would be inevitable no matter the steps that this creator took to achieve it. the theory of evolution requires an intelligence whether it’s admitted or not. so rather than believe in a harum scarum, inexplicable, and unseen intelligence out there why not try to find the one who created order out of disorder, and something out of nothing ( or at least our limited understanding of nothing). there is a planner out there, a conscience being whose plan for life is marching on no matter how we believe it’s being accomplished. and since this “being” created communication then shouldn’t thinking people be spending at least a little of their time trying to communicate with their creator.

    Reply
    • Mike   February 7, 2014 at 4:49 am

      Natural selection requires no such being to make the “decisions”. Natural selection is terminology describing the process of survival in diverse, changing environments. An organism who is fortunate enough to benefit from a random mutation long enough to reproduce will spread the new beneficial mutation around — hopefully improving the species’ chances for survival. There is no active selection at all. What’s more, if you believe in a particularly moral deity — you have absolutely no ground to stand on, considering how amoral the outcome of evolution is.

      Reply
  3. Cajun Vol   February 7, 2014 at 3:22 am

    The problem with creation is the evolutionist are picking one possible theory we have about how God did something and picking that apart. I have way more than one prefered idea of how God many have went about it that makes perfect sense and could explain alot. We wont know until God shows us. It is that simple.

    Reply
  4. steve   February 7, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Ken Ham lost the debate the moment his argument involved an invisible being. Period.

    Reply
  5. Robert Howd   February 6, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    This is a really unfortunate conclusion to a sometimes literate article: “There are plenty of reasons to critique both schools of thought, and there is ample scientific and logical support for both. In understanding that, one might be hopeful that through continued intelligent discussion, a more clear picture of what we are and where we came from might be deduced.” The problem is that Ken Ham’s points have nothing whatsoever to do with science or logic; they are faith-based, clothed in a facade of pseudoscience. It is possible that “a more clear picture of what we are and where we came from” could be provided by a logical following of the discussion in this debate, but by definition that would leave out any contribution from Ken Ham, since his argument is not based on any evidence or logic, just raw faith in a supernatural creature from primitive mythology – as he made abundantly clear.

    Reply
  6. james george   February 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    athiests make fun of people who believe in intelligent design. they fancy themselves as intellectuals. yet they believe that a long time ago a whale who was walking around on land decided he wanted to live in the ocean like a fish. so he and countless generations of descendants keeping the same mindset strained and strained and thought and thought until their legs became useless and turned into flippers. and what about the evolutionists belief that the little wren at your birdfeeder used to be a dinosaur. took some real intellectual sophistication to come up with that. yet these deep thinkers (evolutionists) deny the overwhelming evidence for intelligent design. these are the people who really belong on the funny farm.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Hatch   February 7, 2014 at 2:11 am

      James George you say, “yet they believe that a long time ago a whale who was walking around on land decided he wanted to live in the ocean like a fish. so he and countless generations of descendants keeping the same mindset strained and strained and thought and thought until their legs became useless and turned into flippers.”

      The above is not the way that evolution happens. Your theory resembles Lamarck’s “inheritance of acquired characteristics” theory which was found to be incorrect. Charles Darwin, and others, proposed that evolution occurred by the process of natural selection. Please, at the very least, read On the Origin of Species.

      Reply
  7. John Robertson   February 6, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Ken Ham started with a forgone conclusion, a “young earth creation” interpretation of Genesis, and articulated a somewhat scientific sounding justification for that conclusion.

    Bill Nye presented the scientific theory explaining how our universe “began”, which was developed based on observations of physical phenomena. Right now scientists haven’t a clue what happened before the big bang.

    Reply
  8. Randy S   February 6, 2014 at 7:47 am

    “It is important to note that if there were no flaws in the evolutionary theory, it would no longer be presented as a theory and instead would be considered a fact.”

    You do not understand what it means to be scientific theory. At this point, your article lost all credibility.

    A scientific theory is a hypothesis which is supported by all the evidence and refuted by none. Scientific theories are congruent to scientific facts–scientists simply understand that theories can be improved in the face of new evidence, and thus don’t generally call them a “fact.” Relativity is a theory. Gravity is a theory. And evolution, like them, is supported by all observations and evidence. It is no less true than relativity or gravity, and this is the misunderstanding that perpetuates disbelief in science, resulting in people believing the earth is 6000 years old.

    Reply
    • Brett Byers-Lane   February 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      You should read the article. It actually highlights that saying a view loses all credibility is a narrow and counter productive point of view.

      Now to your argument. Simply put, scientific theories and theoretical because they are not provable, observable, testable, fact. Of course some evidence or manner of reason points to their validity, as the article argues. But consider quantum theory vs. relativity. Both are scientific theories based on evidence or reason. However, they contradict one another. They are supportable theories, but they are both refuted by other evidence and reasoning.

      So your assertion that “A scientific theory is a hypothesis which is supported by all the evidence and refuted by none,” is simply untrue. Many scientific theories are not supported by 100% of the evidence, they are fallible, and thus they are defined as theories. Period.

      Reply
      • Jonathan Hatch   February 7, 2014 at 2:42 am

        I posted a longer reply but it disappeared.
        Brett said, “scientific theories and theoretical because they are not provable, observable, testable”
        Scientific theories are by definition “provable, observable,” and, “testable”. You need to brush up on the basics of the scientific method. Please do not take offense, it’s probably been a long time since either of us was in elementary school.

        Reply

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