Bill Nye Proved Richard Dawkins Foundation Wrong?

Nye

It was back in January when the Richard Dawkins Foundation website published an article, which provided proof on why Bill Nye debating the creationist Ken Ham was the wrong way to go about defending evolution. They made some very powerful and compelling arguments, such as that debating a creationist deems them actually having some credibility in their arguments, ammunition that most scientists know to avoid providing. They explain that evolution is a fact backed by countless amounts of research and creationism is a debunked myth, plain and simple.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation also argued that Nye is not a biologist, does not practice research science and should stick to talking about what he knows best. He is not qualified to defend evolution against common men such as Ken Ham, someone who actually holds a degree in environmental biology.

Lastly, the Richard Dawkins Foundation argued that in a debate, it is absolutely imperative for one candidate to fully understand their opponent. They argued that Nye would attempt to use science, reason and evidence to counter Hams creationist theories and arguments. However, Ham who carries the creationist mindset would not play by the rules and would disregard any facts or evidence and instead, replace logic with nonsense, confusion and essentially what comes down to stubbornness. A reformed creationist, David MacMillian published an article on The Huffington Post backing some of these claims up and explained why Nye should not underestimate Ham. Overall, as the Richard Dawkins Foundation explained, the risk versus reward makes doing the debate not worth the effort.

The aftermath

Did Bill Nye prove the Richard Dawkins Foundation wrong with yesterday’s debate? Not only did Nye annihilate Ham in the debate as many expected him to do, but he helped expose Ham, and in turn, his creationist model as being completely fraudulent. He did this by simply employing an unlimited supply of logic and reason in his arguments. It is natural that the atheist and secular communities would be on Nye’s side of the debate but what is more interesting is the number of Christians who are shaking their heads in Ham’s direction. After taking a look at the top comments on Reddit’s /r/Christianity subreddit’s official debate discussion thread, that much is clear. One user, theGolgiApparatus writes:

the fish in the cave story proves Ham doesnt fundamentally understand what the theory of evolution actually is.

Another user, trueBlonde made a great observation about one of Ham’s primary arguments:

So far it seems Ken Ham is proving that creationists can be scientists, not that creationism is a viable scientific explanation.

Finally, a Redditor called BrownNote was remarkably impressed by one of Nye’s questions:

BILL JUST TURNED IT UP TO 11. “I have a question for you, Mr. Ham. What can you prove? All you’ve done tonight is come up with explanations, this is very troubling to me.” No more Mr. Nice Nye.

Back to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, here are some alternative counter-arguments as to why the debate was a good idea after all.

The credibility issue

Before the debate, only creationists were the ones calling themselves credible and now that the debate is over, still only creationists are calling themselves credible. It would be incredibly difficult to find anyone who knows that the world is not 6,000 years old and actually believes the creationist theory has any amount of credibility.

The debate did nothing to add any credibility to the creationist’s case and in fact, offered plenty of arguments and evidence to support the claims of evolution and the scientific method and show why creationism is just not viable. Even if people were not debating creationists on the big stage, it has nevertheless been a hot topic of discussion all over the internet for years. Bringing the issue in front of a worldwide audience blew any notion of credibility that creationists had to offer completely out of the water. Ham’s arguments essentially boiled down to, “The Bible said it. I believe it. That settles it.”

Despite a plethora of evidence that was continuously stacked against Ham, this was his repetitive argument and it made him appear as un-credible as someone can possibly be.

The Nye is not a biologist issue

It is a fact and not one that can be debated but that does not mean that Nye was unprepared in any manner of speaking. While he may not have anything more than a degree in engineering and three honorary doctorate degrees, this did not restrain him from presenting an insurmountable amount of evidence and preparing highly well-formed counter-arguments to debate Ham’s creationism model.

It sometimes takes more than simply having a slip of paper to indicate one’s intelligence as Nye no doubt proved during yesterday’s debate. After all, Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world did not receive an honorary degree until 2007. While Nye may not have a Ph.D in biology or any other type of science, he did study under Carl Sagan, is the CEO of The Planetary Society and did manage to take Ham to school.

The not understanding your opponent issue

Did Nye understand Ham’s viewpoints? From the moment he took the stage (and after telling a brief story about bow-ties because why not), Nye began to rip into Ham’s theory about historical science and ham’s flood.

He used fossil evidence to explain how Ham’s method is not viable. He explained how there would need to be fossil evidence of kangaroos travelling between the Middle East and Australia within the last 4,000 years. He explained how humanity would need to have discovered 11 new species every day if life really did start from just 7,000 as Ham claimed.

He explained how Noah’s family who had no experience in ship building would have had to build gigantic ship that could house 7,000 types of animals and the best ship builders in the world could not build a ship like that many years ago.

He explained that science needs to have the ability to predict and Ham’s version of science cannot do this. In fact, he challenged Ham multiple times throughout the presentation as well as during the question and answer session to predict just one thing with his creationist “science.” Nye knew his opponent so well it was as if he had lived a lifetime in his shoes.

Did Bill Nye win the debate? He absolutely did. And did Bill Nye further prove the Richard Dawkins Foundations wrong in their assertion that he should not debate a creationist? It would certainly seem that way.

Editorial by Jonathan Holowka

Sources:
Live debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham
Richard Dawkins Foundation
Huffington Post
Reddit
Bit-Tech

11 Responses to "Bill Nye Proved Richard Dawkins Foundation Wrong?"

  1. Jack White   January 28, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    If you think having a degree in environmental biology makes you deeply educated, you’re a moron. How many core hours is that relating to biology, 30? Bill Nye couldn’t complete 30 hours of course work? Richard Dawkins is a moron, he recently said this about Jeopardy…

    “You see, there’s this obscure region called The Rest of the World.”

    He didn’t realize that Jeopardy has aired around the world, and in his own country. The guy is arrogant, and a buffoon. A social outcast that has been spat on his whole life and denied status. He needs to check himself, quickly.

    Reply
  2. manfred schulze   February 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    why is northridge listed like a state?

    Reply
  3. guardiancentral   February 20, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Dawkins doesn’t generally make mindless statements. When he states that Nye is not qualified to speak about biology when he’s not formally educated in that field, he is referring to if Nye intends to go into serious debates with deeply educated people. A debate with Ken has lower standards. When someone like Ken doesn’t even understand what he doesn’t believe, formal education to debunk him is not even necessary. The basic knowledge itself is enough. So in other words Dawkins was right if you consider context. If you want a simple yes or no answer, then a weak answer will have to be given.

    Reply
  4. Will   February 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    After hearing both sides of why this debate should not have happened I still have a hard time figuring out why anyone (other than a creationist) would not have wanted it, especially with how it turned out. Big fan of RDawk everyone, and I respect (and can understand) his own personal choice of not dealing with young earth creationists however the scientific community, as well as those on the fence needs a face like Bill’s and if anything came out of this debate it is that Bill Nye persuaded some of those who were indeed on the fence or even on the other side altogether! It was a win for the rationalistic thinking column.

    Also something I feel needs to be said, I feel as a rationalistic community we need to begin distancing ourselves from the term ‘atheists’ (and all the other reductive labels), i get that we aim to be rational and scientific, etc. I get that we have debunked the creationist’s point of view, furthermore we can safely say there is not a man with a grey beard in the clouds, I get the meaning of the term atheism as well. However that puts a religious (or areligious) connotation on this whole way of thinking and being. It seems that those words just cause divisiveness, and strays us away from the main important point of furthering discovery and science. I am neither a believer nor disbeliever, off the basic fundamental understanding that I simply don’t know, and using terms like “atheists” makes it sound as if we have leaped to the answer ( it’s interesting we choose such a bold stance) when as scientists would put it, its the questioning and the understanding that there is so much we don’t know yet which makes it so exciting. As Bill Nye put it during the debate, “its the joy of discovery which drives us!” We are on our way of discovering so many things and thats beautiful, however attaching a label to ourselves such as ‘atheist’ is, by what I see it as, coming to a full stop from that forward way of thinking. Not to belabor this point but there just seems to be irrelevant questions out there for rationalistic thinkers and one of them is if there exists a said god or no god. Obviously not a thing that can be proven nor disproved, therefore a label like atheism just doesn’t do us any justice. Hope I got that point across clearly and respectfully!

    Reply
    • zulfiqar   March 6, 2014 at 8:17 am

      well said Will.

      Reply
  5. Nicholas   February 12, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I see this as a win-win for rationalism, science and the long term goal to see theism put into an appropriate receptacle for whence it shall come forth no more. If the argument is simply about strategy/tactics then contesting inputs are both welcome and necessary. To live up to our own creeds, this issue should be dealt with objectively and rationally.

    Perhaps future tactics may employ a combination of controlled debates and carefully selected speakers depending on the opponent and topic creationism or not. RD’s personal choice is not to engage such idiots. Nonetheless, whatever approach is chosen, the aim must be singular. Dissent and debate among ourselves is entirely appropriate – divisiveness isn’t. After all, “atheism” is rapidly gaining credibility as a movement. If schoolchildren are to continue to learn science not fantasy then the atheism “movement” as a lobby, needs credibility, power to influence and unity.

    Reply
  6. Steve   February 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    What a ridiculous article.

    Reply
  7. Matt   February 6, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Couldn’t disagree more with this article. Nye owes the scientific community an apology for agreeing to this rubbish. Debating with someone so ignorant is pointless and demeans scientific achievement in an attempt to satisfy people who simply cannot be turned around

    Reply
  8. jim   February 6, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I love Dawkins, but Nye was great. Robertson is now distancing himself from creationists. That ALONE is a victory. I didn’t know he disagreed w/ 6K years before this debate.

    Reply
  9. Jean Dubois   February 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Don’t you like the Richard Dawkins Foundation? Negative or positive, Ham wanted publicity and that’s what he got. That’s one of the reasons why Dawkins is against a debate with a creationist.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Holowka   February 7, 2014 at 8:32 am

      I love the Richard Dawkins foundation. I’m arguing that the publicity backfired for Ham and worked against him. The widespread and overall sentiment after the debate has been overwhelmingly negative towards Ham and his ideals, which is a good thing.

      Reply

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