Last night I watched the Nye/Ham debate. I know a lot of atheists got on Bill’s shit for even standing next to a hack like Ham, but I was not one of them. As an atheist, I am forced to debate ridiculous beliefs all the time. Ignoring ridiculous beliefs won’t make them go away. Creationism is a ridiculous belief that Bill Nye the Science Guy couldn’t ignore; he had to debate against it and I support that.
All the time I run into fundamentalist religious believers who reject reality in favor of an ancient book series written by primitive sheep herders. Unfortunately, so many people believe in an invisible man in the sky that I actually have to point out the ridiculousness of the belief. Equally as unfortunate is the fact that in the United States of America, there are a great many people who seriously believe that the world is 6000 years old and that a guy name Noah, built a boat to carry at least two (seven in some cases) of every animal. Yeah, it is fucking ridiculous and yes, people seriously believe it.
Nye had a great opportunity here to bring science to those who do not know science. He took that opportunity, did that, and for that reason it was a win. He told some funny anecdotes, a few jokes, and laid out some good scientific evidence for evolution and the Big Bang Theory.
Ken Ham on the other hand embarrassed himself. He started to talk about how science has hijacked… science. He then claimed that science actually supports Creationism instead of… science. But ultimately, his main argument wasn’t a scientific one. He freely admits that the only source and evidence for his claims comes from the Bible and that no amount of evidence could convince him to change his position.
It is important that Nye pointed out that he is very willing to change his position if presented with valid evidence. He is open to the possibility of Creationism, but not the probability of Creationism. I think he could have hammered that point home a bit more than he did.
While I am glad Nye didn’t try to address every ridiculous assertion Ham made, there was one question Ham kept asking that Nye never answered and it was noticeable. I think such a noticeable point on Ham’s part really did need to be addressed. Ham kept saying that God created the laws of physics and without God there would be no physics – no science. He claimed that the laws of physics were evidence of a divine lawgiver.
Obviously, this is ridiculous but it is what almost the entire audience believes. As such, Nye really needed to address that point. This is no different from the argument by design. If the Earth was just a fraction of a degree closer or further away from the sun, life as we know it wouldn’t exist on this planet. Well, that maybe the case and then we wouldn’t be here to address the issue. The fact that we are here to address the issue suggests that the conditions were right for life on this planet. Other planets don’t have life and no one on Mars is pointing that out – because there is no one on Mars to point it out!
The laws of this universe are such that it supports life. The laws in another universe might not have been supportive of life and that universe might have died quickly. We just don’t know. We don’t know why the laws of the universe are what they are. We just know that they are what they are – and we aren’t even sure of that. But making up answers and asserting them as Truth without evidence is not helpful. It isn’t science and it won’t help us to understand the universe.
That is really what Bill Nye’s message of the night was – religious assertions which answer questions without evidence are not helpful. It stifles curiosity, learning, understanding, and innovation. Anyone can assert anything, but that doesn’t make it true. We can only know if something is true or false through the scientific method. Only through science can we accurately predict the future and advance civilization.
Nye’s message was great and he stayed on message, but he didn’t address the question that Ham beat him over the head with, even when addressing that question actually could have helped him present his message better. With that said, Nye did an outstanding job and I am merely Monday morning quarterbacking.
Still, I maintain that anytime we are able to present information to an audience who is normally sheltered from that information, it is a win for us. Nye won the debate just by showing up.
For the record, according to Christian Today, Bill Nye won the debate by a landslide. I did mention that it was a poll done by Christian Today, right!
- The Smoking Gun Evidence For Evolution (skepticink.com)
- Ignoring Ridiculous Beliefs Won’t Make Them Go Away (skepticink.com)
- Darwin Day resolution introduced in 113th Congress (examiner.com)
- My Interview With Ray Comfort (skepticink.com)
- The Bible Cured Cancer! (skepticink.com)