Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: First Thoughts

There's a new video up on my YouTube channel in which I discuss the recent Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye creationism debate.  In fact, I’ll probably be making it a small series so that I can review the various facets of the debate, parse it out, and give my thoughts on it.

First off, what is it good debate?

Well, I thought it was a good thing.  It wasn't really a debate, and to his credit Bill Nye didn't engage a lot of Ken Ham's bungled rhetoric.  It might have been better (and certainly more entertaining) to watch the two debaters address each other's points directly, and though they both did on occasion, the format didn't really make for that sort of thing.

I know a few people have reviewed it saying it was amazing and the best they’ve ever seen.  I don’t agree. I think the Science Guy did a decent job of stating, "science works, so kids, go learn it" and Ham’s main point was "the Bible is 100% true, can't tell me otherwise".

I think it was good for the public to get a refresher in science.  My favorite parts were when Bill explained how we know what we know.  I think that for debates like these -- especially where people are advising against debating creationists or conspiracy nut jobs because it makes them appear on equal footing when they’re not -- a good thing for the public in general.  Look, 31% of people in this country say that their faith directly influences how they vote.  And the percentage of people in this country who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God: 22%.  So when you have a debate like this, where you’re at the creation museum and perhaps a large percentage of the audience is fundamental theists, when you explain how science works and how we know the facts we know, it’s likely the first time a lot of them are hearing it, and it can sway a lot of minds.   

Bill didn’t do that often, he just assumed people would look things up and stated them as fact, but the few times he explained, those were my favorite times.  Lawrence Krauss’s talk at FreeOK 2013 was awesome and I realize Bill couldn’t possibly give a complete science lecture, but it might have been better if he did.  Just give a quick remedial science lesson to the room and recap here’s why we believe the Big Bang, here’s why we believe Evolution, here’s why we trust and use the scientific method.  Because again, I doubt many people really understand these concepts because of how poorly science is taught.  

I know I didn’t fully grasp it when I was in high school because it was presented as, science is a collection of facts and figures along with the other subjects where you just memorize and parrot back.  Here’s how long division works, here’s how cellular mitosis works.  Here’s how a circular saw works, here’s how volcanoes work.  There was never any emphasis on the method and how we use science as a tool, it was just about, "Here’s the way the world works, if you’re interested in it, go into a scientific field"…much like, "Here’s how a lawn mower engine works, if you’re interested in that, become a mechanic."

I didn’t intend this to be a full review, just a few bits on what I thought about it overall.  At least it was good to get the scientific point out there again (it seems we need to do that every few years), Bill didn’t really have to do anything other than state facts and let Ken Ham destroy himself with statements like “I’m starting from a viewpoint that the bible is a true account of history” and “there is no hypothetical situation in which he could be wrong”.  I mean, at that point you can’t do anything to debate against that besides what Bill did, which was state scientific fact and tell people, we know these things, now go learn about it before the United States gets left behind!


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