Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 22, 2014

Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #6

Did you catch a number of significant factual errors by Bill Nye the Science Guy during his historic Creation-Evolution debate with Creation Museum founder Ken Ham? What would a credentialed astronomer think about the astronomy mistakes?

This sixth installment of reaction from the web to the debate features commentary from an astronomy professor. (Links to previous installments are at the end.)

caption text

Creationist debater Ken Ham used this graphic to illustrate the difference
between his worldview and that of his evolutionist opponent Bill Nye.

An estimated 10 million viewers watched the live stream of the debate:
Is Creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Additionally, as of press time, the YouTube video of the February 4 debate has been viewed over 2.1 million times. Interest and conversation about the debate continues to be intense and vigorous.

Commentary on the Debate from the Web (Part 6)

Creation Ministries International (CMI) reviewed the debate in
Clash over worldviews: An analysis of the Ham/Nye debate.
The full review is very valuable for its brief rebuttals to the long list of claims Nye made in the debate. Here are several of CMI’s rebuttals:

Nye asked a number of times, why do we not have examples of fossils mixed between layers; for instance, a mammal in trilobite layers. But to the surprise of many, ducks, squirrels, platypus, beaver-like and badger-like creatures have all been found in ‘dinosaur-era’ layers along with bees, cockroaches, frogs and pine trees. See The so-called ‘Age of Dinosaurs’ and Evolution exams and fossil fallacies.

Nye noted that there are no kangaroo fossils showing a migratory path from the Middle East to Australia. However, absent catastrophic, rapid burial, fossilization of a land creature would be a rare event; thus, lions roamed what is now Israel in historical times, but no lion fossils have ever been found there. In addition, marsupial fossils are actually a huge problem for evolutionists, because their fossils are found on every continent. In fact, in the Late Cretaceous (allegedly 85–65 million years ago) their fossils are not even in Australia, but in Eurasia and North America. See Biogeography.

Ken Ham made a telling point, that the atheistic worldview can’t account for logic and reasoning, while the Christian worldview can, because we are made in the image of a rational God. However, the subtlety of the argument seemed totally lost on Nye…if our brain is the result of natural selection, then why should we even trust our reasoning to be logical (or our senses to be accurate, as Nye claims)?

In response to Ham’s comment that evolutionists conflate terms, that is, using the term ‘evolution’ to include aspects of operational science, Nye kept restating that it is only creationists who use the distinction between operational and historical science. But this is simply not true (should we be surprised) because it is evolutionists who make this distinction themselves. Prominent atheistic biologist Ernst Mayr wrote:
“Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science—the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction of the particular scenario that led to the events one is trying to explain.”

 
Creationist astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner caught multiple astronomy errors on Bill Nye’s part in the debate. It’s inexcusable for Bill Nye, the executive director of the Planetary Society and a self-identified space aficionado, to make such mistakes. Here is one of the errors Faulkner reported in his article: Is Bill Nye an Expert in Astronomy?

To many young people who grew up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mr. Nye is an icon. Most of those young people, as well as many others, view Bill Nye as an expert in science, including astronomy. But is he?

I suggest that Nye may not know nearly as much about astronomy as the general public thinks he does. The incorrect information that he presented about astronomy in the debate ought to be a bit embarrassing for the executive director of the Planetary Society, let alone “the Science Guy.”

In discussing the CMB [cosmic microwave background], Nye showed a plot of the temperature curve from the COBE satellite and commented on its purpose: “We built the Cosmic Observatory for Background Emissions, the COBE Spacecraft, and it matched exactly, exactly the astronomer’s predictions.”

Actually, COBE is an acronym for Cosmic Background Explorer, but that is a minor point. While the COBE project more precisely determined the temperature of the CMB, the temperature was known with reasonably good precision as far back as its 1965 discovery. However, the big bang model does not predict the temperature of the CMB, but merely the existence of the CMB. Pre-discovery predictions of the temperature had a wide range, because the model was not well constrained.

Nye appears not to grasp what the purpose of the COBE mission was, which was to detect spatial temperature fluctuations in the CMB. The big bang model predicts that there must have been irregularities in density in the early universe and that those irregularities produced slight differences in temperature in the CMB. The COBE satellite was designed specifically to detect the temperature fluctuations in the CMB predicted by the big bang theory.

The prediction was that spatial temperature fluctuations on the order of one part in 10,000 must exist in the CMB. But the COBE data showed a perfectly smooth CMB with regard to temperature. It was not until the application of a very sophisticated statistical analysis by George Smoot and his team that they were able to tweak out of the COBE data temperature fluctuations an order of magnitude lower, at one part in 100,000.

These fluctuations were at a level below the capability of the COBE mission, but they eventually were confirmed by later experiments. However, the important fact is that the data and predictions did not agree. In response to this problem, the model was altered to fit the data. Hence, to claim that the data and predictions “matched exactly” is to rewrite history.

 
WORLD magazine covered the debate in
No big bangs in Ham on Nye science showdown and included this analysis:

Last night’s much anticipated debate between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and evolution advocate Bill Nye likely disappointed spectators hoping to see a spirited exchange, with jabs and intellectual punches flying. Both men seemed more interested in offering academic explanations than lively repartee.

Ham was unwavering in his declarations of the Bible’s authority and his arguments for a literal interpretation of Genesis. Though he referred to the Bible frequently, he used direct quotes from biblical texts only a handful of times. He continually focused on science’s weak spot: Science can deal only with what is observable and therefore can’t explain origins because the past can’t be observed.

Nye spent most of the evening offering up what he deems as scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old: rings in tree trunks, carbon dating, layers in snow ice, layers of fossils and sediments. He asserted that if Noah’s ark came to rest on Mount Ararat in the Middle East, and animal life on the earth was repopulated exclusively from animals on the ark, then there should be some fossil evidence of kangaroos hopping their way from Mount Ararat to Australia.

Nye clearly was trying to cast himself as a “reasonable man,” using the term numerous times. When a member of the audience asked him if science had room for God, Nye replied that God and science are not connected. In regard to intelligent design, he asserted that such a model is a misunderstanding of evolution, which does not need a designer.

Nye peppered his statements with condescending remarks, such as repeatedly referring to six-day creationism as “Ken Ham’s creation model” or “Ken Ham’s interpretation,” or to the account of the flood as “Mr. Ham’s flood.” On several occasions, Nye referred to those who do not believe in creationism as “the world outside,” as though somehow creationists live inside a secluded world of their own. He dismissed the Bible as an ancient text that has been translated over 30 centuries, comparing it to a game of telephone in which a message is distorted by repeated transmissions.

But Ham repeatedly returned to the authority of Scripture. When a member of the audience asked Nye how consciousness came from matter, Nye said the nature of consciousness is a mystery—we don’t know. Ham replied, “There is a book out there that does tell us where consciousness comes from. God created us in His image.”

When Nye admitted that science can offer no guess as to what existed before the Big Bang, Ham responded there is a book out there that says God was in the beginning. When Nye admitted he doesn’t know where the laws of logic come from, Ham said there is a book out there that tells us.

“The battle is really about authority,” Ham concluded. “Who is the authority, man or God?”

 
Read the prequel articles on this debate:
Creation-Evolution Debate: Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye – background info & the YouTube videos that sparked the debate.
Ham on Nye Debate Update
Who Won the Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate?
– includes YouTube video of debate
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #1 – 4 web commentators
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #2 – 4 web commentators
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #3 – comments from debate moderator and post-debate challenges from debaters to each other
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #4 – Albert Mohler’s assessment
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #5 – comments by Nye’s debate coach

Read the sequel with more web commentary:
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #7 – Gary DeMar, Mally sisters

Questions to Ponder
  1. If you saw the debate, who do you think won and why?
  2. How can you use the buzz about the debate as a natural starting point for spiritual conversations?
  3. Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Saturday February 22, 2014 A.D.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)

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