This ninth installment of web reaction to the debate has commentary from a chemist and an Intelligent Design advocate. (Links to previous installments are at the end.)
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 2.3 million times. Interest and conversation about the debate continues to be intense and vigorous.
Commentary on the Debate from the Web (Part 9)
I had some pretty high hopes for the debate, and some of them were realized. However, most of them were not.
While there were plenty of opportunities for the debaters to interact, they rarely did so. As the title of this post indicates, they spent most of their time talking past one another. That’s unfortunate, because a real discussion between the two debaters would have been more illuminating than what happened in the debate.
[Ham] kept showing videos of young-earth creationists who are doing real science right now. This was good, since the debate was a result of Nye’s anti-science claim that there is no place for creationism in today’s society. Those videos destroyed that claim, and throughout the debate Nye never even tried to address how these successful scientists could be young-earth creationists given his stated position.
Ham’s best moment, however, came when he talked about predictions that the young-earth creationist model makes and how they have been confirmed by the data. For example, he presented the creationist “orchard” as opposed to the evolutionary “tree of life.” He then quoted from two studies. The first was about dogs. It showed that all dogs came from a single common ancestor, which goes against evolutionary expectations but is exactly what was predicted by the creationist model. The second was the human genome project, which showed that all humans belong to a single race. This is diametrically opposed to what was believed by most evolutionists throughout history, which is that there were several races of man, with the Caucasian race being the most “evolved.” Ham even quoted from an old high school textbook that used evolution to promote such racism.
[Nye] brought up a lot of evidence that he thinks opposes a young earth (ice cores, trees, rock layers, order of fossils in the fossil record, distant stars, fossil skulls, and animal migration). All of that evidence, of course, has been addressed by young-earth creationists, and some of what Nye said about it was quite incorrect.
[Nye] said that you wouldn’t expect to see layers of rock in the geological record if there were a worldwide Flood. However, a quick review of any creationist literature not only shows that they expect such layers, but that observations of local floods as well as laboratory experiments demonstrate that floods can, indeed, produce layers of sediment that will form layers of rock. He also claimed that the creation model can’t make predictions. Of course, this was after Ham had discussed predictions of the creation model and how they have been confirmed by the data. Once again, even a short perusal of the creationist literature shows that the model makes all sorts of predictions, many of which have been confirmed by the data.
[Nye] discussed the number of animals that would need to be on the ark…while his numbers are very wrong, he does point to a real issue with young-earth creationism: diversification of species had to have been much more rapid in the past than it is today. Now, there are good reasons to believe that it was, but nevertheless, I don’t know of any really good young-earth model that addresses the specifics [of] rapid post-Flood diversification.
While each presenter made some good (and bad) points in his opening presentation, neither of them addressed much of what the other said. Ham, for example, kept asking Nye where the laws of logic and the uniformity of nature came from. The creation model explains this, the naturalistic model does not. Nye never answered him. Nye, on the other hand, kept asking Ham to explain the various hominid fossils found in the fossil record. Ham never answered him.
In the same way, both debaters seemed to simply ignore the other on many issues. Ham kept saying that he had shown the creation model makes predictions that are verified, and he said there are many other examples. Nye kept saying the creation model makes no predictions. Nye kept saying that the creation model will harm the U.S. when it comes to science and technology. Ham had shown the videos of creation scientists who are doing serious scientific work, and Nye never explained how these scientists could exist if his view is correct. Nye kept calling the creation model “Ken Ham’s model” and the worldwide Flood “Ken Ham’s flood,” even though Ham told him that creation and the flood aren’t his ideas. They come from the Bible, and the creation model has been worked on by lots of PhD scientists. Nye kept talking about the Bible as it if had been translated many, many times, at one point even comparing it to a game of “telephone.” Ham never pointed out how completely wrong such a statement is.
Will this debate change any minds? I doubt it, because each debater never really addressed the other’s contentions. However, I do think that the post-debate discussions that people have could change some minds. That’s the real value of a public debate. This debate allowed some arguments related to the origins issue to be “put out there.” Now it is time to discuss them. That discussion can be incredibly valuable, both scientifically and spiritually.
Intelligent Design advocate Casey Luskin from the Discovery Institute is an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law and is a contributor to Evolution News and Views. Luskin is the Discovery Institute‘s Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture. Here are excerpts from his debate commentary,
The Ham-Nye Creation Debate: A Huge Missed Opportunity:
Ham talked about some science here and there, but almost all of what he said focused on trying to support a young earth viewpoint. Since he’s not a scientist, the great majority of his arguments amounted — over and over again — to “Because the Bible says so.” Nye’s main argument was, “Because the evidence says so,” and he cited a lot of reasonable evidence for an old earth. While Ham did make a few effective points that you don’t have to accept evolution to do good science, the compelling scientific evidence for design in nature got skipped over.
Because the focus was so overwhelmingly on the age of the earth, the point was never made that a mainstream scientific view about the age of the earth is totally compatible with an intelligent design view that totally refutes Nye’s intolerant, materialist beliefs about the history of life.
I strongly prefer evidence-based approaches to origins like ID [Intelligent Design]. Skeptics who say “Show me the evidence” are challenged with evidence, because that’s what ID argues from — the evidence for design in nature, not in the Bible.
It’s extremely regrettable that the powerful evidence for design in nature was hardly discussed in the Ham-Nye debate. A huge opportunity was lost.
[Nye] knows next to nothing about the many emerging scientific challenges to the neo-Darwinian paradigm. He didn’t hardly try to defend Darwinism in the debate, and a debater who was familiar with these issues could have shown the audience that an ID-based view of life is far superior to a Darwinian one.
Nye gave the bland argument that “Evolution is a process that adds complexity through natural selection,” but he probably has no idea about the growing body of evidence that is leading scientists to reject natural selection as an explanation for much of biological complexity.
Nye also said nature is “inconsistent with a top-down view” of ID. I suppose Nye is unaware that scientists increasingly say that understanding biology requires a top-down approach.
ID principles are bearing real fruit in science. What we find in life is fundamentally incompatible with the “bottom-up” approach of neo-Darwinian theory. Biology in the 21st century requires a goal-directed cause that can explain the integrated, “top-down,” “holistic,” and “irreducible organisational complexity” of the cell. That cause is intelligent design, but the audience watching the Ham-Nye debate, live or online, learned hardly anything about this viewpoint.
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 – Nye’s debate coach comments
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #6 – astronomer, CMI, WORLD mag
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #7 – Gary DeMar, Mally sisters video
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #8 – apologetics prof, science historian, debater.
Read the sequel with more web commentary:
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #10 – ID advocates
Questions to Ponder
- How would you answer Nye’s claim that teaching creation will impede the development of science and technology in the USA?
- Luskin lamented Ham’s omission of evidence for design. What strikes you as the most compelling example of design in nature?
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”
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Saturday March 1, 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)