Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | March 6, 2014

Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #11

Debaters Ken Ham & Bill Nye

Debaters Ken Ham & Bill Nye

What would a space scientist think about the historic Creation-Evolution debate between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and evolutionist Bill Nye the Science Guy?

This eleventh installment of web reaction to the debate has commentary from a computer specialist supporting NASA’s Cassini mission to explore Saturn. (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 2.4 million times. Interest and conversation about the debate continues to be intense and vigorous.

Commentary on the Debate from the Web (Part 11)
David Coppedge

David Coppedge

Creation-Evolution Headlines editor and space scientist David Coppedge reviewed the debate in
Bill Nye Scores on Debate Presentation if Not Logic.

I concur with Coppedge that Nye’s debate presence was better than Ham’s even though Ham had the better arguments. I also agree that Ham should have given more creationist interpretations of evidence and disputed Nye’s evolutionist interpretations. You have to start with where people are. Here are excerpts from Coppedge’s review of the debate:

Bill Nye could not account for the laws of logic, but it won’t matter to many listeners wooed by his charm. …fans of Nye will likely take heart at his stage presence and emotional appeal.

With great respect for Ken Ham and his influence, I regret to state that, in my opinion, he lost on presentation, though he scored significant factual and logical points. This was surprising, since I know him to be quick on his feet and logically astute. But most of the time, it appeared to me that Bill Nye had Ham playing defense, trying to justify his “extraordinary beliefs” as Nye characterized them.

Consider the emotional aspects of stage presence. Nye looked his audience in the eye, talking to them with a spirit of “the joy of science” and “the joy of discovery,” bringing in grand vistas of cell phones, satellites, astronomers and medical researchers all participating in the grand adventure of progress and understanding called science. … When Ham spoke, Nye stared him down, with a serious look almost of a scowl of incredulity. Ham looked meek by comparison. The meek may inherit the earth, but they don’t win debates. Confidence, courage, and authority are important in one’s demeanor. We can all hope that later analysis will show who won on the merit of the arguments and evidence, but on the spot, when the cameras are rolling, you want to take control of the situation. … But Nye appeared to be the one in charge. He got away with portraying creation as an “extraordinary view” in contrast to “science” that loves to “discover” things. But in actuality, what could be more extraordinary than believing Nye’s mind emerged out of hydrogen? What could be more extraordinary than believing nothing times nobody equals everything?

Instead of defending Darwinism, most of the time Nye grabbed the “science” ball and ran with it, positioning himself as the champion of discovery, progress, and even patriotism. Nye characterized the debate as “the world” against Ken Ham, “the scientific community” and “billions of religious people” against this one man’s narrow literal interpretation of an ancient book translated into English by processes as unreliable as the old game of telephone. When Ken Ham had the floor, he was often looking down at his laptop with his glasses on, as if preoccupied with what Powerpoint slide he could pull up to respond to the latest red herring from Nye. This caused him to stumble for words and lose his train of thought.

Ham’s main repository of evidence was the Bible – sure to get Amen’s from the Christians in the audience, but unlikely to impress skeptics or fence-sitters swooning under Nye’s stimulating stories about ice cores, radioactive elements, and fossil skulls. (And that’s what it was: storytelling with adroit use of card stacking.) Did Ham forget that the Apostle Paul, when speaking to Gentiles, appealed to sense observation of creation in Romans 1, Acts 14, and Acts 17? Surely he knows this, because he teaches in his books and lectures the difference in approach one must use with today’s secularists. Doesn’t he remember Gish and Morris using only scientific arguments, not religious references, in their debates? This was not the place to defend Genesis. Discussions of the Ark and Babel are very appropriate downstream questions once the major question of design is decided, but not to modern pagans willing to accept Nye’s characterization of the Bible as an ancient text. How can an ancient text, flawed through translation, speak to “today’s modern, scientific era”? That was the picture being portrayed; it gave Bill Nye open season to ridicule details about the Ark, Noah, and vegetarian lions, without having to justify his fairy tale that unguided processes can turn hydrogen into scientists.

Several times [Ham] stated the importance of the laws of logic, stressing that the Christian world view accounts for the laws of nature and of logic. He asked Bill Nye to explain the laws of logic – something Nye failed to do. He pointed out that scientists rely on the creation worldview to do science.

Ham also pointed out that evolutionism is religious, but did not score rhetorically with it. He could have shut Nye’s mouth with words to the effect that “Everyone who uses reason is a supernaturalist, and you, Bill Nye, are a thief!” Turning to the audience, he should have said, “Bill Nye is stealing from the creation world view to use reason and logic. How can he get those out of a big bang?”

Ham pointed to several eminent scientists who are creationists…But the point is not that “some scientists are creationists” or “you can be a creationist and still be a good scientist.” The point to drive home is that the creation worldview is essential to good science, but secularists, like parasites, plagiarize creationist assumptions.

Ham said that we have the same evidence but just disagree on the interpretation of the evidence because of our assumptions. While that is true to an extent, what he needed to debate was the superiority of creation’s interpretations over evolution’s interpretations.

Ham believes creation because he believes the Bible, and no evidence will change his mind, he basically said. Bill Nye followed by portraying himself as the open-minded guy willing to change his mind if there’s evidence: bring it on! … Ken Ham could have bludgeoned that argument with counter-arguments showing evolutionists are not open-minded, that they have a philosophical commitment to materialism that is absolute. … Ham should have spoken directly to the unconvinced, proving evolutionists are insufferable bigots denying academic freedom to skeptics of the Darwin idol and persecuting those who don’t chant DODO [“Darwin only! Darwin only!”]

With the rhetorical upper hand, Bill Nye was able to get away with fallacies, half truths and big lies. Many of his “arguments” were mere assertions.

It is with sadness I evaluate this debate as a loss for Ham, even though he did score well at times. If you subtract out the rhetoric and personality fluff, Ham did better. If you clear up Nye’s factual errors and logical fallacies, Ham arguably won.

The debate question was poorly framed, and the subject matter too broad. I think Ken Ham should have known his audience, opponent, and main message better. He should have played more offense and less defense. And it’s a reminder to all of us that presentation, not just facts, is important for making a winning case.

I want to thank AIG and Ken Ham for having the courage to invite Bill Nye to back up his bluff. Though I believe his arguments were unsound, Bill Nye showed himself to be a worthy competitor and is to be commended for debating on AIG’s home turf. … Let the debate continue.

Coppedge also commented on the debate in Fact Checkers, Spin Doctors Go to Work After Creation Debate:

We hope that in the aftermath, with the personality issues fading from memory, the facts will be clarified with details and references, so that it will become clear who really had the better scientific information. What AIG needs to do (and appears to be doing) is to rush its supporting documentation to press as far and wide as possible, to clarify points that were not rhetorically effective, and to expose the factual errors and illogic Nye employed. Ken should also be honest about what he wishes he would have said, and should have said, instead of spinning the debate as a total victory (which it was not). He portrays his performance more positively than it came across to many listeners, even some supportive ones. The debate can still be rescued for good in at least two ways: (1) clarification of any lingering doubts about the science, and (2) use as a training video on how to improve debates against fast-talking Darwinians. In the final analysis, all viewers should keep in mind that, as in a court of law, it’s not the flair of the lawyer that should sway the jury, but his evidence.

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
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #9 – chemist, ID advocate
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #10 – ID advocates

Read the sequel with more web commentary:
Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #12 – creationist speaker, canyons

Questions to Ponder
  1. How would you answer this question from the debate: What evidence would cause you to change your mind about Creation-Evolution?
  2. What Scriptural reason can you think of to cultivate effective “stage presence” when explaining Biblical truth?
  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)
Thursday March 6, 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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