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No Debate About It, Bill Nye Dissected Ken Ham in Creation-Evolution Discussion: VIDEO

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BY DAVID TRIFUNOV / GlobalPost

After posting opposing YouTube videos about creation vs. evolution, Bill Nye "the Science Guy" and Creation Musem founder Ken Ham debate the origins of man.

Watch the full debate, AFTER THE JUMP...

This we can’t argue: Bill Nye’s debate with Ken Ham on Tuesday night in Kentucky sparked healthy discussion about heady topics. After that, well … it gets tougher.

Here’s what all the fuss was about. Nye we all know. He’s “the Science Guy” of TV fame. Winner of Emmy awards, dancer with the stars and best buds with some guy named Obama. Ham is popular in his own right, too. He’s CEO of the Answers in Genesis ministry and founder of the Creation Museum, a facility that’s boasted two million visitors since 2007.

They posted dueling YouTube videos last year, with Nye suggesting kids must be protected from creationist thinking. Ham countered with a roster of accomplished scientists committed to the Bible’s version of events. They continued the argument on Tuesday in Petersburg, Ken., inside the Creation Museum, speaking for about 2 ½ hours.

GapHere’s where the debate focused: Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Declaring a clear winner isn’t going to happen because both sides are firmly entrenched. Still, since you’ve lasted with us this long, we should probably get off the fence and tell you this: Nye won by a landslide.

Why? He presented evidence that’s hard to refute, something we can all relate to, he counted the rings on trees.

It seems abundantly plausible to anyone who has ever chopped fire wood that the single ring of a tree stump represents one year in that tree’s life.

So as Ham based his entire argument on the assumption earth is only 6,000 years old, Nye showed pictures of a tree called Old Tjikko. One of the world’s largest trees – a Norway spruce located in, oddly enough, Sweden – if you count the rings you’ll find 9,550 of them.

To that, Nye asked: “How could these trees be there if there was an enormous flood 4,000 years ago?”

Here’s what else we learned:

DebateIt was widely popular.
CNN reporter Tom Foreman, who mediated, told the sold-out auditorium of about 900 people that “hundreds of thousands” were watching online. He said representatives from 70 media organizations attended the event.

Both men are accomplished academics and speakers.
Nye has won 18 Emmy awards and continues to host and produce television programs. He’s a mechanical engineer by trade, and is executive director of The Planetary Society, the world’s large space interest organization. He’s also adamant science education is vital if the United States wants to remain a world power.

“Without scientists and engineers to create new technologies and ways of doing society’s business, other economies in other countries will out-compete the United States and leave our citizens behind,” he wrote on CNN.com explaining why he accepted the debate.

Ham is a transplanted Australian who also has a science degree (environmental biology), and has appeared on a raft of TV shows, from CNN’s The Situation Room to Fox and Friends.

Noah’s ark was the focal point.
The Bible preaches that God cleaned the slate 4,000 years ago, telling Noah to collect two of every animal and 14,000 righteous followers as 40 days of rain fell on the earth. Nye said if the ark was built in the Middle East, how did kangaroos end up on board, and how did they get back to Australia?

“You don’t want to raise a generation of science students who don’t understand how we know our place in the cosmos,” Nye said.

They were unapologetically polite.
Nye reminded his audience that he’s not against spirituality. He said millions of scientists find comfort in religion, but many of them can’t accept Ham’s assertions. Ham suggested science and religion are linked.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a creationist or an evolutionist. You can be a great scientist,” Ham said.

Neither conceded defeat.
During a Q&A after the formal debate, they were asked what would sway them to the other side. Nye said “we would just need one piece of evidence” from his opponent, while Ham said nothing could persuade him “the word of God is not true.”

Watch the full debate, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. These creationist oafs don't even deserve to have faces with eyes and ears stuck in front of a brain when they can't use any of it.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Feb 5, 2014 8:18:56 AM


  2. Still lol-ing at the name Ken Ham

    Posted by: danswon | Feb 5, 2014 8:20:55 AM


  3. The fact that Mr. Ham says that he would never be persuaded to believe otherwise even if presented with irrefutable new evidence that would say otherwise, it says to me that he is not a good scientist.

    Posted by: Matt | Feb 5, 2014 8:21:33 AM


  4. Of course the Earth being 6000 years old, Adam and Eve,etc. is childish nonsense. The bible, both testaments, are parables designed to try to explain to profoundly ignorant people 2000 years ago nature and the human condition. I'm not trash on the bible by saying this, not deliberately being disrespectful.

    That said, science doesn't adequately explain why we exist, where our origins originate, how everything (existence?) began, minus some sort of divine (?) influence. The Big bang doesn't fully cover it, an doesn't adequately explain how something came from nothing.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 5, 2014 8:25:19 AM


  5. I really like the fact this was a proper debate and the parties remained courteous. I rarely see this in public fora anymore. Too many from whatever position either irate at each other, sounding off in an echo chamber, or just trying to play to the lowest common denominator.

    On the "You can be a great scientist" front, I do have to relate my moment of witnessing amazing cognitive dissonance: I am a geotechnical engineer. We deal in soils, water and rock and the structure that intersects with these bits of Mother Nature. (tangent: We often say She bats last.) We perform analysis on samples, but then understand the potential behaviour based on how the unit was deposited and what has happened to it over the life of the planet. So.....I met a geologist who was also a creationist. Think about that.

    Posted by: olympiasepiriot | Feb 5, 2014 8:40:09 AM


  6. @RATBASTARD

    I'll tell you what I wanted to shout at Ham last night : Just because we currently can't explain something (like how we got here) doesn't automatically mean the words, written by man into a book, hundreds of years after the alleged events in said book took place, a couple thousand years ago, and then translated (multiple times) are the only possible answer. It just means we haven't advanced scientifically (and possibly as a race) enough to be able to provide a testable answer.

    Posted by: MikeKV | Feb 5, 2014 8:40:45 AM


  7. Ham kept trying to draw the distinction between observational and historical science, and I wanted Nye to crush him:

    If I plant ten trees now, and after a year I cut one down, I will find it has one ring. If I cut another one down a year later, it will have two rings. A year later, another tree will have three rings, and so forth. I can then conclude that trees have a growth cycle that varies with the seasons and that produces a ring in the trunk for every year the tree is alive. I can then repeat this experiment with any species of tree over any number of years and my prediction that number of years alive = number of rings in the trunk will hold true.

    Ham has no problem with this - this is observational science. His problem is when I cut down a tree that I didn't plant and count the rings, saying that isn't viable science because it's historical, not observational. Therefore, trees with more than 6,000 rings can't be said to be more than 6,000 years old because we didn't observe their entire 6,000 year history (and because that would violate his presupposed notion that the Earth is only 6,000 years old).

    This is deliberately obtuse: to refuse to translate the knowledge of observational science to "historical" science because the results don't match up with the conclusions he wants to draw.

    Is it really the easier explanation to say "God created a tree that already had 1000's of rings in it to make us think it was older than the Earth"?

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 5, 2014 8:41:47 AM


  8. I'll trash the bible and will definitely be deliberately disrespectful. We need lots more disrespect of religion. The notion that religion or religious ideas or dogma needs to be respected simply because it's religion needs to be jettisoned.

    Science continually explains more and more as we learn more and more. That it doesn't have every single answer doesn't speak Ill of science. It's ongoing. Whether the notion the "something from nothing" is even correct and whether or if the answers to other "big" questions will be answered does not in the least diminish science. The injection if god or gods actually complicates and obfuscates - contrary to what the religionists say it does not make the answer easier, better or even slightly more likely.

    Posted by: Klkruger | Feb 5, 2014 8:44:08 AM


  9. There is no debate.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Feb 5, 2014 8:58:34 AM


  10. Just because we have not yet discovered our origins, does not mean that we can believe in complete rubbish made up by goat herding nomads thousands of years ago. It's okay to say simply that we do not know. Why must we cling to such relics of our past and perpetuate the nonsense of religion?

    Religion is the greatest of evils. To take one life, or cause harm or injustice to another, based upon the lies that religion perpetuates is justification enough to jettison such hogwash and refuse to even acknowledge that we, as a species, were ever so stupid and unenlightened.

    My lack of belief lies in the fact that we still largely believe this crap, make laws and mores based upon, that we stone, kill and mutilate each other in its name. God is dead. Deal with it.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Feb 5, 2014 9:18:52 AM


  11. Ham is an academic? Only if you are a wackaloon nutjob.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Feb 5, 2014 9:31:27 AM


  12. old tjikko is a really little tree, just 16-feet tall. it has an ancient root system which has sent up sprouts, called clonal trees, throughout history. the current tree is one of those sprouts.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 5, 2014 9:46:29 AM


  13. The kangaroo thing was deadly. You could hear audible gasps from the audience when Nye laid that out. Nye stuck to a script though and repeated himself a lot, and also missed several opportunities, such as the bit about continental drift. For the continents to have split and reached their present position in 6000 years would have boiled the oceans. With all the recorded volcanic eruptions the midwest of the US would still be covered in meters of ash from the Yellowstone caldera. Where did the water from the Noachian flood come from and go to? How did the ruins of ancient civilizations survive The Flood? Was there an Ice Age or not? Etc...

    Posted by: anon | Feb 5, 2014 10:25:01 AM


  14. If anyone is interested in the latest views from scientists they should look up Neal SHUBIN and Craig VENTER. Both have written books in the last few years about this topic.

    The single most important concept in the history of science is EVOLUTION. Anyone who doesn't get this might as well think the Earth is flat. My advice to them is, be careful not to fall off the edge.

    Posted by: james st. james | Feb 5, 2014 10:27:14 AM


  15. Ken Ham and his ilk are nothing but dangerous to our society as a whole. They want nothing more than to destroy our country from within. They want to keep the population of our country stupid, superstitious, and xenophobic. They want to regress our society back to the Dark Ages by turning our country into a theocracy where anything other than the Bible being taught in schools is against the law. It's bad enough that our country's scores in science and math are well below those of other countries around the world, and they want to run us further into the ground by pushing "Creationism" in our schools as proven science! The people in this country need to wake up and see the agenda that these people are pushing.

    Posted by: crazycorgi | Feb 5, 2014 10:32:04 AM


  16. Creationism 5000 years ago ... ancients grappling to explain conscientiousness/self with limited science.
    Creationism today ... willful ignorance.

    Calling creationism science is what's galling. Zealots trying to insit it be taught as science in schools is beyond the pale.

    Before the Abrahamic based sects there were hundreds of others that had equally believable stories of how we got here. And today we have Scientology & Pastafarians. If you're going to teach one you have to teach them all.

    A reputable scientist shouldn't debate junk.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Feb 5, 2014 10:44:15 AM


  17. I was curious and checked on a site about the Creation museum. It looks more like a typical science museum. They even have a dinosaur model. Not sure how they explain why dinosaurs were not mentioned in the Bible. Was it due to ignorance or negligence of the Bible authors?

    Posted by: Simon | Feb 5, 2014 10:45:33 AM


  18. why couldn't he debate john hamm instead

    Posted by: woody | Feb 5, 2014 10:53:14 AM


  19. In other religious news, an UN report condemned the Vatican for protecting abusive priests. It became gay news when in an interview with Vatican Radio, Father Tomasi of the Vatican suggested that nongovernmental organizations that oppose the Vatican’s positions on homosexuality and gay marriage had influenced the U.N. report, giving it an “ideological” slant.

    http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-un-catholic-church-abusive-priests-20140205,0,3036334.story#ixzz2sSeeQMHy

    Posted by: Simon | Feb 5, 2014 11:25:14 AM


  20. I can't add anything that hasn't been said before in these comments. I'll just add that these comments are truly the best I've ever read on Towleroad. Simply superb.

    Posted by: JJ | Feb 5, 2014 11:50:12 AM


  21. Keep in mind that people believe whatever they want to believe

    Ken Ham probably believes that his diety created the universe 6,000 years ago with trees that had a 3,000 rings in them. And Satan put the dinosaur bones there to tempt humankind into sin.

    And after the flood his diety could have picked up some kangaroos and set them in Australia. Where's your scientific evidence proving that didn't happen?

    I think states like Texas won't stop teaching creationism until colleges won't accept their students because they are ignoramuses with an inferior education.

    Posted by: Charlie | Feb 5, 2014 12:03:53 PM


  22. "science doesn't adequately explain why we exist, where our origins originate, how everything (existence?) began.."

    Quite true, Ratbastard. Bill Nye admitted that. And some scientists over the centuries, when they have come to a point where they could go no further back, have attributed the causes to a god. But then further scientists have been able to push things back further.

    Perhaps there is a god who created matter and started everything off. But how did that god come to always be? Perhaps matter always was. We may never know as a human species. When there is mystery, some see a god. When there is mystery, some see a mystery to be investigated.

    Posted by: john patrick | Feb 5, 2014 12:55:59 PM


  23. Here's just a little, tiny piece of what scientists have established in the past 50 years, through carbon dating and all that other stuff they know how to do:

    The Pleistocene /ˈplaɪstəsiːn/ (symbol PS[1]) is the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's recent period of repeated glaciations

    Where's the problem?

    Posted by: tinkerbelle | Feb 5, 2014 1:57:08 PM


  24. I thoroughly enjoyed this debate last night and watched it live. The main takeaway for me is that I'm even more of an agnostic than I was before. Creationists, while presenting a lot of technical information, simply do not want to be proven otherwise. It was very hard to listen to Ken Ham's rationale over and over. Nye was a joy and inspiration.

    Posted by: AriesMatt | Feb 5, 2014 2:24:15 PM


  25. "Ham said nothing could persuade him “the word of God is not true.”

    This alone tells me that he'd rather believe in something abstract rather than deal with any sort of realities.

    Posted by: Joseph Singer | Feb 5, 2014 3:50:13 PM


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