Monday, July 27, 2015

Bill Nye vs Ken Ham - Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today's Modern, Scientific Era? 2014

2.25 stars: Lumpy and overlong, with nothing exciting intermixed to speak of.

This debate ( video | 2 hours plus ) was pretty popular over a year ago and took place between Answers in Genesis head Ken Ham and William Nye the Natural Philosophy Dude. The topic was "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?"

Because of Nye's large fanbase this debate got a lot of attention. The interbuttz site I frequent the most, Reddit featured countless front page (really popular) posts before, during, and after the debate. How lame was I to not be ready with a blog post reviewing the debate in order to get ALL THE TRAFFIC...I coulda lived like a king!

Anyways, this was a formal debate with a rather weird format. The speakers had 5 minute intros, then 30 minute openings and then 5-10 minute (can't remember which) responses followed by a cross ex section and I think Q&A and then closings.

The format kind of made the debate feel uneven or perplexing, especially the fact that each speaker spent roughly 35 minutes on an opening and then only had at least 10 minutes for a rebuttal. The straightforward 20->15->10/Cross Ex->5->Q&A format is one that I'll always stand by.

But let us move on. Ham went first and had a very well produced ppt but it he just doesn't seem to be a very good debater or have any umf to his presentation. Content-wise he presented nothing new and if anything he simply presented the basic outline of the Creation argument...It appears that that was secondary to Ham's obvious goal, which was to play up whether or not students should be taught Creation over or at least in tandem with evolution. He also, rather creepily, played up the Biblical teachings about sin and hell...his slide show was quite jarring with his welcoming cartoon slide animations going from pictures of animals to tortured souls reaching to the sky with agony as they burn in eternal flames...

Nye on the other hand, seemed more ready for a debate, though in his debates he isn't as animated or colorful as he is on his show. He also brought some interesting arguments and ones that were definitely more germane to the topic at hand.

Nye also was good about addressing specific parts of Ham's arguments in the rebuttal and cross-ex, while Ham was pretty terrible.

One thing I can criticize Nye for is something that only WLC does really well: and that's calling his opponent out when they fail to address an argument they made. For example, a new argument (to me) that Nye made was that Noah's Ark is assumed to have landed near Mount Ararat in modern day Turkey. Now, if the ark carried kangaroos, it's reasonable to think that once they left the ark, they migrated from Turkey all the way to Australia. Such a migration would take a considerable amount of time and would have meant that some of those kangaroos died on the way Down Under and would have left fossils somewhere in between...But ALL the kangaroo fossils are found in Australia...this argument can be repeated for many other animals, too.


But Ham never addresses it nor does Nye call him out on it...I woulda liked to hear more about this argument.

In sum, Nye was there to be the approachable science educator with a bit of debaters' kick to him while Ham wanted to leech off of Nye's name in order to get more followers and fund his newest project. The format and Ham's presentation certainly backs this up.

This leaves us a pretty lackluster and tedious debate and the crappy format and Ham's poor performance didn't make things any better. Such a bummer.

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