Feb 04 2014

Live-blogging the Nye-Ham spectacle

Might as well — we’ll see if this embedded video actually works when the countdown is complete, and then we’ll comment as it goes.

Before the debate starts, I looked around a bit for opening statements, to get an idea of how the debate will go. Bill Nye has given away his strategy: he’s focusing on the actual debate question, Is creation a viable model of origins?, and plans to talk about how creationism is useless for leading us to new ideas and testing models experimentally. That’s good. That’s a solid foundation he can ‘win’ on. Ken Ham, on the other hand, is talking about how there is observational science (true science), and historical science, which is not only a totally bogus distinction using criteria invented by creationists, but doesn’t even answer the debate question. Expect much talking past each other. Nye will talk about science appropriately. Ham will be blowing dogwhistles for his audience of true believers.

Called it. In Ham’s opening statement, he trots out this nonsense about historical and observational science; claims that atheists have hijacked the word “science”. He also brings out a video of an engineer who is a creationist, therefore creationists can be scientists. Too bad he couldn’t find a real biologist.

Nye’s opening statement: he’s got five minutes. Why is he going on and on about bow ties?

Oh, good: he’s going straight for Ham’s premise, talking about how CSI makes no distinction between historical and observational science. It’s all about studying events in the past using evidence in the now — great example!

Talking about billions of believers who do not accept Ken Ham’s view — also a good idea to carve Ham away from his self-mounted pedestal as the representative of gods.

Bow ties were worrisome, but he’s off to a good start.

Now we get 30 minutes of Ham. Right off: video of Raymond Damadian, one of the contributors to the development of the MRI, who declares himself a biblical creationist who believes in a 600 year old earth. Then we get a video of Danny Faulkner, an astronomer who works for AiG, who claims that nothing in “observational science” contradicts the bible. He mentions again the engineer from the opening, Stuart Burgess, who works on satellites, and we get another video from him.

So far, there’s nothing but evidence by assertion and authority. These guys have no relevance to the question, and one is an in-house crank paid by AiG.

Christ. More historical vs. observational science. Is this all he’s got, testimonials and invented distinctions in science? Nye effectively shot those down with his CSI example.

You weren’t there. This is all he’s got, isn’t it? So he’s just going to repeat it over and over.

Now Ham is claiming that he and Bill Nye use the same evidence, and just have different interpretations. NO! Ham selectively ignores almost all of the evidence. He’s simply lying here.

Oh, god. Now he’s claiming he has evidence confirming the bible stories: evidence that intelligence produced life, that creatures reproduce after their kind, that there was a global flood…wait a minute. No, he doesn’t have evidence for that.

He’s getting specific. The biblical “kind” is equivalent to the Linnaean taxonomic category of family. He’s also claiming that there are limits — dogs will always be dogs. He cites a recent paper on dog evolution, showing a diagram of a tree generated from the genomic data, and then claims the collection of squiggles creationists draw of trees of descent (with a discontinuity at the Flood) are the same! No, this is so sleazy. The dog tree is based on real data. Any arbitrary tree would not work. The AiG tree is evidence free, and has a flood bottleneck not seen in the scientific tree.

And then, as is typical, he claims the creationist picture is confirmed by observational science. Liar.

Another testimonial: Andrew Fabich, a microbiologist. Who teaches at Liberty University. He’s there to claim that Lenski’s experiment doesn’t show evolutionary change, it’s just a switch that gets turned on and off, the information was already there.

Now it’s time to slander: He cites the racism of Civic Biology, a terrible book that promoted eugenics in the Scopes era. So? These conclusions have been rejected by most modern scientists.

Jesus. Bible quotes. Prophecy. Fuck.

MORE OF THIS HISTORICAL/OBSERVATIONAL NONSENSE. Jebus. This isn’t a legitimate distinction as used by Ham.

Ham is incoherent. Now it’s all about abortion and euthanasia and the gospels and salvation. These points are not relevant to the question. Why are they using a debate format if Ham is free to simply ignore the topic under discussion?

Nye, finally. He begins with fossils, having found specimens right there in Kentucky — millions of layers of ancient life. Ice cores: 680,000 layers that demonstrate an interval of 680,000 years. This is a nice example of the data that Ham ignores. Would require 170 winter/summer cycles per year to fit into 4000 years. Trees that are older than 4000 years. Layers in the Grand Canyon — wouldn’t there have been churning and bubbling if they were laid down in one great flood?

Shows a slide of hominid fossils. Where do we fit? Isn’t it obvious there are more than just one species there?

He’s really hammering on the evidence Ham neglects — it’s good, Ham isn’t going to be able to answer it all. It’s an evidence-based Gish gallop!

Nye is making more good points about the absurdity of a big wooden boat holding 7000 kinds for a year.

Tiktaalik: an example of a prediction from evolutionary theory. Creationists have nothing similar.

Nye is giving examples of the predictive power of real science: the Big Bang, cosmic background radiation, etc. Rubidium and strontium and radioactive decay: radiometric dating is important and causally explainable.

Now he’s refuting that astronomer from Liberty University: there are billions of stars more than 6000 light years away. He’s focusing on the evidence for the age of the earth, which makes Ham’s claims ridiculous.

No jebus in his closing argument, just a plea to respect the importance of science for their children.

Now we get 5 minute rebuttals.

How does Ham deal with the age of the earth? You can’t observe the age of the earth. YES YOU CAN. Then he adds up the genealogies in the book of Genesis. What? Whoop-te-doo.

Christ. His example of the flaws of radiometric dating is a sample that was dated at 45 million years by potassium-argon, but when it was sent…for…radiocarbon dating (I’m getting stupider just hearing this)…they got a different date! Well, yeah. Carbon-14 decays much more rapidly and you can’t date specimens beyond about 50,000 years.

Amazing argument: the bible says god created everything and it was good, and tumors and death are found in fossils, therefore they must be less than 4000 years old.

Nye flubs it. He suggests that those 45,000 year old trees actually were that old, and it was just older rock above them. He’s not familiar with bogus creationist arguments. He’s not doing as well at this responsive, interactive stuff as he did in his prepared remarks, because he’s not used to dealing with these routine and often refuted creationist claims.

Ham replies to Nye’s explanation of the 45K year old trees by saying they were encased in basalt. That’s true. That’s what’s annoying: Nye should know you can’t use carbon-14 to date 45 million year old samples.

We didn’t see those tree rings forming or those ice layers being laid down. Nope. But we know how they get laid down. Your interpretation requires absurdities like 170 winters per year.

Noah’s Ark wouldn’t twist and be unstable because it had three layers of wood. Right. Show me that in your bible, Ham.

Nye repeats the figure of 680,000 ice layers. States that the most fundamental difference between them is that scientific assumptions are based on evidence, not invented out of whole cloth. WHy should we accept Ham’s assertion that natural laws changed 4000 years ago — his model requires that everything, stars in the sky, species, the surface of the earth, underwent a radical change in how they worked 4000 years ago. Why should we believe him?

Oh, no. Q&A from presubmitted questions from the audience, for 45 minutes. I’m dyin’ here.

First question is about cosmology. Ham has no problem. Jesus.

Nye talks about natural laws that explain the movement of the stars and planets. Point, Nye. Asks if Ham can come up with a prediction.

Question 2: where did the atoms of the big bang come from? Nye: We don’t know, let’s try to find out. Talks about Perlmutter’s measurements of distances and motions.

Ham’s answer: we do know. It’s in the Bible. The audience laughs. Bible, bible, bible, bible.

Q3: What evidence besides the Bible does Ken Ham have? Ham: the majority don’t decide the truth. The appendix is important. If the Bible is right, then we have predictions based on that. He is incapable of answering the question. He’s a babbling idiot.

Nye kind of goes off on a tangent, too, pointing out that scientists embrace disagreement, just show us the evidence.

Q4: How does consciousness arise from matter? Nye: I don’t know. I would say I don’t know either, but nevertheless, it does. We have an approach to figure it out. Nye also talks about how we can experience the joy of discovery and are looking for it.

Ham: it’s in the Bible. Idjit. See Q3.

Q5: Ham, what would change your mind? I’m a Christian. God has shown me clearly through his word, and the person of Jesus Christ… None of that answers the question. Also says Nothing anyone can say will convince me the word of god is not true. So I guess he did answer it: Nothing.

Nye: We would just need one piece of evidence. Then he lists a long litany of things that if evidence were brought, he would change his mind, fundamentally. Asks Ham again to make a useful prediction.

Q6: Nye, what other evidence besides radiometric dating do you have for the age of the earth? Radiometric dating is pretty convincing, but also deposition rates. Many steps in evolution of speices. Like asking, “if things were any other way, they would be different.” So it’s silly to exclude dating methods.

Ham says something about dating meteorites to get the age of the earth, as if that somehow invalidates it. Dating methods are full of contradictions, and most of them contradict billions of years.

Q7: can you reconcile rates of continental drift today with how fast they had to have gone thousands of years ago? They believe in catastrophic plate tectonics.

Nye points out that a century ago it would have been easier to answer…before continental drift was discovered. It’s a conclusion about the past based on evidence now.

Q8: Favorite color? Nye: green. Ham: blue.

Q9: How do you balance evolution with the second law of thermodynamics. Nye points out that we have a huge source of energy called the sun.

Ham: energy and matter cannot produce life, no matter what energy you have. It requires god. He babbles on, apparently the second law didn’t operate before the Fall.

Q10: Ham, how would you respond to evidence that the earth was more than 10,000 years old? He says you can’t do that. There is nothing in observational astronomy that contradicts a young universe.

Nye points out that yes, we can demonstrate the age of the earth. We’re supposed to just take Ham’s word for the age? Are you sure that life cannot arise from non-life? What can you predict? What can you provide us that tells us something about the future?

Q11: Can science and religion be reconciled? You just know Nye is going to avoid this one, and he does, pointing out that there are billions of people who use science without believing in a young earth. Ham is an unusual exception.

He sees no incompatibility between religion and science.

Ham says science needs god. Christianity and science go hand in hand.

Q12: Do you believe every word in the bible should be taken literally? His answer: what does literally mean? He thinks of it as “naturally” — some of it is poetry, it should be taken as poetry. He makes much vague noise on this one.

Nye points out that Ham takes what he likes as literal, what he doesn’t like as poetry.

Q13: Have you ever believed that evolution was accomplished through a higher power? Nye says you cannot prove or disprove a higher power, but intelligent design has a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of nature.

Ham claims no new function has ever been demonstrated in evolution.

Q14: Name any organization (other than church or park) that is using creationism to produce a product. Ham’s answer: everything relies on god, and old time scientists were all creationists.

Nye repeats the request for predictive examples from creationism.

Q15: Since there’s all this evidence that humans are getting smarter by evolution, how do you explain how ancient people weren’t dumber? Nye just rejects that: we’re not getting smarter, there’s no evidence for it. Being smarter isn’t a necessary consequence of evolution.

Ham’s rebuttal is blind cave fish. He seems to think that’s not evolution. I want to point out that the blind cave fish did have a new function: expansion of tactile sense in the jaw.

Final question: What is the one thing on which you base your belief?

Ham is predictable: the bible. Only the bible talks about the origin of the earth and animals and on and on. It’s a very specific book. (No it isn’t: it does all that in a cursory few pages.)

Nye: the information and the process we call science.

I can’t believe I sat through 2 hours and 45 minutes of that.

Nye was better than I feared, but man, he missed some key points. Every single thing Ham said was obvious, predictable, and said by him a thousand times before; he was inflexible and unable to say a single thing that would change his mind. Someone more experienced with this crap than Nye would have had rebuttals right at his fingertips.

But Nye was enthusiastic and passionate, which was great. He might have reached a few people out there, and in a few places, I think he was effective at communicating the quantity of evidence that refutes Ken Ham. All Ham had was his habit of falling back on the Bible, which is more than enough for some people.


Skip to comment form

  1. 1

    Indeed PZ, and as we are speaking of a creationist debate (one side, of course) please read my comment #18 on the “What do you get when animals multiply?” post !

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    Does anyone have time to whip together some creationist trope bingo cards?

  3. 3
    Sunday Afternoon

    Ooooh! I’ll start: “Were you there?!”

  4. 4
    Rich Woods

    @Marcus #2:

    If the off-licence hadn’t just closed I’d be up for a drinking game. As it stands, all I’ve got left in the house is tea.

  5. 5

    We can just post “BZZZSSTTT” each time Ham lies or makes shit up, or uses his pre-selected audience to his advantage.

  6. 6
    Chengis Khan, The Cryofly

    Well, I am not sure about this. It is not like we are watching a discussion on temporal disparity between Apatosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. It is Tyrannosaurus and Homo sapiens timeframe of existence that is at stake here.

    PS: Between 13-16, Feb’14 there is the CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging show in Yokohoma JP. Even though I know just one Japanese word, I will hear that out (http://www.cpplus.jp/en/).

  7. 7

    Every time Bills eyebrows go into ‘explaining to children’ mode: Take a shot.
    Every time Bill looks like he wants to sigh but holds it in stoically: Take a shot.
    Every time Bill slaps down a Ham-er (argument from ignorance) with a fact: Take 1/4 of a shot.

    If you’re not drunk by the end of this, you have an amazing liver and/or are some kind of scottish/irish/russian super-hybrid drinker.

  8. 8

    PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ PZ READ THIS !!!!!!!!!!
    Jerry Coyne included a link on his Nye/Ham debate post for the debate. ‘Nick’ commented the following regarding that link…

    “WARNING (posting at top so people see this)

    debatelive.org is an AIG owned URL so I recommend people watch it at one of the other places that will be streaming it… I’ll probably go to MSNBC.com or WCPO.com. Some Youtubers have also set up live streams.

    I began to suspect this when an acquaintance said that he had registered at debatelive on Saturday and was immediately spammed with emails from Answers in Genesis. I just verified it by checking Whois for domain ownership. Registered by AiG 14 Jan 2014.

    Don’t give them the hits.”


  9. 9

    I hope Bill prepares more for the debate than he did for this interview:

  10. 10
    PZ Myers

    If you look up top, I’m bypassing “Debate Live” and the other news sites, linking directly to the youtube live feed.

  11. 11

    For Marcus.. Not mine of course.. http://ncse.com/files/Ham%20Bingo.pdf

  12. 12

    Thanks PZ, that’s good to hear…the kettle is on now ready for this. I do hope it all runs smoothly (the live stream, but whilst I’m at it, the Nye side too).

    Take care.

  13. 13

    OK that cartoon totally creeped me out.

  14. 14

    With the way the topic was written, Nye should have just said “No”, dropped mic and walked off the stage and left Ham there blinking.

  15. 15

    One hit for Sunday Afternoon at #3.

  16. 16

    Ken Ham opening: Dictionary “science” and “different ways of knowing”.

    Yep, right on cue.

  17. 17

    Ham was good while he was defining science…Then he showed a picture of a timeline with Adam and Eve and I don’t see it getting any better.

  18. 18

    I saw the timeline and thought it could only be a joke

  19. 19

    So Observational Science can be used to confirm Historical Science but only if it agrees with the Bible?

  20. 20
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Didn’t even get thru Ham’s intro before I started yelling at the screen. This is going to go downhill fast.

  21. 21

    The Parable of The Bow Tie

  22. 22

    Ham’s going for the Powerpoint Gish Gallop approach.

  23. 23

    Bill Nye is killing Ham….with facts…..not that I expect him to win, given where he is.

  24. 24

    I *like* the bowtie story.

    Gee, tough crowd though.

  25. 25

    I would like to define terms…”historical” bullshit means anything a creationist said in the past. “Observational” bullshit means anything I observe a creationist saying in the present.

  26. 26

    I’m not a scientist, but I enjoyed science class immensely in my school years. And I’ve learned enough about science since then that I couldn’t bear Ham for more than a minute or so there. You all have much stronger constitutions than I do…

  27. 27

    Wow, appeal to authority much? Ham can’t stop name-dropping random gullible scientists

  28. 28

    How can any astronomer possibly think the universe is 6000 y.o.?

  29. 29

    So, his whole argument is “real scientists believe this crap”?

  30. 30

    How can one live with that level of cognitive dissonance? Damadian invented the MRI scanner and thinks it’s because his mother prayed a lot? Really?

  31. 31

    @ drksky

    Argument from Authority is the YECs go-to for all things.

  32. 32
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    The Atheist Lobby! “Creationists are bullied out of the scientific community and silenced by Big Atheism” was on my bingo card.

    Honestly, how does presenting scientists who happen to also believe bullshit help?

    And now it’s the C.S. Lewis gambit for “God created logic, therefore I don’t need logic. QEMFD”

  33. 33

    Fucking twunter suspended my account because I was apparently posting too frequently to the #creationdebate hash! Wankers.

  34. 34

    My last tweet: #creationdebate creationist scientists prove only that smart people can believe stupid things. It is not evidence that creation is viable

    “molecules to man”
    “we have the same evidence”

  35. 35

    @28. Um, stars that are further than 6,000 light-years away are “nothing to dispute the world is 6,000 years old”.????

    I’ve never heard Ham speak before. I’m irrationally annoyed that his voice is pleasanter than I thought it’d be. (It’s unfair; my voice sounds like a rusty gate. I guess it doesn’t mean anything but somehow it doesn’t seem fair…)

  36. 36
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    Shorter Ken Ham: “We can’t know anything, therefore I know you’re wrong and I”m right!!!”

  37. 37

    A creationist after forcing himself on a sexual victim: “Look, we’re just going to have to disagree on the interpretation of the data. You may say that you were rejecting me, but I interpret your actions as inviting me in. My starting point for this argument is that I’m irresistible.”

  38. 38
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I could never do what Nye is doing right now. I couldn’t sit there with my mouth shut and listen to Ham lie and bullshit without strenuously objecting. DAVE SMASH!!

  39. 39

    Ken thinks it’s sad that kids aren’t being taught to think critically. My HypocrisIrony Meter just melted.

  40. 40

    “If a tree fell in the woods, how did you know it made a sound?? You weren’t there”

    -Hypothetical Ken Ham example

  41. 41

    Note how the graphics reinforce the idea that this is simply a struggle between two men’s opinions.

  42. 42

    Whoa, that is one WHITE audience!

  43. 43

    Oh good grief, now Ham’s talking about “kinds”…what a maroon.

  44. 44

    “Not all species of dogs [on the Ark] – just two.”

    So, Ham believes in extremely rapid God-guided hyper-evolution within “kinds” over 4000 years – but not unguided evolution between “kinds” over 4 billion.

    What a class-A maroon.

  45. 45

    Now Ham’s saying evolution is hijacked by secularists….so he’s trying to redefine the word. He’s an egregious liar.

  46. 46

    His picture of dog species from the study was measured in thousands of years. It was in intervals of 10 thousand years…

  47. 47

    Ham didn’t see the various species of finches arise, but he can accept that it did. Huh.

  48. 48
    Dana Hunter

    Shorter Ken Ham: “I don’t grok science – I just like to con people into thinking I do by using 12 billion words.”

    Alas, have to go back to work and can’t watch the whole thing. Hoping it will be available on YouTube for a day or two… or that some nefarious bugger figures out how to record and send it to me. *suggestive cough*

  49. 49
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Monitor Note

    tfarmer001 #37

    I get where you’re going, but please don’t be telling rape “jokes” here.


  50. 50

    Gahhhhhh front loading!!! Science is not a C-5 Galaxy.

  51. 51
    Peter Zachos


    I’m very interested in listening to 30 minutes of Ken Ham dribble, and I’m impatient for Nye’s presentation. Ham seems to be repeating the old canards that we’ve heard a million times before. So out of sheer boredom I’ve put on Suicide’s “The Second Album + First Rehearsal Tapes” record on a gentle volume underneath the live stream…. and you know what… it’s goddamn brilliant. Now Ham’s presentation sounds/feels like some sort of paranoid performance art.

    I propose choosing your favorite stoner album and underscoring this section of the debate to varying humorous effect.

    ~ Peter Z.

  52. 52

    IANA biologist, but I think that microbiologist guy just lied his ass off.

  53. 53
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    I’m having flashbacks to my homeschool anti-evolution biology education…

    I’m hoping I get the square on my bingo card that says “If one type of animal worked, why would God redesign? Ergo, the animals look related. Duh.”

  54. 54
    Peter Zachos

    (Duh…. i meant “uninterested”. … sp mine)

  55. 55

    Aw, crap. “Darwin’s idea of the races of man” Crap! Crap! Crap!

  56. 56

    Aaaaarrrrrggghhhhhhh……Ham is a horrific, unabashed sophist.

  57. 57
    Jacob K

    Wait, is he using racism as evidence that Darwin was flawed? Like, as opposed to the bible?

  58. 58

    If creation implies 1 race of man, why doesn’t it imply one race of “dog kind”? How many races of “dog kind” did Ham show in a previous slide? Heck, it even included a picture of a bear as “dog kind”!

  59. 59

    All the “can’t know anything” stuff is straight out of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s playbook. Coincidentally, Bruggencate is doing his own live commentary on YouTube. I won’t link to it, if you’re already screaming at Ham you don’t need this guy in your life.

  60. 60
    One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login

    Ham is smooth, he has a good announcer’s voice, and he is trying hard to sound judicious and reasonable. The videos of “real scientists”(tm) who are creationists are impressive in their confidence. His challenge “name an invention that couldn’t have been made without atoms-to-humans evolution” was striking. All told his performance is excellent. I hate his guts, but he is doing an excellent job that will please and impress a lot of people.

  61. 61

    My face and my palm both hurt. A lot.

  62. 62

    Is it just my bias, or do the audience look like slack-jawed morons?

  63. 63

    I saw Gish speak at Cuttlefish U. I’m having flashbacks.

  64. 64

    Quoting the bible to justify the bible. What a focktard.

  65. 65

    What’s he even talking about now?

  66. 66

    lol this is just an advertisement for the creation museum

  67. 67

    Oh, my ears are bleeding! Too much sermonizing!

  68. 68
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    This is a fucking sermon, it is in no way relevant to the debate topic.

  69. 69
    Jacob K

    Can anybody name a character in Genesis that had a one man, one woman marriage? I’m pretty sure they all were polygamous.

  70. 70

    Fuck. This is SUCH an epic Gish Gallop. I hope Bill is prepared for this.

  71. 71

    Now he’s saying evolution justifies euthanasia????

    Life begins at fertilisation????

    He HAS to be lying – no one is this stupid.

    And now he’s claiming to be a science teacher…..

  72. 72
    Peter Zachos

    Holy Lobotomy….. Ken Ham is an insult to the mentally handicapped.

  73. 73

    Biased audience indeed.

  74. 74

    isn’t that an outright lie about the Lenski experiment? haven’t they found the mutations involved

  75. 75
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    My feed buffered for a few minutes and from the looks of the other comments I’m a bit behind now. I apologize for the delayed rage. But.

    “Get rid of spare cats, get rid of spare kids. We’re all animals”

    What he means is, get rid of spare women, who will die of illegal abortions.

    I hate him so much.

  76. 76
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Jebus H…

    We don’t do rape jokes here. We don’t call people variations on the word “retard.” We don’t make jokes about “the mentally handicapped.”

    If you don’t like that, fuck off.

  77. 77

    “isn’t that an outright lie about the Lenski experiment? haven’t they found the mutations involved?”

    I’m pretty sure you are right. Only 1 flask out of 12 evolved the citrate capability, and in fact there were 2 separate mutations that enabled it, as I recall.

  78. 78

    Folks, Daz has a point. We’re in this place, and this place has a moderate amount of rules. We may not always agree with what’s defined as acceptable, but we should do our best to follow those rules.

  79. 79

    Nye is doing well, but it won’t matter – facts aren’t important here, and Ham has the audience of half-witted creotards on his side.

  80. 80

    Ham never addressed viability.

    Rebuttal. THe bristlecone pines are at an altitude of 10,000 feet and in California. So Ararat wasn’t the only point above the flood… just the only one in a thousand mile radius.

    … jes’ sayin’

    (I love the idea that the bristlecone pines are old enough to have been the product of original creation. I intend to use that in a fantasy story some day…)

  81. 81

    Bill is staying on topic, that’s about the best he can do considering the audience.

  82. 82

    I don’t get Nye’s argument about the skulls. I think he is trying to say that all of them are hominids, but how would this audience be able to tell that?

  83. 83

    Nice point about the rate of formation of kinds. The audience is just hostile.

    11 per day, and not enough time. Good stuff.

  84. 84

    Nye blew it with the 11 new species argument, too. These people don’t think God is obligated to create new species at a steady rate.

  85. 85

    These people don’t think, full stop.

  86. 86


    I’m very glad Bill didn’t refer to it as a Museum.

    Also, I think he used Comic Sans when presenting the post-Ark maths :)

  87. 87
    Sami Huttunen

    Anyone notice the use of Myersian Comic Sans tactic when Nye quoted Ham?

  88. 88

    I think Bill is focusing too much on attacking Ken and not enough explaining the science.

  89. 89

    Ham has a refutation for the kangaroos-to-Australia problem in one of his books. Not good, but he has it.

    Glacial Lake Missoula! I lived in Missoula and have driven the outwash. Didn’t know what I was looking at then.

    Nye is hammering the ark itself. Good.

  90. 90

    Oh, I like the Wyoming wooden ship argument!

  91. 91

    Given the demeanour of the audience, anyone want to predict the outcome?

  92. 92

    Nye missed the chance to mention how much money Ham is “needing” to build his ark.

  93. 93

    Is it me, or does Bill’s time seem to be going much faster than Kenny’s? Oh right, I’m interested in what he’s saying.

  94. 94

    Can anybody name a character in Genesis that had a one man, one woman marriage?

    Isaac and Rebekah, for one.

    Adam and Eve (his clone-sister), for two (although legend gives him another clone-sister-wife before Eve)

  95. 95
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Let’s face it, Nye could put that audience in a time machine and show them evolution happening in fast-forward, and they’d deny it.

  96. 96

    Uh oh! Talking about SEX! This will twist their knickers!

  97. 97

    “Ham has a refutation for the kangaroos-to-Australia problem in one of his books. Not good, but he has it.”

    What was it?

    To my mind, the variation, lack thereof, and predictability of distribution of the fossil record is the perfect doorway to evolution. It simply shows history and evolutionary change over history. Viable and irrefutable.

  98. 98

    Oh, oh….Nye is talking about religion and the big bang…..they don’t like that in the audience. Only Ham has that right.

  99. 99

    I love how Bill keeps referring to the “outside world” when talking about how actual scientists and non-crazy people approach science and evidence. Good to reinforce the insular nature and implicit fear of contradictory knowledge embodied by the Creation “Museum.”

  100. 100

    I can live with this, the debate topic was whether or not creation science is viable. Nye’s not trying to show proof for modern science in a night, he’s just trying to say, “Don’t buy this crap.” Foot in the door, start them questioning. He knows who he’s talking to.

  101. 101

    I still think Nye could hammer home on the “because-I-cant-observe-it-it-didn’t-happen” line that is the basis of Hams bullshittery with some analogy that, while not scientific, the audience might get.
    I’m not good at analogies, but something like:
    “although I can’t observe *in the present* that I had a hair cut this morning, the fact that my hair is short, and that if I cut other peoples hair *in the present* it has the same result, means that I can infer that I had a hair cut this morning.”
    as said, poor analogy, but think he could use an example that the creation-wits can’t just go ‘lalalala science gibberish” and ignore…

  102. 102
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Hoyle coined the term Big Bang to ridicule it. (Ironically, part of his reason for disliking it was that it seemed to require a creator.)

  103. 103

    Woozy, the short version is that kangaroos went everywhere, but only survived in a few places, leaving no fossils. And the continents slid, after the flood, perhaps in the time of Babel. It’s shit, but he wrote it.

    I like that Nye mentions Ken Ham’s “followers”.

  104. 104

    Tweet from @ZachWeiner:

    I missed the first part of Bill Nye’s speech, so I’m not sure it ever happened.


  105. 105

    THe bristlecone pines are at an altitude of 10,000 feet and in California. So Ararat wasn’t the only point above the flood… just the only one in a thousand mile radius.

    Did he really say that? (I’m not watching the feed) Because that contradicts the bible, which says that the mountains were covered. No exceptions — not even Ararat. Ararat was exposed only after the flud waters were “assuaged”.

    (Old hands will remember Roger S’ “explanation” for the bristlecone pine that high: Vege-mats!)

  106. 106

    Most of this audience don’t know what a neutron is….or Rubidium or Strontium.

  107. 107

    Nye is talking about predictions. That is so close to prophecy that I love it.

  108. 108

    Attacked Kentucky education in front of a Kentucky audience……bad idea, Bill.

  109. 109

    @96 – It’s about evolution and we cannot talk about sex? How do they think genetics works?


  110. 110

    is it true that we can measure parallax for stars >6000 LY away?

  111. 111

    Magnets – LOL

  112. 112

    Owlmirror – Never mind 10,000 metres… there’s Everest at “STUPID HUGE Metres”

    Unless plate tectonics occurred so quickly it gave my ancestors epic whiplash.

  113. 113
    Jacob K

    Isaac and Rebekah, for one.

    Adam and Eve (his clone-sister), for two (although legend gives him another clone-sister-wife before Eve)

    I forgot about Isaac and Rebekah. I know there’s some debate about Adam and Lilith, but while not as strong as I had hoped, I think my points stands that citing Genesis as a source for traditional marriage is not really a strong case.

  114. 114

    Better applause for Nye than for Ham! I’m surprised.

  115. 115

    Ham has addressed the distant-stars issue in one of his books. Not well, but he has tried to cover it—it isn’t something he has never thought of.

    Nye for education. I am liking it!

    Getting applause at his ending.

  116. 116

    “THe bristlecone pines are at an altitude of 10,000 feet and in California. So Ararat wasn’t the only point above the flood… just the only one in a thousand mile radius.”

    Did he really say that?

    Oh, god no! That was entirely *my* argument.

    (I was joking, of course. I feel a particular fondness for the bristlecone pines which I’ve visited frequently.)

  117. 117

    Ham sounds rattled.

  118. 118

    Good response for Bill there. Clearly some Kentuckians appreciate things like facts n’ numbers n’ book-learnin’.

  119. 119
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    moarscienceplz 110

    I didn’t think so. I had an idea it was in the hundreds of LY.

  120. 120

    I still think Nye could hammer home on the “because-I-cant-observe-it-it-didn’t-happen” line that is the basis of Hams bullshittery with some analogy that, while not scientific, the audience might get.

    The analogy that I came up with was showing an old photograph of an old person, and asking (rhetorically) whether it made sense to say that this was a 3-month-old baby, regardless of the fact that we weren’t “there” when the individual was born (or died).

    After all, we make observations on how people age, all the time. We can sort of figure out approximate age ranges, and while we might not be sure that someone is over 70, we can be fairly confident that they’re over 50, and very confident that they’re over 30, and be absolutely certain that they aren’t a baby.

    We’ve made analogous observations on how lots of other things “age” (trees, forests, lake beds, rivers, river deltas, ice packs, etc)(just to stay away from radiometric dating). What makes those observations wrong, other than that they “contradict” the bible?

  121. 121

    Wow, Ken accused Bill of a Gish Gallop!

    Be still my lolling face :D

  122. 122

    Ham complaining about a Gish gallop. Lovely.

  123. 123

    45ka is basically the limit for c14 dating. It’s impossible to get a reading older than that. Another creationist lie.

  124. 124

    Steve Austin is a creationist liar.

  125. 125

    Ham is just straight out lying, and now preaching again.

  126. 126

    Pffff, slave to a book.

  127. 127
    Bill Morton

    Ha! Comparing the interpretation of the bible to a child’s game is great!

  128. 128

    Ham appealing to authority again.

  129. 129

    I hope noone minds that I’m now just muting Ham. I’m home with my three year-old and she doesn’t need to hear dad’s expletives.

  130. 130
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Is it me, or does Ham actually sound uneasy?

  131. 131

    Ooh, I’ve got a stack of PhDs! You can’t argue against that!

  132. 132

    Ham is now just making shit up.

  133. 133

    Unless plate tectonics occurred so quickly it gave my ancestors epic whiplash.

    But your ancestors must be descended from Noah, so they wouldn’t have been there to get whiplash!

    Descended from which son? Uh. . . Look! Over there! It’s a giant flying squid!

    /runs away

  134. 134

    “You weren’t there” yet again from Ham. What a bullshitter.

  135. 135

    Ham’s laptop has an apple with a bite of out it on the lid.

    Can’t believe he’s openly associating himself with THE FALL™!

  136. 136

    Oh no….not the lightspeed horizon nonsense. Ham is literally unbelievable.

  137. 137

    Nice one from Nye regarding the ice layers….AND the “kinds” nonsense.

  138. 138

    Ham’s PhD friends have been fellow-travelling for years. There are only a few.

    Panda and fruitbat teeth — in Ham’s book. Wrong, but in there.

    The glacier planes were exactly where predicted.

    Boat-building fail.

  139. 139

    Ham sounds rattled.

    He does indeed..

  140. 140

    “Thank you, Mr Ham, but I’m completely unsatisfied.”

    That sounds suspiciously like an understatement, Mr Nye :D

  141. 141

    “I’m completely unsatisfied”
    Awesome. Pretty much sums it all up.

  142. 142

    Ha….Noah had super powers. Nice on, Bill.

  143. 143

    Look, up in the sky! It’s Super-Noah1

  144. 144

    Nye wins on logic and facts.

    I hope wins the debate.

  145. 145

    “Shipwright”. I am loving Bill Nye. He is doing great, I think. Not perfect, but staying a lot calmer than Ham.

  146. 146

    From Hemant;s liveblog: image of the night! This will be as memetic of that “WTF” image of Dave Silverman.


  147. 147


    No such luck. This game was rigged from the start.

  148. 148
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    “Unsatisfied” = “I’m too polite to call you a fuckin’ liar.”

  149. 149

    “Bring it on!”

    Do indeed, Mr Ham, bring it on with all speed.

  150. 150

    Nye has surpassed my expectations on debating skills.

  151. 151

    Nye’s geology is very disappointing, his astronomy is slighter better. And yes, he’s definitely unprepared for the YEC attacks on radiometric dating, he should have had much better initial slides about radiometric dating, and he should have been much more prepared to rebut Ham’s attacks on radiometric dating.

  152. 152


    Agreed…I made that very point earlier. The deck is stacked.

  153. 153

    Oh. Nye is asking for a fossil between the layers, and Ham already gave him the wood in basalt.

  154. 154

    Ham dodges the question and just says goddidit.

  155. 155

    The face Nye makes when Ham answers question is priceless.

  156. 156

    Ham wrote about carbon dating. He knows enough to not have offered that wood in basalt thing.

  157. 157

    Ham gets a question about an expanding universe, and preaches about gawd. What a buffoon.

  158. 158

    Nye’s passion for knowledge and discovery is invigorating.

    Ham’s constant Bible-thumping is forehead-slappingly boring.

  159. 159

    The appendix has not been shown to be “very, very important” for immune function. Yet another lie!

  160. 160

    Ham: (doesn’t answer the question because he can’t, and knows he can’t, so babbles like a brook).

  161. 161

    For fuck’s sake, Ham is using scientific discovery to show that science was wrong. Where in the bible does it tell you to wash your fucking hands?

  162. 162

    Nye: don’t know! This is a great mystery!

    I love honest answers.

    Ham (my prediction): Well, Gawd! No mystery!

    I hate bollocks.

  163. 163

    I’m disappointed neither Ham nor Nye addressed the question as to what evidence other than the bible supports creationism.

  164. 164

    “There is a book out there…” ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!

  165. 165

    Ham: (back to the fucking Bible). You laughable fucking clown, Ham.

    But hey – a successful prediction from me. I’m a prophet!

  166. 166

    Ham’s biggest argument against Nye’s arguments or evolution. – No you weren’t there!
    Ham’s biggest argument for Creationism. – Bible, which was written some thousands of years ago, before I was born, before you were born, before our fathers were born says so…

    How can someone use a same argument, so blatantly for his dogma and against science, and get away with it?

  167. 167

    Hams stuck i a loop

  168. 168


    Are you a net prophet or a gross prophet?

  169. 169

    What would change Ken’s mind?

    Ham: *long pause*

    Erm, NOTHING.

    I now dismiss you as a buffoon. I mean, more than I did before.

  170. 170

    Ham is an asshat. Goddidit AGAIN.

  171. 171

    @168: moarscienceplz


    Are you a net prophet or a gross prophet?

    I’ve never predicted a tennis game, but my wife frequently says I’m incredibly gross.

  172. 172

    Nice one again, Bill….EVIDENCE

    Ham: where’s your predictions? Nye wins

  173. 173

    “Bunny in the cretacious layer”, Bill! Make it snappy and funny and memorable!

  174. 174

    I would like to see Ham cornered about his “there is a book out there” as it relates to germ theory. Why did his god create harmful bacteria – invisible to the human eyes he created – and not warn us about them? He could have at least made an Eleventh Commandment as an afterthought; “Thou shall wash thy hands” and thus save millions of humans from misery and death caused by undetectable life forms He created.

  175. 175

    “As a Christian . . . . As a Christian . . . ”

    If Jesus were at the Creation Museum now, he’d beat the Ham into next Tuesday.

  176. 176

    Having had a brief look around, it seems that Lenski doesn’t yet know what mutations led to the ability to metabolise citrate, unless a paper came out that I missed. It is still extremely unlikely that the ability was lying there for 30000 generations until a mutation turned the “off switch” to “on” and i suspect the Creationist just made that up

    That aside, who won?

  177. 177

    Did Ham just lie about rock ages?

  178. 178

    It occurs to me that a good analogy for radiometric dating is that of an hourglass. It’s a good indicator of the passage of time, as long as there’s still some sand in the top bulb. Once it’s all fallen to the bottom, all you can say with confidence is that “more than an hour has passed”.

    It also occurs to me that this analogy is so obvious someone else must have made it.

    Sure enough it’s all over the place. Including the Answers in Genesis website! (They’re currently redirecting their whole domain to debatelive.org, so here’s a cache.)

    Interestingly, upon skimming the page, most of the technical details seem about right; though while the half-life of C14 is given (5,730 years), it’s viable dating range is only described as “thousands of years”, rather than the more accurate ~50,000 years.

    So Ham himself definitely knows that radiocarbon has a maximum date it will yield.

    Over geological time, radiocarbon dating is more like an egg timer. And you don’t use an egg timer to see how long your pot roast has been cooking!

  179. 179

    Ham, you douche, stop plugging your goddamn online ministry.

  180. 180
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Catastrophic plate tectonics within the period when people were writing stuff down? I’d think people might have noticed…

  181. 181

    Second Law of Thermodynamics?

    Oy vey.

  182. 182

    Ooh, I wish someone would ask Ham to explain the magnetic stripes on the floor of the Atlantic.

  183. 183

    What’s this I see about wood in basalt?

    The only thing I see in talkorigins is this (wood in sandstone — and was it even wood, or an iron concretion?):


  184. 184

    goddidit again. Wow. No answer from Ham agasin.

  185. 185
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I’ve started hearing the muted trumpet sound of the adults from the Peanuts cartoon when Hamy is talking.

  186. 186

    “You can’t prove the age of the earth because how do you know the laws of physics didn’t change some time in the past?”

  187. 187
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall


    Ooh, I wish someone would ask Ham to explain the magnetic stripes on the floor of the Atlantic.

    Ham: “How the fuck do they work?”

  188. 188

    What a complete waffling idiot – Ham won’t even grant a fucking hypothetical and answer it.

  189. 189

    Yep Hank, he’s got his little painted-in corner, and he’s just going to stand there chanting “bible, bible, bible” and not set a toe outside

  190. 190


    Handbook of Queensland Geology talks about the find. The dating conflict comes about because it is impossible for c14 dating to give a reading greater than 50k years, so of course the Argon dating won’t match the c14 dating. It’s bad science to even try.

  191. 191

    This is the first I’ve ever heard that

    a) THe 2nd law of thermodynamics was not in effect before the fall.

    b) Lions weren’t just vegetarians before but were vegetarian during the flood as well. (actually, I guess if death was unknown they couldn’t eat *plants* before the fall…)

  192. 192

    there is no contradiction in the bible!!!!!

  193. 193

    It sounds like Bill is wonderfully honest and friendly. We might even have a few people reconsider their positions. :) Shoot, I’ll call it a “win” if just one person stops and at least thinks about it for a moment.

  194. 194

    I wish Nye would just point out that he keeps failing to address the question. He’s being too polite.

  195. 195

    Daz #187


  196. 196

    Draconius (#193), it’ll be interesting to see what supplemental material is added to the home video to try and prevent that.

  197. 197
    Wren, a Tru Hoppist

    Has Bill Nye managed to not call the Creation “museum” a museum all night? If so, that’s remarkable!

  198. 198

    I did not know Hammy was such a existentialist. Anything he cant observe which goes against his beliefs is wrong.

  199. 199

    Somebody needs to ask Lenski to weigh in on his citrate-eating e coli.

  200. 200

    Wow, scientists before Darwin were Creationists! I guess the debate’s done. No further comment needed.

  201. 201

    @Wren, best observation of the night!
    Bill has used language extremely well (e.g., “we on the outside”), much kudos.

  202. 202

    Just my impression: Mr. Nye does quite well, as good as is probably possible in this format.

  203. 203
    Daz365365 .

    I don’t think Nye will change any mind in the room, but he has done well and this will be a good resource for evaluating and picking apart the feeble claims of the creationists.

    Well done Bill.

  204. 204

    Nye needs to stop trying to crack jokes. Please.

  205. 205
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I really wish “fittest” didn’t have that double meaning. Common misconception…

  206. 206

    SHUT UP, Ham!!! the bloody bible again.

  207. 207

    Ohhh, so no other religion has a creation story? That’ll be news to most of the world.

  208. 208

    Ham keeps saying “IF the bible is true”…he must have doubts too.

  209. 209

    Ham is really using his own book, The Answers Book, for this. Nye should have read it …

  210. 210

    I am SO loving Nye’s closing comments.

  211. 211

    Did anybody catch what that cheering was just now?

  212. 212

    Who won?

  213. 213
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall


  214. 214
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    That could have gone a lot worse. Now I need tylenol, I’m sore from all the Ham-inspired face-palming.

  215. 215
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall


    Thanks for your comment at #78.

  216. 216

    Thanks so much for live-blogging this PZ; my lab meeting went until the last 40 min of the debate, and you filled me in on the important stuff. Looking forward to your dissection of the debate!

  217. 217

    Ham covered the magnetic stripes on the sea floor in one of his books. Mostly by saying it wasn’t there, but he has covered it.

  218. 218

    I wish Bill would’ve started by saying he was there and that he observed evolution happening from the beginning and because Ham wasn’t, Ham cannot challenge what Bill is saying without resorting to non-observational science.

  219. 219
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall


    Regarding parallax, according to this, parallax is only good for out to 400 LY. That said, it is the “bottom rung” of the cosmic-distance “ladder,” so to speak, and explaining cepheid variables etc might’ve been just a tad too much for the venue. I’m choosing to think of that as justified simplification.

  220. 220

    Daz #219

    Yeah, OK. I’ll give him that.

  221. 221


    Ham covered the magnetic stripes on the sea floor in one of his books. Mostly by saying it wasn’t there, but he has covered it.

    Sounds more like he covered it up.

  222. 222

    Could anybody make out what was that cheering at the end?

  223. 223

    Nye did really well, I thought, for the evening. His prep work was sadly lacking—Ham was quoting some of his own writing from two decades back, and Nye didn’t have the refutations lined up. But he did really well for working on the fly, and he did show enthusiasm and politeness and sincerity, which will count for a lot among the Christians.

    Nye certainly did not lose, by any metric, and I think he succeeded in his own mission, which was to raise general awareness of Creationism and the problems it causes in this country. A lot of Christians are not aware of Ken Ham and his work, and they got to see him tonight. Which is what Nye was after, and which I think was worth it.

    I would have liked to see Nye put the boot in a few times, but he may have done more with a smile and a bow tie than by pissing off the populace. The fact that he wasn’t a “real scientist” may have kept this from giving any credence to the old argument that there is a scientific debate about evolution.

    Bill Nye did well, and probably did some good.

    PZ, it was good of you to post this and blog this. Thanks.

  224. 224
    Rich Woods

    @moarscienceplz #222:

    I thought the cheering was “Bill! Bill! Bill!”.

  225. 225
    Lithified Detritus

    Could anybody make out what was that cheering at the end?

    Bill Bill Bill Bill…


  226. 226

    moarscienceplz @ #190:

    Thanks for the link

  227. 227

    Owlmirror. my pleasure.

  228. 228
    Paul from VA

    @Daz: re: parallax

    You might want to look into the results of the megamaser cosmology project… they’ve been able to measure geometrically the distance to galaxies of order 10^6 light-years away. It’s not quite parallax… you have to assume Keplerian rotation, but that’s the only assumption outside of geometry….

    Wikipedia on project/method

  229. 229

    #224 & 225
    Ah, thanks. So I guess they do allow heathens in their “facility” on occasion.

  230. 230

    I have to admit, going by the second-hand commenting, that it sounds like Sastra was right: There was nowhere to go but up, for an almost-certainly mostly-creationist audience.

    Ham, of course, was all “Bible”… this and “Bible”… that and “Bible is enough…” and “It’s in the Bible”. And for the typical self-satisfied creationist, that’s all they need. They aren’t curious enough to cross-check what the bible actually says; they wouldn’t be interested in anything that Nye has to say.

    But I suspect that there are some people in the creationist crowd, mostly young, but maybe some older ones as well, who find that less than satisfying. Where in the bible? Why is the bible enough, when it doesn’t really say what Ham is saying? And why was Nye so confident about the evidence? What does the evidence really say?

    So maybe Nye did make some connections, and spark some inquisitiveness.

  231. 231
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Paul from VA #228

    Thanks for that.

  232. 232

    Paul from VA #228, thanks indeed. Seriously, folks, go read that article, and think about the differences between science and Ham.

  233. 233

    I can’t believe I sat through 2 hours and 45 minutes of that.

    I can’t believe anyone would. Thanks for doing that so I don’t have to. (Well, I wouldn’t’ve even if you didn’t, but there it is.)

  234. 234
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    On the subject of cosmology, I’ve just realised, somewhat to my own shock, that the latest book I own on the subject, Coming of Age in the Milky Way, is now well over two decades old. (where did the time go, ffs?) Can anyone recommend a replacement at about the same level of “popular but not too dumbed down”?

  235. 235

    Okay, late to point it out, but Nye said that evolution wasn’t going toward anything other than what is best suited to the situation. He specifically said that evolution does not head toward a goal or pinnacle.

    Ham responds by saying that cave fish lost their sight. Therefore something became less fit. Y’know, unless you ignore the fact that eyes cost energy for the body to develop and are a hindrance when not needed.

    Seriously, Ham either only listens for buzzwords, or he expects his audience to do so. What he provided was an example of exactly what Nye was talking about, but he was saying it as if it contradicted with his statement. Great fucking Dagda on a pogo-stick, it is clear from that statement that he is willfully deceitful.

  236. 236

    Oh, also:

    “That depends on what you mean by ‘literal’”

    Um… Wow… Ham is a fucking shyster. I wonder if he even believes the shit he says.

  237. 237

    I loved Bill saying “Let’s bring this back around to the original question” as he was starting his 30min. section.It seemed like the longer the debate went on the less Ham looked at Bill. Somehow not so cocky? And the faces Bill makes when Ham is answering are priceless.

  238. 238

    The embedded video will replay, if anyone’s interested.

  239. 239

    augustpamplona wrote:

    If creation implies 1 race of man, why doesn’t it imply one race of “dog kind”? How many races of “dog kind” did Ham show in a previous slide? Heck, it even included a picture of a bear as “dog kind”!

    Hmm, that “bear” is a bush dog. What can I say, I saw it very quickly. In any case, to suggest that they are all the same “race” is ridiculous and if they are not it pretty much demolishes Ham’s weird idea.

    I mean, he’s actually sort of right about humans (in that 4000 years would have produced minimal divergence) and that is why what is shown in his slide of “dog kind” could not have been produced in 4000 years either.

  240. 240

    I watched far too much of this thing. what a waste of time to everyone except Hammies. They’ll just get more money and fake prestige from the ignorant. All Nye did was promote a fool to fools.

  241. 241
  242. 242
    U Frood

    I can actually see creationists posting the cartoon, saying “So True” and thinking it proves their point.

  243. 243


    I disagree. The format may have been chosen in an attempt to reinforce the beliefs of the “True Believers”, but this may be one of the few glimpses that some young people in the audience ever get of what evolution is from the perspective of scientists without the creationist filter dictating 100% of the message. I don’t believe anyone seriously credentialed should debate Ham, etc. because it does look better on Ham’s resume than the serious scientist that debates him, but I also think that there is value in answering the creationists to their own audience.

  244. 244
    Pierce R. Butler

    Jacob K @ # 69: Can anybody name a character in Genesis that had a one man, one woman marriage?

    How odd that nobody has yet brought up Noah, his sons, and their anonymous wives. Of course, they may all have had harems bigger than Solomon’s, and left the non-favorites behind (as Noah apparently did with his grandfather)…

  245. 245
    Random Mutant

    @Daz #234, may I suggest The Fabric Of The Cosmos, Brian Greene. My edition is a 2008 Penguin. Popular but not dumb. Detailed too, at ~500 pages. Good luck.

  246. 246
    PZ Myers

    Yeah, that was a weird moment when Ken Ham announced that only one man, one woman marriage was valid, and all those harem-style marriages in the Bible were…unbiblical. And he smirked smugly as he said it.

    So Abraham, Solomon, David…all unbiblical. Good to know.

  247. 247

    pffft. First covenant/second covenant. Same reason Ham eats shrimp, and y’know, haam. The Old Testament is old, man. Nobody has to pay any attention to it except for the first few pages of Genesis, the stuff that got retconned as prophecy, and certain specific passages of Leviticus that damn the gays to an eternity of hellfire. Easy one!

  248. 248

    His ‘Kinds’ thing was even weirder: in the slide, he suggested that Proboscidea was a ‘Kind’, indicating that it extends to at least the Order level. Consequently, under his own slide’s definitions, all of Carnivora has to be a ‘Kind’ as well, including canids and felids, both of which were also listed as ‘Kinds’ on his slide.

    Apparently, ‘Kinds’ just means ‘taxonomy at any level I find convenient’.

  249. 249

    ‘Kinds’ just means ‘taxonomy at any level I find convenient’.

    Yeah, but to be fair, the same is true of Real Taxonomy too. Bird Orders are more like reptile Families, for example. DDMFM will probably be along shortly to remind us how many endemic bird species are in Mexico depepnding on what Species concept is applied. etc. Systematics is real, or trying to be, whereas taxonomy is always more or less arbitrary and convenient.

  250. 250
    Azuma Hazuki

    I found a screen capture of Jason Lisle’s blog dated to 16 January where someone says he hoped that Ham was paying attention to Greg Bahnsen. Remember him, the presuppositionalist who made a career of bouncing on Cornelius van Til’s rotten zombie cock, before following him to whatever Hell lying shitbag apologists go to about a decade later?

    Ham didn’t. But this illustrates something I’ve been saying for a long time about this: evolution vs creationism is not a scientific debate, it’s a philosophical one. The Lisle crew tipped their hand with this one. We know Eric Hovind is also a fan, even if he did get the shit kicked out of him by a kid whose testicles still haven’t dropped when he tried it…

    If you have ever read van Til or Bahnsen, what will strike you is the utter arrogance and hubris that suffuse their writing. van Til outright says that it’s the duty of a Christian to take over science, and to do as Luther said and relegate reason to a “ministerial” role rather than a “magisterial” one.

    This constant, all-encompassing, blob-monster-like misappropriation of everything they come in contact with is a seminal feature of the presup style. It’s like watching an entire world be taken over by a zombifying virus. It is the essence of totalitarianism. That is what we’re up against, and that is why I keep pounding on how insane and dangerous these people are in the face of people telling me “oh most Christians don’t take presup seriously.”

    Well and good, but the ones who do wield disproportionate power, money, and influence. They are the Dominionists. It is high time we destroyed that method of apologetics; as Dan Courtney pointed out, it is a sign of frantic rear-guard action by people who realize they can’t win on evidence, but we must remember that a cornered animal is at its most dangerous.

    I am very worried that so few people treat this with the seriousness it deserves. Wake up!

  251. 251

    Glad I read that so I don’t have to waste my time watching that.

    In terms of no new function, what about nylon-eating bacteria?

  252. 252
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I tried to watch, but five minutes of Ken Ham got me screaming at my computer and making Fiancee worried, so I shut it off and watched Breaking Bad instead.

  253. 253

    CSI makes no distinction between historical and observational science. It’s all about studying events in the past using evidence in the now — great example!

    We won’t be fooled again!

  254. 254
  255. 255

    I think it is great that new ideas are being fed to people who are probably starved of them, but debates drive me bonkers. Like with Obama and Romney or that William Lane Craig guy and whatever PhD he has deigned to debate. Clearly I agree with Obama and with whomever opposes Craig, but the “winner” of the debate is often judged to be whoever whipped up the creamiest mounds of sweet, sweet bullshit. Imagine a cake baking contest where a contestant puts together a dazzling three tier cake, but flavors the frosting with shit and stuffs it with creamed corn vomit. No judge in the world would taste that cake and declare him the winner just because it looked pretty. But WLC can step onto a stage and serve up mounds and mounds of the prettiest bullshit you’ve ever heard and gosh darn if he isn’t declared the winner nine times out of ten. “But can’t you see that ain’t chocolate frosting your eating!?”


  256. 256

    It occurs to me that Ham’s (paraphrased statement) that “I don’t care what the evidence says, I will believe anyway) kind of takes away from whatever impact his “look, there are some scientists” who believe argument – if he believes regardless of the evidence, why should the audience think they are any different?

  257. 257
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Random Mutant #245

    may I suggest The Fabric Of The Cosmos, Brian Greene.

    Indeed you may, and thank you.

  258. 258
    Eamon Knight

    We made it into a CFI Ottawa event, and had about 15 people over for it, with food and (of course) beer. Laid in a growler of a rather nice Scotch Ale for the occasion, and someone else brought a bunch of Beau’s seasonals. Which (again of course) led to the drinking game in which one took a swig every time Ham said anything predictable, which was a lot — I got through three glasses before all was done. Yes, you need to be at least a little under the influence to put up with Ham.

    Generally, I’ll concur with Greg Laden’s assessment linked upthread. They both did well w.r.t. their respective core constituencies, but with Nye probably doing better with the fence-sitters. Which counts as a win for the good guys.

    Points against Nye:
    - Harping on the the need for science literacy and innovation. For one, it’s an argument to consequences rather than evidence (though as an appeal to a certain segment of the audience, it makes sense as a talking point). But worse, Ham had his rebuttal ready in the form of Damadian et al pointing out how they are doing valuable science and technology while being YECs. Point to Ham.
    - Flubbing the wood-in-basalt thing; which shows how hard it is to be prepared against an opponent who will just make shit up.

    Points against Ham (meaning where he blew it, as opposed to where he’s wrong, which would be everywhere and at all times, of course):
    - Wasting time preaching the Gospel. But of course he has to, doesn’t he, when he’s got that many eye-balls available.
    - Equally wasting time scolding those heretic Christians who aren’t YECs. I keep asking how my younger evangelical self of ~35 years ago would react, and the answer is: “OK Ken, we can argue theology some other time, but if you can’t deal with the scientific evidence honestly (and I think I would have recognized his presup Biblicism as a dodge), then it’s all irrelevant. If you’re pushing me to make a choice, I’m not likely to jump in your direction”.
    - The Bible explains this, that and the other — no it doesn’t, it just asserts whatever. It doesn’t take lot of smarts to see the difference.

    Notable lie by Ham:
    - Darwin said there were distinct races; the Bible says there is only one. Except *everyone* in the 19th century thought races were real, and American fundamentalists notoriously hung onto the belief until quite recently.

  259. 259
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Whoo! That took a while.

    Well, that went better than I expected. Nye was strong where I thought he would be and weak where I thought he would be (his rebuttal was shit), but nowhere near as weak as I expected. Ham basically had two arguments: made up distinctions between observational and historical science that allows him to deny evidence, and “Look! A Creationist scientist!”; again as expected.

    By any reasonable standard, Nye won that hands down.

  260. 260
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @wren #197

    Has Bill Nye managed to not call the Creation “museum” a museum all night? If so, that’s remarkable!

    Yeah I noticed that too :) There was a lot of “This, er… facility”. He did well there, refusing to offer any sort of confirmation of Ham’s self-aggrandisement.

  261. 261

    I love the fact that young earth creationism is so easy to gish gallop with facts, well played Bill. It’s sort of the reverse of the “god of the gaps in science” that more reasonable theists latch onto. It’s sort of “science of the gaps in the bible”.

  262. 262
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @One Day soon I shall Invent A Funny Login #60

    His challenge “name an invention that couldn’t have been made without atoms-to-humans evolution” was striking.

    It was damn easy to answer. “All of them. Without evolution, we wouldn’t be here to invent things.”

  263. 263
    Rey Fox

    I love the fact that young earth creationism is so easy to gish gallop with facts

    But is it easier than doing the proper Gish Gallop with lies?

  264. 264
    Eamon Knight

    @260: Also, Nye’s repeated use of “…in the outside world…” instead of “mainstream science” or “evolutionists” or one of the other terms the creationists use as framing. He’s telling them: You guys aren’t an alternative view in a legitimate debate; you’re fanatics who’ve confined yourself in a bubble where all information about the outside world is carefully filtered. Nice framing. (Yes, the f-word. Framing happens, it’s important, and this framing is both appealing AND accurate.)

  265. 265
    Sami Huttunen


    I saw him use that slide but not so close I could see the details. Is this thing as hilarious as it seems?

  266. 266

    I wish someone would ask Hammy if truth is objective or subjective.

  267. 267
  268. 268

    Ah, but CD, is that pogodude capable of holding the sun in the sky for 9 months?

  269. 269

    You were in a position to ignore this, thus not giving any credibility to creationism, which is what it deserves, but like Nye, you chose to give this debate a platform. Why?

  270. 270

    jeremystyron @ 269:

    You were in a position to ignore this post, thus not giving any credibility to the creationism controversy, which is what it deserves, but, like PZ, you chose to give this post your attention. Why?

    (See how that works?)

  271. 271
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Comment by jeremystyron blocked. [unhush]​[show comment]

    Advice noted, and acted upon.

  272. 272
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened


    Clearly telling creationists that creationism is wrong because [facts] is giving credibility to creationism? You have a funny definition of credibility.

  273. 273

    Pat Robertson begs Ken Ham to shut up

  274. 274

    jeremystyron, you were in a position to ignore this, thus not giving any credibility to creationism, which is what it deserves, but like Nye, you chose to give this debate a platform. Why?

  275. 275
    David Marjanović

    45ka is basically the limit for c14 dating. It’s impossible to get a reading older than that.

    If your sample is fucking awesome and your mass spectrometer is downright splendid, you can get to 50,000, maybe 60,000 years. That’s it, though. Rule of thumb: after 10 half-lives there’s nothing left.

    Yeah, but to be fair, the same is true of Real Taxonomy too. Bird Orders are more like reptile Families, for example.

    Worse. Bird orders aren’t like each other, and “reptile” families aren’t like each other either. That’s a big part of why different classifications are different!

    People used to argue a lot about “no, these are distinct enough to be classified apart” vs. “no, they’re close enough to be classified together”, splitting vs. lumping. The ranks – order, family etc. – are increasingly being abandoned.

    DDMFM will probably be along shortly to remind us how many endemic bird species are in Mexico depepnding on what Species concept is applied.

    From 101 to 249.

    Systematics is real, or trying to be, whereas taxonomy is always more or less arbitrary and convenient.

    Depends on what you mean by “systematics” – there are people who have explicitly equated it with taxonomy. I’d simply say that phylogenetics is real while taxonomic ranks are arbitrary.

    [...] Greg Bahnsen. Remember him, the presuppositionalist who made a career of bouncing on Cornelius van Til’s rotten zombie cock

    …No. :-] While I *barf* appreciate your imagery :-) , you’re the only one here who follows these things. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of either.

    But this illustrates something I’ve been saying for a long time about this: evolution vs creationism is not a scientific debate, it’s a philosophical one.

    …to the extent that you can call “who you gonna believe, my interpretation of the Bible or your lyin eyes?” a philosophical debate, yes. :-)

    I’m calling it for Bill Nye: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/02/05/who-won-the-bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-bill-nye/

    …Wow, you have a lot of creationists in your thread! So that’s where they go when they don’t dare approach Pharyngula anymore!

    Is this thing as hilarious as it seems?


    jeremystyron, you were in a position to ignore this, thus not giving any credibility to creationism, which is what it deserves, but like Nye, you chose to give this debate a platform. Why?

    Ooh, burn. :-)

  276. 276
    David Marjanović

    DDMFM will probably be along shortly to remind us how many endemic bird species are in Mexico depepnding on what Species concept is applied.

    Importantly, species classified according to the same species concept are comparable. However, there is no family concept, no order concept, and so on.

  277. 277

    I’ve got to say, I was surprised at how weak Mr. Ham was. I know he starts out at the disadvantage of representing the much weaker position, but his performance was painful to watch. I found myself feeling sorry for this old man (and I’m 55!) struggling to justify an idea that grows increasingly more absurd every day.

    I’ll give him credit for so being consistent about citing the bible as his main source for everything. Frankly, I expected more subterfuge.

    I was also impressed with how calm, kind, and articulate Mr. Nye was. I think he might have sewn some seeds for science.

  278. 278

    Worse. Bird orders aren’t like each other, and “reptile” families aren’t like each other either.

    heh. right.
    Within my career, for example, the family Iguanidae went from several dozen down to just 8 genera.

    phylogenetics is real while taxonomic ranks are arbitrary.

    Yes, that is what I meant.

    Importantly, species classified according to the same species concept are comparable. However, there is no family concept, no order concept, and so on.

    Yes, that remains an important distinction.

  279. 279
    Gerard Farell

    “What real evidence or real prediction can creationism offer?” – Bill N.

    “The Bible is a real book. aha!” -Ken H.

    Real facepalm. Really.

Comments have been disabled.