I agree with Greg Laden

On every point. This debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye is a mistake. It’s a fundraiser for the Creation Museum. Bill Nye is going to be making profits for creationism.

That should give Nye pause. At least demand it be held on neutral ground and that all revenues be donated to a mutually acceptable charity.


  1. Ichthyic says

    there are sadly a lot of creationists in Greg’s comments egging this “debate” on.

    likely some will come here as well.

    recognize them for what they are, people:

    lying scumbag shills.

    no quarter.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    Ichthyic #1
    I noticed that.
    Do they really think that a “debate” will prove something?

  3. says

    “recognize them for what they are, people”

    I read this and thought, whoa, Ichthyic is being really nice, asking that we first see the common bond that truly exists between all humans.

    Sometimes commas make me laugh. :)

    My post was linked to at Uncommon Descent, I think, thus the inflow of effluence.

  4. says

    *girds loins*

    Hmm. That felt nice.

    I’ll be in my bunk.

    (this is why we can’t debate them – we’re too busy having, y’know, a life, to worry about giving any credence or time to this most pathetic and stupid plank in their long con)

  5. says

    We already HAD the debate, back in 2005: Kitzmiller vs. Dover, where both sides were allowed to present their best arguments, with a FEDERAL JUDGE acting as mediator and presiding officer. The creationists lost, and lost big, even though the presiding officer was widely thought to be biased in their favor. There’s no need to rehash that debate, especially with such woefully unqualified participants as Bill Nye and Ken Ham. What could either of them say that wasn’t said better in the 2005 debate?

  6. says

    Blech! There are so many theists droning on in the comments. One that stuck out for me:

    There is nothing to debate, because the knowledge of god comes from faith, not from facts.

    The knowledge of god comes from things I believe for which no evidence exists.

    Yeah, that makes sense.
    ::rolls eyes::

  7. Monica Metzler says

    I posted my (detailed) thoughts on Greg Laden’s blog. I have reservations about the value but, if it’s definitely happening, there are things Nye should do to make the best of it. But I agree wholeheartedly with PZ’s approach that Nye should renegotiate the location and where the proceeds will go, which will go a long way towards making it acceptable to both sides. Also negotiated in advance should be issues of live streaming, advertising rights, sponsorship rights, and editing of any DVDs, etc. used for post-event sales.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    Raging Bee #6
    You’re being ironic, right?
    The debate is over because Kitzmiller vs. Dover?

  9. chigau (違う) says

    I think we lost that one.
    (for some definitions of ‘we’ and ‘lost’)

  10. says

    Nye performed quite poorly against Richard Lindzen on the subject of AGW. That’s not a good sign for Feb 4…he seems to think that being on the right side of science is the only prerequisite for debate.

  11. lochaber says

    I’m not real sure what purpose a debate serves.

    It doesn’t show which side of an argument/controversy is right, it only shows which person involved is more skilled in debating.

    And in the U.S., I’m not even sure it does that, most of the debates I’ve seen tend to be less debate and more arguing/shouting match. (play to your strengths, I guess?…)

  12. Sean Coyne says

    Must agree, this is a mistake on Bill’s part. I fear no good will come of giving the likes of Ken Ham some sort of meaningless debate on the topic, the mileage to be made for the unthinkers is simply not worth it. Never give Ham and his clown posse this sort of publicity.

  13. Rich Woods says

    @Tony #7:

    the knowledge of god comes from faith, not from facts.

    This argument has me convinced. That is why I sacrificed* a Christian priest to Odin today.

    * Not entirely true.

  14. ah58 says

    If he’s going to do this, Bill should make sure that he’s able to make his own recording of the event and have the right to post it himself. How many times have we seen the religious organizers of such events go back on their word and refuse to release an unedited version of a debate? If Ham tries to give Nye the “Ray Comfort” treatment, he should be able to show exactly what was said.

    However, I do agree that this was a really bad decision on Nye’s part.

  15. zenlike says

    Seeing those comments over at Greg’s, I can’t help but feel that Hammie’s followers are an even more stupid variant of your typical YEC idiot. Really, even the ‘if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?’ (non)argument seems to be beyond their intellectual grasp.

  16. David Marjanović says

    Sometimes commas make me laugh. :)

    The comma is correct either way. It doesn’t make a difference.

    *girds loins*

    Hmm. That felt nice.

    I’ll be in my bunk.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Day saved!

  17. metalsheep says

    The idea of a debate on creationism is inherently flawed. It implies that both ideas stand on equal ground and deserve to be given equal weight in a debate against each other. Nye is backed up by the entirety of scientific history, and Ham is backed up by one outdated book and his imagination. The two sides are not equally valid, so a debate is meaningless.

  18. Air says

    I noticed that a word search of Bill Nye’s website for either ‘evolution’ or ‘creationism’ comes up with essentially zero hits. Maybe his willingness to engage Ham is a sign that he is going, in the future, to make this an area where he will bring his skills as a communicator to bear. One can only hope.

  19. stevem says

    we are so hung up on the word “debate”. As others have said; this ain’t no debate. It’s just the most conveeeenient label; to pull in the gawkers to watch two “people” speak AT each other and all the people watching. Ham is pulling this as a stunt, in order to proselytize his delusions to the sheep (implying that Nye is also deluded in his own way). But aside from all my crass characterization of the Ham-ster, regardless of his true motivation, this is not a “debate” but just a venue for 2 speakers presenting 2 sides of (ways of looking at) an “idea”. WHY must he insist on calling it a “debate”? Just to lure the rationals into objecting? I guess he succeeded; he got me to object (if I am actually a “rational”, but my favorite number is sqrt(2). I must be irrational!). Joking aside; isn’t it “fraud” to call something a word that misrepresents that thing, for monetary gain (even if you end up losing money)? Who do we call, the SEC?, the FCC?, the NSA?, the TSA?, the ???

  20. woozy says

    @20 “…and Ham is backed up by one outdated book…”

    I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to say genesis “backs up” creationism.

    Sure, there’s a creationism myth in there but the details are *really* vague and it’s not at all clear how literally one is expected to take it. And that whole John 1:1 mysticism of “in the beginning was the word” kind of throws any literalism out the window.

    Weird fantasy: (stupid and pointless and *wrong* fantasy; but a fantasy nonetheless) holding a debate on creationism on biblical evidence. What does “then” in “man and woman created he then”? How much time passed between the creation and Adam and Eve? A day? A year? 30 years? A minute? Instantaneous? What is the physical composition of the “word” that was God? When God says “From dust you were made” was he being literal? The actual description of the human creation doesn’t mention dust. What did the creation of man *look* like? Did god use his hands? Or did god use telekinesis to physical create chemical bonds? Did it look like swirls of wind with sparkly bits and dust? Or did it look like mud bubbling and rising? Or did god kneel down on his knees and breathe into a prostrate figure’s mouth? Was the material spontaneously generated or was it formed from previously made material which in turn of which the same question is asked?

    Okay, I admit it’s a *pointless* fantasy and any such debate would go even worse that this evolution debate but, sheesh, the stupidity just burns you know. And I wish that creationists would realize and admit they aren’t actually interested in an explanation of bio-diversity so much as a simple cover under which to hide from any actual knowledge. But I don’t think the typical creationist ever bothers to understand that concepts.

  21. ChasCPeterson says

    The comma is correct either way. It doesn’t make a difference.

    A colon would be better if it had been meant the other way.

    Seeing those comments over at Greg’s, I can’t help but feel that Hammie’s followers are an even more stupid variant of your typical YEC idiot.

    I must share my favorite; I L*LOLed:

    Ken Ham IS a scientists….Debates are usefull for fair representations to be made before an intelligible audience

    [all sic, of course]


  22. Sili says

    the knowledge of god comes from faith, not from facts.

    If only the fucking Christians would fucking remember that.

  23. Sastra says

    If the proceeds from this debate are going to the Creation “Museum” and it’s a fund-raiser for them then I agree, this should not happen. Nye was either thoughtless or naive to not have thought of this problem while negotiating terms.

    That said, I’m going to disagree with both Greg Laden and PZ.

    1.) First, Bill Nye is not really an expert on evolution and is actually not that experienced in debates.

    True, but the wisest strategy to pursue in this particular case with this particular speaker with his particular talents and this particular audience may be to simply present a very, very good lecture about evolution aimed at the children, more or less ignoring all Ham’s specific Gish Gallop arguments with encouragement to find out the simple answers on the internet. Given the entrenched YEC strategy of lying about what the theory of evolution says, just getting some clarity out there will be eye-opening for some.

    Substituting a relaxed warmth and good cheer for careful point-by-point debate is a tactic which might very well enrage Ham. Have them leaving the so-called museum going “I really liked the guy with the bow-tie, Pa.”

    2.) there isn’t a debate so why debate?

    Because it’s the Creation “Museum” and the folks who go to this museum are ignorant. I don’t mean ‘stupid.’ I mean ‘misinformed.’ And they are not a unified block labeled “Creationist” as their eternal essence. As a group they consist of people with no doubts, people with some doubts, people with questions, and people who are going through the motions hoping that eventually this is all going to make sense again. And from what I can tell there are also going to be children and teenagers. You don’t know where they are now and you don’t know what will bear fruit a few weeks, months, or years down the road.

    Bottom line, I think this might be a golden opportunity to reach a bunch of people who are ordinarily sheltered, lied to, and misdirected. Although they are strongly encouraged to avoid the secular world and whatever does not promote faith, they are now being handed over to a charismatic, well-qualified public science communicator on a silver platter. As I’ve said before, with this audience Nye cannot lose because there is nowhere to go but up.

    Ham is going to be telling them the stuff they’ve already heard. Nye is not. If there is any movement at all, by default it’s going to be towards science.

    3.) creationists can pretty much win any debate because they are not talking about science.

    But they pretend to be talking about science and this confuses them. They think that, deep down, Creationism makes sense and evolution does not. Ham, like many evidentialists, overplays his hand. Why, listening to him you’d think that believing in a 10,000 year old earth doesn’t require faith at all! The facts are enough because the science is on our side! Evolutionists are not only perverse, they’re perverts!

    Yeah, you do that, Ken. And now that the audience thinks it can throw faith to the wind — let them hear how reasonable evolution can sound from a guy who is practiced at explaining difficult science to simple audiences, who is enthusiastic and inspiring, and who practically exudes the quality of ‘nice.’ Thanks, Ken. No way that could go wrong for you.

    4.) if I understand the situation correctly this will be a fundraiser for the Creation “Musuem.” Bad idea.

    Yeah, I already granted this one.

  24. Sastra says

    Sili #25 wrote:

    ” the knowledge of god comes from faith, not from facts.”

    If only the fucking Christians would fucking remember that.

    I hope they don’t, because it’s not true. It’s not just that they don’t really ‘know’ anything about God through either method. Christians actually believe that the ‘knowledge of God’ comes from experience, evidence, and reason. Peel it apart and ask them. It’s rational. Wrong, yes, but reason-based and that’s why we gnu atheists insist it can and should be assessed … and then discarded.

    “Faith” is an immunizing strategy. It’s introduced in order to protect a hypothesis from evaluation, analysis, and criticism by pretending that one ultimately gets it right and realizes that the fact is true because of moral or psychological factors, not (just) because the conclusion objectively follows. This is why and how believing in God is supposed to be like believing in love. Or like being virtuous or loyal or humble or grateful. It’s all merged into one’s identity and categories are deliberately confused in a peculiarly dangerous and divisive way.

    Peculiar how? Because faith is an immunizing strategy specifically aimed at ripping out the common ground by completely ignoring the criticism and instead insulting the very nature of the critic. When it is introduced it says religious claims aren’t hypotheses: they’re tests of character. It’s not really about reason and the mind. Instead we can assume that the nonbelievers lack something in the heart. They have a diminished capacity for love, appreciation, hope, joy, wonder, and fellowship with the divine. No offense, I’m sure.

    So no, I don’t think it’s better if the religious hold it up ‘faith’ as their reason to believe. I want them to use their best arguments and admit that their hypothesis stands or falls on them, not just look all dewy-eyed and sigh that we poor atheists just can’t understand.

  25. ck says

    I do hope that Nye can turn one of Ham’s own favorite sayings back on him. I think a debate would be a great venue to ask him “were you there?” when he claims authority for something because he found something in the bible.

  26. ChasCPeterson says

    Joshua Eckert @#28: I clicked over to your kickstarter page (pimping forgiven since it’s sorta relevant), and I can’t help wondering why there don’t seem to be any, you know, biologists involved. Planning any vetting of the science?

  27. chigau (違う) says

    Joshua Eckert #28
    I clicked over to your kickstarter page and I wonder if you thought about including people who actually live where polar bears live.
    I believe the term was “Eskimo” or something.

  28. unclefrogy says

    every one and anyone regardless of belief or none has the capacity for love, appreciation, hope, joy, wonder.
    not everyone can sustain the personification of an imaginary abstract idea nor should they.
    uncle frogy

  29. says

    I clicked over to your kickstarter page and I wonder if you thought about including people who actually live where polar bears live.
    I believe the term was “Eskimo” or something.

    Or “Midwestern USAian”, if the current weather there goes on for a while longer….


  30. says

    Chas @ 24,

    I must share my favorite; I L*LOLed:

    I loved this one:

    January 3, 2014

    This could be the next Scope Trail! Bring it on!
    and BTW, I been dealing on the subject for years and a healthy formal debate is what is needed, and not censorship of either concepts

  31. Ichthyic says

    note that one idiot kept pressing Laden with a claim of hypocrisy because “we” did not pressure Hitchens to not debate creationists like “we” have with Nye.

    he then provided the link to Hitchens debate….

    the subject?

    humanism vs creationism.

    fucking facepalm.

    gotchya moment failed, false equivalence alert. dude should run home in shame, but will likely run away and claim victory.

  32. ChasCPeterson says

    There seems to be some question as to whether anybody’s mentioned any of this to Bill Nye…it’s been picked up by mainstream media, but Answers in Genesis is the only source and Nye has not confirmed or commented, to anybody, in any way.

  33. David Marjanović says

    What does “then” in “man and woman created he then”?

    You’ve misread. It’s “them“. “He created them as man and woman” in modern English.

  34. woozy says

    >>>You’ve misread. It’s “them“. “He created them as man and woman” in modern English.

    Oh. Well, what do you know? Oh, well.

    Still, how long did God wait to create Eve? 1 day? 30 years? 2 minutes? How does the method of creating a woman from a rib differ than creating a man from dirt? If creationism is an alternative scientific theory then why aren’t creationists *asking* any questions?

  35. thesandiseattle says

    No, I have to disagree withe Laden, PZ, et al. @8 above are some good idees. I believe Nye could use this as a spingboard for a whole new line of science ed.

  36. Doug Little says

    I agree with whoever said upstream (I’m lazy today) that this just adds legitimacy to the creationist point of view and reinforces a false equivalency. Also we know that because of the time constraints the creationist always has the upper hand from the get go because “god did it” it what they are going to present whereas to cover the full depth and breath of the evidence for evolution would take days or even weeks.

  37. ChasCPeterson says

    800 tickets sell out in 20 minutes at $25 per = $20000; not trivial but nothing like what they need for the stupid Ark park. More tix for a simulcast at the “museum” to go on sale soon.

    Still nothing from Nye. I seriously wonder if Ham set this whole thing up without checking with Nye first at all, figuring either he’s embarrassed into showing up or he sez no and Ham seems to win by forfeit. I wouldn’t put it past him.