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As several diaries here have pointed out over the last week, Bill Nye, the science guy, is going to "debate" Ken Ham of the creationist "museum" in KY. I put the word debate in quotes for a reason. Because a debate requires both sides to have evidence to support their positions. Creationists do not. What they have are quotes from real scientists taken out of context and outright lies about Darwin and what he actually believed. This is just one of many reasons such a debate is a bad idea. When one side refuses to play by the rules, the other side has no chance.

There are other reasons. Not the least of which is the venue. The creationist "museum" is hurting for funds. This little stunt will only help it, regardless of the outcome of the debate. I don't know what, if any, concessions Nye got out of Ham but one of them should have been a change of venue. You never let the creationists dictate the terms. And Nye isn't there to prop up Ham's little pet project, he's there to shut these people up. Which brings me to my other objection. Control.

If Nye is determined to do this, he should have demanded a moderator and some ground rules. I know it would be hard to find someone both sides trust but I find it hard to believe that a creationist audience would be okay with a debate taking place at a real museum without some sort of system in place to make sure the real scientist didn't get the upper hand. Someone needs to be there to make sure Ham can't dominate the conversation.

Lastly, whatever else Nye asks Ham, there are two questions that he should absolutely ask: 1) "Do you have any evidence that the Garden of Eden even existed and the story told in the bible actually happened?" and 2) "If not, why should you get a place in the classroom?" These are the two fundamental issues of the creationists debate. They think they should get a place in the classroom. If they want it, they should have to earn it like evolution did.

Remember, the creationists need this, we don't. This is to give them legitimacy in the scientific community. The scientific community doesn't owe these people anything. If they want this "debate" then they should have to concede to our demands. Not the other way around. I am against Nye doing this. It pretends like the creationists have a legitimate argument that needs to be addressed. But since he seems to be willing to go through with it, there should at least be some system in place that keeps the creationists from being able to cheat. These basic rules are designed to do just that.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Huh? (4+ / 0-)

    All a debate requires is that the parties hold opposing positions on a given subject. Ham believes his position is factually defensible and is willing to debate it.  Just because you, I and almost everybody else don't agree with him doesn't mean it cannot be a legitimate debate.

    If you are against sane gun regulations then by definition you support 30,000 deaths a year by firearms.

    by jsfox on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 11:46:26 AM PST

    •  It could be a legitimate (5+ / 0-)

      Debate, but it won't be one.  Why? Because the creationist side will not be bound by facts.  Like my religious friend who ayes that it is unfair to use scientific arguments when discussing faith and god stuff.  Ie you cannot debate the legitimacy of no scientific claims with science, apparently.

      Creationists just want exposure and to be on the same stage as Nye.  Like Dawkins said when asked why he did not debate creationists, "it doesn't help my resume but it does help theirs."

      No matter how many times scientific arguments are made, the creationists just pivot and move on to another fantasy.  The the next time they speak, they use the debunked arguments again.  For instance, point out the impossibility of the flood or the rain that would be required for it and they return to the flood the next time they speak. Similarly to describing the chaosmifnthe sun actuallyndidnstand still in the sky.  Do any of us really think that the creationists have not heard that there are conflicting origin stories in genesis?  They DO NOT CARE.

      As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

      by BPARTR on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 11:57:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What is wrong with this scenario? (0+ / 0-)

        Your position is just wrong therefore I am not going to debate you on it. I won't change your mind so I won't debate you. You will bring up things that are not true, not factual and require a certain amount of magical thinking IN MY OPINION to bolster you position, therefore I will not debate you.

        Who wins in this scenario?

        If you are against sane gun regulations then by definition you support 30,000 deaths a year by firearms.

        by jsfox on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:19:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think that he does (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shahryar, Bob Love

      believe that his position is factually defensible but feels, rather, that a factual defense is irrelevant to his position's truth.

    •  You're assuming they use facts... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rbird

      I stated in the diary that they deliberately take what scientists say out of context to prop up their position. Needless to say, people who can back up their side with evidence don't need to do this. They have a word for this, it's called lying. You can't debate someone who has to resort to that. And again, the point of my post was that if Nye is determined to do this, he shouldn't let the creationists set the terms. Which I am absolutely against.  

  •  i believe it is pointless (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandino

    for nyr to "debate" this man because all ham will do is spout lies and blather while nye will try to talk about the science.  you can not debate with a closed minded person and certainly not with someone who does not have to present facts to bolster his argument.  ham has no facts.  he uses the bible, a totally fact free novel written by people who were not "there when it happened" as opposed to scientists who have to constantly justify and update their beliefs as new info becomes available.  for ham, there has been no new information for 2000 years and what they do have is suspect.  bill nye is way too nice a person for this circus but he has volunteered to enter the lion's den, to use a biblical reference.  i wish him luck.

  •  If They Debated Batting vs Kicking In Football (3+ / 0-)

    everyone would at least be able to understand why there cannot be an actual debate at all.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:04:45 PM PST

  •  In the end talking is better than not talking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic

    I agree that there can be times when one should refuse a debate - like when the other side controls filming and editing and broadcasting it all.  

    But also, remember that Jesse Owens went to Berlin and embarrassed Hitler before the world.  Taking the California gay marriage case to the US Supreme Court was also thought a bad idea.  

    The Creationists are going to see that Bill Nye does not wear horns.  Many are going to like him.  Some will have seeds of doubt planted.  

    Plus, the media outside the museum will critique it all for the world to see.  

    All in all, I think talking is better than not talking and I suspect Nye's presence will also cause scientists who  dismiss the Creationists to pay more attention, and learn better strategies for demonstrating why the scientific process is a better way to explain how the world works to true believers.  

    Debating the pros and cons of the debate, as we are doing, is also worthwhile though.

    •  I think some people missed my point.... (0+ / 0-)

      If Nye wants to do this, he needs to at least set some of the terms. This should include a moderator. By the sound of it, he just agreed to let Ham set the terms of the debate. We know they'll interrupt him and cut him off because they can't win an honest debate.  

  •  Sounds like one of D'souza's "debates", which he (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wednesday Bizzare, Bob Love

    feels he always wins, by shouting and ridiculing.

    Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

    by Floyd Blue on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:11:32 PM PST

  •  jesus christ. creationists are your neighbors. (0+ / 0-)

    you don't need to walk across to the other side of the street to avoid them, just because you don't approve of their religion

    •  true, but I do avoid conversations beyond (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      art ah zen

      "hello, how's your garden?" though.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

      by terrypinder on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:02:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is supposed to be about science not religion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AdamSelene

      if you are claiming creationism is a religion, then why debate it? If you are suggesting that refusing to participate in a fundraising charade for anti-science conmen is disapproving of a religion then you are  just trying to twist the subject into a question of tolerance, which is either stunningly ignorant or disgustingly disingenuous.

    •  Some of my neighbors are racist and homophobic... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino

      Doesn't mean I should legitimize their hate by treating them like they have a legitimate position. It's not about agreement or disagreement. They want a place in science classrooms. By agreeing to debate them, what Nye is inadvertently saying is that they deserve to be taken seriously. And again, my point isn't necessarily that Nye shouldn't do it, but that he should make Ham agree to certain terms. Like having a moderator.

  •  if (0+ / 0-)
    a debate requires both sides to have evidence to support their positions.
    can we disallow Repubs from political debates?
  •  obviously...of course (0+ / 0-)

    the creationists' "evidence" is the Bible.

    All Nye needs to do to win this is to have it reported.

    The judges won't be the people in the venue.

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:21:41 PM PST

  •  it is foolhardy to thing that $60+ million (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AKSteve, kalmoth, art ah zen

    that the HAMMster reportedly needs to stay  (ahem) afloat, can be solved with one visit by one scientist for one day, with a maximum number of visitors possibly reaching 2,000.

    That's GOP math that you employ, if you think this will save the Ark.

    The Ark and the park have such structural problems financially, despite state funds being wrongly directed to it, that this will only be a short piss into a great flood of a storm.

    Nye stated publicly that he would debate creationists anywhere, anytime, at any forum. Now you complain about his open-ended offer? A bit late for that. My only surprise was that the HAMMster accepted.

    You are also wrong that the scientific community doesn't "owe" these people anything. To the contrary, scientists have been reticent to take a strong stance for years, only to see the fiascos that result in Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alybamy, Misery and other states. See where reticence, lack of standing up to christian bullies, and refusal to go public got us before? Decades AFTER the Scopes trial?

    Until scientists began standing up and dealing with this crap head on, Texas was about to change every single high skool (their spelling) textbook to include creationism and intel design.

    What Nye is doing is a service to society. Standing up and pointing out just how loonie these tunes are is the only way to put a stop to their idiocy. Stepping into the belly of the beast is the absolutely the best place to start. The Ark in the Park is the most offensive government sponsored place I can think of. Where else to start our rationality push?

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:52:05 PM PST

  •  while it is hurting for funds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth

    this won't come close to the $23 million or so it apparently needs to not default on its bonds.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:01:24 PM PST

  •  Doesn't matter if Ham believes in the Garden of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AKSteve, kalmoth

    Eden or not.

    There really is no "debate debate" to have.

    Creationism is an utterly viable explanation of the universe if you need to preserve your religious beliefs.   If your faith demands that you believe it, you will.  Nothing wrong with that and it is every American's right.

    But it ain't science.

    Science provides a very different story and, if you are going to rely on science, then you have to rely on the story that science tells.

    Rather than a debate, the only thing that matters is "I know what science is, and that ain't science".

    No need to call anybody stupid.  No need to pretend that you can trump faith with fact. But -- there is a very real benefit to planting the seed of what constitutes science and what does not in whatever openish mind (probably children) may be listening.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:13:15 PM PST

  •  I would like to see Nye begin by briefly and (0+ / 0-)

    clearly explaining carbon dating, inquire whether Ham understands and accepts the science involved, and then question him in regards to time periods, i.e., dating of fossils, age of this planet and the solar system, etc., and how that fits in with creationist/biblical cosmology.

    I would define for Ham the meaning of hard evidence and request that he be forthcoming in support of his positions.  

    If none is provided, I would like to see Nye respectfully gather his papers, say good evening, and walk out the door.

  •  When you wrestle with pigs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    art ah zen

    you get covered with pigshit, and the pigs have fun.

  •  Actually, you've got it backwards (0+ / 0-)

    The creationists don't need to win a debate with a scientist--their "truth" doesn't need to be proved, because faith is all about believing regardless of proof. Their motive may be to show that they are not afraid of allowing other viewpoints to be expressed--and Nye is taking advantage of that. I'm sure he doesn't expect to "win"--but he hopes to plant some seeds of doubt by explaining what scientists has discovered, what evolution actually is--and some viewers who have not had their natural curiosity fully pounded out of them may actually start to think about what they've heard, and maybe want to learn more. That, I'm sure, is why Nye is doing this--to give those in darkest Redstatestan a chance to hear the other side. And that's something "our side" needs to do a lot more of, because when only around 60% of Americans "believe" in evolution, we've got a real problem.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:15:12 PM PST

    •  My biggest problem with it is the terms... (0+ / 0-)

      By the sound of it, Nye more or less let Ham define the terms of the debate. That's my biggest problem with it. If he's going to do it, he should at least set some of the terms. For starters, he shouldn't agree to do it at the creationist "museum". And I think they should at least have a moderator.  

      •  It's their forum, they can set the terms (0+ / 0-)

        Again, it's not about "winning." If you "win" a debate on points but the audience is more impressed by the losing side, then you haven't really "won" (unless a cash prize is involved).  Nye is looking to show these people that scientists, educated people, aren't afraid of them and don't hate them and are willing to speak to them.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:45:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  George W Bush said: "Teach the Controversy" (0+ / 0-)

    And t that's what this debate will do ...

    Teach that there IS a controversy.

    "Maybe Science IS nothing but a set of lies straight from the pits of Hell."

    Could be.

    You never know.

    Especially if you're 15 or 16 years old and not much given to watching Discovery Channel ... much less reading books.

  •  Maybe Bill Nye needs some Tube Time, now ... (0+ / 0-)

    I remember when Larry Flynt went on the Road with Jerry Fallwell ....

    Did they sell more than  more than twice and many tickets   together than either could have sold separately ?

    My guess is "probably."

    Maybe something like that is at work here.

  •   I'd be willing to bet . . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . the tickets (that supposedly sold out in 2 minutes) were never ligitimately for sale : That charter members 'bought' them up during a special pre-sale. You're right - - these charlatans have to pack the venue with friendlies or it won't play out right for them.

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