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The question posed in Tuesday night's showdown between Bill Nye and Ken Ham was, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” But what if only one of the two was debating that question? What if the other was representing something completely different than his opponent, and most of the audience, thought he was debating?

It's true. Ken Ham wasn't there to talk about creationism. He said so himself.

The day after the debate, my curiosity about the creationist Christian perspective on the evening led me to my friends at WorldNetDaily for insight. They delivered, with the gleeful headline, "CREATION SMACKDOWN DRAWS MASSIVE AUDIENCE"

The article, by Alyssa Farah, is subtitled 'Science guy' admits he doesn't know how key factor came to be'. Disregarding the fuzzy math between 800,000 and "massive," it offers a glimpse into the extreme right's worldview that worth a closer look as progressive activists. More below the word fossil.

Ken Ham debate excerpt, word cloud
Ken Ham debate excerpt, 2/4/14

If not creationism, what was Ken Ham debating? In an interview with WND a week before the debate, here it is in his own words (emphasis mine)

The arguments really will be about the “battle of world views, secular humanism and the Christian world view,” Ham told WND in an interview Wednesday.

“I think it’s all come together at this time … and is seen by a lot of people not just as evolution vs. creation, but really more a battle of secular philosophy vs. conservative Christianity.”

He said the battle is playing out in many ways today – in textbooks that promote evolution, in the banning of anything “Christian” in public Christmas displays, in what children can say in schools and in what local governments can allow on public land.


Ken Ham wasn't debating the origins of life and the universe. He was there to represent what he calls a Christian world view. He was clear on this relatively early in the debate. At approximately 36:00, he says: (my transcription, his plurals)
We all have the same Grand Canyon ... We all have the same evidences. It's not the evidences that are different. It's a battle over the same evidence in regard to how we interpret the past, and you know why that is? Because it's really a battle over world views and starting points. It's a battle over the philosophical world views and starting points but the same evidence.

Now I admit that my starting point is that God is the ultimate authority. If someone doesn't accept that, then man has to be the ultimate authority. And that's really the difference, when it comes down to it.

The accompanying slide:
What is a Biblical (or "Christian") worldview? Christian financial writer Ethan Pope describes it this way on his website, emphasis and grammar his.
The best way to define a worldview is "simply how you see the world". If you were to put on a pair of glasses that had "blue lenses" everything you see would be "blue". If you were to put on a pair of glasses that had "green lenses" everything you see would be "green".

The same is true for a worldview. In a biblical worldview, everything you see should be viewed through the Word of God. If you have an atheistic worldview (one that does not include God) you will seek to develop an answer for every situation, issue or problem that does not include God. For example, an atheistic worldview does not allow for creation because there is no God. From their perspective, the world came to be out of naturalistic causes, not because God created it. If you are coming from an atheistic worldview, you will do everything in your power to promote your view and discredit your opponent’s view.

There are basically two world views.

The center piece of a biblical worldview is God, while the center piece of an atheistic worldview is nature and man. A biblical worldview has it’s entire focus on God, while an atheistic worldview does everything in its power to be sure God is not a part of the world.

Did he just say everyone who doesn't have a biblical worldview is an atheist? Yes, he did. This kind of linear, black and white thinking is why guys like Ken Ham don't respond to science and reason. Their worldview is based on willful denial of science and nature in favor of a Divine Creator.

Let's go back to the WND article, which continues,

In perhaps the most compelling moment of the debate, Nye and Ham were confronted with the question. “How did consciousness come from matter?”

Nye replied bluntly with, “I don’t know. That is a great mystery.”

“Bill, I want to say that there is a book out there that does document where consciousness comes from,” Ham said, referring to the Bible, and adding that he believes man was created “in God’s image.”

Note the very first line of the article.
And herein lies the problem with a debate like this one. Each side talks past the other because they are coming from two completely different realities. To Ms. Farah, the question of consciousness was irrelevant. What she seized upon was the answer; specifically, three words thereof. To understand the difference between the two world views comes down to three words: I Don't Know.

Those three words are as anathema to Ken Ham's worldview as they are fundamental to Bill Nye's, mine, and probably yours. Isn't I Don't Know the foundation of the scientific method? We recognize that we don't know, which is why we value evidence and process in discovering truth.

Ken Ham's worldview is the polar opposite. It values I know for sure over I don't know. Here's his slide summarizing the origin of races and cultures. It makes no scientific or logical sense, but it satisfies the biblical world view's need to know for sure -- literally, chapter and verse.

I doubt the debate changed many minds. The strange magic of differing world views is that two people can hear the exact same conversation, interpret it in two completely different ways, and declare simultaneous victory without ever truly encountering the other. At least until one takes a cheap closing shot.
Ham said when he was younger, atheists were ardent secularists but allowed Christians to believe the way they chose.

“These days, you’re finding them more aggressive, not against just creationism, but against people who believe in God. They call the Bible an outdated book. God is an ogre, if there is a God,” he said. “There’s all sorts of statements and name-calling.”


Ah, yes, the good old days. Happy Friday, and be careful out there. Because cold, and ice, and aggressive atheists.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    Announcing the grand opening of my Etsy shop, Little Lotte Studio featuring hand-dyed textiles and custom beaded jewelry. Please stop by!

    by SteelerGrrl on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:44:37 PM PST

  •  God,... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David54, Joieau, SteelerGrrl, Da Rock

    ...why are so many of your followers so stupid?

  •  Ham's a fraud (8+ / 0-)

    and a liar. He keeps saying he represents "the" Christian worldview, when the truth is that the vast majority of Christians have no problem with evolution, and aren't literalist bibolators.

    If Ken Ham is the face of the faith at this point in time, I can see why they're losing ground. But of course, he's not what he claims to be. He's just another huckster selling tickets to just another roadside attraction. There's a new pope with a whole lot more Christians in his stable, who appears to be far less of a bald-faced liar and a whole lot more humble than Ham.

    Caveat being that appearances can be deceiving, and the pope's roadside attraction is a whole city-state... §;o)

    •  Bibliolatry... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye54, Joieau, SteelerGrrl the word.  I didn't know this off the top of my head, it came up in a discussion a few days ago.

      I will disagree with you about American Christianity, since the more liberal elements seem to have gone silent.  The stage has been left to people like Ham.  Official Catholic doctrine states plainly that there is no conflict between Christianity and science, yet where are they when Ham and his fundie buddies bring Christianity into disrepute?

      All of this is the result of a long war, a century or more in length,between fundamentalists and modernists. At the end, the modernist Christians seem to have left the building.

      It wasn't that way when I was a kid. I distinctly remember sermons about the metaphorical nature of Genesis, or the compatibility of science and religion, or the reasons evil and suffering existed in the world.

      All that's gone, from the look of things.  Only Ham and his ilk are left. So the profound thoughts of Christianity, from Augustine of Hippo on up, are replaced by...

      Jesus was a white guy.

      The King James version of the Bible is the literal word of God. Never mind all the other versions, or the parts of the Bible removed, put back, removed, then put back again, from late antiquity up to the present.

      The Earth is only 5,000 years old, atomic physics be damned for saying otherwise.

      The Big Bang is a myth, the cosmic background radiation is a lie made up by atheist astronomers.

      Evolution is another lie, and all those antibiotic-resistant bacteria are either only in your imagination, or they were here since creation.

      Join Essa in a revolt against the gods. Continue the fight, Causality.

      by rbird on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:47:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, as I mentioned, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SteelerGrrl, oslyn7

        appearances can be deceiving. It's of course the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, but that doesn't mean there aren't non-squeaky wheels turning along just fine.

        The Catholics had a thousand years of carte blanche to impose their version of religion on the unlucky parts of the world by force and with extreme prejudice. In the end, that just served to explode the faith into a thousand pieces for the next thousand years. There are the ritualistic posers, the bibliolators, the ET worshippers, the 'theology by committee' folks, etc., etc., etc., all flavors and varieties designed to appeal to just about anybody's tastes. And there's the folks who eschew the political institution of organized religion and simply follow Jesus humbly with their hearts and lives. No one or group of them has the power to declare who is or is not a Christian, as the title can be freely adopted by anyone for any purpose. Including the purpose theft by means of lies.

        Who knows whether or not the institution survives a hundred years from now? But I'm pretty sure the faith will survive. Because humans have an innate spiritual drive, and modern life doesn't satisfy it in all. Ham and his ilk are still frauds seeking earthly power for themselves. You'll find such people in all walks of life and every organized institution of human design. IMO.

  •  Thanks for stopping by all... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, rbird, Gordon20024, godlessmath

    Back hurts, crashing a bit early. I'll come back to comments in the morning...

    Announcing the grand opening of my Etsy shop, Little Lotte Studio featuring hand-dyed textiles and custom beaded jewelry. Please stop by!

    by SteelerGrrl on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:50:06 PM PST

  •  This is the first "Great Debate" diary... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    godlessmath, SteelerGrrl

    that makes a central point of the acknowledgement of ignorance. (On Kos, I mean.) That aspect of the scientific world view needs to be more fully embraced by the reality based community. All my life and longer, those who argue dogma have behaved as if failure of science to explain any tiniest thing means they win.

    Well, bullshit. Scientists have never claimed to know everything. But I've certainly heard a lot of preachers claim to have a hotline to omniscience.

    "We don't know" means "that bears investigating". We're not done. But if this American brand of right-wing religion wins the culture war that they've openly declared, we will be.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:29:03 PM PST

    •  Y'know... Christians Could Benefit Too... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Christians would also benefit if we would only accept that "I don't know" is a valid answer too.  I think it comes from the football mentality that we can't let The Other Side score and so we can't concede a single yard.   Therefore we can't admit to any gaps in our understanding, any mysteries that puzzle us; we are required to display arrogant confidence.

      It's bull.  And it doesn't do Baby Jesus any favors.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

      by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:39:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for mentioning that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darwinian Detrius

      There were several excellent debate diaries. I took the time to write another because I thought the "I don't know" factor needed to be addressed.

      I do think it's important for progressives to understand the mindset of Ham and his sympathizers. Having been raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, I can hear both sides' dog whistles.

      Announcing the grand opening of my Etsy shop, Little Lotte Studio featuring hand-dyed textiles and custom beaded jewelry. Please stop by!

      by SteelerGrrl on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 10:16:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "I doubt the debate changed many minds" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    godlessmath, SteelerGrrl

    It changed my mind. I was open to listening to the Christian viewpoint and listening to any scientific evidence supporting this world view. After watching this debate, I am now convinced that science and religion conflict and I am not as open anymore. Further, this debate sparked so much interest in me that I have been watching every Youtube debate that I can find on the subject of God versus Science, and the more I watch, the more turned off I am by religion (when it comes to science). I totally disagree with those that said this debate shouldn't have taken place.

    •  Let me clarify... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I did not mean to suggest the debate shouldn't have taken place. My intention with this diary was to explain the mindset of Team Ham to a progressive audience who may not be familiar with his worldview.

      I'm unequivocally glad the debate took place -- look at all the conversations it's generated! My apologies for not being clearer.

      Announcing the grand opening of my Etsy shop, Little Lotte Studio featuring hand-dyed textiles and custom beaded jewelry. Please stop by!

      by SteelerGrrl on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 11:07:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is all that needs to be said. (2+ / 0-)

    The question about what each debater needed in order for their mind to be changed was all we needed to hear. What was great about it was that it came at just the right spot in the debate, after Nye and Ham had volleyed back and forth after some time. It made the contrast all that much more vast.

    Jesus said that there was only one commandment, from which all other commandments stemmed from, namely to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." He was just flat out wrong. The only commandment, from which all else follows, is "don't believe in things which are false." It is clear from history that this has been the source of all evil which has befallen humanity, false beliefs.

    Even hating your neighbor is a product of holding false beliefs. We aren't all going to be best of friends, and that is ok. However, hating another person, in a manner that would result in harm, is always a product of a falsely held belief. For example, me hating people from San Francisco (for example), and I mean a real hatred, would invariably be a result of a false belief: that all people from San Francisco act the same and that I couldn't possibly get along with them. In other words, the inability to love one's neighbor is just another manifestation of believing in things which are false.

    Going back to the diary, this is exactly why I think the difference between Nye and Ham is vast, and important. The whole of the Bible could be shortened to two sentences, that could have done humanity way more good. These are: don't believe in false things; to best achieve this, only believe in things to the extent that you have inductive and deductive reasoning for it. One corollary of this is that, of course, if you don't know, it is better to admit it and keep searching for evidence.

    This was all humanity has ever needed. Has any religion come close to making this a central tenant?

  •  Great Debates in History (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I was in college at Iowa State University back in the '80s, a campus group sponsored a debate between two notorious campus figures.

    One was Prof. Patterson, an engineering professor who was a vocal opponent of creationism.  The other was Zevs Cosmos, a local character and self-proclaimed founder of the "Nudist Christian Church"

    I didn't attend the debate.  It seemed rather pointless to me, because the two men didn't seem to have a common hobby horse to debate about.  Patterson would say "Apes evolved from Creationists" and Zevs would say "Nothing in the Bible prohibits nudity".

    I never found out how the debate went either.  But I got a good cartoon out of it.  Zevs was a fun guy to caricature.

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

    by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:33:52 AM PST

  •  Fundamentally illiterate...jt (0+ / 0-)

    What's the problem with Fundamentalist kids learning things that will keep them ignorant and incompetent, won't your kids need people to wash their cars and mow the grass?

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