Episode 84 – Creationism vs. Evolution

We recorded this episode while Bill Nye was debating Creationism with Ken Ham.  We know a lot of our listeners were watching the debate last week but we decided instead to talk about our feelings about creationism and why we didn’t think the debate was a great idea.  Response since we recorded the episode has been mostly positive but even if Nye “won” the debate, did he do more to advance his own cause or Ken Ham’s?

Show notes below the fold:

If you would like to watch the debate, it is on Youtube.

Response following the debate was mostly positive for Nye.  Hement Mehta at The Friendly Atheist summed up the predominately positive response from the secular community.

The Christian Science Monitor also called the debate for Bill Nye.

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5 Responses to Episode 84 – Creationism vs. Evolution

  1. Friends. I understand your stance on the Nye/Ham debate. I really do. Debating creationists can be a losing strategy. And for someone like Richard Dawkins it makes sense. He is a terrible rhetorician. If Mr. Nye were slated to debate William Lane Craig, I would also cringe, as Mr. Craig is a lying sack of crap who is a very good rhetorician. Two things make the H/N debate a wonderful opportunity. Mr. Nye is a public figure and not a “full-fledged” scientist, yet he is a fantastic communicator. Mr. Ham is a very successful creationist, and a bit of a moron. In other words, the cost benefit analysis shows a relatively level playing field.

    And this is the point that I think you mentioned, but simply did not get – Mr. Nye is not there to change anyone’s mind. That is never the point in debates with religion involved. The point is to get your message out to young people watching the debate who are unsure what the sides even are (Mr. Nye specifically challenges young people at numerous points in the debate). If you can tell me that more young people know the simple facts of evolution that Mr. Nye presented than know the flood story, then you are totally correct. This debate is a dumb idea. But this is not the case. The majority of people in the US are already creationists so giving Mr. Nye an opportunity to present our “side” in a relatively non-threatening way is a phenomenal opportunity. You argue that this is publicity for the creationists, but I argue the opposite. Our culture is already saturated with creationist BS as it is, we need to get more reality out in the mass media, especially into venues that might have a few wavering or sci-curious creationist watching.

    My challenge to you would be to present an alternative. How do we get info on good science and evolution out to young people from creationist homes? The religious are very good at targeting the young (in all sorts of ways), and it is for a specific reason. What they are really afraid of is exposure to secular science (I was home-schooled by religious parents for just such a reason). They do not want their kids to have any questions about what they are told. This is precisely the message that Mr. Nye presented – ask questions.

    Explain to me again how is this a bad thing?

    • Of course that’s not a bad thing. And if I thought there were young earth creationist parents who we’re letting their children watch the debate, I’d agree with you. But I doubt there were. But sure, if there was even one person whose mind was changed or whose creationist theories were shaken up, this was a good thing.

      Our problem with it, which I think we made clear (without re-listening just now) is the number of gleeful atheists excited to see Ham get smacked down and proved wrong. No one was proving anything to anyone else not already on their side.

    • Having now watched the debate, I’m going to disagree with you on one important point: Nye was absolutely out to change minds. He consistently pushed the point that Ham’s delusional point of view has consequences. Kids who listen to Ham will not go into science. Or they will engage in bad research that supports their messed up view that the only scientific result that is valid is one that supports the bible.

      As I said in the podcast and I still believe: debating people like Ham makes them feel that their interpretation of science is on even footing with mainstream scientific thought. It makes them bolder and louder.

      I love that Nye is championing evolution. I love that he is challenging those who believe in biblical creationism. I just don’t think it was a good idea to give Ham a national platform.

      Alternatives? Better education for science teachers to make sure that they understand evolution and teach it accurately. Also make sure they understand why Ham’s arguments aren’t just wrong, they are bad science.

      How do you reach kids in home schools? That’s harder but I don’t think one debate with a crackpot will help.

  2. Albatross says:

    So Molly did you end up at the deli for corned beef? Because I just listened to that sandwich description and now I have to stop by Cecil’s Deli on the way home.