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According to NBC News Bill Nye will be debating Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY on the 4th of February.

The challenge was made by founder Ham. He had previously made a video response to Nye's recent online video noting that teaching creationism was bad for children.

More below the fold...

I am a faculty member at a small South Carolina college, so I applaud Bill for stepping into the lion's den, so to speak.  I also have taught a course on Science and Religion for over 15 years, and also am an Elder in the PCUSA.

So this particular subject is personally quite interesting to me.  Ham's museum is of course based on a very literalist/fundamentalist interpretation of the book of Genesis.  Never mind that non-literal interpretations have been present in Christianity and Judaism before the time of Christ - the current perception of Christianity is that it is dominated by these interpretations, whereas the actuality is that mainstream Protestantism and Roman Catholicism has accepted evolution for quite some time.

Best wishes to Bill in the debate...

(Note: Christian Dem in NC published a diary about this just before mine - I guess I type a bit slower :^) )

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    James L. Petigru, SC Unionist: "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum."

    by SC damn yankee on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 07:15:57 AM PST

  •  I had to Google PCUSA (2+ / 0-)

    Hadn't seen that abbreviation before.

  •  I am a mental health professional (6+ / 0-)

    When I was treating patients I NEVER won a "debate" with my psychotic patients about their delusions.  Depending on the etiology (drugs, bi-polar disorder, psychotic depression, schizophrenia, delirium, etc.) other interventions sometimes worked. But rational debate - not so much.

    So Ham is a lost cause, but maybe there will be folks in the audience susceptible to reason.

    •  Since the debate is at the Creation Museum (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denver11, wintergreen8694, Hey338Too

      (and $25 tickets which will enrich the museum to some extent) the audience will be almost all on Ham's side.

      Where Nye can make headway is if he can be convincing that the strictly literal interpretation is an aberration (which it is in the context of Western Christianity).  Of course the audience wont likely go along with that.

      And the other avenue is the whole process of science - falsifiability is the basic tenet of a scientific theory, and the literalist interpretation of Genesis is a great example of something that is not falsifiable, and therefore cannot be scientific in any way.

      So he can make the case that science education should never deal with Creationism - except for older students who need to know that this approach is anti-science.

      James L. Petigru, SC Unionist: "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum."

      by SC damn yankee on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 07:35:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nye won't change a single "mind." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denver11, Hey338Too

      Maybe, though, if we're lucky, he'll piss off a few idiots. There is value in that.

  •  Sand blasting a soup cracker. (0+ / 0-)

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 07:55:42 AM PST

    •  He needs to be well prepared. (4+ / 0-)

      A major mistake people make in debating these guys is to think that they are so uninformed and dumb that it will be a cakewalk. But what they are not prepared for is the fact that the creationists are professional bamboozlers and have honed their skills over many years. They employ many tricks and use questionable tactics (Google, "Gish Gallop", fore example) and therefore surprise most opponents who think they are going to have an easy time of it.

      The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

      by Pirogue on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 08:08:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nye and Ham will debate, but no one w/truth? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    At the beginning of time, nothing existed. The earth, the gentle oceans lapping up against its shores, man and animal had not yet been created. Only a great yawning abyss was present in the void of nothingness. Out of the abyss, a land of eternal mist, darkness and terrible cold was formed to the North; to all beings, this land was known as Niflheim. In the midst of the Dark Land surged a fountain known as Hvergelmir, from which spread the freezing glacial waters of twelve rivers throughout the void. To the South lay the land of Fire, Muspellsheim; an infernal region of unbearable, unsatiable heat and flames. From there poured rivers of fire whose waters contained a bitter poison which, little by little, gathered and became a solid mass. From the ice flowing from the North, this mass of venom was covered in a thick layer of frost. With the heat blowing from the lands of Fire, the frost began to melt, and the giant Ymir was born from poison and ice.

    "It ain’t supposed to make sense; it’s faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe." - Archie Bunker

    by Banach MacAmbrais on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 07:57:05 AM PST

  •  ...but the Bible says... (0+ / 0-)

    Bill Nye might as well be talking to a brick wall. Bill will be branded a heretic, and will be accused of rejecting the knowledge and truth that God has shared with mankind.
    Nye will be arguing science, and Ham will be espousing Christian dogma in the form of the inerrancy of the Bible. It's a sucker's bet.
    I enjoy watching such action.

    Caution: The reality in the mirror may be closer than it appears.

    by glb3 on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 09:27:23 AM PST

  •  Be careful Bill (0+ / 0-)

    In early debates with creationists, scientists had their asses handed to them because the creationists came up with actual scientific quotes from actual scientists which supported creationism.

    It wasn't until the scientists were able to examine the creationists' references that they determined that the creationists were quoting scientists out of context and misquoting.  

    Fortunately for debaters on the science side, creationists have no new material, and when they misquote or quote out of context, scientists are laying for them and calling them out for being the liars that they are.

  •  Richard Dawkins refuses to debate them because (0+ / 0-)

    he feels that he is handing "legitimacy" to the creationists simply by appearing on the same stage with them.

    Although I give Bill Nye much credit for his accomplishments as a science educator, his public persona is more "science advocate" than scientist... so perhaps he's the right man for this mission.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 09:53:30 AM PST

  •  The Creation Museum (0+ / 0-)

    is a project of Answers in Genesis, which I have relied on for unintended hilarity for years. They collect all of the pseudoscientific arguments over the contradictions between a literalist reading of the Bible and what we know from all of the sciences, starting with denying large chunks of physics, chemistry, and biology.

    The story that Fundamentalists also deny math, and tried to get pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, legally defined to be 3, is an Urban Legend. It was a math crank, a circle-squarer, who tried that in Indiana. The Alabama version of the story was an April Fool joke.

    One of the best arguments at AiG is about the Light Travel Time problem, in two parts:

    How do we see stars and galaxies more than 10,000 light years away, if there hasn't been time for their light to get here?

    How did Adam in the Garden of Eden see human-visible stars ranging from 4 to 1,500 light years away two days after the stars were created?

    Fans of Xena, Warrior Princess and The Simpsons will know that Lucy Lawless's official answer to all fan questions about plot inconsistencies was

    A wizard did it.
    That is the level of argument at AiG. They posit that God must have changed the speed of light or the size of space and the brightness of stars in an exact proportion to the present distance of celestial objects from Earth, in such a way as to leave no observational fingerprints, just so the Universe would look that much older than it is. But they reject the notion that God could have created the light from all of the stars along the entire path from there to here, all at once, because that would mean that God lies to us.

    They don't even try to explain the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. The just pooh-pooh the whole idea that it is 13.7 billion years old.

    Creationism has two basic motivations.

    One is simple racism. The unforgivable sin of "Darwinism" is the claim that Whites are descended from Black Africans just like the rest of us. Young Earth Creationism became popular in the 1960s, at the time of the Civil Rights Movement.

    The second is a theology of salvation that says that Jesus cannot save us from Original Sin unless both the Fall in the Garden of Eden and the Resurrection are literal historical facts, and not only that, but all the rest of the tale too. Never mind the prior history of Judaism, and never mind that Jesus was saving people before and during the Crucifixion. Among vast multitudes of other contradictions brought out by many students of Biblical and sectarian teaching.

    Some links:
    Creationism is/is not appropriate for children

    Answers in Genesis
    Right from the beginning

    Feb. 4, 2014 in Petersburg, KY

    “Is creation a viable model of origins?” Creation Museum Founder and AiG President/CEO Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye at the Creation Museum on Tuesday, February 4, at 7 PM. Bill Nye is the former host of the popular Bill Nye the Science Guy TV program for children, current Executive Director of the Planetary Society, and he is a frequent pro-evolution guest on TV interview programs.

    Legacy Hall, Creation Museum
    2800 Bullittsburg Church Rd
    Petersburg, KY 41080

    Museum members: Call for special discount. 1-800-350-3232, ext. 355
    Tickets available starting Monday, January 6.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 10:42:53 AM PST

  •  You can't "debate" a religious fanatic because (0+ / 0-)

    there is no possibility for them to modify their beliefs, even in the face of overwhelming "reason." Reason is to them simply heresy and not allowed. Nye is making a big mistake.

    I have so had it with creationists (fortunately I seldom encounter them) that I now simply say, "I made a promise to myself several years ago that I am no longer going to discuss this topic with idiots."

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