God or Science? Ham on Rye?

Excuse me, typo: that should have read Ham or Nye… The monster video you see below is the February 2014 debate between Bill Nye (commonly referred to as the Science Guy) and Ken Ham (famous for his very specific beliefs about Jesus, amongst other things). Their subject: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”

A lot of people on Nye’s side of the argument (Spoiler: “No”) don’t really think he should have engaged in debate with Ham at all–not because of Ham personally, although maybe that too, but because it is seen as giving the creationist argument a seat at science’s table. This is something that threatens all sorts of potential problems, especially when our intent is to educate young people about what is Known, not what is Believed (and often believed by just one subset of a broader faith, no less, let alone from a somehow balanced representative of all the different religious flavours on offer to the world).

Restricting this kind of educational subversion is something I strenuously agree with, but I think there is something different (and if not essential, at least acceptable) taking place here. This is not a case of allowing a non-scientific viewpoint to present itself as having equivalent factual status with science. This is a case of permitting one of creationism’s most influential spokespeople to expose the gaping flaws in his world view–all in the public eye, not within the relative black box of a particular classroom.

Now, I find almost everything Ken Ham says to be a waste of air and time, including his “argument” here–but denying Ken Ham this opportunity would only help Ken Ham. He will never change his mind, he says precisely so right here, but that is not necessarily true of everyone who would hear him, and as long as he is forced to preach his position in isolation his audiences are denied the most valuable context for it:

Disagreement.

If the video fails, please click here.

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2 thoughts on “God or Science? Ham on Rye?

    1. Thanks for commenting, Michael (and for maintaining the titular pun).

      I agree that there are more qualified debaters, and that both can look at the thing as a PR exercise–but to a degree, it’s really PR for this kind of debate generally. Nye represents a gentler face for the opposition than the usual crowd and I suspect that the average believing viewer will be less likely to plug their eyes and ears than they would be for Dawkins, for example.

      I also think the fact that Ham’s faith is a bit of an outlier on the Christian spectrum does no harm regarding less extreme viewers: there’s nothing like a drop of shared contempt to drive people who would otherwise disagree towards a common ground. As you say, Ham adds, but then the entire 6000 year belief is totally non-cannon anyway. If the last page of the bible says “do the maths”, no-one ever mentioned it to me.

      And thanks for the links as well. I’ll certainly dip in.

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