Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham — Live Debate Thread

Slide rule-knife fight-2

This is it. The debate is scheduled to begin in two hours — that’s 7PM, Eastern time zone.

Displayed above is our specially-designed logo for the event, which represents our fear that Bill Nye will be bringing a slide rule to what may turn out to be a knife fight with Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, who runs the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, which will be the site of the debate.

The debate can be viewed free, and without the bother of signing up, just by watching it at the Christian Today website: Bill Nye Ken Ham live stream VIDEO: Watch online creation vs science debate free here. We hadn’t planned to watch it, but if the video is available there, then we’ll suffer through the thing — or as much as we can bear.

If that link doesn’t deliver, or if the sound is bad, here’s another website that is also offering to display the video free and without signing up: WCPO TV, Cincinnati. Here’s yet another source: WFPL in Louisville. And another: FOX 45 in Baltimore.

We’ve turned off the commenting feature for our most recent posts about this event, so that all relevant comments will appear here. That should make dialogue more coherent. There ought to be plenty to talk about, so try not to stray off-topic.

As we reported in earlier posts, there will be a ridiculous amount of press coverage for this event. Ol’ Hambo’s press release said:

In addition to CNN correspondent Tom Foreman who will moderate the debate, over 70 credentialed media will be in attendance, such as ABC, NBC, Scientific American magazine, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Al Jazeera, The New Yorker, etc.

The reason that disturbs us is explained here: Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism. Most of us on the science side have the same opinion about the folly of such debates, but that doesn’t matter now. All we can do is watch what happens, and hope that Nye will somehow surprise us.

And don’t forget — after the debate, if you’re still in the mood for more, Hambo’s recent press release said:

Immediately at the conclusion of the debate, Bill Nye and Ken Ham will walk inside the Creation Museum next door to be interviewed for the Piers Morgan Live program on CNN for a 9:45 PM post-debate analysis. During the 10 PM hour and inside the museum, MSNBC TV will interview Mr. Nye by himself.

We’ve taken the precaution of shutting down the Drool-o-tron™. We don’t need its sirens to tell us something horrible is going on, and we don’t want to see it self-destruct from an overload of idiocy.

Okay, the creationist audience is taking their seats. The curtain will be rising soon. The comments section is open. Let us hope that the slide rule will prove to be mightier than the switchblade.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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95 responses to “Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham — Live Debate Thread

  1. Why be afraid of a debate?
    “Enlightened” Scientists once thought the earth was flat.

  2. jeff says:

    “Enlightened” Scientists once thought the earth was flat.

    Name one.

  3. Yes, jeff, the bible is wrong about the shape of the Earth and its position in the solar system, but now we know better. Thus, evolution is false.

  4. Unable to produce and communicate a cogent thought, jeff cuts and pastes from a creationist website. His is the kind of stupidity that the drooling Hambeaux acolytes will expect to hear from their side-show hero tonight.

  5. My major concern is that Creationism can be expressed in sound bites; not so the Theory of Evolution. Consider, e.g., a modern physicist debating a Newtonian dynamics proponent. Newtonian motions are all any audience experiences. To support Einstein’s Theory of Relativity requires a strong imagination and effort. The correct science in both cases will likely lose.

  6. Thanks for setting up the comment stream! This is one of the best blogs available on the theory of evolution — have followed it for years.

  7. Sigh, I’m watching it. Minutes to go. Time to freshen my gin!

  8. @Deborah

    I second that

  9. Hey, Nye’s got a Mac! Can’t be all bad.

  10. Arrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhh! Hambo’s got a Mac, too!!!!!!!

    Oh, the humanity! Well, at least he’s supporting my stock!

  11. For all Australians…. I apologise.

  12. Bleh – the “science is supernatural” stuff.

  13. Nye. Accurate but weak.

  14. Not too bad at all. I’m not going to listen to Hambo’s 30 minutes. I’ve read enough of his stuff already.

  15. Were you there? Fantastic!

  16. Hey, this is great! I’ve already gotten two of the four things I predicted would come up way back at the beginning of the year.

  17. Observational science: I see what I want to see!

  18. Liberty University “biologist?”

  19. What’s with the Adam and Eve? Isn’t everyone descended from Mr and Mrs Noah in even less time?

  20. Ham is doing a nice job. Not Gish gallop.

  21. Chris: well, kind of: 1. daughters-in-law, 2. the thing about getting Daddy drunk etc.

  22. No one would be descended *solely* from the son’s wives. How does #2 affect descent?

  23. Huge applause for Hambo. Nice presentation. Nye is up.

  24. I’ll give him props for never doing the Gish Gallop. Cherry-picking galore, but it’s a debate, not symposium.

  25. This is more boring than the Super Bowl!

  26. Chris: 2. not at all, but I’d guess that part of the story doesn’t make it such a favorite.
    1. Just reading here: Was the issue about Y alone? I thought about the additional genes etc.

  27. Not just about Y. Common ancestor means the one thing that all descendents have in common, so technically neither is THE common ancestor just A common one. If everyone on Earth came from Noah’s sons and their wives, every person on the planet can trace their line back to *both* Noah and his wife.

  28. Audience hates Nye.

  29. I liked the 11 new species per day calculation. What do you think the standard creationist response will be to this?

    Anyone else relatively happy with how Nye is doing? I know nothing will ever be enough, but he’s making some good points.

  30. Agreed, docbill. His jokes are all falling flat with this group.

  31. Yeah! Tiktaalik! Take that, creationists!

  32. I think Nye is doing just fine.

  33. I wish he had pushed the idea more that making correct predictions give us confidence that we understand how things work.

  34. I think for a largely uninformed audience, Nye is making points that can be easily understood.

  35. Ah, the cosmic background radiation.

  36. Distant starlight, ice cores, tree rings … he’s doing it all. I’m impressed.

  37. Thank goodness Jason Lisle isn’t her to answer to the distant starlight argument..

  38. He’s doing a good job. However, as Michael Shermer just pointed out on Facebook, “Nye nailing it. Focused on science of age of the earth. But, like Clint Eastwood at Oscars, he’s talking to an empty chair of an argument.”

  39. Stephen Kennedy

    He did botch the history of the Big Bang, Hoyle opposed it. However most people do not knoe the history either.

  40. docbill1351: Audience hates Nye.
    Deborah: His jokes are all falling flat with this group.

    That’s additional good evidence that the event ticket sale was rigged. Hambo denied it, of course – he’s clearly lying (what a surprise).

  41. So Ham’s rebuttal was basically slamming old earth creationists …

  42. For anyone looking for an excellent rebuttal of creationist arguments related to the age of the earth and radiometric dating, I HIGHLY recommend:

    Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective, by Roger Wiens (google it)

    It is an EXCELLENT paper! I wish Nye could distill it into 30 minutes.

  43. Nye missed an opportunity to point out the absurdity of a T-Rex aboard the ark going to a salad bar.

  44. Were the fish sinners?

  45. PZ Myers on Pharyngula writes too that Nye is doing a good job, so apparently it’s not going to be the disaster we were afraid of.

  46. So why isn’t the universe twice as big, Ken? Wouldn’t that be more impressive?

  47. I’m still impressed with Nye, especially compared to ol’ Hambo. Hambo isn’t nearly as sharp as I thought he would be.

  48. I’m one of those that agrees that you shouldn’t debate creationists. And I was worried about this debate, along with everyone else. But, I have to say, I think Nye has done an excellent job. I’m actually kind of happy this debate happened in the first place.

  49. Nye has been articulate, he’s asked good questions and made some good points, and he has stuck to the evidence and the science. Sure, there are some things I wish he had handled differently, but we were all expecting much less from him. Ham just keeps waving his Bible around. He’s really making the whole creationist viewpoint look silly and stubborn and one-sided and really just reminding everyone that it isn’t about evidence for him, but faith..

  50. Funny but Hambo appeared to be the one lacking energy. Must have been all that cramming for the big debate!

  51. *Sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap, congratulating Nye for doing a good job in a loaded crowd full of bozos not smart enough even to get his jokes while Hambeaux waves his bible and mumbles jesus stuff*

    I’m very pleasantly surprised at Nye’s presentation and general demeanor.

  52. So, the debate is over. Is this the part where both sides walk away thinking they’ve won?

  53. Erik John Bertel says: “Funny but Hambo appeared to be the one lacking energy.”

    Maybe he’s worried that his bond issue is flopping?

  54. Stephen Kennedy

    I missed a fair amount of the debate due to technical problems but from what I did see I think it is fair to say that Bill Nye denied Hambo the kind of triumph that I am sure he was expecting.

    Nye was not passive, challenged Hambo repeatedly and did not shy away from pointing out that the bible is in many areas just plain wrong and out of touch with modern science. Hambo played to his base, resting his case for the most part on the bible and not saying much about science. As expected, Hambo tried to make an issue of “operational science” vs. “historical science” but I think Nye was ready for that and handled it well.

  55. The press reports tomorrow ought to be favorable to Nye. From their relatively uninformed point of view, I’d guess that he simply performed better. Ol’ Hambo just seemed to be tired and worn out.

  56. Stephen Kennedy

    SC, I really think the bond issue may have played a role in Hambo’s somewhat lackluster performance. The ark encounter is a huge project for them and Hambo must have been under incredible pressure these past two months to try and save it. If the bond issue is failing it would be more than a minor distraction for Hambo.

  57. Ceteris Paribus

    Ham turned out to be a creaky old man.

    Obviously the time has come for him to hand the keys to the Kingdom over to the scientific, theistic, astrologer astronomer David Rives. A younger man. But creepy.

  58. Stephen Kennedy

    Kent Hovind is due to be released from prison in 18 months and I am sure would like to take the title as nuttiest creationist around but I think he is about Ham’s age and life in prison may have taken a toll on him.

  59. Of course, the audience will believe that Ham won, but it seems to me that Ham was a distant second. He couldn’t face Nye’ s repeated question,” Is there any reason for me to accept your oft-translated book as a valid source of information.” (paraphrased)

  60. Deborah, if Shermer mentioned Clint Eastwood at the Oscars, he got his event wrong. It was at the Republican convention that Eastwood had his infamous ‘talk to an empty chair.’

  61. I am not surprised. Mr. Nye is a communicator and educator. He knew what he was getting into, and the *real* audience.

    Thanks for linking the information and the event.

  62. Nye got rave reviews on MSNBC.

  63. Tripp in Georgia

    …Awesome concept here! Next, I want to hear the scientific debate between the Beowulf proponents versus the cosmology physicists!

  64. I was only able to watch the first hour and twenty minutes or so; part way through Ham’s first rebuttal five minutes. Some observations:

    A) Nye got a much more enthusiastic round of applause after his thirty minutes than I expected from the creationist audience. There must have been more rational folks there than we expected.

    B) In Ham’s rebuttal, he mentioned a 45 million year old layer of basalt in Australia that had imbedded within it a 45,000 year old tree stump. He used this as an example of the “unreliability” of science’s dating methods. I wish I had been there to jump up on the stage and explain how the carbon-14 method of dating the wood doesn’t work on anything older than 45,000 years, which is about ten half-lives of C-14. My guess is that Ham deliberately misinterpreted “the wood had to be at least 45,000 yrs.old” as “the wood was 45,000 yrs. old”. I didn’t get a chance to see if Nye addressed that. Did he?

    C) Stephen Kennedy correctly points out the Hoyle opposed the Big Bang theory. He was a proponent of what he termed the Steady State theory. However, he did originate the term “Big Bang” — he meant it derisively, but it stuck. Probably to his regret. George Gamow was a leading proponent of the Big Bang.

  65. Watching after the fact. “Were you there?” would make a pretty good drinking game at this point.
    Ham is rambling on about … everything ,really. He’s lost focus on his own topic. A painful half-hour.

    Nye Mentions the Wyoming, a large wooden ship that illustrates the difficulty of a seagoing ark.

  66. I wonder if Ken Ham thought if he could just win this debate for God that he could save his sinking Ark Project. Blub, blub, blub….

  67. Oops, Ham’s back, more “were you there’s”. Nye is being polite in his criticism, but he’s being not pulling any punches.

  68. Time zone here precluded watching live, but now caught up after the event.

    But the very best part of the whole imbroglio has got to be the Disco’Tute’s response. Only after the event does our beloved Casey Luskin finally break his radio silence about the event and weigh in with some Monday morning quarterbacking: The Ham-Nye Creation Debate: A Huge Missed Opportunity:

    Because the focus was so overwhelmingly on the age of the earth, the point was never made that a mainstream scientific view about the age of the earth is totally compatible with an intelligent design view that totally refutes Nye’s materialist beliefs about the history of life.

    Just like Dover–from which the Discoveroids carefully kept their distance during the trial–Luskin is now sounding off on how things should have gone, if only. What a stupid putz!

    And Klingy, who was the only Discoveroid who said anything about Ham/Nye prior to yesterday, continues to kibitz in his piece, Watching Now: In Ham-Nye Debate, Only the Truth Can Lose:

    Sigh. As promised, I’m watching the Ham-Nye creation-evolution debate but it makes me sad. Unless someone stumbles, which I doubt, this will be a good night for both of these gentlemen. Darwinists like Mr. Nye and Creation Science advocates like Mr. Ham rely on a middle position being excluded, and that exclusion is guaranteed by the nature of this discussion.

    In other words, the old fallacy of argumentum ad temperantiam, with an extra pathetic whine thrown in because Nye–inexplicably–didn’t argue for ID!

    And Klingy, hoping we will forget about the DI’s Wedge strategy’s starting agenda (the need to restore bedrock belief in God in order to save the world) , actually makes the claim that

    Notice what’s missing there? It’s the view that science should follow the evidence where it leads, unconfined by a particular way of reading the Bible or by an unbending commitment to naturalism.

    Memo to Klingy: Make your own case to Mr. Ham, if you actually have a case to make, and stop trying to convince anyone that you, having signed up for the Wedge strategy, can possibly ‘follow evidence where it leads’. And yes, you are also a putz.

  69. Footnote to previous post, above:

    It’s worth recalling the actual topic of the debate, viz.

    Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

    Science gives a clear and resounding “No way, Jose!”.

    Can Intelligent Design Theory–the proponents of which endlessly whine and plead they are not Creationists–give the same answer?

    Of course not. I’d love to see them even try–but they won’t, because they can’t, and not only because they don’t want to cause ructions in their Big Creationist Tent. Even if they were capable of actually ‘following evidence wherever it leads’, they exclude too much hard data to ever enable them to deliver the coup de grace to Biblical Creationism without slamming the door shut on the very Oogity-Boogity they keep trying to smuggle in.

  70. I didn’t watch the debate, but I have read summaries. If Michael Shermer’s Facebook page is to be believed, a poll in Christianity Today shows Bill Nye winning at 91%. Generally I have to agree with our Curmudgeon that debating creationists is a bad idea, but plainly this debate did NOT end as the total trainwreck many of us had feared. Did we underestimate Nye or overestimate Ham?

  71. I liked Nye’s play to American patriotism with the dire warning that if we give in to the Luddites we will no longer be competitive in technology with the rest of the world. Of course the Luddites were a progressive group compared to Hambo’s ilk but I’m sure some got Nye’s message. Overall, Nye held his own with this stacked audience but to the larger web-based audience he would appear to be the clear cut victor in this battle of wits with a conscientious objector like Hambo.

  72. >”… argumentum ad temperantiam ”

    If argumentum ad temper-tantrum isn’t a thing, it ought to be. Maybe I’ll suggest that to the Fallacy Files guy.

  73. H.K. Fauskanger asks: “Did we underestimate Nye or overestimate Ham?”

    I did both of those. While I still oppose such debates, I readily admit that I underestimated Nye. I regarded him as a jovial lightweight, sort of a Captain Kangaroo of science. There’s far more substance to the man than that. As for Hambo, I think he was intimidated by all the media, so he felt obliged to tone down the Lake of Fire stuff. And I also think he was distracted by worries about the bond issue.

  74. Interesting write-up from a creationist. He’s frustrated with Ham’s performance.

  75. I didn’t see the debate (it was early morning here in Blighty), and having read several commentaries don’t feel I need to. But it seems clear that Bill Nye at least held his own, even though he may have failed to land a knockout punch. Ham, however, didn’t seem to land as much as fingernail, relying solely on his usual unsubstantiated BS. So, hats off to Bill Nye.

  76. H.K. Fauskanger asks: “Did we underestimate Nye or overestimate Ham?”

    Perhaps it’s simpler than that. Perhaps, sometimes, things just go well.

  77. Actually The Bible teaches that the earth is round:

    Isaiah 40:22
    King James Version (KJV)
    22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

  78. Beekah claims: “Actually The Bible teaches that the earth is round”

    Actually, it does not. See The Earth Is Flat!

  79. The objection still stands: debating crackpots implies they are entitled to a seat at the table of science, and they aren’t. Even if Nye eviscerated Hambo, the damage is done; the crackpots got to sit at the adult table, and mark my words, they’ll be back demanding a seat there in the future.

  80. Erik – don’t lump Ham in with us ‘real’ conscientious objectors’! 🙂

  81. And BK – a circle is not a sphere.

  82. It’s only in the magnanimous and soft’n’fuzzy world of creationist mathematics where “2+2 = <Insert desired result>”. Similarly, it’s only in the dark-rose-tinted postmodern corners of fantasy and confabulation where exegesis and eisegesis demand semantic contortions such as “circle = oblate spheroid”.

    Creationist rhetoric is hilarious.

  83. Ham was hamstrung by a total lack of results to present, or at least a fear that presenting Creation science would make him look silly(-ier). He can proclaim “I’ve got real scientists!” all he wants, but if so much as mentions Runaway Subduction, Ice spheres, or the actual consequences of changing physical constants he reveals the whole charade.

    On Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 10:01 AM, The Sensuous Curmudgeon wrote:

    > Lurker111 commented: “H.K. Fauskanger asks: “Did we underestimate Nye > or overestimate Ham?” Perhaps it’s simpler than that. Perhaps, sometimes, > things just go well.” >

  84. Ceteris Paribus

    Douglas E says: And BK – a circle is not a sphere.

    And aren’t you glad that The ID took such great pains to fine-tune His divine geometry that way?

  85. It’s almost 2:30 in the afternoon here, and I’m in the same time zone as ol’ Hambo. But nothing has been posted at the AIG website today. They always have a couple of new items up by noon or so. Why the delay?

  86. Was just at his Facebook page. A link went up a short time ago.

  87. He also links to something at WND called “Creation Smackdown blah blah blah” (my translation). I don’t go to WND anymore unless you link there.

  88. Stephen Kennedy

    Mark Germano

    I know what you mean. After I go to the WND website I feel like I need a long shower.

  89. @Dr. Kennedy: Latex gloves and a full face shield may offer some protection. Also, please make sure your tetanus and other shots are up-to-date.

    I am concerned about our Curmudgeon, seeing as how he is a regular visitor to that site.

  90. It’s now after 3:00 in the afternoon, and AIG has finally put up a post. Guess what? Ol’ Hambo was great last night! That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

  91. Stephen Kennedy: Yeah, I call my mom and make her tell me everything is going to be okay.

  92. Stephen Kennedy

    I am sure AIG took so long to post something on their website because of the difficulty in spinning something that puts Hambo in a good light. AIG has got to be really distraught over the way this turned out. I am sure they expected to be basking in the glow of a great triumph today rather than hearing from other fundamentalists basically “you let us down”. Expect Hambo to pour out a lot of venom towards OECs like Pat Robertson for kicking him when he was down.

  93. Ham is desperately selling the debate as the most important thing that has happened this century (or at least since bread came pre-sliced). It’s looking like the final breath of a dying ideal.