Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham

February 5th, 2014
submit to reddit Share

For those who don’t know, science advocate and educator Bill Nye recently debated young earth creationist Ken Ham in a highly publicized internet-broadcast event.

There have been many mixed feelings from the scientific community on the event.  Many of which, I would tend to agree with.  Debating a creationist really won’t do much of anything.  Believers will continue to believe in what they want, regardless of the arguments or evidence.  Those who look at things objectively will have no choice but accept evolution as a well tested and established scientific fact.

Some might say that the debate raises creationism to a level it does not deserve.  It is not a matter of debate for the scientific community; it was closed long ago.  If we were to assume the earth were thousands of years old, biology were the result of a being simply willing it to be so and the bible could guide all scientific thought, we would have to throw away most of the advancements of science.  Evolution is key to our understanding of biology.  We have seen it happen and have fossil evidence of how it has shaped life over the long term.

Some warned that Bill Nye could end up losing the debate, or just come off looking bad, if Ham backed him into a corner using contentions that were too illogical to easily and directly refute or by forcing Nye to waste his time providing a class in biology 101 in order to simply explain where he is coming from.  Given that creationism has no scientific evidence, only religious faith, it seems likely that a creationist would fall back on appealing logical fallacies.   It should be noted that one can be factually correct and still lose a debate if faced with a skilled opponent.

Thankfully, Bill Nye seems to have held his own.  Still, I tend to side with those who think it was unnecessary and generally unproductive to even bother engaging in the debate.   It didn’t change anyone’s mind.

Here’s the video for those interested (Starts at roughly 13:00)




This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 at 2:17 pm and is filed under Bad Science, media, Misc, Not Even Wrong, Politics, religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
View blog reactions



75 Responses to “Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham”

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

  1. 51
    Finrod Says:

    Wyhy does the modern Green moivement seem so religious?k Because it’s a Phase II ethical system. Let me explain (I’ll need to do this over a few comments because of the word limit):

    Three Phases Of Development In Ethics.

    After giving thought to the subject of ethics, I’ve come up with a preliminary scheme for classifying religious and secular belief systems according to certain characteristics of their implicit or explicit ethical systems. I think this approach has the potential to clear up certain quandaries in classifying and relating various belief systems which might otherwise be inappropriately lumped together or held apart due to superficial characteristics.

    Let me be clear that this is a preliminary exercise in a particular conceptualisation of this topic. I don’t want to pretend that this is the whole story, or exhaustive in its definitions, or that there aren’t many exceptions to be found to the broad strokes I’m about to make. The categories here described are intended as aids to thought, not binding dogma. I feel they will be useful, and I hope that proves to be the case.

    Phase I Ethical Systems:

    Phase I ethical systems are those generated by the needs of tribal or clan-based cultures . They come in many different varieties, and are often highly specific to a particular group. While all humans tend to have broadly similar needs, specifics of environment, technology level, resource base and particular paths of historical development lead to idiosyncratic cultural mores and modes of interaction. Ethics are often seen in terms of duty to the family, clan or tribe. Consideration of humans outside the group is very often non-existent, and interactions with them don’t fall under the field of ethics at all. When outsiders are dealt with fairly or honourably, it’s usually due to a pragmatic calculation rather than a perceived ethical obligation.

    The overarching theme in Phase I ethical systems is the survival of the cultural unit before all other considerations. A set of customs and lore specify how to act under various circumstances. The customs of one cultural unit concerning a particular situation may vary greatly to those of another cultural unit in the same circumstances.


    Quote Comment
  2. 52
    Finrod Says:

    Three Phases Of Development In Ethics.

    Phase II Ethical Systems:

    Phase II ethical systems are characterised by the abstraction of the positive and negative facets of experience into archetypal concepts of good and evil, usually personified in particular mythological characters. Survival of the cultural unit continues to be an important theme, but it is now relegated to a subordinate role in the spreading of the ethical system itself. Adherents are expected to govern themselves according to the precepts of the system. One major effect of this change (and probably the main reason it became so successful) is that the details on how to behave in a given situation are delegated out to the individuals at the scene of the action rather than being micromanaged by an extensive body of customary prescriptions. Imposing a smaller set of generalised rules of conduct across extensive regions means that people are able to interact more confidently, knowing more or less what they can reasonably expect from nearly anyone they encounter.

    The role of phase II systems in simplifying relations between smaller cultural units to facilitate trade and economic development is most likely responsible for the expansionist nature of most such systems. Phase I cultures might or might not be particularly expansionist, but Phase II cultures almost always are. To a Phase I adherent you are either a member of their cultural unit with a well-defined nature, or you are an outsider to be ignored, disposed of, or exploited. To a Phase II adherent you are a potential member of the system and must be either taken into the fold, or taken right out of the equation. They’re the original Borg. If you remain outside the system, you are a component that doesn’t fit, a potential source of dissension and trouble. Phase II is ultra-inclusive, and it sees nothing as falling outside the purview of its dogma.

    Phase II dawned approximately 3500 years ago with the development of the religious system of the prophet known in the west as Zoroaster. This great man’s insight led to the creation of the first Phase II spiritual and ethical system in history (in my present opinion, at any rate). He managed to create a framework which would lead in the fullness of time to the founding of the great desert monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). In doing so, Zoroaster managed to perform significant feats of cross-cultural unification and even some degree of human liberation, although it often doesn’t seem that way to us today, when the Phase II systems are perceived more as sources of oppression than of liberation. Nonetheless, the introduction of Phase II ethics did have a profound effect on subsequent human cultural evolution which were often positive in ways not easily appreciated today. It was not for no reason that many rulers throughout history were often happy to introduce phase II ethics into the lives of their Phase I subjects.

    The particular manner in which Phase II ethics were first conceived, however, contained certain flaws which have become only too obvious since that time. They’re usually founded on the myth of a supremely powerful creator god who is all good and who is opposed by a separate powerful being of evil who has somehow corrupted the world, or humanity, or both. History is seen as a battle between these two spirits, with humans playing an important role. They are historical rather than cyclical, with a narrative including the creation of the universe, the subsequent unfolding of world history according to a pre-ordained plan, and an end in which judgement takes place, the good are rewarded and the evil are punished, the spirit of evil is defeated, and the universe is made perfect. Messianic saviour figures are usually included as well.

    One problem with all these variants of the Zoroastrian pattern is that only one of them at most can be literally true, so there is a certain element of mutual exclusivity to these systems. This directly contradicts the main function and virtue of them, which is the unification of different cultures under one universally applicable ‘operating system’. This has led to a Highlander-style “There can only be one!” ideological battle between the feuding children of Zoroastrianism down through the centuries, familiar to all students of history. Another major problem has been the misconception of the nature of evil, and its personification as a personal adversary. This has led to a huge focus on ‘Evil’, and many a cultural obsession with its extirpation, usually by identifying some hapless person or group with that enemy, and doing many horrible things to them. So while Phase II has certainly had its successes, it has also had its failings, and the further a society develops under phase II tutelage, the more counter-productive those failings become. Much of the motivation for the modern development of the Phase III ethical systems which have been formulated since the Renaissance has been the direct experience of those Phase II failings. Which brings us to Phase III.


    Quote Comment
  3. 53
    Finrod Says:

    Three Phases Of Development In Ethics.

    Phase III Ethical Systems:

    Phase III ethical systems were mainly developed in Europe over the last 400 or so years in response to the restrictions imposed by the dominant Phase II ethical system of the time (Christianity in its various forms). The precepts of phase III systems largely consist of maintaining a stripped-down Phase II framework for ensuring a workable civil society (maintaining prohibitions on such antisocial activities as murder and robbery) while eliminating culture-specific commandments and sanctions on which gods to worship and which cultural institutions to compel adherence to. This evolutionary process is currently ongoing in our society, and the final shape of a mature Phase III ethical system is still a matter of some debate. I have my own ideas on this matter which I shall expound in the future. For the moment, let’s consider what characteristics a belief system or secular ideology should possess in order to be considered a Phase III system.

    I think that a Phase III ethical system should foster the growth of useful organised complexity as much as possible. In order to do this, there needs to be tolerance for different approaches to achieving the overall goals seen as worthwhile, which stands in direct contrast to the ‘One-True-Pathism’ of Phase II systems. It should also be inclusive in its ethical treatment of outsiders, in contrast to Phase I systems. There needs to be active encouragement of that which is seen as positive. Perhaps the prime commandment should be “Foster Complexity!”, or to put it another way, “Do your best to encourage the growth of that which furthers the goals of life”. But there is a lot of debate which can yet occur to determine the make-up of Phase III ethical systems.

    Annex Concerning Phase III Characteristics:
     
    The biggest hole (in my opinion, anyway) in my essay on the three ethical phases was the description for phase III. I spent quite some time wondering what the anchor for that phase was (Phase I is anchored in the need to preserve the culture, Phase II in the ethical system itself). I considered features such as liberty, individual rights, scientific enquiry, material production, political inclusiveness and so on. But really, these aren’t the heart of Phase III, they’re its consequences. As far as I can currently see, the heart, foundation and anchor of Phase III is the elevation of freely contending ongoing discourse, with conclusions always tested against reality and always subject to change if new results warrant it, to the pinnacle of regard as the method by which both individuals and groups should govern themselves.
     
    This development has consequences right across the board. When you apply it to ‘natural philosophy’, you get the scientific method. Applied to politics, inclusive democratic and parliamentary systems result, which have critical discourse at the heart of their operations. Applied to economics and material production, various forms of competitive capitalism result. All these systems have critical discourse resulting in a self-correcting mental model of reality which is continually checked against external reality at the very core of their operation (or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work ideally…).


    Quote Comment
  4. 54
    DV82XL Says:

    FINROD! Great to see you back Craig!

    EVERYONE: Read what he posted, he has some good ideas fermenting here.


    Quote Comment
  5. 55
    Finrod Says:

    I really need to pay some more attention to this theme. I’ve had it fermenting for some time now. I’ve found it quite useful both as a classification scheme and as a predictor of likely characteristics of a given doctrine. I think there also may be some evidence of how things have evolved in the historical record, such as the logic of adoption of a (relatively) stable form of Phase II ethics during the later history of the Roman Empire, and why that logic did not apply in the Far East.


    Quote Comment
  6. 56
    DV82XL Says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but your description of Phase III ethical systems seems to be the result of what is generally referred to as The Enlightenment.


    Quote Comment
  7. 57
    Finrod Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but your description of Phase III ethical systems seems to be the result of what is generally referred to as The Enlightenment.

    True, but I believe the roots of its development extend back some centuries prior to the Enlightenment period. Human cultures don’t spontaneously evolve beyond their comfort zones without serious external stimulus, so the prod for developing Phase III would not have been apparent until the failures of Phase II became so obvious that conciousness of them could not be entirely supressed by the formidable defences the architects of the Christian variant had put in place to protect it.

    Some insight into the nature of each phase can be gathered from the nature of the people upheld as archetypal heroes by the cultures of that phase. These are:

    Phase I: The warrior.
    Phase II: The martyr.
    Phase III: The scientist.


    Quote Comment
  8. 58
    Finrod Says:

    I suspect that if the story of the shift from Phase II to Phase III is ever properly recounted, the intellectual developments of the victims of Phase II orthodoxy, such as the Jewish exiles from Spain, will feature prominently.


    Quote Comment
  9. 59
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    I really need to pay some more attention to this theme. I’ve had it fermenting for some time now. I’ve found it quite useful both as a classification scheme and as a predictor of likely characteristics of a given doctrine. I think there also may be some evidence of how things have evolved in the historical record, such as the logic of adoption of a (relatively) stable form of Phase II ethics during the later history of the Roman Empire, and why that logic did not apply in the Far East.

    China became very homogeneous rather early on and developed a value system valuing conforming to the group.

            Finrod said:

    True, but I believe the roots of its development extend back some centuries prior to the Enlightenment period. Human cultures don’t spontaneously evolve beyond their comfort zones without serious external stimulus, so the prod for developing Phase III would not have been apparent until the failures of Phase II became so obvious that conciousness of them could not be entirely supressed by the formidable defences the architects of the Christian variant had put in place to protect it.

    The enlightenment took place after the Reformation when European Christianity split with the attendant religious wars that involved (which is also largely what led to secularism).


    Quote Comment
  10. 60
    Finrod Says:

            Anon said:

    China became very homogeneous rather early on and developed a value system valuing conforming to the group.

    I think what may have happened is that the great civilisations of India, China and Egypt were based in highly fertile river valleys capable of supporting many millions of people within a particular region by basically resting on one particular mode of economic activity. Europe doesn’t enjoy the same geographical advantage, and is characterised by many different environments within close proximity to each other, each demanding a different kind of economic activity. The eastern Phase I cultures were able to achieve a level of comfort and sophistication which must have been the envy of European observers. Phase II was a real need for Europe, something that the rulers of the Roman Empire picked up on eventually.


    Quote Comment
  11. 61
    DV82XL Says:

            Finrod said:

    True, but I believe the roots of its development extend back some centuries prior to the Enlightenment period.

    True the roots of the Enlightenment are seen clearly in the Protestant Reformation and the the Renaissance itself which depended to some extent on knowledge becoming more disseminated across Europe. But then again one cannot discount the impact of the Great Plague which had the effect of increasing the general standard of living for the survivors and the discovery of the New World the very fact of which had deep albeit subtle influence on the way people thought. The point here is that some cultures had the necessary impetus to shift imposed by circumstances as much as by developmental growth,


    Quote Comment
  12. 62
    Anon Says:

    The great plague also made church corruption rather more obvious than it was previously.


    Quote Comment
  13. 63
    DV82XL Says:

            Anon said:

    The great plague also made church corruption rather more obvious than it was previously.

    \

    I would argue it made the Church more vulnerable. There is plenty of evidence than many saw problems long before, and considering that articulating these was likely to have you smelling burning fagots, the fact that any of these criticisms survived indicates it must have been a common concern.


    Quote Comment
  14. 64
    Finrod Says:

    There are presentiments of Phase III in things such as the writings of William of Occam, the pragmatism of Machiavelli, and the promise of Elizabeth I that “I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls”, surely a distinct break with typical Phase II thinking.


    Quote Comment
  15. 65
    DV82XL Says:

            Finrod said:

    I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls”…

    Knowing full well she wouldn’t like what she would see in there if she did…

    All kidding aside, you are saying that this is a continuous process rather than something that could be tied to some revolutionary event, and I would have to agree. However that makes it difficult to properly slot complex cultures like ours into your system and kind of begs the question as to whether the transition to the last stage is complete and indeed if it is the last stage.


    Quote Comment
  16. 66
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    Some insight into the nature of each phase can be gathered from the nature of the people upheld as archetypal heroes by the cultures of that phase. These are:

    Phase I: The warrior.
    Phase II: The martyr.
    Phase III: The scientist.

    Adding to my earlier replies, I can indeed see longing for martyrdom in the Green movement, though of course they try as hard as they can to look oppressed without actually being oppressed or even while being the oppressor (much like the Christian right in western countries).


    Quote Comment
  17. 67
    Finrod Says:

            DV82XL said:

    All kidding aside, you are saying that this is a continuous process rather than something that could be tied to some revolutionary event, and I would have to agree. However that makes it difficult to properly slot complex cultures like ours into your system and kind of begs the question as to whether the transition to the last stage is complete and indeed if it is the last stage.

    I’d say that the process is certainly not complete, and failure of the Phase III project is still a possiblity. Nonetheless, it is now the case that challenges to Phase III paradigms come mainly from outside the establishment rather than Phase III ideas being fringe concepts attempting to infiltrate a Phase I or II establishment. Our culture appears to have turned that corner around the time of the Enlightenment.

    If you wish to place a culture within the framework, focus on how that culture would answer certain fundamental questions. For instance, a practitioner of the modern revivalist Norse spiritual path once contended that the ancient Noirse folkways held certain features which might place it in Phase II. I asked him whether or not, were he presented with the opportunity, he would willingly consign the entire ethnic group which developed Norse culture to death if that sacrifice would guarantee that the Norse ethical system would then become the sole one governing the entire human race (the rest of it, that is). He responded that he most certainly would not take that opportunity. I’d say that pretty much undercuts any claim that it’s a Phase II system.


    Quote Comment
  18. 68
    Finrod Says:

    If anyone thinks the example I’ve given above concerning the bloodthirstiness of Phase II systems is a bit harsh, I invite them to reflect on the moral lesson of the story of Abraham and Isaac.


    Quote Comment
  19. 69
    DV82XL Says:

            Finrod said:

    If you wish to place a culture within the framework, focus on how that culture would answer certain fundamental questions.

    This seems again to suggest we are currently in a transitional stage, because I can think of several questions of that nature that there would be no broad agreement or consensus on what the right answer would be while each side simultaneously asserts theirs is the cultural imperative. This is not a general criticism of your thesis beyond still leaving the question open as to Phase III being the top. Right now I’d say on your continuum we would be Phase IIi.


    Quote Comment
  20. 70
    Finrod Says:

    At the moment, ideologues of both the left and right (most of them, anyway) still pay lip service to the need for evidence and proper scientific proof. They mostly immediatly turn around and violate every principle thereof, but the fact that they see the need to claim they’re doing otherwise is telling.


    Quote Comment
  21. 71
    Finrod Says:

    So far, the elites of our emergent Phase III culture have been happy to utilise tactics and strategies from both prior phases to implement policy. This has led to a certain degree of insincerity in our culture, and may yet prove to be the agency of its demise. Too often it is the door through which a fully formed Phase I or Phase II ethical system, adapted to the modern world yet basically antipathetic to it (Nazism, Marxism) has emerged.


    Quote Comment
  22. 72
    George Carty Says:

            Finrod said:

    I suspect that if the story of the shift from Phase II to Phase III is ever properly recounted, the intellectual developments of the victims of Phase II orthodoxy, such as the Jewish exiles from Spain, will feature prominently.

    I don’t think Jews fleeing the Inquisition were an especially significant factor in the West’s shift towards Phase III — many of them after all fled to Muslim countries, not to other parts of Christian Europe. Why did the West take off while the Muslim world stagnated? (I think the printing press may have been important here — Latin script was far easier to print than the cursive-only Arabic script.)

    How do you think Western civilization would be different if the late Roman Empire had adopted an indigenously European Phase II ethical system, rather than a Semitic import? One of the main reasons for the decline of Christianity in the West is due to Christianity’s own internal contradictions, many of which resulted from the way in which Paul of Tarsus deliberately de-Semitized Christianity in order to make it easier to sell to pagan Greeks and Romans.


    Quote Comment
  23. 73
    Anon Says:

            George Carty said:

    I don’t think Jews fleeing the Inquisition were an especially significant factor in the West’s shift towards Phase III — many of them after all fled to Muslim countries, not to other parts of Christian Europe. Why did the West take off while the Muslim world stagnated?

    The places in Europe they did tend to flee to (e.g. Amsterdam) did benefit from them.

            George Carty said:

    (I think the printing press may have been important here — Latin script was far easier to print than the cursive-only Arabic script.)

    The printing press was actually invented in Arabia but Arabic isn’t well suited to it (even today computers have trouble with it), China also figured it out but Chinese isn’t well suited to printing presses either.

            George Carty said:

    How do you think Western civilization would be different if the late Roman Empire had adopted an indigenously European Phase II ethical system, rather than a Semitic import?

    We might be at α Centauri by now.

            George Carty said:

    One of the main reasons for the decline of Christianity in the West is due to Christianity’s own internal contradictions, many of which resulted from the way in which Paul of Tarsus deliberately de-Semitized Christianity in order to make it easier to sell to pagan Greeks and Romans.

    But Judaism is declining pretty rapidly as well despite not having as many contradictions.

    The research on the subject appears to indicate that it’s standard of living that causes religions to die out.


    Quote Comment
  24. 74
    George Carty Says:

            Anon said:

    But Judaism is declining pretty rapidly as well despite not having as many contradictions.

    Perhaps that’s because political Zionism now fulfills a similar function of binding the (ethnic) Jewish community together, but at a lower cost to the individual.


    Quote Comment
  25. 75
    Anon Says:

            George Carty said:

    Perhaps that’s because political Zionism now fulfills a similar function of binding the (ethnic) Jewish community together, but at a lower cost to the individual.

    Maybe so, though the diaspora (especially the secularised parts of it) doesn’t appear to reflexively defend Israel or to have a very strong Zionist streak (but then again, those who did consider Zionism important are probably in Israel).


    Quote Comment

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *

Please copy the string D7aLKY to the field below:

Protected by WP Anti Spam