February 4th, 2014
01:17 PM ET
Bill Nye: Why I'm debating creationist Ken Ham
Editor's note: Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye on Tuesday at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, with CNN's Tom Foreman moderating. The debate will be live-streamed at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.com, and CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" will host both Ham and Nye at 9 p.m. Tuesday after the debate.
Opinion by Bill Nye, Special to CNN
(CNN) - A lot of people have been asking why I accepted Ken Ham’s invitation to debate the origins of life Tuesday night at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
In short, I decided to participate in the debate because I felt it would draw attention to the importance of science education here in the United States.
What keeps this country in the game economically is our ability to innovate. New ideas lead to new technologies, which drive new businesses and new opportunities.
Technological innovations absolutely cannot be created without fundamental understanding of science, the means by which we know nature.
How many young adults and taxpayers use mobile phones? How many of us rely on global navigation systems that use satellites high above the Earth’s surface to find our way around?
Even if you eschew smartphones, you rely on the system to keep airplanes in the sky and ships at sea on their routes. Modern farmers plant seeds in fields with extraordinary precision using information beamed from satellites in space.
MORE ON CNN: Ken Ham: Why I'm Debating Bill Nye
For the United States to maintain its leadership in technology, we need well-educated science students. To allow our students to come of age without the knowledge gained through the extraordinary scientific insights and diligence of our ancestors would deprive them of understanding of nature and our place in the cosmos.
It would also rob our students of their future. Without scientists and engineers to create new technologies and ways of doing society’s business, other economies in other countries will out-compete the United States and leave our citizens behind.
Tuesday's debate will be about whether Ham’s creation model is viable or useful for describing nature. We cannot use his model to predict the outcome of any experiment, design a tool, cure a disease or describe natural phenomena with mathematics.
These are all things that parents in the United States very much want their children to be able to do; everyone wants his or her kids to have common sense, to be able to reason clearly and to be able to succeed in the world.
The facts and process of science have enabled the United States to lead the world in technology and provide good health for an unprecedented number of our citizens. Science fuels our economy. Without it, our economic engine will slow and eventually stop.
It seems to me that Ham is a fundamentalist. Around the world there are billions of people, who embrace the facts and process of modern science, and they enjoy their faith. By all accounts, their faith enriches their lives. These people have no conflict with their faith and science. Ham is unique in this regard.
Fundamentally, Ham’s creation model is not part of modern science. His idea has no predictive quality or ability. It provides no means to learn more about the world around us. It does not enable students to make consistent sense of nature.
So, we’ll see. We’ll see if his model stands up to traditional scientific inquiry: If a certain claim is true, then we would expect a certain outcome.
I’m excited and very much looking forward to the encounter.
Bill Nye is a science educator and CEO of the Planetary Society. The views expressed in this column belong to Nye.
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before creationist take on scientists they should first take their fellow religious zealots on. They first need to come to a consensus on which myth (Christianity and its various sects, Islam and it's various sects, Hinduism and its multiplicity of sub-religions....)is the correct one.
What Bill Nye says about creationism not lending itself to having one study or know how their environment works is not true. Einstein, And many of the world's most renowned scientists were Creationists. I hope he uses it in the debate.
Einstein was a creationist only in the mind of creationists.
Einstein was not a creationist. He is so often misquoted or quoted out of context, it bothered him greatly and he had the following to say about it: "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." -1954 Einstein
So please stop saying Einstein is a creationist. He's not, and never has been. He lost his religion, according to his autobiography, at 12 years old when he realized nothing the bible could be true.
Its a pointless debage. You cannot have a debate with a person who's believes his view point is correct because of "faith". If Ham doesn't believe proof is required, there is nothing to argue about.
In any case, I hope Nye makes this point to the public (Ken Ham won't get it anyway).
If the creationists are postulating a God because life on earth is too complex to have evolved by chance, what is their explanation for the presence of a God who is so much more complex than living beings because he can actually create life? How was that God created?
And if evolution is fact, the big bang was an explosion of the world's condensed matter. And where did that matter come from? And..... we're back to square one.
Read a science book for a change.
You are conflating three separate theories that are completely unrelated in context, discipline and outcome. There is nothing to debate with such ignorance.
Wow, Bill Nye has the scoop as to where matter came from, or how it came from NOTHING.
So you have the scoop on how God came from nothing?
This is a very interesting comment. I mean, the debate is about evolution versus creationism, Bill Nye is defending evolution, and evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with how matter came to be. But other than that, very intelligent comment. Can you tell us more?
I like Louis Black's response to this debate. "I don't debate creationists, we got the fossils, we win!"
"Evolution versus Creationism"? I wasn't aware the two were in conflict.
Please go educate yourself on the two subjects and come back and play.
They are if you take creationism from the bible, which says the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old, when evolution is a process that has taken millions of years to occur. Faith and evolution don't have this contradiction. But creationism does.
Who's god or gods? Which one of these can be proven? None, so there is nothing scientific about the idea of gods creating the universe.
At least give us a testable theory for the idea of gods.
If God does exist then we have to acknowledge he created us with the capacity to think and reason. He created us with the capacity to develop language and the ability to solve problems using advanced mathematical equations. And he gave us the capacity of understanding and knowledge with the ability to pass that information down. Anybody who claims to believe in a creator and is against knowledge is against that creator. Anybody who would undermine and go against knowledge and science could effectively be called 'satanic', which in the literal meaning of the word means 'an adversary'. The same science and scientific process you are against developed modern medicine and surgery, which not only make people's lives better but saves their lives. Even Jesus claimed that his followers would perform greater miracles than he. If you cannot see that around you today, you are blind.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Replace magic with miracles and voila. That said, it's still tech and not magic.
The question, really, when you boil it down, is, "Did an external force (God) put the chain reaction in motion or did it begin spontaneously. The throwback to believing (literally) the Biblical account really distracts from the larger question ... the answer to which is unknown and cannot be proven one way or the other. The first step is admitting that it is something that is unknowable. That fact really irritates the pure science people but, at the end of the day, is really no different from String Theory, which also cannot be proven directly.
Science: "I don't know but I will try to find out."
Religion: "I don't know, I don't want to know and I will attack you for trying to find out."
Funny, science (or unbridled atheistic emotion) usually does the attacking. As I said, the truth is unknowable, regardless of how hard scientists or theologists try to convince you otherwise. There is no definitive "proof" one way or the other. Even if science is 99.999% right, it is still inconclusive ... and that is true of ALL scientific enquiry – you can't make an exception for 'creation/evolution" or you destroy it's foundation. In the end, science is about "prediction", not "explanation. Until they can create life from scratch, we will all just have to wonder.
"The first step is admitting that it is something that is unknowable. That fact really irritates the pure science people...."
Scientists routinely say, "I don't know". Saying that means the beginning of inquiry, or more specifically "I don't know, so what test can help me find out?".
That is entirely different from "I know because God said so." Or, "I don't know so therefore God did it".
To say "I don't know" either from a theological or scientific perspective is the same. Both sides gather as much evidence as they can (historical versus scientific) and reach the same inconclusiveness. People supporting all facets of the argument get frustrated over this topic because, as I said, it is fundamentally "unknowable".
Not knowing an article of faith is entirely different from not knowing something from a scientific standpoint. To try to equate the two is absurd at best.
The CNN teaser has the Jesus fish and the Darwin fish. The interesting thing about those two symbols, like the two sides, is that one is a symbol of faith and belief and the other is a symbol designed specifically to mock and belittle peoples beliefs. It kind of makes it clear where both sides stand no matter what your position (and I believe in evolution)
This debate always give me a laugh. There is a God, there isn't a God. Creationism is true, Evolution is true. What the heck is wrong with people. Has any of these supposed smart people even ever considered that they both happened? There are great arguments for both all because there is NO missing link regardless how close some may be.
So what is the problem? The problem isn't whether God or Evolution is correct. The problem is people that hate the other for what they believe in. Those are the ones you should be afraid of. Not the ones who believe in either God or Evolution.
Oh my, creationism and evolution are in no way compatible and it is pure ignorance to think they are!!
Religion and evolution are perfectly compatible and only fools would argue otherwise. The catholic church's official position on evolution is that the science is clear and evolution is a fact. If the single largest catholic denomination can accept evolution why do you continue to wallow with your head in the ground?
The Catholic church is not an authority on science and as much as they accept evolution does not mean they tie it to creationism and unless you can cite evidence that they do, you have no point.
There is a reason that evolution can be taught in schools and creation can't be.
Only a fool thinks they are compatible.
They can't be both true, One is based on the scientific pursuit of facts, the other is a blind faith in some magic that doesn't exist. The real magic is in the Universe, the stars, galaxies and other observable, quantifiable and wondrous REAL glories.
Of course they can both be true – as I posted above , the question is (really) ... "Did an external force (God) put the chain reaction in motion or did it begin spontaneously."
And thus: "Who created the god that created all this?" – you can't apply the Scientific Method to fantasy stories about imaginary beings.
It is no different from any other gap in the historical record – science is not always able to reconcile what we don't know ... and there is still plenty we do not understand .. and I say that speaking scientifically, not spiritually. As an example, we just learned that, almost certainly, there was life on Mars .. a long. long time ago. Now, let me just throw out an (outlandish) explanation just to illustrate the range of possibility. What if, "God" was a genetic designer or scientist from another planet who "seeded" Earth as an experiment? Again, the truth is unknowable ... and always will be.
Wow... the ignorance. Atheism is not a belief. The idea of your invisible friend in the sky is indoctrinated in your tiny mind by your parents. YOU WERE BORN AN ATHEIST... E V E R Y S I N G L E O N E O F Y O U. You had NO concept of your invisible friend when you were born. The god of your choice was highly influenced by your parents and the community you lived in. It's literally an INTELLECTUAL DISEASE and your choice of disease (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc etc etc...thousands really) have no basis in REALITY.
Have a nice day!
Without religion, atheism couldn't exist as there's nothing to "disbelieve" in. In order for atheism to exist, one or more religions would need to be present. Babies are born with the knowledge of anything so it's illogical to assume we're all born atheist. That isn't true.
No troll of many names...Atheism only defines a disbelief if god(s), no baby is born with a belief, so technically they are Atheists, it is not until they are indoctrinated and brainwashed that they even know about a god.
Atheism is a LACK of belief based on insufficient evidence. We are all born with a lack of evidence for any of your invisible friends. All infants have a clean slate...and are therefore Atheists.
Share a discussion on why jesus is right and thor is wrong... I need a good laugh.
Have another nice day
Advanced concepts like God, atoms, and the stock market are beyond babies' understandings.
Babies neither believe nor disbelieve in these things.
They have no opinion on them, because they are not yet capable of understanding the concepts involved, because they have not heard of the concepts, and because they have never considered or agreed to the concepts.
It is therefore a mistake to appeal to babies one way or another regarding what the popular, natural, or default belief concerning God is.
Are you a baby?
Atheism is NOT the "lack of belief". That merely describes the individual's mental state or personal view who claims to BE an atheist. Atheism is the view that God does not exist.
Did Thor die for you sins?Jesus did, can Thor give you eternal life, jesus can and will if you decide to follow him.
Capitol a Atheism is religion, fyi. Babies are not born with the belief there is no God.
Fallacy Spotting 101
Post by 'Marv' contains a form of the naturalistic fallacy argument.
Not really since many cultures and people have invariably come to the same conclusion: religions characterized by presence of an Omnipotent being(s) you could easily argue that it is inherent that everyone starts out believing in a greater power. I think people who blindly accept atheism are a dumb as people who blindly follow any religion. The truth is nobody knows the answers for sure and there are a lot of unanswered questions in this amazing universe. Therefore it is not really reasonable to believe in anything.
Babies do not believe the proposition "There is no God." Therefore, they are non-atheists.
Babies don't 'believe' anything. They can't at an early age.
Atheism is the view that God does not exist. And, whether we are born with a belief in God or our parents taught us the view has nothing to do with whether it's true! (Genetic Fallacy).
Marv is not very logical.
Babies aren't very logical either.
Much more logical that the one who believes in a non-existent 'god' that created all the Universe. Why is the Christian God the only true one? Are you willing to entertain that there are other gods that may have created the Universe too? If not, then I'd posit you're just as narrow minded as the Atheists you hate.
I'm not a Christian. But, yea, that doesn't sound logical either. I don't hate atheists. Perhaps you are narrow-minded?
My reply was to Kevin, not you.
There simply is NO "debate" here. Science vs. mythology? Science wins every time!
That's why I have a problem with Nye agreeing to do this "debate". It gives creationists credibility they simply don't deserve. No one with any grasp of reality would debate someone who thinks the Tooth Fairy is real, why should debating fraudulent religious pseudoscientific claims be any different?
Some of my concerns about this debate
1. That Ken Ham will not use the term evolution in a careless way but will distinguish macro and micro evolution.
2. That Ken Ham will be careful in his use of scientific evidence and respectful of the work scientist do that is not about the issue of creation.
3. That Ken Ham will not suggest that the Bible requires a specific age for the earth and then wrongly imply that those who take an old earth view are rejecting the authority of the Bible.
The more important conversation is about faith and science http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/confusing-faith-and-science/
This is important,but not thee most important matter. Faith in God as Creator and sustainer is impotant indeed. But the most important matter for all of us is faith in the finished work of Jesus/Yeshua to save us from the penalty of our sins. Yeshua accomplished this through His death, burial and resurrection (atonement). Its important to see God as creator indeed, but be sure that you have received His gift of salvation through faith in the finished work of His Son. Shalom
No for you it may be important but you do not speak for anyone else. Some of us manage to do quite well without a god in our lives.
If you need a god to be good in this world...have at it because society is probably safer that way...we wouldn't want you out there murdering or abusing children or harming another person. The christian faith is the furthest thing from moral.
I'm glad your faith tides you through. I am an ex-Fundamentalist, mainly because 'God' did not perform as promised by my fellow Xtians and the Bible. When I asked why, I was dismissed with a curt: "You didn't have enough faith.."
If your god requires my faith forhim/her to work, then they are not much of a god then, are they?
I suppose you'll dismiss my story with another curt: "They weren't real Christians" or "It wasn't in his plans for you to not get gut wrenchingly sick and hospitalized from your first doses of chemotherapy.", right?
Rob, you need to stop asking men about your relationship with God. That is between you and God. He allows all of us to go through different challenges. The Christian Life is not a sprint my friend, it is a marathon. It sounds as though you disqualified yourself from the race. You are the one who is keeping yourself sidelined. Excuses are for the weak. Are you weak? Stop whining and be a man!
sin is a man made concept (as is god, satan, heaven, hell) and only relevant to those who believe that concept
it is not only not the most important part to all of us, it's not even the most important part to most of us
Sammy, nice job. Eveything you just posted is backwards. I wonder if you put your pants and shirt on backwards in the morning? You sure have life backwards.
God is not real. I am sick and tired of people thinking he is. Why would he be real? It is pointless for his existence. It makes you ignorant to believe god.
You sound like a miserable person, and no wonder. Most people around you believe in God and it will always be that way. Maybe the problem is with you? What a concept.
You're obviously a Christian posing as an atheist, because only Christians always misspell the word "atheist".
These sorts of websites rarely show comments that I post, so I'll be sure to keep this as brief as I can, lest I waste half an hour of my life.
I also haven't read the other comments, so forgive me if this idea is being repeated, but I tend to read others' comments after I present my idea as to not have the inclination to personally respond to any idea I may not agree with. This leaves me open to fresh ideas while maintaining that I've had my own in which I happen to stand strongly, while also keeping a cool head towards such a heavily debated topic, so here goes:
Nye has a strong point that creationists' perspectives cannot cure what ails this world, as I believe we are already a breed of germs so advanced as to becoming an inoperable cancer of sorts, while doing my best to maintain faith that with God, all things are possible.
However, I also can't help but believe that had it not been for mans' incessant desire to control all that is around him, or to understand it at least, and have that same faith since the beginning that we should all be delivered from evil in that higher power known as God, our world wouldn't be facing the problems science now helps fix, or even have that economical necessity as, under God, greed wouldn't have already poisoned men's souls.
Cause/Solution... it all seems rather undebatable, to be completely honest.
The act of Creation (6 days, recently) is really the only miracle. It is the only real "gap" in science, and it is a gap that science cannot fill because it was a historical event. All the other facts about age of the universe as measured in the present are open to debate. Scientists debate and revise ages all the time. I just read an article in National Geog in which the age the of Grand Canyon is now in dispute (again) it measures between 5 million and 70 million years old. No percentage of error was given with these numbers, but I would suggest that the clear difference in scientific opinion allows for the possibility of all parties using errant standards of measurement.
Post by 'REDIT' contains instances of the Slippery Slope fallacy and the Strawman argument.
Fallacy spotter. You will also find appeal to authority, ad homimen, If-then, false alternatives, begging the the question, and circular reasoning, and, the all time favorite, invincible ignorance. It's like shooting fish in a barrel...LOL
I guess since they can't agree between 5,000,000 and 70,000,000 then the REAL answer is 5,000. Obviously...