I’m watching the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate, and I have to hand it to Mr. Nye—he’s exhibited more patience in the first hour than I’ve exercised in my entire life. I still have an hour to go, but this is my assessment thus far:
1) Evolutionary theory vs. creationism comes down to a difference in epistemology. There’s no way to really win a debate like this, since both sides interpret their reality through entirely different philosophical frameworks. Screw evidence, if you can just handwave it away with the ‘you didn’t see it, so it didn’t happen’ defense—which oddly enough demolishes the whole YEC argument, but heyyyyy
2) I’m particularly baffled by the distinction Mr. Ham made between historical and observational science—observing and interpreting a process that can then be generalized and applied to historical scenarios…that pretty much sounds like plain old science. And again, with the ‘If you didn’t observe it, it doesn’t exist’ argument. I wish Nye would’ve been more forceful about combating his insistence that a book reinterpreted dozens if not hundreds of times stands as a marginally reliable historical text, let alone an infallible window into the past.
3) I’m pretty sure Mr. Nye could wreck this guy, but he’s opted to go the cordial route, which is a smart choice. Condescension wouldn’t play well here. His choice to emphasize the economic benefits of science education is really telling—this is more of a political play than anything, and even if he can get a few people on the YEC side to question their beliefs, it’s a win. I suspect he’s here to promote science education more so than anything, which I can respect.
Ultimately, Ham isn’t going to convince anyone to become a Creationist, but Nye might win over some uneducated but curious people sitting on the fence. And that’s as close to a win as he’s going to get.
I still want to rip my hair out over Ham’s interpretation of the recent study on the origin of domesticated dogs. Somehow he managed to interpret a limited study covering ~10,000 years worth of a species’ genetic history as proof of canids belonging to a distinct kind divorced from the rest of the animal kingdom—which is kind of like me reading a book on WWII and determining that human history began in 1938. Fuck the scope of a paper, I guess.