Ham v Nye Debate

Here is my (severely biased) take on the Ken Ham v. Bill Nye debate. There were multiple streaming issues so some stuff might have been missed.

Scoring: 0 (bomb), 1 (ok), 2 (success) [on rhetoric and applicability, remember it is Ham’s responsibility to adequately explain the creation model and how it is scientific, all Nye needs to do is show how things don’t make ‘common sense’, he does not have to necessarily appeal to complex science concepts so the bias here is severely against Ham]

HAM [opening]

  • Takes on the claim that creationists can’t be scientists by showing clips of Stuart Burgess and Raymond Damadian [should have used some historical YECs as well] 2
  • We need a definition of terms: creation, evolution, science [why?] 0
  • Makes a point about experimental vs. historical science [but are those terms used widely or are those concepts generally accepted? why or why not?] 1
  • The word “science” has been hijacked by secularists [yes but don’t we all do that?] 0
  • Creation is the only viable model [based on what axioms?] 0
  • SCORE: 3

NYE [opening]

  • CSI (the TV show) does not make a distinction between experimental and historical science [so what?] 1
  • Natural laws apply in the past as it does now [still does not mean uniformitarianism can be assumed] 0
  • [Ham looks fidgety]
  • Geological layers do not support a global flood [based on what axioms?] 1
  • Science and technology makes the US cutting edge [simplistic and irrelevant] 0
  • SCORE: 2

HAM [30 min]

  • Raymond Damadian video clip to drive home the point that there are creationist scientists 1
  • Danny Faulkner video clip: ‘nothing in observational astronomy conflicts with creation’ [but does anything in astronomy exclusively confirm creation?] 1
  • Stuart Burgess video clip: postulates that his colleagues who are sympathetic to creation are in fear of persecution [if you can’t stand up for yourself, don’t whisper about the fear of scientific persecution] 0
  • Secularists borrow the Christian worldview to perform observational science: e.g. laws of logic, laws of nature [good point] 2
  • Geology: physical vs historical [good move to show that there is this distinction in geology] 2
  • Darwin’s finches: creationists would agree that all finch species come from a common ancestor 1
  • Creationist ‘kind’ = evolutionary ‘family’ [why does the bible use ‘kinds’?] 1
  • Contrasts the evolutionary ‘tree’ model with the creationist ‘orchard’ 1
  • Limits to variability in kinds [but how much and how do we determine that?] 1
  • Compares the creation ‘orchard’ model to the 2014 PLoS Genetics paper: “Genetic sequences highlights the dynamic early history of dogs” [another good move though I doubt the authors of the paper will agree] 2
  • Evolution highjacked by secularists with a bait and switch: observable changes vs unobservable changes 0
  • Observational science confirms the biblical model of the creationist orchard and evolution imposes a naturalistic religion on students 0
  • Uses Richard Lenski’s E. coli citrate experiment followed by a creation scientist’s take on it [perhaps Ham’s best move]
  • Andrew Fabich [microbiologist, seems this is a meet creationist PhDs], ‘does research from a creation perspective, no new information evolved [in Lenski’s e. coli experiment], just a switch that is turned on and off, there is nothing new’ 2
  • Mentions an evolutionary book in the public school that claims that so-called Caucasians are the highest human race 1
  • Claims that Venter’s work agrees with the creation model, uses clips from Nye 1
  • 3rd mention of observational vs experimental science 0
  • Jesus took Genesis as literal history 0
  • Most Christian doctrines are founded or associated with the book of Genesis 0
  • Swipes at homosexuality, dissects a newspaper article contrasting creationists with academics, evolutionists impose the religion of naturalism/atheism in public schools, battle is about authority, abortion is murder as life begins at fertilization [shaky as life is not defined but left up to the imagination] 0
  • End with a super-condensed gospel message [off topic!] 0
  • SCORE: 16

NYE [30 min]

  • Shows a piece of rock with a fossil 1
  • We are standing on millions of layers of fossil life thus how does this make sense with a flood 4000 yrs ago? 1
  • 680,000 winter cycles in ice cores, old tree in Sweden is 9550 years old, Grand Canyon: we can see it takes a ‘long, long time’ for sediments to turn into stone, why not a Grand Canyon on every continent? [doesn’t understand flood geology but Ham doesn’t take him to task] 2
  • We have never found a lower animal mixed with a higher animal due to flood turbulence [again, doesn’t understand flood geology but Ham doesn’t take him to task] 1
  • Fossil skulls: where would you put us given the diversity of skull shapes? 2
  • Kangaroo fossils should be found along an Middle East-Australian axis 2
  • Formula showing species formation from creation kinds per year: 11 new species/day [too complex, people are too simple for that] 1
  • The best shipbuilders could not build a boat as big or resilient as Noah’s ark, is it reasonable that 14k animals could have been fed and housed? 2
  • Why the trouble to have sex? Fewer parasites so that the new genetic material is able to live longer [point may have been lost but is good nonetheless] 1
  • “We in science want the ability to predict” [yes, explain more] 1
  • [Nye’s presentation is not as polished or fluid, his examples are too complex and do not flow naturally into each other, he should have had a practice session and reformatted according to the reaction, too much focus on explanations and not on a rebuttal of Ham’s view, he should have short clean examples flowing into each other, accumulating as a mass that Ham would have to counter, he needs to be a polemicist and not a science educator, he clearly does not understand how to work this audience and most likely will lose badly.]
  • Distant starlight problem [explain] 1
  • Innovation will keep the US in its place in the world [please leave your nationalism at home] 0
  • SCORE: 15

HAM [rebuttal]

  • Age of the earth is historical science, radioactive decay has problems 0
  • Problem: 45k dated wood and 45M dated basaltic rock at the same site 1
  • Problems with dating methods, assumptions (constant decay, parent/daughter ratio) 1
  • 90% of a long list of dating methods give dates less than a billion years [give some quick examples] 2
  • SCORE: 4

NYE [rebuttal]

  • To Ham’s example: rocks slid on top [can think on his feet] 2
  • Asteroids seem to be of the same general age, are the fish sinners to become diseased? [why should they be differently aged in a creation framework and not understanding theology] 1
  • Astronomy can only look at the past and presently we are seeing the past [time for light to bounce off of an object for a person to view said object creates a delay] 1
  • Lion teeth are not set up for broccoli [play to common sense] 2
  • A ‘telephone’ game could have caused scripture to become corrupted [play to atheist audience] 1
  • SCORE: 7

HAM [counter-rebuttal]

  • In Ham’s example, the wood was encased in the basalt [was Ham baiting Nye?] 2
  • Plenty of room on the ark, there are dating assumptions, other animals have sharp teeth and are not meat eaters [bazinga!] 2
  • Three interlocking layers for the ark caused a better built ark [image or call for people to come see a replica required] 0
  • Even secularists have a CMBR (cosmic microwave background radiation) problem so distant starlight is a universal problem but we have some models [should have mentioned that there are 3 creation models which may be complementary] 2
  • SCORE: 6

NYE [counter-rebuttal]

  • Noah had super powers and could build a boat that others later than he could not have [same example again! can Nye explain Stonehenge and oop-art?] 0
  • Pyramids and human populations are older than 4k, not reasonable that everything changed quickly (by a flood) 2
  • There are other Christians who do not accept a young earth, so what is to become of them? [atheist theology but good rhetoric] 1
  • What I can see with my own eyes is better than an Americanized translation of an old book [appeal to self and a hint of corruption of the scripture, arguments for his  atheist faithful] 1
  • SCORE: 4

Q&A [See Adam Laat’s review for questions and responses]

  1. Ham: 1 | Nye: 1 [astronomy]
  2. Nye: 2 | Ham: 1 [big bang]
  3. Ham: 1 | Nye: 1 [non-biblical evidence]
  4. Nye: 2 | Ham: 0 [consciousness]
  5. Ham: 0 | Nye: 0 [what would change mind]
  6. Nye: 1 | Ham: 2 [no absolute age dating method]
  7. Ham: 2 | Nye: 1 [plate tectonics]
  8. Nye: 2 | Ham: 1 [2nd law of thermodynamics]
  9. Ham: 1 | Nye: 1 [would ancient earth change belief]
  10. Nye: 1 | Ham: 2 [room for God in science]
  11. Ham: 1 | Nye: 0 [bible literalism]
  12. Nye: 0 | Ham: 2 [complexity development]
  13. Ham: 2 | Nye: 0 [organizations that use creationism]
  14. Nye: 2 | Ham: 2 [human intellect]
  15. Ham: 2 | Nye: 2 [worldview basis]


  • Disappointing in quality and quantity of information (from both speakers)
  • Too much theology from Ham to make an impact with non-creationists
  • Too many disjointed explanation from Nye to keep creationist interest
  • Still not sure about the creation model of science beyond an orchard and even that is vague
  • Still trying to understand how incredulously harping on an ark and that the bible is a translation of different languages constitutes a sound argument
  • Ham answers the last three questions well but also needed to have a test run of his presentation to keep him on point
  • Nye was scattered and only performed well because Ham was defending a creation model
  • Ham’s correlation of the creation orchard model with that which was found in a 2014 peer-reviewed secular paper was an excellent tactic (Dr. Purdom’s idea?)
  • Nye’s passion for science is clearly seen in his answers while Ham was more mechanical and jittery. Nye facial expression was one of careful analysis of Ham’s words, Ham’s face was wooden.
  • The beginning (or Genesis) of Ham’s presentation was quite good, then it fizzled and burped.
  • Nye seemed to not have had any help (if he did, hopefully he didn’t pay them) but relied on his personal information store which did not work out well though he made some good rhetorical points which Ham did not address (due to time constraints)
  • Ham needs to add value to his Q&A responses. For example, he should have answered his first question by stating rightly that the bible mentions the stretching of the heavens and further correlate this with why cosmic stretching is required or perhaps explain why it was a necessity from a creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing)
  • Nye needs to do the opposite and tone down the frilly explanations and get more to the point. Assuming he could, Nye should have shown that one (or more) aspect(s) of the creation model could only make incorrect predictions and then use this as his chief rhetorical device(s) instead of atheist fluff theology
  • FINAL SCORE: Ham: 49 Nye: 44

Ken Ham and Dr. Georgia Purdom will discuss the debate at debatelive.org on Wednesday 2/5/14 at 8:00 PM (ET).


3 thoughts on “Ham v Nye Debate

    • I don’t think they needed to be well qualified. All they needed was to connect with the largest possible audience by being thorough, simple and fluid. Neither did because they were trying to cover too many topics. Perhaps if the debate was about one issue like the age of the earth, things might have been better. Ham may ‘add’ to what the bible says but that is not necessarily problematic. All exegesis will ‘add’ value to the text and the NT ‘adds’ layers of complexity to OT verses. Also, Ruse is a philosopher so some might not consider him a scientist and Rana have been accused of misrepresenting scientific data [http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2010/05/neandertals-in-bizarro-world.html]. I recall starting to watch this debate so I’ll watch the whole thing to see if they fared any better.

    • Ruse assumes that miracles are interruptions of natural processes and Rana does not correct him. Rana’s answers to Ruse are not well developed. Nye makes the same error in making miracles unnatural processes.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s