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Why Ken Ham won the debate whether you agree with his position or not


Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 was a truly historic day in the world of origins.  Over 3 million people watched the first official debate between creation and evolution in many years.  On the side of creation – Ken Ham, creator of the Creation Museum, and for evolution – Bill Nye The Science Guy!  They participated in a formal debate inside the Creation Museum moderated by a CNN anchor that lasted close to three hours.  Over 70 news outlets were on hand to report on the historic event, it was broadcast online for free, and tickets to attend in person sold out in 2 minutes!  But you know all that… how about my reactions??  Well, here we go!

I believe both presenters did a fabulous job, and this is the consensus I keep hearing.  I was pleasantly surprised that Nye understood more of the creationist position than I expected.  In previous interviews I had heard him misrepresent the position quite a bit, so I was hoping he would do his homework – and for the most part he did.  I was not a big fan of the format – at least the Q&A time.  It was way too fast paced without enough time to accurately answer or for them to address each other’s requests.  That was too bad.  Although I did expect it to be more of a landslide, and it was not, I will call the debate for Ham and will give very specific reasons why.

From my notes Nye offered up an impressive 14 main points (old-earth Christians, fossil layers, CSI forensics, ice cores, fossils under museum, order in fossil record, different human skulls, land bridge to Australia, rapid speciation, boulders in Washington, Noah’s Ark vs. the Wyoming ship, radioactive decay, distant starlight, vegetarian animals w/ sharp teeth, and needing people for future scientific innovation).

Ham answered 7 of the 14 points for a 50% answer ratio.  He answered Bill’s claims about old-earth Christians, ice cores, boulders in Washington, Ark vs. Wyoming ship, radioactive decay, vegetarian animals w/ sharp teeth, and needing scientists for innovation.

From my notes Ham offered up 8 main points (creationists can be scientists, where would constant laws come from in an evolutionary worldview, what technological innovation has required evolution, creation orchard vs. tree of life, one human race, literal Genesis basis of all Christian doctrine, morality based on naturalism vs. Bible, assumptions of radiometric dating).

Nye answered 2 of the 8 points for a 25% answer ratio.  He answered Ken’s claims about one human race, and literal Genesis vs. poetic.

Based simply on that point Ham took better advantage of his time and answered 50% of Nye’s claims while in the same time Nye only answered 25% of Ham’s.  This makes Ham the better debater – but it does not mean he wins the debate completely.  Let’s look at Bill and Ken’s main points they kept harping on to see if the other adequetly addressed them or not.

Nye’s main point was that creationism hinders scientist’s ability to make new technological innovations.  Ham thouroughly answered this critisim in his opening presentation where he presented videos of several current and past scientists doing significant work in the field while believing in Biblical creation and a young-earth.  Nye never acknowledged this.

Ham’s main point was that there is a difference between observational (modern) science and historical science (dealing with unreatable historical events).  Nye barely touched on this.  The closest he got was his CSI analogy.  On CSI forensic scientists recreate past events to help law enforcement create convictions.  You know the part he didn’t mention?  There have been many examples of eye-witnesses coming forward and forcing a reinterpretation of the evidence, and convictions are overturned.  That is what Ham is inferring.  The Bible is that eye-witness account that reinterprets the physical evidence.

Based on the answer ratio above (Ham 50%, Nye 25%), and the failure of Nye to answer Ham’s main point while Ham throughly answered his with multiple examples – Ken Ham is the winner of this debate whether you agree with his positions or not.


About Tim



35 thoughts on “Why Ken Ham won the debate whether you agree with his position or not

  1. I agree with you, except that I was not impressed with Mr Nye’s 14 points. His 14 points all have had creationist explanations for years. Even my 12 yr old knows them. If I was to debate a evolutionist I would make sure I understood their side as well as my side and be prepared to bring down their strongest points. I do not feel Mr Nye did that.

    Posted by Alisha Hauser | February 5, 2014, 11:23 pm
    • I just thought they were “impressive” for the sheer number of points he tried to squeeze in. I heard evolutionists normally do this so that when the other side can only answer a few – then they focus on the ones they didn’t have time to answer. It’s ridiculous. The answers to all his questions were published on AIG’s website years before the debate even occurred.

      Posted by Tim | February 5, 2014, 11:28 pm
  2. Both these guys have a B.S. Neither guy is well qualified to debate the science. It was a PR event for both. And Ham adds to what the Bible says. Most Christians do not accept his YEC view, which brings discredit on Christians and the Bible. It is a needless stumbling block.http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/…/03/in-the-beginning/
    Here was a recent debate by real scientists.

    Posted by Michael Snow | February 6, 2014, 1:50 am
    • I believe the young-earth creationist position is the only consistent position that doesn’t create unnecessary contradictions in the Bible. You don’t want to tear down the document your faith is based on and then try to defend it to others.

      Posted by Tim | February 6, 2014, 1:52 am
      • Too bad that it creates many unnecessary contradictions in both science and the real world.

        Your metric of “answer ratios” is a poor tool for determining who won a debate. I watched it, and thought many of Ken Ham’s arguments were fundamentally flawed and ridiculous. If somebody is making a laundry list of disprovable claims on the claim that they are all infallible, you only need to dismantle one claim to cast doubt on the rest.

        As for Nye’s plea for young people to embrace science and its spirit, let me ask you this: imagine you needed an operation to cure a life-threatening disease. You have a choice between being treated by a doctor who is versed in mainstream science and medicine, and one who is trained in whatever science it is that Ken Ham stands for.

        Now, would you pick the guy who’s used the contemporary mainstream scientific method to understanding disease and medicine, or would you pick the guy who won’t look any further than the Bible for understanding the natural world?

        I’m assuming you want to live…

        They say there are no atheists in foxholes, but there’s probably no creationists on the operating table, either.

        Posted by Jason Shoup | February 13, 2014, 3:51 pm
    • Needless stumbling block??? Hey buddy what isn’t a needless stumbling block if you believe the Bible, raising someone from the dead, feeding 5,000 with two loaves and 5 fish, walking on water, healing a blind man, I could go on…. It is God’s Word my friend. And if you want to compromise it with the world, remember God justifies us through our faith. If we believe what He said, He accounts that as righteousness.

      Posted by jalexander2012 | February 9, 2014, 11:46 pm
  3. You can hardly say that conservative, evangelical OT scholars like the late Gleason Archer, who was a master of the biblical languages, are ‘tearing down’ the Bible. Christians need to learn to study that document with the help of those who have been equipped for the biblical position of teachers in the Church.

    Posted by Michael Snow | February 6, 2014, 2:09 am
  4. I’m afraid you appear to be deluded. Not even AiG are claiming that Ken won or Bill lost.
    If you wish, please see my posts here at 2.53 am GMT on 5.2.14 and 2.20 am GMT on 6.2.14 for my reasons:

    Ham failed to put forward a viable model of origins for a modern scientific era to rival let alone supplant conventional science. Thus he lost.

    Beforehand I was open to the possibility that Nye could lose but he did not.

    More importantly, Ham told at least six lies during the debate (some of which Nye appeared not to notice or to gloss over).

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 6, 2014, 6:00 am
    • Can you please tell me where my rationale posted above failed. Ham addressed Nye’s main concern, and Nye did not acknowledge Ham’s main premise. That alone makes Ham the winner, let alone that Ham addressed 50% of Nye’s claims, and Nye only addressed 25% of Ham’s. I’m not talking about who presented the more truthful claims – that’s another discussion – I’m talking about debating skills alone – Ham won.

      Posted by Tim | February 6, 2014, 2:08 pm
      • Tim
        I do not deny your rationale I simply suggest that it is not the predominant factor to take into consideration. Ham did not show he had a viable or predictive model of origins for a modern scientific era. And he lied too.

        What was Ham’s ‘main premise’?

        By the way I did NOT receive any emails telling me further comments had been made under this blog post (I thought I had signed up for such and I DID get an email about a new Adam Benton comment today under a previous post).

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 6, 2014, 4:21 pm
        • My post above states that Ham’s main premise was observational vs. historical science. The closest Nye got to addressing that was his CSI forensics implication which I pointed out the problems with above.

          Posted by Tim | February 6, 2014, 4:24 pm
          • Even if Ham had a valid case with his claim that all ‘historical science’ must be distrusted or rejected outright (unless supported by scripture) – and he doesn’t since the same methodology is followed – that would ONLY show that the ‘evolution’ model might be doubtful. It would NOT show that his ‘historical’ model – including the necessarily vast speciation rates post-flood highlighted by Nye and which I have just commented on at the BCSE community forum – was ‘viable’ in today’s scientific era.

            Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 6, 2014, 5:24 pm
            • As for the rapid speciation claim, you need to realize that Bill slyly worked in bacteria and other creatures that would not have been on the ark to wildy inflate his numbers.

              An old commenter here, JoeCoder, mentioned on Dr. Wile’s blog here (http://blog.drwile.com/?p=12141) the following about the possibility of this speciation this fast:

              “About a year ago I made an interesting find in the supplimentary materials of Body Size Distribution of the Dinosaurs (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0051925) — tables of all tetrapod species and genera and their average masses. They list 10,000 bird, 8700 reptile, 6500 amphibian, 5488 mammal, and 32000 fish species. Of those extinct there are 1350 known dinosaur and 2034 known cenozoic mammal species. Ignoring fish and adding those together would be 34,072 species.

              If you count genera, it’s amphibian=236, reptile=841, dinosaur=275, bird=1993, mammal (excluding cetaceans)=2023, for a total of 5368 genera. So that means that each starting genera would need to split in two once time, and then split in 3. This seems very reasonable, especially since species are typically defined as any population that doesn’t breed with any other population.”

              Posted by Tim | February 6, 2014, 5:35 pm
              • Nye also EXCLUDED known extinct ‘post-flood’ creatures, as I have pointed out at the BCSE community forum.

                Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 6, 2014, 6:42 pm
                • What 6 lies did Ken Ham tell?

                  Posted by jalexander2012 | February 9, 2014, 11:52 pm
                  • You ask about lies/false statements by Ham.

                    – he claimed that observational science ‘confirms’ recent creation (he said evidence points to divine intelligence and also listed ‘kinds’, the flood, one human race, a ‘young’ universe and the tower of Babel as ‘observational science’ or ‘evidence’);
                    – he twice falsely claimed that 90% of a lengthy list of dating methods ‘contradict’ billions of years;
                    – he falsely claimed that he does not say natural laws have changed over time (Nye may have used terminology that Ham thought referred to ‘uniformity’ whatever that is but Ham and co basically reject uniformitarianism which is what Nye was suggesting eg they invoke ‘catastrophic plate tectonics’, much faster radioactive decay rates in the past, a much faster speed of light previously and so forth);
                    – he said he thought Nye had confused species with ‘kinds’ (families?) but Nye did no such thing;
                    – he and Faulkner claimed that “nothing in astronomy contradicts a young universe”;
                    – he claimed that Nye would be unable to offer any example of a new biological function over time (Nye was not put on the spot but presumably could have mentioned gene duplication events and the like which might lead to morphological change or said more about the importance of the Lenski experiment).

                    More discussion here (a site critical of all forms of creationism which is open to all but which young Earth creationists mostly shun):

                    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 10, 2014, 11:41 pm
                    • Only one I’ll give you there Ashley is the one about Nye confusing kinds with species. You are right, Nye did not do that suprisingly! Other than that – your bias shows in the others things you call lies. For example “nothing in astronomy contradicts a young universe” – from Ham’s perspective this is not a lie. Creationists interpret the data through a different lens. That’s the part you have never been willing to admit. To YOU several things in astronomy contradict a young universe, but we have answers to those things. You simply do not agree with our answers – but that does not automatically make our answers dishonest, just not correct according to your interpretation.

                      Posted by Tim | February 11, 2014, 12:08 am
                    • Lost the argument Tim? Lost all credibility Tim? Thus – it appears – you act desperately and decide to silently CENSOR my reply to your nonsense comments at 12.08 am on 11.2.14.
                      Typical arrogant YEC behaviour – which turns reasonable people into bigots.

                      Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 11, 2014, 6:31 pm
                    • Ashley… what the?? Act desperately?? How??

                      Turns reasonable people into BIGOTS? Hey Ashley, I’ve gone into atheist blogs before, I made sure to be very respectful and all I got was land blasted with the most vulgar slander you could imagine. And I was kicked off, nothing I said was considered, apparently they were being open minded. This is typical atheist behavior, you might call it arrogant, by Webster’s dictionary definition.

                      And biased.

                      Posted by jalexander2012 | February 27, 2014, 8:15 am
                    • How could you possibly think Tim was being a bigot?

                      Nonsense comments? Hey, he’s using something we call, logic. He pointed out very clearly you come from a certain perspective. We do not claim Bill Nye was lying simply because he interpreted the evidence through his worldview. Would you want someone to make false accusations against you?

                      Posted by jalexander2012 | February 27, 2014, 8:24 am
    • Ashley, if Ham did lie, what lie did he tell?? I looked on your link and I didn’t see anything about the six lies Ken Ham told or you saying one lie at all. If he did lie, why don’t you tell us what they were? Unless you are just making false accusations…

      Posted by jalexander2012 | February 9, 2014, 11:59 pm
      • I have just now ANSWERED your question.

        Now tell me again that Ham “did not lie”.

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 10, 2014, 11:42 pm
      • JAlexander2012
        I have not been vulgar here yet I was censored for telling the truth or questioning unscientific claims (and many YEC bloggers behave much worse than Tim when you criticise their claims – if they cannot persuade a critic with bad logic or name-calling they ban them instead). Please tell me exactly what false accusation against Tim you think I have made here and HOW it was false. Tim’s recent comment about ‘survival of the fittest’ sounded bigoted to me,. Take a look at the Facebook page entitled ‘The Question Evolution Project’.

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 27, 2014, 6:19 pm
  5. Another YEC thought, as I understand his comments, that either Ham lost or Nye won:
    (Since writing my later post at the BCSE community forum I see that Coppedge has blogged AGAIN – about to take a closer look.)

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | February 6, 2014, 6:07 am
  6. Witnesses contradicting forensic results is an interesting point, but what of the situations where it’s the other way round. Say you’re investigating a murder and a suspect says they have never been to the crime scene. But the forensic report finds their fingerprints all over it, their boots are dirty with mud from their and their DNA can be found all over the scene too.

    Would you note that this forensic data “is historical science and it’s not repeatable or observable.”(<a href="http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2013/12/10/are-there-two-kinds-of-truth/&quot;)Ken Ham ) Therefore “that which lies outside of these parameters is not science but is in the realm of faith” (ICR) and cross this guy off the suspect list? Or do you think historical science actually has merit, and it’s worth still pursuing this guy?

    Posted by Adam Benton | February 6, 2014, 11:28 am
    • Apologies, I appear to have messed up my html tags

      Posted by Adam Benton | February 6, 2014, 11:29 am
    • Historical science has merit and CAN get it right some of the times. It’s just can’t be accepted as the final “fact” as evolutionists often claim.

      Posted by Tim | February 6, 2014, 2:10 pm
      • But no science proclaims to be the final fact. It’s a field that deals with p values rather than absolute truths. And I think that’s the ultimate point of the forensic example. It isn’t perfect, but it’s reliable enough to form a fundamental part of our justice system. Like how medical trials are imperfect, yet reliable enough to base modern medicine on. As such “historical science” isn’t some categorically different, faith-based unreliable position that can be dismissed out of hand; as the aforementioned creationist quotes would have you believe.

        Besides, they both ultimately follow the same scientific method. Come up with a hypothesis, make a prediction, test it against an observation. Whether that observation comes out the ground or a clinical trial is a moot point.

        Posted by Adam Benton | February 7, 2014, 4:26 pm
  7. I don’t think finding some creationist scientists disputes Nye’s main point. Academic success is negatively correlated with an acceptance of creationism. I don’t think believing in a young earth means you can’t be a scientist, it just seems to make you less likely to be one. Finding a few counter-examples doesn’t dispute this general trend.

    Posted by Adam Benton | February 7, 2014, 4:27 pm
    • I have to disagree. Nye’s whole point was: parents don’t teach your children creation or else that will hold us back from scientific innovation. That is not what does it. Now I will grant you there are plenty of creationists who are scientifically dumb, but there are also several evolutionists who are scientifically dumb. The belief in origins very rarely has any impact on scientific innovation.

      Posted by Tim | February 7, 2014, 4:42 pm
      • Sorry, I phrased that badly. I didn’t mean academic success as in intelligence; rather success in academia. In short, you’re less likely to become a successful scientist if you accept creationism. Now, one must always be rather cautious when trying to draw a conclusion from a correlation, and Ham could’ve built on that. He could’ve presented additional data challenging it. But he didn’t opting to furnish several anecdotes instead. Whilst certainly a challenge to anyone who claim it is impossible to be both a creationist and a scientist, they can’t be used to draw any conclusions about this general trend.

        Posted by Adam Benton | February 9, 2014, 5:16 pm


  1. Pingback: Thoughts About the Nye/Ham Debate | Creation Science 4 Kids - February 10, 2014

  2. Pingback: Post-Debate Buzz Heats Up for Ham vs. Nye #1 | Bible-Science Guy - February 12, 2014

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