Opinions & Editorials

Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye: debate

Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” a popularizer of science, and Ken Ham, founder and owner of the Creation Museum of Petersburg, Ky., faced each other in a televised and internet-streamed debate on Feb. 4. Both purported to be men of science, even though they fell on opposite sides of one of the most controversial discussions of our time.

Ham had the chance to present first. He used his half hour to outline his position: there is a distinction between historical and operational science. He intended to sway his audience toward the idea that there is a difference between laboratory science and theories concerning the provenance of life. Ham’s position allows for a young Earth while still adhering to standard scientific theories, such as Newton’s laws, and most current research involving directly testable empirical data.

Nye’s initial presentation, in opposition, demonstrated a unified version of science: historical science and evolution over thousands of years informs our understanding of mechanical science that we practice and investigate today. He focused on the coherency of a totalizing, scientific narrative.

Nye’s position did not look favorable in the face of Ham’s distinction between historical and operational science. Nye did not have a poor argument by any means, but his rhetoric failed to answer Ham.

If Ham had any convincing point working in his favor, it was the distinction above: there is a difference between mixing together baking soda and vinegar and seeing a violent reaction and proposing the origins of life itself. That does not help him deal with the fossil record, but it does strike the possibility of a middle ground that both men overlook

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