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Which One Is the Science Guy?

High School Science
It will not have escaped your notice that our friends at Answers in Genesis are hosting a debate between Ken Ham, President and CEO of Answers in Genesis, and Bill Nye, known for his former children’s TV program, “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. We commend Ken and AiG for getting the agreement for this debate, and, of course, we offer them our wholehearted support – even though I failed to get a ticket! The tickets for the event, to be held at AiG’s own 1,000-seater Legacy Hall, sold out within two minutes of their release earlier today.

We also commend Bill Nye for having the courage to put his case against creationism in such a forum, showing a commendable bravery not shown by other notable evolutionists. Frequent failures in debates a couple of decades ago led many evolutionists to refuse to debate creationists. Their excuse was that the evidence against creation was overwhelming, so they didn’t see why they should actually put forth any of that evidence! They also argued that it was wrong to give creationists the oxygen of publicity.

Ham - Nye Debate

In the days since the Ham – Nye Debate was announced, a number of atheists and evolutionists have urged Nye to pull out of the debate. i was very interested, for example, in the arguments put forward on the Discovery Channel website by Benjamin Radford, in an article entitled “Should Scientists Debate Creationists?” Radford argues as follows:

By putting a scientist and a non-scientist on the same stage together, there is a real danger of legitimizing creationism and giving the appearance that both sides are equally valid.

CNN would be widely ridiculed if they invited a member of the Flat Earth Society to debate astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about whether our planet is round.

This is not an issue of censorship. Anyone is free to hold whatever beliefs or opinions they like, no matter how unscientific or false. But there is no obligation to portray both sides as having equally strong or valid scientific arguments, when by any measure they do not.

This is, of course, a very old chestnut. In a previous article about Bill Nye (Bill Nye Falls Flat), when he brought up the Flat Earth Society, I showed that flat-earth views have never actually existed. It is interesting, however, that Radford chooses to describe Nye as a scientist, and Ham as a non-scientist. Actually, Ken holds a Bachelor of Science degree (Applied Science / Environmental Biology) from Queensland Institute of Technology, and a Diploma of Education (qualifying him to teach science in public schools in Australia) from the University of Queensland. Bill Nye, on the other hand, has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, which is not actually a pure science, though ought to enable him to recognize design when he sees it! Despite these legitimate qualifications, Ken does not describe himself as a scientist, because, like me, he has never worked as a professional scientist. He has, however, worked as a professional science educator. Radford ought also to be aware, if he has done his homework, that a short film made by Nye criticizing parents who teach creationism to their children (see Don’t tell the Children) was itself strongly criticized in a response video by Dr. Georgia Purdom, of Answers in Genesis – one of a number of qualified PhD scientists who work for the organization.

As there are no tickets left, you and I will have to watch for the live stream of the event on Tuesday, February 4th 2014, at 7 PM Eastern (6PM Central). This should be an exciting event and promises to be one of the most significant creation / evolution debates for decades.

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