Monday, 3 February 2014

The famous/infamous Ken Ham versus Bill Nye debate

There has been a lot of comment, much of it poisonous, about the forthcoming debate at the Answers in Genesis HQ between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. See here for details.

I'm not sure I will listen live as i have a lot else to do, but as there has been so much comment I will try to catch up later. I have just watched a YouTube video about the debate from a smug atheist who said it should not be happening. She repeatedly used offensive language of the Darwin dissenters, made no attempt to answer a single of our arguments, deployed the most outrageous straw man misrepresentation and criticised Bill Nye for engaging in discussion. This is the same line taken by Richard Dawkins. You see, in their eyes there simply is nothing to debate. Evolution is a FAC T FACT FACT FACT FACT!!!!! and as determined by the authorities and the academy, and anyone who questions it is a dangerous HERETIC who must be SILENCED.

But wait a minute, wasn't that the line taken by the mediaeval Catholic papacy and Islamic theocracy? and isn't evolution supposed to be science? And aren't you supposed to be able to question anything in science? And aren't scientific theories supposed to be open to potentially falsifying arguments? So if it can't be legitimately questioned, and if awkward questions are not allowed to be heard as they might confuse people, then is evolution science or is it religion?

No matter. I have a few tentative predictions about the debate.

1) Whatever happens, both sides will claim victory, but the atheist side will claim it more vociferously.
2) Unless Ken Ham drops a real clanger and gives a useable sound bite to the opposition, the mainstream media (especially the BBC) will avoid reporting the debate. Where the mainstream media does report it, it will be as a great victory for 'reason' by which they mean materialism.
3) Nye will do his best to play up the 'religious belief versus science fact' line.

4) Nye will concentrate on age of the earth arguments and appeal to authority (i.e. 'peer review'). He will use the 'Climbing Mount Improbable' argument when confronted with the evidence from biology and history that plant and animal species vary only slightly within their demonstrable genomic envelopes.

5) There will be a lot of misrepresentation and harsh words said on Twitter and elsewhere on line

6) A few, perhaps a very few, people will hear some scientific arguments against molecules to man evolution that they never heard before. In some cases, they will actually think about these arguments, and this may lead to a line of enquiry that may take them way out of their comfort zone. They may or may not find the courage to continue that line of reasoning and take it to a logical conclusion. It is this possibility that, I fear, is the reason why the militant atheists are so angry with Bill Nye for picking up the gauntlet. They above all do not want these arguments heard.

7) A far larger number of people will ignore, snigger, snort, curse and get back to the latest celebrity gossip and sport. Which is obviously far more important to them than their eternal destiny.

anyway, we'll see.

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