My take on the Nye-Ham Debate (and its wider context)

I have felt it useful to blog on the Nye-Ham debate at my personal blog, here.

I trust the thoughts there will be helpful for onward discussion.

My conclusion, in light of say the life and career of this notorious Creationist  ignoramus, and blundering incompetent at scientific fields . . . NOT:

ben_carson

Dr Ben Carson, distinguished neurosurgeon, author, Christian spokesman and Creationist, who rose from the slums to the heights of scientific and medical achievement

. . . is:

That [the focal] issue is first to resolve a false and toxic accusation [promoted by Nye], then to reasonably address the actual weight of the evidence in front of us on its merits, without question-begging a prioris.

For those who missed the debate here it is courtesy ABN and YouTube:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Bottomline, one way or another, we are at a kairos — a decisive point where we must decide and will go forward forever on one side or the other of a watershed line. END

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8 Responses to My take on the Nye-Ham Debate (and its wider context)

  1. Folks, I took a week to reflect on the significance of the Nye-Ham debate, and wish to share my observations. KF

  2. Thank you for the extensive analysis. Enjoy reading it. Awesome!

  3. Great post, KF. Got me thinking.. where are the more ‘moderate’ evolutionists/materialists that are going to step up and make amends for Nye’s blatantly untrue slander? By remaining silent, they are essentially in agreement and consenting to Nye being their representative. Quite the deafening silence.

  4. If Ken Ham would have been on his toes, when Nye denied there is a difference between historical and observational science, Ken should have said well OK, natural selection of today has never been observed to design anything. Case closed.

  5. Bill Nye was indeed a jerk for insinuating that one cannot do science unless one is a materialist or a Darwinist. But I think the Ken ham proved him wrong in his initial presentation.

  6. Folks:

    First, thanks for the kind words, and Joe, you are probably right that KH should have zinged Nye with a point to ponder.

    Second, let us highlight the accusation that led to the debate, made by Nye in a video that went viral . . . I see 6,274,656 hits to date with 108,907 thumbs up and 20,272 thumbs down (on something that is manifestly a destructive slander that should have instantly been universally rebuked and corrected by responsible informed people everywhere given Mr Nye’s status as a public spokesman for science education, but it seems the C-word is the new N-word):

    NYE: “[I]f you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.” (Note both the video and the transcript.)

    The problem is that you can see on the very same page, a featured vid and transcript of Lawrence Krauss asserting that teaching Creationism is “child abuse.”

    And, frankly, this is not just idiosyncratic individuals out there, here is a key paragraph from a letter written by the US NAS and NSTA in the context of the debates in Kansas over the following two definitions of science:

    2001 novel materialism-loaded redefinition pushed by ideologues, then in force in Kansas: “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.”

    2005, proposed corrective to restore a traditional, history of science informed school level view of science: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

    The NAS/NSTA intervention:

    “. . . the members of the Kansas State Board of Education who produced Draft 2-d of the KSES [[Kansas Science Education Standards] have deleted text defining science as a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena, blurring the line between scientific and other ways of understanding. Emphasizing controversy in the theory of evolution — when in fact all modern theories of science are continually tested and verified — and distorting the definition of science are inconsistent with our Standards and a disservice to the students of Kansas. Regretfully, many of the statements made in the KSES related to the nature of science and evolution also violate the document’s mission and vision. Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.”

    This intervention is both a willfully slanderous lie — yes, it is time to call a spade a spade — and a hostage-holding threat, a threat coming from the leading Science Society in the USA supported by a leading national association for science education. If you don’t do what we demand, we will abuse our prestige and privilege to blacklist you and try to lock out your students/children from good Colleges and jobs. (Yes, we are doing this “for the children.” NOT!)

    To teach people that science and its methods are to be understood much along the lines of what high quality dictionaries used to say in summary of 300 years of modern science on the ground:

    science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 -- and yes, they used the "z" Virginia!]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]

    . . . is in no way to short change them on properly understanding science, its history and core methods. (Cf. here.)

    Similarly, origins sciences that seek to reconstruct a remote and unobserved past (which makes empirical testing and potential falsification difficult challenges at best) simply cannot be at the same level of warrant as theories that are supported by direct observation.

    Likewise, because of this factor and its associated connexions to worldviews and longstanding ethical concerns, [Neo-]Darwinian Macro- Evolutionary theory has long been controversial.

    So, on fair comment, the NAS-NSTA assertions about students exposed to traditional views on what science is and shown that such a controversy exists, sadly, amount to little more than a veiled threat in defense of materialist indoctrination being done in the name of science education.

    (Cf. my discussion here.)

    So, we have cause to see this as not isolated to Mr Nye and a fringe, but as a threat coming from even eminent institutions now ideologically subverting science education to make it into indoctrination in materialism, which if left unchecked, will tend to do much more harm.

    This slander needs to be confronted and checked.

    Now.

    KF

    PS: Transcript as provided with the video of Mr Nye’s remarks:

    _________

    >> Denial of evolution is unique to the United States. I mean, we’re the world’s most advanced technological—I mean, you could say Japan—but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really. [a --> Is that so, what significant proportion of the US population does not believe in technology or operational science that studies the world as a going concern? Is Mr Carson, a recently retired leading pediatric neurosurgeon who rose from the slums, an example of Creationism holding everything back?]

    Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. [b --> Tectonic plates can be effectively directly observed in the present e.g. through earthquake patterns and measurements of relative motion, has anyone directly observed macroevolution from microbes to Mozart, and directly observed that its mechanisms are blind watchmaker mechanisms?] You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

    As my old professor, Carl Sagan [c --> This makes a direct connexion to the Sagan-lewontin thesis in that infamous 1997 NYRB review] , said, “When you’re in love you want to tell the world.” So, once in a while I get people that really—or that claim—they don’t believe in evolution. And my response generally is “Well, why not? Really, why not?” Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution. [d --> Notice the implied definition of evolution as blind watchmaker macroevo, overlooking the range of meanings attaching thereto and the issue of want of empirical warrant for mechanisms tracing to blind chance and mechanical necessity] I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they’re at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent. [e --> It is a fair challenge to young earth creationism that its timeframe is questionable, but it is not fair to imply thereby that blind watchmaker evolution from microbes to Mozart, and more broadly evolutionary materialism are in effect indisputable fact on the world in the past. This is indoctrination masquerading as knowledge. Where in particular, the evidence of fine tuning points to design of the observed cosmos, fitting it for life, and the FSCO/I in cell-based life points to its being designed as well.]

    And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

    It’s just really hard a thing, it’s really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I’m sure, will be, it just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it. >> {I have inserted annotations a through e]
    _____________

    It is obviously time for a major re-think and for an apology from Mr Nye and many others.

  7. F/N: One thing that gives me pause on debates over Creationism, is that when I read the Christian Faith’s first theologian, Paul, he notes that oh yes, we are a creation . . . manifestly evident from the world around and our hearts and minds within [note Nye's mystery on where conscious mind comes from . . . ], but in speaking to the pagan and/or philosophical intellectual elites of his day, e.g. in Ac 17 etc, he underscores that the central offer of proof of the core truth of the Christian Faith on which one erects sound conviction and trust in Christ and the Scriptures is that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead (with 500+ unshakable witnesses). Indeed, when I see Peter’s testimony just before Nero put him to death by politically convenient judicial murder on an unjust charge of being a ringleader of the despised “cult” falsely accused of setting fire to Rome on July 18, 64 AD [Nero having been widely perceived as responsible . . . and desperately trying to deflect attention], he speaks as an eyewitness to the majesty of Jesus and to the fulfillment of scriptural prophecies in him as the sure anchor for confident faith. It seems to me it is therefore so, that that authentication is pivotal and the associated view of Jesus of Nazareth to the deposit as authentic and coming from God as his recorded, faithfully transmitted word is therefore decisive. KF

  8. F/N 2: Astonishingly revealing isn’t it, that this smear by Nye was featured as a “big think.” KF

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