#HamonNye debate: Bill Nye won, and Ken Ham made Jesus look bad

I know how you feel, Bill...

I know how you feel, Bill...

Well, it’s over. The debate to end all debates has been held, and the question of whether the ultimate truth of the universe is most readily found in the evolutionary model or the young-earth creationism model has been settled, once and for all.

Not really. If anything, the most likely result is that Generals Nye and Ham will have whipped their troops into a frenzy, firing them up to fling themselves even more savagely into a divisive culture war that already generates enough animus to power a small city.

I did watch the “debate,” the entire thing, from the epic introductory score I’m pretty sure Answers in Genesis ripped off “Lord of the Rings” and the — surprise! — cartoon ad for the Creation Museum (kids under 12 get in free in 2014!) that preceded the spectacle to the very last cringe-worthy comment by a certain Aussie.

Did I like it? No. I’ve been against the debate from the very start, and watching it unfold in grisly detail did not make me magically change my mind and realize it was a wonderful idea all along.

Really, it’s been an interesting past couple days for me. I spent Sunday being very surprised (but delighted) to see the Seattle Seahawks utterly humiliate the celebrated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos; last evening, I was not at all surprised to see Bill Nye run circles around his similarly outmatched opponent.

However, I was a little surprised — pleasantly so — by how well the Science Guy performed. The worries of many — that Nye has little debate experience or formal training in the biological sciences — were quite unnecessary. In his trademarked bow tie, the lanky television figure from many a childhood afternoon was well-informed, well-prepared, charming and polite. He was an effective communicator and fulfilled the role of Emissary to the Unscienced — in what was, no doubt, a hostile environment at the Creation Museum — about as well as anyone could have hoped (even if he did use the phrase “traditional fish sex” one too many times).

What’s more, he conveyed a genuine love of scientific inquiry, and repeatedly invited — pleaded even — for kids, adults, Christians, non-Christians — anyone — to join as equal partners in the pursuit of knowledge.

Nye’s overall demeanor, and this last point in particular, made for a sharp contrast with Ken Ham, whose entire line of argumentation was underlied by the accusation that mainstream science is a vast conspiracy designed by “secularists.” Hammy came across as defensive, crotchety and arrogant — as though he genuinely couldn’t understand why he was having so much trouble getting through to Nye and the rest of the world (“I mean, come on…BIBLE! Hellooooo?”)

His presentation was childish and moralistic and — appropriately — illustrated almost entirely by cartoons. He had no real evidence to support his claim that his particular brand of young-earth creationism is a viable model, other than a few recorded interviews by “real scientists” (at least one of whom works for Ham) saying they think creationism is A-plus science.

By the way, K-Ham, how many videos would Bill Nye have to show you of “real scientists” saying young-earthism is nonsense before you would be convinced? Because you name a number, and we can make that happen.

Of course, no amount of evidence would ever convince K-Ham he’s wrong; he said as much last night. (So, what was the point of “debating” a guy like that again?)

Bill Nye presented, literally, an ark-load of evidence that Ham’s viewpoint is scientifically untenable. He asked K-Ham why we can see starlight that took millions of years to reach our planet, if the universe is only 6,000 years old. Hammy didn’t answer. He asked why the fossil record shows such a predictable progression and division of life (including extinction events!), if every species that has ever lived was alive at the same time and died and was buried in the same Flood. No response.

He asked why we can find Arctic ice cores that show up to 680,000 distinct summer-winter cycles in their layering, complete with “primordial” air bubbles (pockets of air whose composition doesn’t match our modern atmosphere), if there was a worldwide flood just a few thousand years ago. Ham replied that, “Well, snow can pile up real fast sometimes.” He mentioned devout Christians and accomplished scientists like Francis Collins and said he sees no incompatibility between religion/spirituality and science — ultimately offering a more accurate picture of the Christian faith than Ham managed to do.

Through the onslaught, ol’ K-Ham did little more than stick to his guns about the whole “conspiracy” thing and his similarly outrageous claim that it is “impossible” to scientifically determine the age of the earth or, really, anything that happened in the distant past. Why? Well, because…it is, that’s why! Now read yer Bibles!

But though, yes, “my guy” won out — undeniably — I see it as a hollow victory. Because, while my mind has no trouble recognizing the overwhelming evidence and logic Nye presented, which points to evolution and an ancient age of the earth, my heart belongs to Jesus, and thinking about the convoluted trainwreck of the Christian faith that Ham preached last night — and the lasting damage he may have done — makes me sick to my stomach.

Ham generalized frequently. He made sweeping statements to the effect that all evolutionists are naturalists (false) and that all Christians agree with him (at least all the non-COMPROMISING ones), in an apparent effort to reinforce the Christians vs. atheists paradigm, even though the facts (which Ham cares little for) show that the picture is far more nuanced.

He brought every question back to the Bible, which he said is the only book he’s aware of that explains where things come from (he should check out the science and comparative religions section of his local library, maybe?) and that Genesis must be literally true because it tell us why we wear clothes. On multiple occasions, he intimated that the gospel falls apart (he even trotted out this old fib again) if the earth is old, and yet, he failed to address Nye’s perfectly valid question as to why — if it’s so obvious and “foundational” and all — millions of believers all over the world reject AiG’s view of Genesis.

In short, Ken Ham made Jesus look as ridiculous as he himself did. And though I’m not normally much for threatening divine retribution (I’ll leave that to Hammy and his roster of “PhD’s”), I’d guess God would be more offended by someone speaking in his name and opening him and his word up to ridicule, than those who use the brains he gave them to follow the evidence he left in this infinitely large and very, very, very old creation we call the cosmos.

If you want to revisit the “debate,” you can watch the thing free on YouTube for a limited time. Also, we live tweeted during the thing last night. You can find our tweet stream here.

Tyler Francke

Category: Culture, Current Events, Humor, Latest Developments, Theology

  • sjurdur

    hi Tyler,

    I understand your frustration very well as a christian scientist. I was also myself positively surprised by how Bill Nye performed yesterday. I don’t however share your view that it amounts to an exercise of futility to engage people like Ham at all. We both know that most YECs are probably not going to be convinced by scientific evidence, so Nye’s entire approach may be a bit off in this regard. He was perhaps an entirely wrong choice for a debate of this kind. I would have liked to see a recognised theologian (and evangelical) wipe the floor with Ken Ham’s modernist and scientific interpretation of the creation story. But that might be wishful thinking.

    I totally agree with your conclusion and would just like to add the wise words of St. Augustine on this matter:

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

    Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

    The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

    If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

    Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Thanks so much for your thoughts and for posting the quote. I always love hearing from brothers and sisters who are pursuing legitimate scientific inquiry. And I do love this quote by St. Augustine. I often wonder how long it will take the modern day church to catch up to what was so plain to folks like Augustine and Origen more than a thousand years ago.

  • Alan Christensen

    NPR ran a story about the debate this morning which, unfortunately, implied that YEC and atheism are the only choices. Grrr. I did watch some of the debate last night and agree Nye did a good job presenting his case. From what I saw I don’t see how Ham could convince anyone who’s halfway scientifically literate.
    By the way, since you mentioned the Seahawks, I work in downtown Seattle and people were already staking out spots on the parade route before 7 this morning. In 24-degree weather.

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Brrr… Thanks, Alan!

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    As someone who seeks, if possible, to reconcile the Bible with science (that is, creation with evolution), I offer the following comments on the debate, and to a lesser degree, on your analysis of it:

    - Such a debate was not very helpful to my purpose. It is hard to see how the Bible can be reconciled to evolution. Nye made no attempt to do so, and, of course, Ham doesn’t think it is possible to do so.

    - I thought the debate was well structured and well moderated as debates go. And it was also congenial. I’ve see many debates that were not so well constructed and managed.

    - I thought Nye was the better presenter. Cosmetically, Ham did not present as telegenic a presence as Nye. And, tactically speaking, Nye was more effective – painting Ham into a corner.

    - Ham doomed himself by making it impossible for Nye or anyone else to accept his point of view without first coming to faith in Christ and the Bible.

    - Leaving aside the presentation manner, each laid out the facts he wanted but neither really dealt with the arguments of the other.

    - I don’t think either man did much to change minds. Going into the debate most people would side with Nye, and I don’t think the debate changed that.

    - I’m surprised that you indulge in name calling and other forms of ridicule regarding Ken Ham. It gives the impression that you think your arguments are weak and won’t win the day on their own without some invective.

    - If you really think Ken is misleading people who might otherwise turn to Christ, then the best way for you to fight him would be to address the biblical and logical tension points that the 1/3 of Americans have with evolution. I have identified some of these for you. I hope you will take up that challenge. Most of the evolution-believing Christians that I have found merely cite the scientific consensus for evolution and say that it’s not necessary for us to always take the Bible literally. I think the 1/3 of Americans who don’t accept evolution already accept both those points. What’s lacking for them (me included) is a compelling integration of evolution with the Bible and reason.

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Saying that Ken Ham appeared “defensive, crotchety and arrogant” during last night’s “debate” is not “name calling.” It is an “observation.” Ham claimed to be very fond of “observational” science last night, so I’m confident he’d appreciate my perspective.

      So you think the best way to address Ken Ham misleading people about the Christian message is to write an indirectly related theological dissertation? I disagree. I think the best way to address Ken Ham misleading people is pointing out, specifically, the ways in which he misleads people.

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        As for your first paragraph, I wasn’t so much objecting to “defensive, crotchety, and arrogant” as I was to trivializing names like “Hammy” and “K-Ham.”

        As for your second paragraph, if you want to keep on bringing coals to Newcastle, then go ahead. Just don’t say you weren’t warned when it doesn’t bring the results for which you hope.

        Lastly, I am disappointed that so many evolution-believing Christians identify so much more quickly with evolution-believing unbelievers than with evolution-denying believers. You’d think the love of Christ would have a more cohesive influence than that.

        • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

          Why, I’m surprised at you! “Hammy” is a term of endearment and affection. “K-Ham” is a cool nickname — as evidenced by the fact that many professional athletes use similar constructions for their nicknames. I still fail to see how either of these amount to “name calling,” which — to me — would be something more like: “Ken Ham is an idiot.” And I, personally, don’t think he’s an idiot.

          Just don’t say you weren’t warned when it doesn’t bring the results for which you hope.

          Great. Thanks for your concern and advice.

          You’d think the love of Christ would have a more cohesive influence than that.

          Yes, because Acts and the New Testament epistles record ZERO instances of early Christians publicly expressing deep and profound disagreements with each other over matters of the gospel, salvation and other core theological tenets.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            The apostles worked out their disagreements and presented a united front to an unbelieving world.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Their disagreements were often quite public and hashed out in the forms of letters that were to be read in front of the entire church.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            That’s right: “read in front of the entire church,” not in the public square.

            When Paul disagreed with Peter, he confronted him…and persuaded him. And the highest praise for Paul in the New Testament comes from none other than Peter.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Well, most of the audience for this blog is Christian, but OK, fair enough. And, if I could honestly believe that Ken Ham is motivated entirely by what’s best for the gospel message, and not at all by the millions of dollars his ministry receives every year, I’d be taken my complaints right to him.

          • Keen Reader

            So when are you going to confront, and persuade (ha, ha), the Hamster?

            Be sure and post here and let us all know how you got on.

            Don’t forget now!

          • Keen Reader

            Which begs the question whether Hamster is a Christian or a heretic.

            When are you going to get off the fence and stand up for orthodoxy?

        • David Buchanan

          I am happy to identify with Ken Ham on the fact that Jesus is my Savior. However, based on the topics in the debate, or most anything else I have seen about either Bill Nye or Ken Ham, I will choose to identify with the one that tells the truth most consistently. And that, unfortunately, is not Ken Ham. But that is only fair, some of his most vociferous ire is directed at people like me. We are referred to as “Compromisers” of the faith because we say that we love Jesus but we accept evolution.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Well said, David. Thanks.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            Both men struck me as sincere, so I personally am uncomfortable considering either man a liar.

            Ham may be wrong about science and he may be interpreting the Bible wrongly (I don’t know enough to say), but at least he does not deny his Creator, which is more than I can say for Nye. According to Rom 1, suppressing the truth of our Creator is not a commendable trait.

          • Keen Reader

            What you are “uncomfortable” with is neither here nor there. Ham is either a liar or he isn’t (notice that there’s no such debate about Nye — that alone should tell you something). You’ve seen plenty of evidence that Ham is a lair and a charlatan and you continue to turn a blind eye to it. That is reprehensible on your part. It’s well past time that you came down off your wibbly-wobbly fence and started defending orthodox Christianity against the Hams of this world.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Hey Keen Reader, just wanted to advise you that you probably shouldn’t expect a response from Mike. He claims to have bid “goodbye” to this site because he says my style of writing is atheistic or something, whatever that means. But I wanted to let you know that I do appreciate your thoughts and your questions and comments. It’s always nice to meet at least a few other Christians who can see through the hucksters like Ham.

          • Keen Reader

            Perhaps he got a bit uncomfortable when some of us began asking him the same sort of questions that he was asking various Christian bloggers.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Actually, I think you’re not far off. There was another commenter who pointed out that he was “ridiculing” me and another blogger, Dr. James McGrath, in exactly the same way that he accuses us of “ridiculing” Ken Ham (which he claimed to find so distasteful). He peaced out pretty soon after that.

  • Sean O’Mara

    My response to the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Creationism debate is this quote from Galileo: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, would have us forgo their use.”

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Agreed. He also once said, “‘The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.”

  • Sean Bates

    If I had been on the Evolution side, and asked if God could have had a role in Evolution, I would have answered, with the bible, the following passage from Genesis 1:

    And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
    …. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

    In Genesis, Ham’s favorite work of scripture, the Lord explains that he commanded the sea to bring forth life, and commanded it to walk upon land, and fly, and to divide into kinds, and that it should adapt to land and be fruitful and multiply… dare I say, even divide.

    He was right to say there was no incompatibility between Science and God, but he could have used Ham’s one piece of evidence against him.

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Word. We’ve made a similar point in the past. Thanks for posting!

  • Cassie Hale

    I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. I thought Nye did more build bridging between Christians and Scientists than Ham ever will. I was so thankful that Nye pointed out the millions of us believers who disagree with Ham. I, too, was embarrassed and upset by Ham’s misrepresentation of the Bible, belief/faith, and Christians in general. HOWEVER, I have had some excellent dialogue with YEC’s who were disenchanted last evening, and those who were rooting for Nye and were happy to hear about all of us Christians who haven’t abandoned true scientific thought for ludicrousy (I know, I know–that isn’t even a word, but it seemed appropriate . . . )

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Hey Cassie, agreed. I also heard from some YECs and other Christians who found Ham’s perspective and performance distasteful. And I think “ludicrousy” is as appropriate a word as any to describe some of the things that folks like Ham would have us believe.

  • ShameonMe

    I would rather have seen some one like Kenneth Miller debate Ham so it wouldn’t have been framed as science/religion. But I fear that’s what Creationists want, to have people flocking to them out of luddite-like fears..

    Also it would have been far less publicity and I’m feeling like Ham has become more of a businessman than anything else.

  • Alan S

    Anybody notice the chart that Ham put up on the screen, listing multiple dating methods which he claimed arrived at ages much younger than millions or billions of years old? I think you’re supposed to be “shocked and awed” by the sheer number of “dating methods” up on the screen! Well, I didn’t pause the debate to look closely, but I DID notice that one of the methods listed was “Niagara Falls”. Yeah, Niagara Falls. As though anyone in the scientific community was arguing that “Niagara Falls” IS billions of years old. Nobody in the scientific community would expect (predict?) that Niagara Falls would be as old as the earth itself, any more than the pimple on a teenager’s face would be as old as the teenager himself. I suspect that if I paused the debate and closely looked at all (60 or 70?) “dating methods” listed, I would find LOTS of things like that.

    • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

      My bet is most of those dating methods don’t cover date ranges going back billions of years, so just your average creationist fibbing.

      • Alan S

        Sadly, you’re right. I think that creationists (not the ones in the pew, but the LEADERS, like Ham, Hovind, etc.) HAVE TO KNOW that what they’re doing is DISHONEST! If that’s the case, I believe they should be called to repentance!

        • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

          I’d settle for exposed as frauds, stripped of state funding and their insidious influence on education destroyed. In N.Ireland, the most prominent Protestants are YEC, including our health (search Twitter for #GivePootsTheBoot) and social development (search for the #RedSky scandal) ministers.

          Zeus, Odin or the FSM can deal with their crimes against deities, they’re not really an earthly concern.

          • Alan S

            “Exposed as frauds, stripped of state funding and their insidious influence on education destroyed.” Yeah, that too! :) From my Christian worldview, they also ought to be called to repentance, but I can see how as an atheist/agnostic (?), that wouldn’t be a pressing concern for you!
            And…wow, I didn’t know that about Northern Ireland! As a side note, I love Ireland! My wife and I honeymooned there, and we spent a day along the northeast coast (the rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle) – what a beautiful place! Strange how tropical looking the water is around the rope bridge. Anyway, I digress.

          • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

            This is the about page of a FB group I admin. Have a read and listen.

            https://m.facebook.com/groups/263351503764526?view=info&sfd=1

            It began to fight a campaign against a creationist audio display in the Giant’s Causeway visitors’ centre. We won! (The creationists claim they still get recognition, but they’re clutching at straws). Creationists have also tried to get at the Ulster Museum and they (Free Presbyterians mainly) have a few private schools which, according to one former student in our group, are hellish.

    • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

      Here’s the full list, as it appears at 1:34:00:

      Hundreds of physical processes set limits on the age of the universe

      1. Helium in atmosphere
      2. Helium in ground
      3. Meteor dust
      4. Buildup of carbon 14
      5. Human population
      6. Natural plutonium
      7. Sodium in sea
      8. Sediment in sea
      9. Erosion of continents
      10. Earth’s magnetic field
      11. Oil leaks in Earth
      12. Natural gas in Earth
      [13. Orphan radiohalos]
      21. Coral reef growth
      22. Oldest living plants
      23. Human civilizations
      24. River delta growth
      25. Undersea oil seepage
      26. Uranium in sea
      27. Neutrons and lead
      28. Rotations of spiral galaxies
      29. Interstellar gas expansion
      30. Carbon 14 in meteorites
      31. Decay of comets
      32. Interplanetary dust removal
      [33. Lifetime of meteor showers]
      41. Peat bog growth
      42. Multi-layer fossils
      43. Hardening of rocks
      44. Decay of Saturn’s rings
      45. Potassium in the sea
      46. Titan’s methane loss
      47. Internal heat of Io
      48. Leaching of chlorine
      49. Radiogenic lead
      50. Niagara Falls
      51. Stone age burials
      52. Seafloor calcareous ooze
      [53. Uranium decay]

      More than 90% of these processes give an age less than billions of years

      • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

        Utter bollocks, as we suspected. Several of these show how Ham doesn’t understand how C14 arises (an equilibrium between decay and cosmic ray activity), and others say nothing of the full age of the earth. Others are meaningless.

        • Eddie B

          My understanding (which may be different to the purpose in KH showing that slide), is that there are a number of different “clocks” that might be available to measure “deep time”. I can even take a guess at some that were obscured by the overlain banner (e.g. heating up of earth’s core from radiation).
          Many of these yield results that point to great age. Some point to shorter ages. Modern science tends to discard those that point to shortest ages.
          Ken Ham is clearly wrong to say that “clocks” derived from terrestrial processes can set an absolute limit on the age of the Universe (or has assumed his desired result).

          • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

            It is telling that he gave no detailed examples, aside from the mysterious tree-in-basalt which is troublesome to verify.

      • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

        Thanks, Mark! That must have taken some work. I wonder how many of these also falsify the idea that the world and/or universe is only about 6,000 years old. I’m going to guess, “most, if not all.”

        • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

          Ham claims there are ‘hundreds’ of processes, but he only lists 39, and even that is being padded out. There are several things that could be grouped as a single item (e.g. 51 is included in 23). So by my count, we’re only given about 35 unique items of the ‘hundreds’.

          Several of them simply do not set a maximum limit on the age of the universe. Like ‘oldest living plants’ (22) only sets the maximum age for that individual plant, not the whole universe.

          But the most confusing part is the label at the bottom: ’90% of these processes give an age less than a billion years’. So… wouldn’t that mean the other 10% are admittedly irrelevant to the argument, or possibly even contradict it? Why bother including them, then, if you have ‘hundreds’ to choose from?

          • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

            I’ve set my group to debunking – https://m.facebook.com/groups/263351503764526?view=permalink&id=458943204205354

            I feel a meme coming on for the results….!

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Please share your results with us when you have them! And by the by, do any of you guys happen to know what Ham was talking about re: the “45,000-year-old wood” in the “4 million-year-old basalt”?

          • Eddie B

            What Ken Ham (no silly name-calling please) was describing was that some basalt rock has been found that contains inclusions of [fossilised] wood. By nature, the rock has formed by the solidification of a lava flow that had enveloped fragments of woody material while still liquid – the wood being older (by virtue of being already present) than the lava flow.
            Different radiometric dating measurements have yielded divergent results for the rock matrix and the organic inclusions; the former appearing older than the latter. It’s therefore an anomalous result, which doesn’t prove anything about the absolute ages of either component, only that – on this occasion – one or other (or both) of the radiometric dates is unreliable.
            I was rather surprised that Bill Nye appeared not to understand something so basic. (That’s a pun, by the way, for any fellow geologists).

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Do you have a source for this geological find that produced such bogus radiocarbon results? Preferably peer-reviewed, of course.

          • Eddie B

            No, you asked for an explanation of what Ken Ham was talking about – which I’ve given you. I don’t have access to his source for this information – perhaps you might like to ask him?
            I’d be surprised if such results made it into a peer-reviewed journal, just because they would be regarded as anomalous.
            Do you want proper discussion on this forum, or is it just a soapbox to ridicule those who may hold different viewpoints?

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            To hold a “proper discussion,” we need sources and reliable information. I could hold my own debate and tell people that I found a new fossil in my backyard that is an irrefutable direct ancestor to modern man, but if I can provide no appropriate experts who can examine the evidence and support my claim, I wouldn’t expect people to believe me.

            I’ve seen many of these “lava disproves radiometric dating” claims. I’ve researched them before, and never found a single one that panned out. The evidence was either twisted, or just plain didn’t exist. In other words, I’m skeptical of what Ham said; I suspect he is being misleading in some way, and until I see a reliable source that indicates otherwise, I have no reason to change my mind.

          • Eddie B

            My apologies, I thought you were asking for an explanation of the geological processes involved. I’ve tried to avoid commenting on the anomaly itself as I see as just that – an anomaly – that neither proves nor disproves anything (other than the effectiveness of the method in this particular, specific instance).
            My “missing” post has appeared and is even “dated” earlier than the newer post – quite instructive in a discussion about relative dates! Sorry for posting two similar messages.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            No apology necessary. I appreciate your weighing in. And sorry you keep experiencing issues with the website. I’m not sure where that’s coming from. For, what it’s worth, I didn’t seem to have trouble finding the first post, which appeared to have disappeared on your end.

          • Eddie B

            Oh, my last attempt to post a response black-holed again.

            No, this (well the debate) was the first time I’ve come across this and I was only responding to you invitation to provide an explanation. That explanation would be obvious to any geologist, regardless of their position on the debate.

            I would expect an anomalous result of that nature to be discarded, never to make it into a peer-reviewed journal.

            Why not ask Ken Ham where his material came from?

          • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

            Different dating methods yielded different results, because one of those dating methods, carbon-14, is only good to about 50,000 years old… which is just about the age range Ham gave for the carbon-14 dating of the wood inside the basalt. So, in other words, if the wood is older than 50,000 years old, the carbon-14 dating method gave us exactly the range we’d expect from that test.

            But trying to use this example to claim carbon-14 dating is unreliable, is like saying a screwdriver is unreliable because it can’t do as much work as a power drill. The screwdriver is reliable within its limits. Carbon-14 is reliable within its limits. Ham (and most YEC) don’t understand that, so they think if it has a limit at all, it must be unreliable. It is surprising that Nye didn’t catch this, but it’s even worse that a self-appointed expert like Ham would pass his ignorance to others.

          • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

            By my count, we’ve already dealt with 14, without that much delving through the intellectual swamps of ICR or AiG.

          • melian88

            polystrate fossils, which are found in many different places. The basalt can’t be that old if the wood it surrounds is not.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            So, we should arbitrarily trust the carbon-dating test because it gave a date in the thousands of years (though still much older than the age Ham believes the universe is), but not the rubidium-strontium test because it said billions? The explanation that makes more sense is that the artifact is very old and thus, all the carbon-14 had decayed away, which produced the incorrect carbon date. 45,000-50,000 is about the maximum limit that a carbon dating test can produce. Even if the artifact is much older, tough luck; 45,000-50,000 is what it’s going to say.

            If this artifact is even real — we still have yet to see any credible source verifying its existence — then using this argument is the equivalent of saying a football field is only three feet long, because that’s as far as your yard stick goes.

            The mechanisms that produce “polystrate” trees and fossils have been understood by geologists since the 1900s, so that argument is even worse.

          • http://redmarkedward.com/ Mark Edward

            I thought about doing this, but I didn’t think as many people on my Facebook would appreciate it. (Most people I know who even watched the debate are YEC.)

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            A lot of these don’t make any sense. How are we supposed to try and date the universe by the “oldest living plants” or “Stone Age burials” or “Niagara Falls”?? What the heck???

      • Alan S

        LOL! No. 23 – Human Civilizations. Uh, yeah – again, don’t think that anyone would be expecting human civlizations to BE BILLIONS of years old! D’uh! Again, this is akin to claiming that a teenager can’t be 18 years old because the pimple on his face is only a week old. (I read that analogy somewhere, so I can’t take credit, but I think it’s brilliant! :D)

        • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

          It makes me just shake my head in amazement. Ken Ham may not be stupid, but he sure doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of the intelligence of his followers.

          • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

            A good con-man knows his marks…

          • Alan S

            Speaking of the intelligence of his followers, and I try very hard to avoid sounding arrogant or insulting, because God knows that I am not always the sharpest tool in the shed, but I had a Facebook conversation with a YEC who – I kid you not – doesn’t even accept that the sun we see in the sky is actually the way the sun actually looked 8 minutes ago. He thought such an idea was “illogical”. I told him that it is a fact that neither mainstream scientists OR creation “scientists” deny, based on the speed of light and the physical distance between the sun and earth, but he still refused to accept it. He posed a bunch of questions which I had to honestly tell him I didn’t have the answers to, but I told him that he could probably ask the creationist astronomer of his choice, and even he could provide the answer. This was all in an attempt to deny the question of how we can see stars that are more than 10K light years away if the universe is only 6K – 10K years old. I told him “no offense, but I can’t continue to have a discussion with someone who won’t even concede the most universally accepted, non-controversial scientific facts”. Even the other YECs in the discussion were distancing themselves from this guy.

          • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

            Now that is some good old-fashioned science denialism!

  • http://worldinfocus.net/ Colin Morrison

    That’s some good coverage, Tyler, I didn’t have the stamina to note down so many details.

    Personally, I’m delighted how it all panned out: http://worldinfocus.net/?p=250

    Needless to say, I don’t really care how Jesus is made to look, very much not my problem!

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Thanks, Colin!

      Needless to say, I don’t really care how Jesus is made to look,

      Neither does Ken Ham, apparently. ;)

  • H C

    If Ken Ham doesn’t want to ride plans Bill Nye designed by “evolutionary principles”, I definitely wouldn’t want Ken Ham to be my detective at a crime scene. All he’d say would be, “Were you there?” “There’s no way one can prove what happened by empirical science.”

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Yep, but I’ll tell you one thing, if I were facing murder charges, I’d want Ken Ham on the jury. “We can’t know he’s guilty: None of us were there, and it is impossible to use science to determine anything that happened in the past.”

      • Alan Christensen

        I wish Nye had done more with his allusion to the TV show CSI. Examining a crime scene is not that different from examining strata containing fossils. In both cases you’re looking for clues as to what happened in the past.

        • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

          Yeah, I had the same thought. It’s a good analogy, and I wish he’d expounded on it a bit more.

  • Alan S

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but has anyone noticed the irony of Ham pointing to the RELIABILITY and DEPENDABILITY of natural law as a clue to the existence of God? He says something like “It’s because there is a God, that we can assume that the laws of nature in operation today will be the same tomorrow!”. I agree with him so far. The irony is this: he undercuts his own argument when he AT THE SAME TIME says (when it suits him to do so, because he has no other response to the evidence Nye presents) that “well, maybe in the past certain natural laws weren’t operating the same way”. Wait…what? In the infamous words of the church lady…”Weelll, isn’t that conveeeeeenient?”

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Hey, Alan, I had noticed that massive little inconsistency. It’s part of an article I’m working on for tomorrow. Thanks!

      • Alan S

        I look forward to it! If you think about it, can you include reference to the deceitful chart of “dating methods that CONTRADICT billions of years?”

        • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

          OK, I have it mostly finished now. Turned out to be a two-parter. I’m looking more at the logical failings of Ham’s perspective tomorrow, and his failings in his representation of the Christian faith Sunday (appropriate, I thought :). The part about his misleading graphs will be Sunday.

  • TruthDoctor

    To be fair, it’s not true that Ham made Christianity look ludicrous. Christianity is ludicrous. Believing some random vagrant walked on water and returned from the dead is no less silly than believing the earth is 6,000 years old and snakes can talk. Both require complete suspension of empirical evidence.

    • http://godofevolution.com/ Tyler Francke

      Believing the earth is 6,000 years old is not the same as believing in the resurrection of Jesus. We have no evidence that the resurrection did not occur, other than the fact that dead people don’t — under normal circumstances — come back to life. Christians don’t dispute that fact. We don’t assert that dead people do reanimate, under normal circumstances. We assert only that an omnipotent God could be capable of such a feat.

      There is no direct evidence to weigh in the case of the resurrection, one way or another. It is purely a matter of faith. On the other hand, when it comes to the age of the earth, virtually everything we know in science directly contradicts this idea. We do not have evidence of the resurrection that we can analyze, but we do have evidence of the earth, and it all points to this planet being very, very old.