The best memes from the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate

For those of you who have followed this site for a while, you know that I like memes. I like them because I think humor and satire and parody can often make points just as effectively as a dissertation — if not more so — and they’re usually far more entertaining. As the great poet T.S. Eliot once said, “Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”

Plus, I like memes because I think they’re funny.

So, when it comes to analyzing this week’s #HamonNye debate, you have two options: 1) You can wade through the hundreds of blogs, articles and opinion pieces meticulously constructed by we wise sages of the Interwebs, or 2) You can look at the funny pictures below and, hopefully, get a chuckle or two.

Who knows? You might learn just as much as you would have from all of our sage criticisms and biting cultural and theological analysis, and — either way — the world’s going to keep spinning.

So, without further ado, I present to you: THE BEST INTERNET MEMES OF THE #HAMONNYE DEBATE (and by “best,” I mean, really, the only ones I could find. I’m very disappointed in you, Internet). Feel free to submit your own in the comments if you’ve found better.

This is one of mine, based off one of Ham’s particularly convoluted responses during the Q-and-A session, which was all the more perplexing considering how simple and straightforward his answer should have been.

Ken Ham debate meme

Then, we’ve got a few similar ones, also based off the Q-and-As. Several bloggers noted the stark contrasts between Nye and Ham’s explanations of what would change their mind. From Exploring Our Matrix:

Ham-Nye-debate-in-a-nutshell via exploring our matrix

From Lady Grey, on Facebook:

1797508_759372680740379_1334605950_n

This one, from American Atheists, Inc., includes the full responses by both men, which actually makes the contrast even sharper. I, of course, owe the group thanks for inspiring my own meme above.

T7Zz0R2

I’m not sure who deserves credit for this next one, which features one of the best one-liners of the night, right up there with, K-Ham’s “Why do we wear clothes? Genesis!” and Nye’s “Did the fish sin, Mr. Ham?” I found this one on Unsettled Christianity, but it’s appeared elsewhere, as well.

unsettled christianity

This one’s a little grainy, but worth sharing. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one tired of Ken Ham’s observational/historical science song and dance. Talk about a “bait and switch.”

say-historical-science-one-more-time-240x180

This one’s actually a cartoon, by this guy.

Nye-vs-Ham-cartoon-evidence

Yeah, that about sums it up. This next one was sent in by a fan of the site, who asked to be left anonymous. A Christian, like me, he said he was reminded of St. Augustine’s wise warnings to contemporary and future believers to not hold a certain scientific view of scripture so rigidly that future scientific discoveries might disprove them — and in so doing, cause people to reject the entire message of the Bible.

How are they going to believe

If only we’d listened. And finally, from Cheezburger:

download

What else needs to be said?

Tyler Francke

  • Tyler, I think this viral tweet also counts as a meme – I suggest you add it to the list: Check out @GodFreeWorld’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/GodFreeWorld/status/430709887002087424

    As for “to not hold a certain scientific view of scripture so rigidly that future scientific discoveries might disprove them — and in so doing, cause people to reject the entire message of the Bible.” –

    Absolutely correct – it is the outlandish claims made in the Bible, along with distinctly unenlightened depiction of god (the act of worship makes sense when appeasing an alpha male, but not a deity, unless that deity is a tyrant), which drove me away from it.

    It’s not just creationism, though, or as I sometimes flippantly put it:

    “World popped into existence in a week? Cobblers. Man rises from dead after three days? Seems legit.”

  • Eddie B

    A few random reactions and comments, if I may.

    Well, I like the Macltoons cartoon for a different reason, because it draws a clear distinction. Personally I’d be happy to side with Ken Ham. Where we need to choose our authority on matters of faith, I go with the clear message of the Bible, rather than human wisdom and interpretation.

    What was it Paul said? “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Rom 3:3, in part and slightly out of context).

    That isn’t to deny evidence presented in support of deep time, evolution or uniformitarianism. In fact, that’s where I do much of my serious reading and derive just as much joy from examining the results presented by practising scientists (of any persuasion) as Bill Nye evidently does. Trying to balance the presentation of evidence and a creationist world-view was what brought me to this site – I find it untenable to believe the Bible in any meaningful sense (not necessarily ultra-literalism) and hold to naturalistic theories of origins, deep time, molecule to man etc. As I see it, you either end up with bad science, bad theology or both. I hope there is room here to discuss our respective positions without resorting to silliness and name-calling.

    You may find it strange, but this was the first time I’ve had occasion to listen to Ken Ham. After the ridicule he is given on this site, I was pleasantly surprised how cogently he presented his side of the debate. Not perfect maybe, but neither was Bill Nye. (In fairness, and if you want to be seen as objective, why not use the nickname “Nye-eve” as a counterpoint to “Hammy”? Better still, cut out the name-calling altogether)
    Anyway here’s another quote to balance the one of the Bishop of Hippo seemingly going viral (you must be scraping the barrel to be quoting Augustine!):

    “History is the science of unrepeatable events” (Paul Valéry)

    Which makes Ken Ham’s point a little more succinctly, and less repeatedly.

    Now when Ham presents Genesis as being foundational to morality – affecting our judgement on issues such as marriage, abortion and euthanasia – where do you stand, and what grounds do you have? Where do you draw a line between allegory and moral authority in matters of doctrine? (To borrow from a favourite paper on stratigraphy – where do you put the Golden Spike?) The atheists have no such problem, with moral-relativism, but as Christians it is central to our faith, dare I say, our understanding of God.

    I was disappointed that Ken Ham didn’t respond to Bill Nye’s repeated taunting to offer predictions that arise from the creation account. What about the prophecies that run through the Hebrew bible? In Genesis 3 we have the first prophecy of the promised Messiah: the seed (singular) of woman who would crush the serpent’s head. What about the predictions of Matthew 24 and 2 Peter (incidentally, I’d be interested to hear how theistic evolutionists interpret the references to Noah in Peter)? Of course, these are not [i]scientific[/i] predictions, because they impose the actions of a theistic God upon the created order.

    • Where we need to choose our authority on matters of faith, I go with the clear message of the Bible, rather than human wisdom and interpretation.

      I agree. I would not look to someone like Bill Nye for guidance on faith matters. But the age of the earth is a scientific question, not a theological one. “The earth is less than 10,000 years old” is a scientifically testable and falsifiable proposition, and indeed, it has been falsified in many ways. Bill Nye shared a few the other night. Here are lots more.

      I find it untenable to believe the Bible in any meaningful sense (not necessarily ultra-literalism) and hold to naturalistic theories of origins, deep time, molecule to man etc. As I see it, you either end up with bad science, bad theology or both.

      Interesting. I find that it is the rigid clinging to young-earthism that leads to those results.

      After the ridicule he is given on this site, I was pleasantly surprised how cogently he presented his side of the debate.

      I’m surprised that any thinking Christian would find his childish, moralistic, misleading and arrogant presentation “cogent.”

      Not perfect maybe, but neither was Bill Nye.

      I can mostly agree with that, although I would say it’s a definite fact that neither was perfect, not a “maybe.”

      Better still, cut out the name-calling altogether

      Nicknames are not “name calling.” K-Ham and Hammy are terms of endearment. You don’t like them? By all means, find another site that better suits your preferences.

      Anyway here’s another quote to balance the one of the Bishop of Hippo seemingly going viral (you must be scraping the barrel to be quoting Augustine!)

      Confused. How is Augustine “scraping the barrel”? He is a well-respected theologian and his comments that we referenced above are not only extremely relevant to this debate, they were way ahead of his time.

      Now when Ham presents Genesis as being foundational to morality – affecting our judgement on issues such as marriage, abortion and euthanasia – where do you stand, and what grounds do you have?

      Are you asking me if I agree that not reading Genesis literally eventually will lead to the desire to kill my grandparents? No, I don’t agree with that. I will say that it is idiotic to claim that moral imperatives and theological truths cannot be derived from a text unless the text conveys literal history and is read as such. If that were the case, you might as well snip every parable Jesus ever taught out of your Bible right now.

      I was disappointed that Ken Ham didn’t respond to Bill Nye’s repeated taunting to offer predictions that arise from the creation account.

      Obviously, because the topic they had both agreed to debate was, “Is creationism a viable model of origins in our modern scientific world?” Ham’s burden was to demonstrate that his particular brand of young-earth creationism is scientifically tenable, so showing that Genesis 3 predicted a Messiah that was fulfilled years later in a man whom — for now — only Christians recognize as the Messiah, probably wouldn’t have fit the bill.

      • Eddie B

        Setting aside evidence for earth’s greater age for the moment (I’m aware of most of those cited on the linked site), I’ll concede that I don’t hold that Adam was created at precisely 09:00 on 24th October 4004 BC/BCE (if nothing else because “begat” doesn’t necessarily mean “was the father of”), but I still believe that the Bible points to a young age.

        Like I said, watching the debate was my first time listening to Ken Ham. I was prepared – from what I read here – to find him “childish, moralistic, misleading and arrogant”, but I didn’t. In what way do you make those observations? Disagree with him, by all means, but aren’t you merely seeing your own prejudice?
        I’ll ask again. Without going off on hyperbolae, do you go along with Ken Ham’s assertion that Genesis is foundational to morality? The answer isn’t down to whether you regard Genesis as literal history or allegory – how does it inform your faith? Would you expect to agree with Ham when it comes to marriage, abortion and euthanasia, even coming from different views of origins? Would you rather not say to avoid upsetting non-believers?
        I’ll take your comment about snipping out the parables as facetious. However if the early chapters of Genesis were intended as parables, were they given to us so we wouldn’t understand? (My turn to be slighhtly facetious).
        Anyway, can you please tell me how you interpret the references to Noah in 2 Peter?
        I’d better not get into debate about the Augustine’s legacy, suffice to say that he did indeed have enormous impact on shaping of theology. Some would regard a lot of his ideas as non-Biblical or extra-Biblical.
        Yes, one more thing – your use of the term “meme” for these silly little sketches. By doing so, are you paying homage to the eminence grise that coined the term in his 1976 work?

        • I was prepared – from what I read here – to find him “childish, moralistic, misleading and arrogant”, but I didn’t. In what way do you make those observations?

          Childish: His presentation was simplistic and mostly illustrated with cartoons. It relied on numerous fallacies, the most obvious being the pre-recorded videos with a few scientists saying they think young-earthism is great. Fallacious, because what does that prove? If Bill Nye had shown more videos with more accomplished scientists saying young-earthism is nonsense would that mean he won?

          Moralistic: We’re discussing this right now: His claim that to reject the literal interpretation of Genesis means a slippery slope that ends in killing babies and grandparents. Also his claim that racism and genocide are due to evolutionary ideas — as though prejudice and genocide had never existed before Darwin came around.

          Misleading: I could go on all day, but just to name a few, do you recall that scientific paper on dogs that Ham used to support his “creationist orchard”? Well, he conveniently left out the fact that its authors showed that the process, from the common ancestors of dogs to the variety we see today, took at least 400,000 years — not 4,000. No legitimate geneticist would believe that such diversity as what we observe in Canidae could have arisen naturally in just about four millennia. Also, that list of “hundreds of processes” that “CONTRADICT” the earth being billions of years old do no such thing. First of all, there were about fifty, not “hundreds.” Several of them were duplicates and lots of them had nothing to do with the age of the earth or universe, like “human civilization.” How in the world does that limit the earth? The earth, literally, could not have existed before there were civilized humans on it?

          Arrogant: His claim that there is nothing that could convince him he is wrong about his interpretation of Genesis, as well as his claim that — out of the many, many views that devout Christians do have and have had over the years about Gen 1-3 and our biological origins — his is the only one that could possibly be true or “biblical.”

          Without going off on hyperbolae, do you go along with Ken Ham’s assertion that Genesis is foundational to morality?

          I certainly agree that Genesis does and should inform Christians’ view of marriage and God’s original design for it, as well as the purpose of it. Of course, there are other teachings on marriage in scripture, not the least of which are Jesus’ comments on the matter, that we should also take into account.

          I also agree that the idea of the Imago Dei is a profound one that should teach us of the inherent beauty and dignity present in each and every human being, even though I — along with many other theologians — believe that to be “made in God’s image” refers to our ability to reason and our spiritual natures, not our physical bodies or forms.

          Anyway, can you please tell me how you interpret the references to Noah in 2 Peter?

          Yeah, sorry for not doing it earlier. It slipped my mind. Ultimately, the author of 2 Peter is making a theological point, by comparison with a story that his audience was very likely to be familiar with. He lends some allegory to the story of the flood, describing it as a type of water baptism. Does the verse absolutely require that the flood account was historical? I don’t think so. But I certainly wouldn’t begrudge a Christian who disagrees with me.

          I should also say that, while I primarily see the purpose of the flood account as conveying theological truth about sin and God’s view of it, as well as serving as a foreshadow of the gift of salvation in Christ during God’s coming judgment, I am not personally opposed to the idea that it contains some historical content. There is some evidence of a catastrophic local flood in antiquity that affected much of the known world. As even 2 Peter states, it destroyed the “world that then existed,” not necessarily the entire world. I think the account of Noah could be a record of this event, and I do not think the account should be taken as universally as it might seem on a surface reading.

          Yes, one more thing – your use of the term “meme” for these silly little sketches. By doing so, are you paying homage to the eminence grise that coined the term in his 1976 work?

          I call them memes simply because that’s what they are most commonly called. I do not do so to pay homage to Richard Dawkins, with whom — obviously — I hold profound disagreements about the existence and nature of God and the nature of the Christian faith.

          • Eddie B

            Thanks again Tyler, for responding to my comments.
            I think we’re going to have to disagree on our understanding of Ken Ham’s presentation. The criteria that you’ve labelled “childish” could be levelled at this site (sorry), and we all use quotes or soundbites at various times in support of our viewpoints: though I would be mightily impressed were you to come up with a video clip of Augustine speaking a piece to camera! (Incidentally I detest creationists taking quotes out of context and using them against their originators). “Simplistic” might be a better term, and one that can also be applied to the language of Genesis 1 – compiled using just a small vocabulary of simple Hebrew words for the whole chapter.
            I can’t be sure what Ken Ham said specifically on morals. Certainly interpreations arising from Darwinism have been blamed for moral abuses, but as you rightly point out, so have interpretations of the Bible. What I did take from Ham’s presentation was that Genesis provides the foundation for moral absolutes – remove the authority of Genesis and we’re left with moral relativism. I’d agree with that. Maybe I was just seeing what I wanted to see.
            Yes, it would have been more honest to have said “the authors of this research postulate 400,000 years for all the observed variation to have arisen”. Likewise the slide of the processes that contradict needed better explanation – and I’ve already noted that terrestrial processes have no bearing on the age of the universe. Perhaps there are “hundreds” lurking on other slides (not obscured by banners) that we weren’t treated to. Misleading? Yes, I’ll concede that the old school report phrase “could do better” applies.
            Again, I may have mis-heard, but I thought Ken Ham was saying his belief in the authority of Genesis was unshakeable, rather than his own interpretation of it. You quote a rather clumsy statement verbatim (top image) which seems to suggest that creationists use methods that change over time, implying – no, cancel that, I can’t make sense of that statement!
            With regard to man created in the image of God, I don’t think anyone would say Genesis refers merely to a physical resemblance. All I would add to your statement is that I would also see a reference to man as a triune being – spirit, soul and body, analagous to believing in a triune God.

          • Hey Eddie, thanks for your thoughts. I just wanted to respond to a couple small things. First of all, I would not call Genesis “simplistic” on the same level that I called Ham’s presentation “simplistic.” Sure, Genesis uses a small vocabulary, but then again, Hebrew as a language has a smallish vocabulary to begin with. It has far fewer words than English, e.g. In my view, this actually makes it less simplistic, in that the translation is very difficult and nuanced because many of the words can mean different things and carry many different connotations. And also, I would not call Genesis simplistic simply because of the sheer depth of the ideas expressed therein. Like we’ve discussed, I could probably spend the rest of my life simply meditating on the “imago Dei” and what it means. I would not say the same thing of Ham’s presentation.

            And second, about what Ham said re: his “unshakable” faith in the authority of Genesis. Yes, what he said was something like that (I believe it was more like, “Nothing could ever convince me that the word of God is not true.”). This, however, was not the question. The question, which I admit was not worded as specifically as it could have been, was, “What, if anything, could ever convince you that you are wrong?” If I had asked the question, I would have added, “about your interpretation of Genesis 1-3” to the end of it. That is really the disagreement between us. Neither of us believes that the word of God is “not true,” but that doesn’t mean we are both correct in our interpretation of it. In fact, we profoundly disagree in our interpretations, therefore one of us (or more likely, both of us!) have to be wrong.

            But, essentially, Ham was asked a question about his opinion, and he twisted his answer to make his opinion equal to the authority of the word of God. It was misleading and, yes, very arrogant, in my opinion. Nothing in the whole “debate” frustrated me more than Ham’s political maneuvering around very simple questions about the nature of his faith.

          • Eddie B

            Hey Tyler, yes it is perhaps disingenuous to put Ken Ham’s presentation and the opening chapter of Genesis 1 together and describe them both as “simplistic”, yet each are that in their way.
            I’d disagree that Biblical Hebrew has a small vocabulary – and you’d probably say so too if my exhaustive concordance landed on your foot! (Not that I’m intending to drop it on you). However Genesis chapter one is remarkable for the simplicity of the Hebrew used – one of the most straightforward passages to translate into any other language. (The same is not necessarily true of the rest of the book).

  • Eddie B

    Bill Nye – meet the coelocanth: the fossil that swam up from one layer to the next! (Among others).
    Fossils from the Devonian to the Upper Cretaceous, and then nothing. Zilch. Rien. Oh, but what’s this Laurentia thing caught alive in the ocean off the Comoros?
    So does that change your belief in evolution? No, I thought not.
    (See how silly it is to reduce the debate to simple ad homines?)

    • That’s a fair point, Eddie. You know my own perspective on this debate, and I myself disagreed with Bill Nye’s statement there, at least the “swimming up” part, since so-called “living fossils” (animals who have remained relatively unchanged through the fossil record) are not that uncommon. And we have even — as you mention — discovered extant creatures like the coelacanth that were thought to have gone extinct since we had not found any coelacanth fossils above the Mesozoic era. However, in the case of the coelacanth, this is not really as surprising as it might first appear, since we have relatively few deep sea fossil deposits from the Cenozoic era, in which we might expect to find a coelacanth.

      But anyway, a creature surviving relatively unchanged for large periods of time is not really a big problem for evolution. On the other hand, if the fossil record did not show a gradual change in life forms from one epoch to the next, that would be a problem. And if, in fact, the fossil record showed a crazy mishmash of animals all over the place without rhyme or reason — with modern animals like pigs and dogs and cows and eagles and dolphins regularly appearing alongside ancient animals like trilobytes and T. Rexes — (which is what you would certainly expect from a global flood), that would be a problem for evolution as well. But, of course, that is not what we find.

      • Eddie B

        It was more a facetious remark on my part, as much to counter the “how come we don’t find any kangaroo fossils” type comments from Bill Nye, which quickly reduce arguments to over-simplification. Unfortunately most websites tend to gravitate to these sorts of exchange. I can certainly appreciate why a creature such as the coelocanth did not leave fossils during a whole geological era if the right conditions were absent, and that living fossils pose no danger to evolutionary theory.

        One thing I would say is that the fossil record is not one of continuous gradual change. Periods of stasis and rapid change are what makes stratigraphic correlation attemptable. I have some sympathy with Gould and Eldridge and their theory of “punctuated equilibria” to account for the fossil record that we observe.

        Perhaps we do sometimes come across a mishmash of “modern” and “ancient” forms – just that we might have written the evolutionary narrative to fit what we find together. (I’m talking bivalves and brachipods, rather than dogs and dinosaurs). I take your point – to a degree – so long as we can also accept there must be separation by habitat selection as well as by time.

        • Hey Eddie, I agree about the periods of stasis and rapid change — I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. What I was trying to say was simply that — in general — the remains of life forms we find buried in the ground look different than the extant forms we observe today, and that — for the most part — life looks more and more different the deeper we go into the fossil record. In a very general way, this alone offers support for something like the theory of evolution, and does not support the idea that most species that have ever lived were alive on the earth at the same time and buried in a global flood.

  • Kel

    Of course Ken Ham owns a Mac. Lol.

  • Peter Galik

    LOL! Now these are funny! But I don’t get the last one from Cheezburger, though. Maybe its just me being ignorant, but could somebody please explain to me what the picture is supposed to mean?

    • Don’t overthink it 🙂 I think it’s just making the point that, for folks like Ham — his blind faith is always going to trump reason and evidence. It doesn’t matter what Nye said or what anyone else could ever say, they might as well just “talk to the hand.”

      • Peter Galik

        Oh, I see now. Thanks. By the way, your website rocks! ^_^

    • Cage SC

      Its a passive aggressive gesture of dismissal when one is hearing something they dont wish to consider because it counters their comfort zone of thought e.g. talk to the hand, fingers in the ear reciting lalalalala etc. Look up the definition of “cognitive dissonance.”

  • Tularian Roman

    When Ken Ham bought in the Bible, instant win.

    • I’m guessing that’s sarcasm?

      • Tularian Roman

        I question myself, wherever that meme is bashing Nye or Ham.

  • jarjacksn

    Funny how this is posted on a religious site

  • Jessica

    I watched that debate while still guilt ridden about leaving YEC in the dust (I was slightly indoctrinated with the young Earth model, though thankfully not enough that I wasn’t able to pull myself out of it). I found Ken Ham to be embarrassing to Christians with his arrogant, self-righteous and grace-free comments. Plus, he never answered a question. It was a train wreck and I spent weeks afterward defending my faith to people who had never previously viewed Christianity as a joke until Ham made a spectacle of himself.

    • Yeah, he really made Christianity look bad, didn’t he? Not that I expected any other result, but it was disappointing that he managed to not even meet my already extremely low expectations of his performance. I mean, the agnostic Bill Nye presented a far more accurate picture of the Christian faith than the Christian Ken Ham did.

    • Reverend Veritas

      There are other aspects of the faith that are laughable, self-contradicting and/or unbelievable apart from those Ken Ham presented for his creationist arguments; things that we’d normally regard as absurd if not for billions of other people normalizing what would otherwise seem outlandish.

      There’s transforming water into wine without the nucleosynthesis of the carbon turning everyone present into ash via nuclear fireball, immaculate conception resulting in a child that’s somehow a male when the offspring would have only the XX chromosome configuration, dead saints rising from the grave to walk through a city (yet no other mention outside of canon), etc.

  • Irv Spielberg

    [spied this scream on the net!]

    Big Evolution Discovery !

    British professor Nigel Swiggerton of Chapsworth College has
    recently found a missing link in the evolution/creation debate. Everyone
    is familiar with the “stages of man” chart found in textbooks which
    begins with a naked, hairy, bent over, grunting Neanderthal
    type which over millions of years finally learns how to stand erect
    while sporting a 1930s-style haircut. Well, Dr. Swiggerton discovered
    that someone accidentally reversed the negative. It turns out that the
    first man was actually standing erect with a short
    haircut but has been descending over the years until he has finally
    reached the last stage – the stage at any rock concert filled with
    naked, hairy, bent over, grunting Neanderthal types!