I agree with Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins that debates with creation science folks probably does more bad than good. The same thing goes for journalists reporting on evolution issues in society. Journalists are (as far as I know) taught to provide sides of an issue. And since there really is no good “other side” to evolution, they discuss creation science. That only falsely demonstrates that creation science is a viable alternative to evolution. Debating the two can also do that. But, since it happened, here are a few of my thoughts.
I thought Nye spent too much time on discussing evidence of evolution. Evidence seems to be irrelevant to Ham, who said that despite radiometric data, fossils found in certain layers, tectonic plates, sedimentation buildup, ice core data, “missing link” fossils, and really really old trees (several things specifically mentioned by Nye), there is absolutely no way to age the Earth accurately. Ok, fine, no amount of evidence will convince Ham otherwise. I think Nye should have spent more time discussing what science actually is. He kept challenging Ham to explain how Ham’s theory is predictive of anything, but didn’t explain why being predictive is important. As my good friend Jeff from Central Michigan University said, “the ‘measure’ of the strength of a scientific theory is its ability to predict”.
Nye also seemed to lose a lot of headway whenever he was asked a question he couldn’t answer, like how does consciousness come from matter. Ham was quick to assert that because science didn’t have an answer, it must be god doing. Well, now that I think about this, I guess it falls back on the evidence is irrelevant bit. Just like geocentrism and spontaneous generation, scientists may not have the answers at that moment, but given enough time will figure out what’s really going on.
I think my favorite comment by Ham was when he said just because a vast majority of scientists don’t believe in young earth origins doesn’t make them right. That’s a stark contrast to the: “84% of the world is religious, how can that many people be wrong?” comment often heard on that topic.
There are lots of other interesting things that happened in the debate, but I’ve already spent enough time on this. If you watched the debate and have something you’re itching to discuss, post a new article or throw it in the comments below. I look forward to it.