I stayed up half the night here in Germany to live-tweet the event and my overall “impression”? Based on the amount of pre-debate skeptic jitters about engaging in a ‘debate’ with a slobbering God botherer, which I normally concur is a bad idea btw, the whole event worked out quite well for the cause of secularism IMHO. Here’s why I feel that way.
First, there’s the relative popularity of Bill Nye easily trumping Ken Ham with all but the radical right wing ultra-minority of folks willing to overlook the reality of science and physics in the 21st Century. Then you toss in Ken Ham’s reliance on Cliff Notes from the prosecutor’s statements against Galileo. Those are not nearly as effective as when people were engaged in bleeding themselves to death in their holy efforts to excise demons and return to health.
Finally, Ham’s “Molecules to Man” canard, was wholly inappropriate for a debate on evolution as any seasoned atheist debater is familiar with the tactic of shifting from evolution to abiogenesis willy nilly will be familiar with. I was a little taken back (see my live tweet stream) by Nye’s inability or reluctance to go “Christoper Hitchens” mode on Ham and get to some serious nut-cutting. That was a fantasy of mine I knew would not occur, but I was really saddened that Nye didn’t even do a little “soft shoe” Sam Harris impersonation at some point.
Bill Nye: “That all sounds well and good Mr. Ham, but when I read the Bible, I clearly see the story of “Protons to Polygamy” and your disavowing those parts of God’s holy works that you find unsuitable goes directly against your claims made based on other scriptures literal accuracy and contemporary relevance.”
If Bill Nye had the quick wit and lust for metaphorical nut-cutting that I do, when Ham was busy refuting the literal facts about the Bible supporting polygamy, Bill should have come back with that line and I GUARANTEE you it would be the thing that made the highlight reel. Of course that overlooks the fact that I invented the phrase concurrent to the time of the debate itself, but great minds think alike and Bill Nye has a great mind.
In retrospect, and perhaps as part of Nye’s master plan, he modified Mohammed Ali’s Rope-a-Dope strategy and just let Ham wear himself out while Nye stood calmly covering his head tucked safely against the ropes. Instead of going for the kill like Mohammed Ali, he was happy to just stand there and witness the exhausted and frustrated puritanical pugilist nearly pass out from running himself in circles?
I dunno, but since the “debate” was taped, I expect the best of our secular public schools to use the footage, not as a religious exercise, but as an all-too-necessary exercise in deconstructing the rhetoric of creationist apologetics. FWIW, I had an extremely valuable class in critical thinking. It was in Lincoln, Nebraska when I was in 7th grade public school. Being armed with a proper list of logical fallacies is the secular armament most lacking in the rank and file militant atheism army I am trying to corral. If successful I promise not to let you all build a new religion around me since I’ve already started one on my WordPress blog.
Remember troops. Molecules to Man shall from henceforth on, be responded to with Protons to Polygamy, unless somebody can twist up an even shorter, more catchy “meme’ to undermine the creationist mindset. H/T to Dan Dennett, and I meme that most sincerely.