• Ignoring Ridiculous Beliefs Won’t Make Them Go Away

    bill-nye-ken-ham-debateIn a few weeks, Bill Nye the Science Guy will be debating Ken Ham the Creationist “Museum” Guy. When this was first announced, many atheists lost their shit. Richard Dawkins has long held the position that he will not debate a Creationist because he thinks it gives validity to Creationism. That’s his choice, but I disagree. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pray Creationism goes away.

    For one thing, we’re atheists and we don’t do the whole praying thing. Second, Creationism won’t go away unless we educate people about the actual facts concerning evolution. We can do that in science classes, but many of the people who reject the science of evolution don’t go to science classes; they are home schooled. We need to reach those people!

    Debating Creationists publicly in their homes is the only way these religious believers are going to be exposed to the scientific evidence of evolution. Debating religious believers on this topic is an opportunity. It is an opportunity we can’t afford to sit out.

    Being on stage with a Creationist doesn’t give the impression that Creationism is valid; it gives the impression that a lot of people believe this crap and as a point of fact, a lot of people do believe this crap. So we have to debate it. Just like we have to debate other religious claims like God, which like Creationism is ridiculous and unscientific. Yet Dawkins doesn’t hold the line that people shouldn’t debate any religious claims – just this one religious claim.

    With that said, I worry that Bill Nye may not be the best choice for this debate. He absolutely knows all about evolution, but can he explain it in a way that Creationists will find compelling? Will he avoid the traps that Ham will lay out to distract Nye for educating people about evolution? I fear that Nye will take the bait and will put evolution on the defensive. Dawkins would have been a better choice for this debate.

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    Category: AtheismEvolutionfeaturedScienceSkepticism

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

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    5 comments

    1. He has been meeting with the right experts and I have confidence he will be very well prepared. And I agree – unfortunately we *do* need to go where some of these kids will have a chance to hear about reality. It may not be a “debate,” but we can’t pretend the high numbers of people who believe this nonsense isn’t a problem for the rest of us. The adults are beyond all help, but some of their kids may benefit hugely from this. Just wish there had been more of a chance to get tickets! I haven’t heard of a single atheist or even theistic evolutionist who was able to get a ticket to this. Sold out in 2 minutes?!? Any chance Ham reserved the vast majority of tickets to provide a handpicked audience for himself?

    2. I wonder what makes you think this is an education problem. Throughout most of the 20th century, evolution has been standard in biology classes. I was exposed to evolution at least twice before graduating public high school, and again as a gen ed in college.

      Moreover, evolution is a simple idea. It’s not quantum mechanics or macroeconomics.

    3. An intelligent science believing Christian would be a better choice. Cracking the nut of incredibly retarded creationist belief is enough of a challenge without trying to go all the way in one step.

    4. I think Bil Nye is a great choice, and not just because I teach 5th grade science. 🙂 Dawkins is brilliant but has a tendency to be rather boorish when making his points — an excuse for the theists to insist that all atheists are bullies while ignoring that he makes complete sense.

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