Playing Chess with Pigeons

Yesterday, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis fame announced on his website that he would be debating the topic of evolution against Bill Nye. This is bad for both Christianity and science. Here is why I’m not getting too excited for the debate:

1. It drives a false wedge between creation and science

The creation/evolution “debate” is easily the least productive debate there is. All it does is perpetuate the false notion that people can’t accept both Christianity and evolution. Ken Ham has been spewing out misinformation about evolution since… well… always, and also spreads harmfully ignorant ideas regarding the Bible. As a result, people have grown up believing that evolution inescapably equates to atheism. Scholarly Christians rejected Young Earth Creationism long before Darwin came around, but Ham wants public schools to teach the controversy when there is literally no controversy in scientific circles and controversy is diminishing in theological circles.

Perhaps a more productive debate would be on the topic of how to interpret Genesis. I have to agree with a fellow redditor who left this comment in /r/Christianity:

I’d rather see Ken Ham debate:

  1. A Christian theistic Evolutionist.
  2. A scholar of the Old Testament (Genesis in Particular); who is non-YEC
  3. A deist or otherwise non-Christian Advocate of Intelligent Design or something similar.

Source: Jin-roh comments on Bill Nye will debate Answers in Genesis’ Ken Ham at the Creation Museum Feb. 4

2. Only one person has put in an RSVP

I’m skeptical that this debate is even going to happen; Bill Nye has yet to even mention this debate on his Twitter feed, his Facebook page, or his blog. For all we know, Bill Nye had no idea he was scheduled for a debate until Ham announced it. I’d like to think that Ham would wait to hear from Nye before trumpeting an announcement like this, but I can’t in good faith say that this is the case. Like many skeptics on reddit, I’m awaiting any kind of response from Bill Nye with great interest.

3. Abandon logic, all ye who enter

I’m not getting my hopes up that Ken Ham will follow the same principles of logic observed by reputable scientists. Assuming that the debate happens, I fully expect it to resemble this post’s eponymous analogy. Regardless of your skill level in chess, you cannot beat a pigeon in a game of chess. You may be much more intelligent and have a much better understanding of the game, but the pigeon is just going to knock over the pieces, poop on the board, and strut around like a winner. Ken Ham makes a complete hash of science, and it’s clear from most of his publications that he doesn’t really understand evolution (or its relationship with the Bible). Bill Nye can show up and speak the absolute truth from start to finish, and it won’t matter because Ken Ham is going to play by his own set of rules.

Both sides will claim victory, when in reality, this debate has a long history of only producing losers.