CA. teacher banned from using Bill Nye/Ken Ham evolution debate to sneak creationism into classroom

May 5, 2015

By Tom Boggioni

A California high school teacher has been banned from showing his students a debate between science educator Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham as a way to insert creationism into the classroom.

According to the Friendly Atheist, science teacher Brandon Pettenger of Arroyo Grande High School has been showing the video to his students, and then having them summarize the debate by posting on creationist websites.

Pettenger has been accused of “teaching the controversy” despite scientific consensus that the theory that God created the universe roughly 10,000 year ago has no basis in fact.

The debate, between the popular TV science personality Nye and Christian author and Creation Museum founder Ham, took place in February of last year at the Creation Museum and has been viewed by millions

Due to the efforts of the the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Pettenger has been instructed to desist from bringing creationism into the classroom via any source.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

42 comments on “CA. teacher banned from using Bill Nye/Ken Ham evolution debate to sneak creationism into classroom

  • The problem, is that children are not well enough informed to make judgements on the difference between deceptively contrived lies, and scientific evidence.
    That is why they go to school to study scientific evidence and scientific methodology.

    Biased, deluded and incompetent teachers should not be teaching science classes. There is no “controversy” except in the minds of deluded people like Ham. – Just as there is no “controversy as to whether the Earth is flat or is a globe!

    You do not learn planetary science, by watching a debate with a flat-Earth nutter! (or a Young-Earth-nutter)



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  • The “controversy” is non-existent. Ham’s case amounted to “I have this book” , and “were you there?”. Plus a few dishonest YEC ‘experts’, like geologist Snelling, who cast, according to Ham, doubt on radio metric dating of rocks. For me, the most telling point in the debate was when a questioner asked “what would change your mind?” For Ham, nothing would change his mind, for Nye, evidence would change his mind. The only real scientific approach to take !

    I’ll wager that Pettenger left that bit of the debate out of his screenings !



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  • When I was in grade 7, we studied the phlogiston theory of combustion. We reworked the old debates about what was wrong with the theory, and why the new oxygen theory solved its problems. However, creationism has NOTHING to recommend it as a scientific theory. It is purely a religious hypothesis. Therefore it has no business being taught in any form in a science class. It is a religious doctrine, not a scientific one. It as much a scientific theory as the nested turtles.



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  • Two points. When I was a lad I was interested in the way that Darwin and the intellectual world in general, came to ditch the bible story and accept evolution. I was interested to know that theories of evolution were around long before Darwin. Shakespeare had some idea about geological time, and I’m quite sure that plenty of his peers did too. I found it interesting how evidence undermined and ultimately replaced earlier beliefs.

    If you don’t teach how theories and insights arise, how dedicated scientists pursued them in the face of official disapproval, ridicule and threats, then you are leaving out half of the story.

    For people with my type of personality, the human and intellectual story is far more interesting than the actual science. Scrubbing around the Galapagos, the Highlands of Scotland or the islands of Indonesia, looking at bugs and creepy crawlies has limited appeal, but the theories derived from the evidence gleaned, The Voyage of the Beagle and the Oxford debate which followed, are the mesmerising stuff of legend. Some kids are just not very interested in science per se, and a history of ideas approach, is an alternative way to teach it.

    Second point. Whatever approach is taken to science teaching, part of it should be to show students how to defend scientific fact from religious or commercial denunciation. If you don’t teach about creationism, or the lies of the oil industry and Fox news, how will young people ever learn how to protect reason from superstition or the power of money?



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  • I remember reading about Wallace when I was ten – in those days the children’s sections of the public libraries were well stocked – but the book had a mistake, it said that Wallace was Australian, and it is only in the last few years that I discovered he was English!

    I thought that the NYT’s review was brilliant. The book sounds to be just up my street and I must read it.

    Thanks for the references Bonnie.



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  • The problem, is that children are not well enough informed to make judgements on the difference between deceptively contrived lies, and scientific evidence.

    replace “problem” with “assumption” and you have summed up the creationists’ mission statement quite neatly



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  • Let them watch the video. Anyone who is not already a deluded brainwashed creationist themselves will see how badly one sided that debate was. When nye spoke about how the ship half that size bent and twisted and leaked and then sank, anyone can see how completely unfeasible the whole idea is lol. Plus with everything else stacked ontop of it.



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  • Jesse
    May 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Let them watch the video. Anyone who is not already a deluded brainwashed creationist themselves will see how badly one sided that debate was.

    Children are too trusting to be fed deception by the likes of Ham!

    When nye spoke about how the ship half that size bent and twisted and leaked and then sank, anyone can see how completely unfeasible the whole idea is lol. Plus with everything else stacked ontop of it.

    But Ham is making “a full-size wooden replica”! – with those “Bronze-Age steel reinforcing beams”, hidden inside it! – Just to “prove” that it is real!

    Oh! and his site has a denial of the original Ark-Story from a thousand years earlier where the ark was round!

    http://blog.britishmuseum.org/2014/01/24/was-the-ark-round-a-babylonian-description-discovered/



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  • In science class at that young age, children should be taught the scientific method, not just the results of using the scientific method.
    How can they ask in their minds, “Did Ham use the scientific method to reach his conclusion” if they don’t even know the scientific method?
    If those christian children in the audience had even a clue that the word “theory” in the media is defined as “guess” instead of it’s actual meaning, they would have laughed every time Ham misused that word.



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  • In 1925 we had the Scopes Trial. A school teacher named John Thomas Scopes was put on trial by the state of Tennessee for teaching evolution in a publicly funded school. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100. But the outcome of the trial isn’t what history remembers – we remember the fervent opposition of the people of Tennessee against the claim that mankind descended from monkeys. Free speech be damned, there’s no way these godless scientists are going to teach this stuff to our children! Tennessee became the laughing stock of the rest of the world, most of which had already accepted evolution.

    The comments on this Dawkins Foundation article remind me of the Scopes Trial, except now the persecuted have become the persecutors. Science, once on trial by religion for introducing evolution in school, has now put religion on trial for introducing creationism in school. And the irony is that during the Scopes Trial the science side never asked for a monopoly on teaching. All they asked for was that both sides of the evolution vs. creationism debate were taught, and the students could make up their own minds. But today science is demanding the monopoly and insisting that only their side be heard.

    Ninety years ago Tennessee made the decision not to allow both sides of the argument to be taught in schools because high school students can’t be trusted to think for themselves, and those sneaky scientists might lead them away from God. Today California is making the decision not to allow both sides of the argument to be taught in schools for the same reason – because California high school students can’t be trusted to think for themselves, and those sneaky Christians might lead students away from science.

    The pivotal question, at least to me, isn’t which side is right and which side is wrong. The pivotal question is are we going to allow a free and fair debate to take place, or are we going to sue in court to make sure our point of view is the only one allowed to be heard? The California decision is wrong – not because evolution is right and creationism is wrong, or vice versa, but because the California decision hides the other side of the debate from students. That’s totalitarianism, despotism. That’s Nazi book burning. Censorship.

    And that means you’re afraid.

    If you’ve studied both sides of the issue and believe the evidence points toward evolution, why are you afraid to let others study both sides of the issue? How is that any different from what the people of Tennessee did during the Scopes trial? Don’t you see that you, who claim to be on the side of John Thomas Scopes and the scientific method, are acting like the people of rural Tennessee? Your arguments are no different – you’re both claiming to protect the children from the deceptions of your opponents because the children can’t be trusted to come to the right conclusion when watching a free and fair debate.

    I mock you, California, and I mock the Richard Dawkins Foundation, in the same way the world once mocked Tennessee, and for the same reason. And I pity your children, that they are being raised by a society that does not recognize their ability to judge for themselves.

    I’m on Team Evolution. I no longer believe the Genesis account of creation. I believe what I believe because I DECIDED to believe it. And I’m writing this to defend the rights of everyone to DECIDE for themselves what to believe. If I were still on Team Creationism I would still champion free, fair, and open debate. Because I’m on Team Freedom first and foremost.

    If high school isn’t the place for free and fair debate, then where is the place? And if high school exists only to teach your children to believe what you believe, how will those students ever learn to think for themselves? To make up their own minds?

    I’ve read the argument in the article comments that high school children are too young to be exposed to creationism. It seems to me that if you wait until these teenagers are legal adults, you’ve waited too late. Do you want 18 year olds entering legally binding contracts before they’ve learned how to study both sides of an argument and judge for themselves?

    Allow free and open debate. Allow free speech. Especially on campus, where we expect our students to learn to think. If you don’t agree with what’s being taught, then offer a more persuasive argument. And if your argument isn’t more persuasive, perhaps you need to rethink your beliefs.



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  • When will America let go of this crap? I’m from Texas and I really get bombarded with christian dogma all the time. I can’t drive three miles without seeing a church, and it’s affect has poisoned my family, friends as well as myself. It has to end, it just has to



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  • I’m from Texas

    Won’t be long now Landon. We hear in Australia that your about to be invaded and liberated by the US Army with marshal law imposed. All those right wing Christians libertarian survivalists will be sent to Guantanamo Bay.



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  • I’d be ok with the video being shown in science class, provided the following:
    1) All segments of Bill Nye be shown along side the supporting evidence that he alluds to in a teaching manner. He goes over several diffent fields of study and it would be intresting to dive into the research.
    2) Students be required to wear a bow tie during the film.
    3) All segments of Ken Ham be voiced over with both the adult voice on Charlie Brown and a donkey being branded with a hot poker.



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  • Ken Ham, and those like him, tailor and intentially target young minds. I see where you are coming from, but in the end, I think any exposure of irrational fundamentalist religious views is damaging to young minds. Any assosiation made between science and religion should be avoided at all cost.



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  • Sounds like another case of mythical hijacking by Christians and Jews. And here I thought they only stole most of their stories and imagery from the Egyptians



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  • I can’t speak for everyone, but my position is that creationism doesn’t belong in the science classroom, no more than homeopathy belongs in modern medical hospitals. I’m all for allowing theology being taught in school if that’s what people what their kids to be exposed to. There are numerous Christian academies and high schools here in Alabama that do just that, but they have up to this point seperated the subject matter outside of science classrooms. I aim to see it stay that way. Also, there needs to full inclusion of non scientific religious education in public schools if you’re going to go that route. That means ALL religious creation stories need to be taught, not just that of Christianity, otherwise you ignore those of other religious views and you are back to the grounds of censorship. OR, you keep religious material out of government funded school systems (seperate of church and state) and remind the religious community they have churches and the ability to inform thier children of “alternate” views themselves. As for the reversal of percecution you mentioned…I tend to agree with you a little, but at the same time the fact still stands that religion is not science.



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  • These two statements are where your arguments fails.

    The pivotal question is are we going to allow a free and fair debate to take place

    AND

    not because evolution is right and creationism is wrong, or vice versa, but because the California decision hides the other side of the debate from students. That’s totalitarianism, despotism. That’s Nazi book burning. Censorship.

    A “Free and Fair Debate” has occurred and has concluded that evolution is correct. Not, evolution might be correct, or is probably correct. Evolution is correct and creationism is wrong. This position is supported by rational evidence. So when you propose a “Free and Fair Debate” you make the mistake of thinking, a common mistake, that the two positions possess equal evidence, and deserve equal time. Evolution is pure science. It should be taught in the science classroom. Creationism is just one aspect of one religion. It should be taught in Social Studies, or Studies of Society, or whatever it is called in your location. Comparative Religion Studies. e.g.

    Religions exist. Lots of different religions and gods. Comparisons of these religions show these similarities and these differences. One aspect common to quite a few religions, is creation stories, like the Australian Aborigine Dream Time with its Rainbow Serpent and the Old Testaments version of the same story, only with a different Rainbow Serpent.

    Where your argument for a ‘Free and Fair Debate” fails is you want to have this debate occur in a science classroom. Not possible, because they are not both science subjects.

    This is not “totalitarianism, despotism. That’s Nazi book burning. Censorship.” etc. None of those labels apply and they seem out of character with the rest of your post. Maybe its another of those funny American’isms that the rest of the world can’t understand. America, unlike the rest of the civilized free world, is infected with a near lethal theocratic culture, that is doing it harm. To help America catch up with the rest of the world’s civilized norms, the future Americans need to be able to make up their own mind, and to have the skills to make rational evidenced based decisions, free from mysticism and superstition. Have the Creation vs Evolution debate by all means, but not in the science lab.

    p.s. America is the last western country still talking about this. In the rest of the free world, only people agreed upon as being nutters talk about this.



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  • In the interests of freedom of speech and scholarship, is the Christian right planning to teach courses on black and white magic, the fairies at the bottom of the garden, Buddhism, Mohammadism……? They should be, if intellectual freedom matters to them. Never mind that these beliefs are all a load of fanciful nonsense, that doesn’t figure in their version of the freedom debate.



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  • is the Christian right planning to teach courses on black and white magic,

    And excellent point. Or are they screaming for equality, where some equalities are more equal than other equalities.



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  • Layne.

    I like your analysis and comparison with the Scopes Trial but the tragedy of what you reveal is that it has taken America this long to make this switch, and that it is still resisted by so many Americans. That is the tragedy.



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  • Layne
    May 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve read the argument in the article comments that high school children are too young to be exposed to creationism. It seems to me that if you wait until these teenagers are legal adults, you’ve waited too late.

    There is nothing wrong with teachers briefly mentioning Flat-Earthism, geocentricism, or, creationism, as flawed notions from history.

    Do you want 18 year olds entering legally binding contracts

    Would you deliberately, expose teenagers seeking contracts, to known con-men, with con-man sympathetic teachers, suggesting the con-men have the same honest integrity as reputable scientists or businesses?

    before they’ve learned how to study both sides of an argument

    This is the great misconception.
    There are not “two sides to an argument”!
    There is evidenced science and scientific debate, and there is a whole self-contradictory load of contrived nonsense, cobbled together by YEC con-men, to mislead the uneducated and uninformed.

    There is no case for giving proven liars and con-men access to vulnerable children!

    and judge for themselves?

    … and no children are not sufficiently expert in science and history to recognise and reject, wilful deceptions, dressed up as competent expert authority!

    I’m on Team Evolution.

    I’m sorry to have to point this out, but you are on “team false-dichotomy”, and team, “default Old testament god”.

    I no longer believe the Genesis account of creation. I believe what I believe because I DECIDED to believe it.

    Why should you or any other school child have to make that decision between mythology and reality!
    When did you decide not to believe in Aphrodite and Zeus?

    And I’m writing this to defend the rights of everyone to DECIDE for themselves what to believe.

    Are you feeling deprived, that you were not indoctrinated, and then asked if you wanted to believe in all these other creation myths?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_creation_myths

    If I were still on Team Creationism I would still champion free, fair, and open debate. Because I’m on Team Freedom first and foremost.

    Really????? I have yet to hear YEC creationists suggest that children should be taught all these other creation myths – see link – (in the interests of “freedom”!).

    Indeed, the only well known author suggesting teaching about a selection of creation myths, is Richard Dawkins with creationists opposing children being given copies of his book “The Magic of Reality”, where he does so!



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  • Wow, thank you all for your responses!

    Mike, I agree with everything you wrote, however, I still feel a spending single day in the classroom watching the Ham vs. Nye debate is a good thing for our students. The reason is that polls show a majority of Americans still believe in creationism. We don’t need a Nye vs. Zeus debate because the majority of American voters don’t believe in the ancient Greek pantheon. Since the “threat” to scientific literacy in this country comes from creationism, I believe it’s creationism that should be held up to evolution in a free and fair debate.

    David R. Allen, this debate isn’t settled yet because the majority of Americans don’t believe in evolution. That’s why it’s premature to claim the “Battle is over, evolution wins!” That’s exactly why we need to keep having this debate. The issue, as I see it, isn’t that both sides are equal so each deserves equal time. It’s that the majority of America still believe creationism, and we’re not going to get anywhere with them by condescendingly dismissing what they believe. If we want to make inroads we have to acknowledge what they believe, and hold it up for inspection and comparison to what the scientific record claims – which is exactly what the Ham vs. Nye debate does. No, they’re not both science subjects, but they are both held to be true by many, many people, and that’s why they should be debated. Still, you present a good argument.

    Alan4discussion, it seems to me that if you replace the word “science” with the word “Islam”in your response to me, it could pass for something written by the Ayatollahs in Iran. Your argument seems to be “But we’re RIGHT, so we’re justified telling everyone else what they have to believe.” If I’m missing your point please tell me. But if that’s your point, congratulations. You’ve become the same intolerance you fight against.

    I could not disagree with you more about Ken Ham being a con man. He seems absolutely sincere to me. But you wrote “There is no case for giving proven liars and con-men access to vulnerable children!” and I don’t want to even try to have an intelligent discussion with you if you’re going to lump everyone who disagrees with you into the “proven liars and con-men” category while insisting that California high school science students are “vulnerable children”. If human beings are so black and white to you, so good guys vs. bad guys, then you really would make a good Ayatollah.

    Landon, I hear ya. I live in Texas, too. When will it end? As soon as we make it end. I’m of the opinion that the best way to make it end is free and fair debate. I understand the other point of view – that we simply erase creationism from education – but I don’t think it’s as effective. If the government were to forbid the mention of evolution in public school, would that convince you that evolution is wrong? No, it would fire you up to spread the truth even more. If you were a creationist and the government forbade mention of creationism in public school, why would your reaction be any different?

    Free and fair debate, man. It won’t work with everybody, but I believe it will work on enough to be worth the try.

    Really, Mike? You’re so afraid of what Ken Ham teaches that you’d edit his voice from the debate? Like the Taliban has edited anything that contradicts the Koran out of Afghanistan? You disappoint me.

    eejit, two quick points. First, just because the Christian right doesn’t want to give black magic a free and fair debate doesn’t mean we should follow their example. Second, the majority of America doesn’t believe in black magic, but they do believe in creationism. That’s why I think we should ignore the other creation mythologies and focus our debate on evolution vs. creationism. There’s no tug-of-war going on between black magic and evolution, unless I’m really out of the loop =)

    Bonnie, I’m sorry but I don’t understand what you’re saying. Would you like to explain?



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  • David R. Allen, this debate isn’t settled yet because the majority of Americans don’t believe in evolution. That’s why it’s premature to claim the “Battle is over, evolution wins!” That’s exactly why we need to keep having this debate.

    Only in America. The debate is settled everywhere else, if you are rational evidence based scientific person. There is no more debate. The battle is over, and evolution wins, because evolution can explain your wisdom teeth but creationism can’t.

    but they are both held to be true by many, many people, and that’s why they should be debated.

    This, plus another couple of remarks you make about the number of people in America who still believe in creationism is an eternal embarrassment to America. In the eyes of the rest of the world, it opens America to ridicule. This theocratic culture so endemic in America, impinges on many decisions, including things like foreign police as applied to Israel. America has fallen 30 years behind the rest of the civilized world and we desperately need America to be rational and evidence based again. American needs to catch up quickly. That is why pandering to ridiculous notions of equal time for debate must be ridiculed and laughed at.

    Landon, I hear ya. I live in Texas, too. When will it end? As soon as we make it end. I’m of the opinion that the best way to make it end is free and fair debate.

    You can’t have a free and fair debate with the deeply religious. The point of a debate is to present evidence and have the rational audience indicate preference based on evidence. There is no evidence for god. You can’t change the mind of the deeply religious because they are incapable of making rational judgements. All they have is “Faith”. As Hitchens so succinctly put it. **”You can’t reason someone out of something, they haven’t reasoned themselves into.”**** You need different strategies to “Reasoned Debate” with the deeply religious. It will take a long time, but you need to produce young Americans who can listen to a reasoned debate, and come to sound conclusions. You can’t achieve that, while you permit the religious to get at your children before their brains have matured, around 18 years of age. This would be my solution. Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private and has no place in the education system.



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  • Layne
    May 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Alan4discussion, it seems to me that if you replace the word “science” with the word “Islam”in your response to me, it could pass for something written by the Ayatollahs in Iran.

    Perhaps you do not understand the science or the strenght of the scientific evidence for evolution and modern astronomy.

    Your argument seems to be “But we’re RIGHT, so we’re justified telling everyone else what they have to believe.”

    The scientific evidence for evolution and the age of the Earth – which has been multiply confirmed, tens of thousands of times, is right!
    Science teachers mark rubbish answers WRONG!

    If I’m missing your point please tell me.

    Modern science and geography teachers are not going to waste children’s educational time debating if the Earth is Flat, saucer-shaped as a compromise, or a globe, they teach the geology of rocks, tectonic plates, climate and satellite monitoring, without wasting time discussing “flat-Earthist” pseudo controversies.

    Ham denies virtually ALL modern science and has no honest evidence to support his claims.

    But if that’s your point, congratulations.

    My point is that honest science needs to be taught in schools as it is in the advanced countries of the world.

    You’ve become the same intolerance you fight against.

    I am indeed intolerant of wilful liars, crooks, quacks, charlatans, and gross incompetents with airs of superiority, – as are most reputable scientists.

    I could not disagree with you more about Ken Ham being a con man. He seems absolutely sincere to me.

    No surprise that experienced con-men seem sincere!
    Perhaps you should study his deceptions more closely. All his claims start with biblical foregone conclusions, and then cobble thoroughly incompetent and dishonest pseudo-science together, to impress the gullible and uneducated.

    But you wrote “There is no case for giving proven liars and con-men access to vulnerable children!”

    The YECs are proven liars, con-men, and some are self-deluded in addition to that. Ham’s rival Kent Hovind who also set up a “YEC Creation Museum”, is in jail for fraud! Ham is currently arguing with the IRS about his try-on to claim tax-free not-for-profit religious charitable status, for his for-profit Ark Adventure Park! There is not a single piece of honest science on his AIG website! It is ALL contrived deceptive crap that no honest scientist or historian would accept!

    and I don’t want to even try to have an intelligent discussion with you if you’re going to lump everyone who disagrees with you into the “proven liars and con-men” category

    That is ludicrous! I have made some comments which can be well supported by evidence, about some very dishonest creationists such as Ham, and you use the fallacy of extension to include “everyone who disagrees with me”! The “proven liars and con-men” category is full of YECs!

    while insisting that California high school science students are “vulnerable children”.

    High school children and adults poorly educated in science, are vulnerable to the sort of sciency-sounding deceptions, which have been put together by dishonest people with some scientist qualifications, who have been paid by Ham to rubbish competent and honest science which refutes his claims.

    If human beings are so black and white to you, so good guys vs. bad guys,

    Err no! The ability to recognise bad guys who seem to be successful in conning you as to their capabilties and lack of integrity, does nothing to diminish my full spectrum view , which contrasts sharply with the suggested false dichotomy of painting my view as black and white. These people are a mixture of rogues and the mentally deluded who have no place in schools which are providing honest education.

    “I don’t understand science well enough to recognise Ham’s dishonesty, so why should real scientists call him an incompetent liar and charlatan”? – is a very poor argument!

    then you really would make a good Ayatollah.

    Nope! I would make a terrible ayatollah!
    I oppose unevidenced ideological dogma, fumble-brained irrationality, circular thinking, self-deception, and dishonesty!



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  • Layne
    May 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Second, the majority of America doesn’t believe in black magic, but they do believe in creationism. That’s why I think we should ignore the other creation mythologies and focus our debate on evolution vs. creationism.

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that their is some consistent form of creationism in America, as distinct from the other creation myths.

    The creationists are in just as hot dispute with each other, as they are with the scientists!
    That is the nature of delusional “interpretation” of bronze-age mythology!
    There are no such subjects as “creation science”, or “scientific creation theory”, there are just asserted made-up fantasies from charlatans, denying real science and claiming that these are legitimate subjects rather than delusional fantasies!

    Landon, I hear ya. I live in Texas, too. When will it end? As soon as we make it end. I’m of the opinion that the best way to make it end is free and fair debate.

    There has been a free and fair debate for 150 years and creationists challenges to evolution have been thrashed and debunked on every occasion! The fact that the ignorant and deluded persistently deny this has no bearing on the validity of the arguments.
    When a creationist loses and argument, they just “pray to de Lawd” and press the reset belief button, starting the next argument from the same point as before, as if nothing had happened.

    I understand the other point of view – that we simply erase creationism from education – but I don’t think it’s as effective.

    Why not? It works for the most part in other countries. (Teaching creationism in science lessons is illegal in UK state schools. – it violates the constitution in the US.)

    If the government were to forbid the mention of evolution in public school, would that convince you that evolution is wrong?

    No – because of all the evidence, so that is a false equivalence!
    Ignorant personal opinions are not equivalent to an evidence backed expert scientific consensus. (If the government forbid the mention of planetary globes, in public school, would that convince you that Flat-Earthism is right!)



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  • I don’t want this to sound snarky, but wasn’t it free and fair debate in Europe that led to evolution supplanting creationism?

    If equal time for debate worked in Europe, why must it be ridiculed here?

    And wasn’t it the government mandate outlawing the teaching of creationism in American schools that solidified Christian opposition to evolution?

    Why would doing more of the same lead to a different result?

    I see your point. I really do. But the world we live in isn’t a perfect one, and sometimes pragmatic solutions are more effective than perfect solutions. It would be nice if we didn’t need to “pander to ridiculous notions of equal time for debate” but historically speaking, that’s the approach that worked in Europe. And calling the other side of the debate “ridiculous notions” might make us feel superior, but it’s not nearly as effective at changing minds as free and fair debate, again speaking historically. Would you reconsider your stance on evolution just because some creationists called it “ridiculous notions”?

    Me neither.

    We probably have to agree to disagree on this one, but I appreciate the time you took to respond to me. Thank you for keeping your mind open.



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  • Layne

    Can you negotiate with ISIS. Can you negotiate with Boko Harum or Al Shebab. Can have a reasoned debate with the Afghan Taliban, or the Saudi Wahibists. What about trying to talk the Zionist Jews out of the belief that god gave them exclusive use of a bit of planet earth, to the exclusion of all others. What about explaining to the Pope that homosexuality is not choice. Can you reason with global warming deniers? And lots of other closed mind examples.

    Can you reason with the American Taliban. They are populous, and powerful, and are beyond reason. The way they reason their position, is no different to the Afghani Taliban. We know the one true god. God is on our side. God will dispose of our enemies. We’re are the only ones ascending to paradise and on and on for 10 more paragraphs. Can you reason with people who believe this above all else.

    Layne. The people you want to have a fair and reasoned debate with are your very own American Taliban. They may not shoot people or blow things up….. yet….. but if they are pushed, they would feel justified by their god. Look at Texas being invaded by the US Army. These are not rational people.

    Every time you invite them onto the main stage, you give them credibility. Every time your news services what to hear “Both Sides of the Debate” they inflate the religious position and devalue the scientific position. Just as you would do. You can’t keep on doing that. That is why you need to get religion out of your schools. That is why your appalling media need to hold the blowtorch of evidence to the soles (souls chortle) of the American Taliban and expose them as the dangerous fools they are. Don’t give an inch.



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  • I’m not suggesting debate with creationists as a way to “convert” them. I’m suggesting we televise the debate and let high school students see for themselves how the two arguments compare side by side. I apologize if I was unclear about that.

    And you don’t have to remind me that Texans are not rational people. I’ve spent the last eight years here =)



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  • Love your work Layne. You have a Mission Impossible task of trying to save America from the Americans. I don’t envy your position.

    I suspect that the Nye / Ham debate is not a good one to use. Nye doesn’t have the debating skills to demolish Ham. The Creationists were celebrating Ham’s performance calling it a victory. Sadly Hitchen’s is gone, but we need another Hitch to debate Ham.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5Xx9IxlrEg



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  • I tried to edit my comment and add this but time ran out =)

    During the debate, about two hours and four minutes into the video, the moderator asked both Ken Ham and Bill Nye the same question – “What, if anything, would ever change your mind?”

    Ken Ham replied that he is a Christian, and can’t imagine anything changing his mind.

    Bill Nye answered that a single piece of evidence is all it would take to change his mind. Just one.

    You wrote that inviting creationists to the debate gives them credibility, but I’d answer that it only gives them access to credibility. Ken Ham lost all his credibility when he gave such a closed-minded answer to the question. It looked even worse coming in comparison to Bill Nye’s answer. Not even a high school science student could miss the significance.

    In my opinion that interchange between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is one of the best tools we have to promote rational thinking and rid our country of the theological barriers we’ve placed between ourselves and progress. I wish every high school student in America could watch that debate. Not because Ken Ham admitted defeat, but because he admitted he could NEVER admit defeat.

    This is the debate that the California teacher tried to show his students. I wish he had. You may disagree – that’s fine. Maybe high school students ARE too young, I don’t know. But I think showing this debate in high school science class would do more to help students than to hurt them.

    By far.

    [I posted an image with the full quotations of each debater to that question, but it’s not appearing. You can see it yourself at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2014/02/what-would-change-your-mind-exact-quotes-from-hamonnye.html%5D



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  • Layne
    May 8, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    During the debate, about two hours and four minutes into the video, the moderator asked both Ken Ham and Bill Nye the same question – “What, if anything, would ever change your mind?”

    Ken Ham replied that

    he is a Christian, and can’t imagine anything changing his mind.

    Bill Nye answered that a single piece of evidence is all it would take to change his mind. Just one.

    We looked at, and debated the merits of the Nye v Ham TV in an earlier discussion.

    You wrote that inviting creationists to the debate gives them credibility, but I’d answer that it only gives them access to credibility.

    It gives them a platform to present made up lies and dishonest claims while posing as real scientists who have arguments equivalent to those of scientists with integrity, presenting properly evidence based science.

    Ken Ham lost all his credibility when he gave such a closed-minded answer to the question. It looked even worse coming in comparison to Bill Nye’s answer.

    Nope! He only lost credibility with those who understand science and reasoning.

    Not even a high school science student could miss the significance.

    Unfortunately thousands of them did miss that, because creationists are taught from a young age that “introspective revelation”, trumps evidence based reasoning. A huge YEC following applauded Ham’s “success” in “demolishing” NYE’s scientific arguments.

    In my opinion that interchange between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is one of the best tools we have to promote rational thinking

    Nope! It is only convincing to those who already use rational thinking.
    The indoctrinated fumble-brains will simply applaud Ham, because they are kept ignorant of real science, and fed anti-science rubbish from sites like Ham’s.

    and rid our country of the theological barriers we’ve placed between ourselves and progress.

    It is the indoctrinated theological barriers which are instilled into children to inhibit them from developing mature reasoning skills, which are the problem – not the solution.

    While the Catholic Church has moved on to compromise a bit, the YECs are still back in the bronze-age or the 1800s with Pope pius IX and Vatican I – 9 and 10.

    I wish every high school student in America could watch that debate.

    So do I, but only AFTER they have been taught real scientific methodology and real science. Listening to “fake experts”, lying about scientific evidence, only causes confusion and inhibits learning.

    Not because Ken Ham admitted defeat, but because he admitted he could NEVER admit defeat.

    Ham will never admit defeat, because of the strength of his faith-delusion, and reinforcement from the applause of, and finance from, followers.

    As I said earlier, children have no capability of telling real science from Ham’s pseudo-science lies and fake “experts”.

    When he denies the science of radiometric dating – they don’t understand the nuclear physics he is lying about, or that his “experts” are fakes and liars! (If physicists could not calculate radiometric decay nuclear power-stations would not work).

    When he has one of his dishonest geologists deny the work or the world’s competent geologists, astronomers, and palaeontologists, (who have mapped out the history of our planet over millions of years), to pretend there was a global flood a few thousand years ago, children have no way of knowing who is lying about complex scientific measuring techniques, until AFTER they have been taught these techniques!

    When one of his incompetent and dishonest team make up rubbish about complex biological structures and genetics, children are in no position to judge the issues, until AFTER they have studied the subjects and learned to tell real scientists from deluded posers pretending to be experts.

    I have looked at quite a lot of supposedly “expert YEC scientific research”,
    I can usually demolish it as dishonest, or grossly incompetent, in under five minutes!

    Unfortunately YEC parents and teachers, try to direct children only to YEC science denial, pseudo-science sites, and YEC children’s books, where they are indoctrinated in concocted lies disputing the honestly acquired scientific knowledge of the 21st century, and promoting bronze-age ignorance.

    Google “creation science” and look for yourself, if you are in doubt.



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  • Layne
    May 8, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    You wrote that inviting creationists to the debate gives them credibility, but I’d answer that it only gives them access to credibility. Ken Ham lost all his credibility when he gave such a closed-minded answer to the question. It looked even worse coming in comparison to Bill Nye’s answer. Not even a high school science student could miss the significance.

    In my opinion that interchange between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is one of the best tools we have to promote rational thinking and rid our country of the theological barriers we’ve placed between ourselves and progress.

    You are unfortunately sadly mistaken!

    It is actually one of the best tools for funding Ham’s pseudo-science Ark-Deception-Park!

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116830/ken-ham-bill-nye-debate-helps-fund-creationist-noahs-ark-theme-park
    What outweighs everything, though, is the possibility that Nye will lose by simply showing up, and thereby raising big bucks for the Creation Museum or the troubled Ark Park. And no matter what he says, or how good he is, if he is raising money that helps promulgate lies to the children he loves, Nye is making a very serious mistake.

    Creation Museum founder Ken Ham announced Thursday that a municipal bond offering has raised enough money to begin construction on the Ark Encounter project, estimated to cost about $73m. Groundbreaking is planned for May and the ark is expected to be finished by the summer of 2016.

    Ham said a high-profile evolution debate he had with “Science Guy” Bill Nye on 4 February helped boost support for the project.



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  • Layne
    May 8, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I don’t want this to sound snarky, but wasn’t it free and fair debate in Europe that led to evolution supplanting creationism?

    The free and fair debate in Europe was between scientists, not between con-men and children!

    If equal time for debate worked in Europe, why must it be ridiculed here?

    Because science is not decided by the opinions of con-men, or the uneducated, or by popular votes. It is decided by specialist studies being reviewed and re-tested by experts, with the details and calculations made publicly accessible and honestly presented by reputable bodies.



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  • Layne
    May 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Alan4discussion, it seems to me that if you replace the word “science” with the word “Islam”in your response to me,

    Science teaching is about learning to follow evidence, to reason out conclusions – It is nothing like the faith-beliefs of Islam!

    it could pass for something written by the Ayatollahs in Iran.

    Perhaps you need to improve you perceptions of scientific methodology.

    Your argument seems to be “But we’re RIGHT, so we’re justified telling everyone else what they have to believe.”

    The scientific evidence for evolution is right. It has been reconfirmed hundreds of thousands of time in the last 150 years. Science teaching is about students learning to understand scientific evidence and the scientific conclusions derived from evidence. Learning to understanding reasoning, involves recognising and rejecting, fallacious and flawed arguments.

    If I’m missing your point please tell me.

    In falsely equating evidence based scientific methodology with faith-claims, you entirely miss the point that children should learn from carefully explained honest expert opinion, not the confusing babblings of lying charlatans or deluded pseudo-scientists!



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  • 42
    aroundtown says:

    According to the Friendly Atheist, science teacher Brandon Pettenger of Arroyo Grande High School has been showing the video to his students, and then having them summarize the debate by posting on creationist websites.

    So, if creationist had their way and teaching the controversy were utilized in the classroom what might we expect to see as pertains to information like that provided in the link, students studying materials/artifacts and corroborating like-kind evidence from antiquity, then have them turn around to consider the possibility that Satan planted the artifacts to confuse mankind? Complete nonsense.

    Mr. Ken Ham, and others, retain the ability to overlook massive collections of scientific discovery provided by geology, anthropology, paleontology, etc. etc. and that is what religion can do for you, wax your mind numb in face of the strongest of proofs to the contrary. Twisted logic always provides the same dividend, more twisted logic.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32804177



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