May 19, 2024

Ken Ham refused to debate me

So Ken Ham has answered my challenge. He says he’ll have a debate, but not with me. Oh no, he won’t face me.

Why not, you ask?

I’ll explain that in a moment. First let’s look at his counter-proposal.

He actually wants to replace both of us. He wants to pit a professional scientist with respectable accolades against one of his own anti-science apologists wearing similar credentials. Why? To present the illusion that there is a legitimate scientific debate wherein creation is might be a seen as a reasonable option to evolution. It’s not, and there’s no debate in science about that.

I have often said that creationists use ‘lies of equivocation’ for the same deceptive purpose. For example, they argue:

that evolution is a religion.

that science relies on faith just like religion does.

that science is biased just like religion is.

that there is no evidence for evolution/big bang/abiogenesis, etc.

that there is evidence for creation/the flood/god/etc.

that religion is reasonable just like science is.

that religion can be confirmed empirically and experimentally, just like science,

and that creationism is somehow scientific.

These are all falsehoods commonly found on posts from creationists. They need to use language like this in order to entice supporters into thinking that there is a choice of options. There isn’t.

In reality, there is no comparison between these two perspectives. You can’t “teach both sides” because there is only one that we actually know anything about, and that one we can still show to be true, regardless whether any god exists or not

Evolution is the only theory of biodiversity there is or ever was. It is literally a fact of life, which can be objectively verified. It’s traceable, observable, and testable with measurable accuracy.

Creationism doesn’t meet even one of the criteria required of a scientific theory. It is simply a form of dogmatic religious extremism, requiring blind obstinate faith in lieu of ANY of the evidence that only genuine [evolutionary] science has.

Another common fib from the creationist camp is that both sides are looking at the same evidence, but that too is impossible, and I’m not just talking about the volumes of evidence creationists refuse to acknowledge. By definition the same facts cannot simultaneously indicate two different mutually-exclusive conclusions. Facts can be considered evidence only if they are concordant with one option over any other.

Creationists are not looking at the same facts, and they’re not following any of the facts where they lead either.

If you want to see the facts that unanimously and exclusively confirm evolution, I can show those all day. I list hundreds of examples in a few of my videos that are definite and defensible. Transitional fossils, beneficial trackable mutations, emerging species, we’ve got all that and much much more. But creationists cannot even begin to provide anything like that in defense of their own position. Because if ‘truth’ is whatever we can show to be true, then there is no truth in their religion.

Put another way, all of the claims creationism makes fall into two categories only:

(1) those that are not evidently true, meaning there is no reason to believe them, and

(2) those that are evidently NOT true, meaning they’ve already been proven wrong.

There is no third category, because there has never been a single verifiably accurate argument or element of evidence positively indicative of supernatural creation over biological evolution or any other avenue of natural science.  All they have are unwarranted assumptions and unsupported assertions of untestable impossibilities based on logical fallacies.

This being the case, one might think that a live debate between scientists would reveal the truth. But that’s not how science works, and Ham knows it. But that’s the only way he can pretend to be scientific.

Live debates aren’t about scientific accuracy, no matter how they’re promoted. They’re evocative performances given by speakers who only need to present well. Real science isn’t done in a live format, because science requires that all claims be systematically scrutinized and substantiated. Bull$#!+ won’t fly in that environment. Creationism can neither produce the goods nor withstand real critical analysis for even a moment.

Because creationism is not like the truth and does not like the truth. In fact, despite all their claims of truth with a capitol T, for them truth is irrelevant. Their position is literally one of make-believe, a self-imposed auto-deceptive delusion. The power of pretend is all packaging and presentation, smoke and mirrors.

Most professional scientists are basically honest, dispassionate analysts, and may expect creationists to be innocently ignorant. But every creationist organization there is –including Ken Ham’s group, answersingenesis- has prominently published a ‘statement of faith’ wherein they promise both to assert as fact that which is not evidently true, and also to thoughtlessly reject any and all evidence that might ever be brought against them. It’s essentially an oath never to admit when they’re wrong. Consequently It is the most dishonest position it is possible to have.

Professional creationists like Kent Hovind have demonstrated in live debates that they can utter as many misrepresented distortions in one sentence as there are words in that sentence. Most credible scientists would be completely blind-sided by such outrageously unethical behavior. Any legitimate scientist will have a specialty, but the creation scientist is a jack-of-all trades, trained to lob a jumble of falsehoods from vastly different fields all in rapid fashion, such that no actual academic could have all the necessary knowledge to adequately address or refute enough of those points in the limited time allowed.

Only a few actual scientists are familiar and fluent in creationist tactics enough to really put them to task. Ken Miller could do it, but if we brought him in, Ham would immediately turn it into a theological battle, attacking Miller’s religion instead. He’s done it before. In fact Ham was uninvited from at least a couple past homeschool conferences because he was so rude to another Christian speaker who understood evolution.

So now Ham accuses me of being rude to him?! Such irony! Creationists do like to project their own faults onto others. Remember that he started this when he called my wife names on his blog. He called her an ignorant, intolerant, inept extremist fighting AGAINST freedom of religion, mostly without quotations of course.

We’ll be discussing these false accusations and deliberate distortions on the n0nes this Tuesday at 8:00pm central. Because no one is a better advocate of freedom of religion than atheist activists, and no one is a greater enemy of that than the Religious Right.

It may be rude of me to call Ham a liar, but only because sometimes the truth hurts.

So now we come to the real reason why Ham won’t debate me, and why he won’t let any of his PhD stand-ins debate me either: He knows they can’t win.

I know that just sounds like a boast, but I’m serious. If it were him and I on the stage together, we would be two extremists, I admit. But one of us would be clearly correct and the other obviously not. He’s got a multimillion-dollar scam going. I know his game, and he knows I’ll show it to everyone else.

My whole purpose in this is to hold Ham accountable, to prove in a public demonstration that Young Earth Creationism is not science, and is not like science; that it will teach children to understand nothing about the natural world. Thus it would be nothing less than an injustice to allow him to peddle that to other people’s children as if it were actually factually accurate or has any scientific or educational merit whatsoever.

Ham knows that I’m familiar enough with the under-handed tactics of creationists that I can expose his fraudulent position better than most professors could. So if he debates me, it will cost him. He’ll lose even more of the already dwindling support base he still has.

Refusing that, if he wants to his ‘scientists’ to debate like real scientists, then they’re going to have to do that in the peer-reviewed journals –where his snake oil will not sell. Until the magic-believers can play in that field, then no professional scientist should ever debate a creationist on-stage. They’d only be playing into a con game otherwise.

56 thoughts on “Ken Ham refused to debate me

  1. Shocked.

    A teen-ager with any knowledge of modern science is far ahead of any bronze-age tub-thumper. What qualifications does Ham have to participate in anything more advanced than a fleece-the-flock fest?

  2. Aren’t they still going about how atheism lost by default because Dawkins doesn’t want to debate WLCraig?

    What a shock that Ham won’t debate you.

  3. I can’t remember where I first heard it (google/wikipedia is attributing it to Theodosius Dobzhansky) but, I always thought this quote was pretty awesome: “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.”

    and about the debate thing – I think at some point in highschool or so, I realized that debates are less about what is true/false, and more about ability to argue. While they can be entertaining (especially if the ‘winning’ side holds our views), I don’t really see why they matter so much to so many people.

    1. Because listening to empty rhetoric is entertaining, and actually learning things is hard.

  4. Why on earth would you want to debate Ham in the first place? You might as well try and converse with a drooling imbecile. There is absolutely nothing to be gained in so doing – you won’t change his deluded mind about jack-shite: he’d likely still sophistically twist your responses into non-responses, à la WL Craig, as he likely will your perceived crowing here.

    1. Its not about Ham. It is about the people who are watching. Some audience members may be genuinely ignorant of evolution, having been fed Ham, Hovind, Comfort and Gish lies all their life. Debates and discussions that Aronra partakes can be a wake up call to some.

      Or, perhaps, Aron just likes watching these bullshit peddlers squirm :).

      1. ‘It is about the people who are watching.’

        Well, yes… except, aren’t those genuinely ignorant of evolution more likely to be Ham-mer-heads? Otherwise, if they’re not, such an ‘equal weight’ scenario does not strike me as a worthwhile baptism. There is no ‘debate’ re evolution. It is thus counter-productive to school the ignorant that there is.

        1. I don’t believe so. Most people don’t understand evolution. Of those people, a whole lot are either innocently deceived creationists or hold no position. A debate featuring AronRa would be targeted at those people.

          1. Exactly. No-one will ever get Ham to admit that he’s wrong or admit any error at all; that’s just what you have to admit to yourself going in.

            There was a beautiful example of this on a recent dogmadebate podcast (#68 if your interested) where Aron had a “Christian Rapper” cornered; he had caught him in an unequivocal lie but the Rapper would never admit that he’d lied. Ham is the same thing only more so. In both cases, whether they believe their bullshit or not is irrelevant – they both have a really lucrative gig spouting the nonsense so to admit that they are wrong would derail the gravy-train and they are not going to do that. I think it was Sinclare Lewis who said:

            “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

            In all of these debates the target is the listener who may be either completely ignorant and simply going along with what they have been told because they do not know any better or are truly on the fence but just need a little help (knowledge) to get over.

  5. All it takes is a basic knowledge about what science is and how it works. Before even beginning to mention specific evidence, creationism is dead in the water.

  6. Let’s recall that Miller made the late Henry Morris look like a dithering idiot in a debate at Brown, Un. and that Bill Dumbski chickened out of a debate with him at Case Western Reserve Un. shortly after the Dover decision came down.

  7. Huh. So I was wrong. Ham did back down. I was not expecting that. Not after all that palaver about how scared “evolutionists” are to debate his people!

    1. Well, it depends upon how you look at it. He threw up a bit of a smokescreen to make it look like he wasn’t running away. He may even be able to con himself into believing that he didn’t back down.

      It’s the same sort of thing that psychics used to do. They would constantly con scientists, who aren’t used to dealing with aggressively dishonest people, but once they’d get a magician on the job to test the psychics, the whole scam would fall apart. The brighter psychics eventually learned to stay the hell away from magicians.

      Aron fills the same role. He’s a bit of a specialist who’s well acquainted with the cons of the creationists, and he can properly address them, while most scientists will fall into their rhetorical traps. The last thing we need is another dishonest presuppositional apologist using deceit to abuse the intellectual honesty of an unsuspecting scientist.

    2. He ran away all right, he’s even crowing about it on his facebook page. I called him out on it and even added some of my own snark to it.

      Do me a favor and add a screen cap of it to your page cause I’m sure it will disappear.

      1. I got the screenshot, but I couldn’t spend longer than 30 seconds on that page. Someone compared the UN’s promotion of equality concerning homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism to emotional appeals to justify murder and I got the urge to break beautiful things.

          1. @theignored:

            Well, if you’re Canadian, I’d say the ‘But I’m not bitter…’ would be a reference to the Royal Canadian Air Farce using that as John Nunziata’s tagline after he got turfed out of the party for calling the Prime Minister on the broken GST promise.

      2. And another gem from a follower commenting on that facebook post:

        “Truth is found only in the Bible and that there is NO truth in science”

        And yet he undoubtedly posted this using a computer. My head is splitting from such asshattery.

  8. Ken Ham is a psychotic lost n a world of irrationality….I wonder what his underlying issue is?!? I find it hard to believe that it’s simply dollars and cents.

  9. I didn’t know who Ken Hamm was, so I checked out his facebook page. I find it frightening to think that the misguided folks posting to his site are living among us. I mean, I know they’re out there, but reading the posts somehow made them more real. Why do we have so many of them? Is it the educational system letting us down, or is it lead paint? All of this belief that they’re right, without a single fact to back them up!

    1. It’s mostly just generations of the fundies corrupting our educational system. Out in the rural areas, we have biology teachers teaching actual creationism, in complete violation of the US Constitution. It’s only the past decade or so, with social media and heavy saturation of cell phones, that we have the wide-reaching information net to expose it all. Even then, they usually try to illegally find out who’s bringing the lawsuit and coerce them into silence.

      This is part of why home schooling has become so popular, too. No real governmental oversight.

  10. The debate is for the listeners….

    Nonsense the listeners, IF they wish to, can take all sorts of courses in most community centers and colleges and learn basic science. I was debating with a local guy here in NC (informal-just me and him). And he is super ignorant of basic science but by being a born again xtain & conspiracy nut has no wish to KNOW anything because he listens to the crazies on the infernal-net and on TV so he knows it all. One the crazies says I am a scientist and I date rocks by carbon dating, another crazy says that does not work and is totally inaccurate. He accepts this as TRUTH because it is in line with his personal delusion, and when I tell him the ‘scientist’ was a fake and the crazy is both right and wrong, because carbon dating is not used for rocks, why not study real science, I’M WRONG HEADED because I can still show his delusion is wrong with proper dating and HE CAN’T HAVE THAT!!

    I told him that until he throws away his iPhone and floats 5ft in the air, he is a hypocrite because it is the same science.

  11. I didn’t grow up with the privilege of being raised by scientifically literate parents, nor was I educated by school or community. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, that mocked evolution with every PRATT that still gets repeatedly brayed today. I happened to learn about evolution on a Christian internet forum, by pre-youtube Aron Ra, and other atheist and theistic evolutionists. So every time, I hear a lack of concern for the “listeners”, I have to contain my annoyance. If you’ve always known, or figured it out yourself; brownie points for you. Just don’t write off all the listeners that others are trying to reach.

    1. After all, most of us used to be fooled the same way a lot of them are.

      You have the ignorant and the liars in all this. The listeners, the followers, those are the ignorant. Maybe some are willfully ignorant, but who they go to in order to shore up their beliefs are the liars, like Ken Ham. Apologists like him have some exposure to the evidence and realize it’s not on their side, so they just make up some stuff to keep the people coming to them from realizing that too. They’re a lot more to blame than their followers.

        1. Yeah, but presuppositionalism is such a steaming pile of crap that even most religious people think it’s stupid.

        2. It’s just “make shit up” season from Sarfati. Nature evidently exists. God evidently does not.

          Also note how they’ll whine just as hard when you do exactly what they do, but use a different religion.

        3. I’ll go you one better.

          I’ve heard about a worse version of that from Sye ten Bruggencate as a guest on TheThinkingAtheist. The idea was that if you ever became an atheist, then you never truly believed and were never really a Christian in the first place, so evidence holds no weight in the argument whatsoever since the only people who would be swayed by evidence are those who aren’t actually Christians.

          I liked one caller’s question about how he was an atheist now, and he used to be a Christian, but the way this guy puts it, he never truly got it or was saved because he became an atheist. So he asked the guy, (paraphrasing here)”If I died before I became an atheist, would I have gone to hell?” and the guy said yes, because he was never a Christian since he became an atheist. Course, he was one of those people who thinks everyone just knows that God exists and non-Christians are just in denial.

          I’d like to call it painful ignorance, but he’s one of the liars.

          1. I thought I had seen the worst creationism had to offer between Hovind’s ravings and “look at the trees” and “were you there?”

            Then I watched a Sye Ten Bruggencate production and I realized I in fact had a very poor grasp of the term “willfully ignorant.” That tool takes it to a whole new level.

    2. Exactly, there are plenty of people who simply haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to think scientifically. They deserve that opportunity.

  12. If it weren’t for the mild inconvenience of an intervening ocean and the best part of a continent, I’d offer to stand in. Of course, my tactic would be to have a bunch of well chosen clips from AronRa videos on my computer, so all I’d need to say for the entire time would be “I think AronRa put it better than I could in this video”.

    Damn, now I’m feeling the need to go and cross reference your videos with the Talk Origins index to creationist claims

  13. I was thinking, in one of your videos you had a phylogenetic tree folder file system. I’m pretty sure it was just pretty pictures, but a fully implimented system alone would certainly be enough fodder for a proper PhD thesis. PhD or not, you have done the work.

    1. So, what’s this “fair setting” in which Corey Taylor claims we won’t debate? Creationists usually try to hold debates in forums like churches full of fundie nuts. I’m not sure they understand what the term means.

  14. I’d call this a proud day for the Skeptic community. Hambone running away with his tail tucked between his legs.

    All hail Aron Ra!

    Excellent post btw detailing the account.

  15. Hey, Mr Hair On. I invite you to view my website (Creationtheory dot com) and get back to me if you would like a debate. Ken Ham certainly does not. The one person on this earth he will not debate — in fact, will not acknowledge the existence of. For obvious reasons. I actually quote the BIBLE. And if you wish to have a debate, you will need to be ready to quote SCIENCE. Science is the antithesis of the notion that Nature has creative or information generative powers. You can read so I won’t repeat my publications here. I think we all have something to learn and I wouldn’t mind a few tips on dandruff control. Get this itch.

    1. Give us a link. You don’t have to write it like that to get around some sort of spam filter. You have to post multiple links to have a post get caught by the spam filter, and if it does, the moderators will push it through as soon as they get to it. Atheists aren’t cowards who remove any post that challenges them, like Ken Ham is. You just occasionally run into issues with the site’s spam filter, if you get link-happy.

      I’m not so sure that a debate with you would be particularly useful, though. If you’re going to stand there and quote Bible verses at us, then your debating style is worthless, until you justify the authority of the Bible … which you can’t do.

      Your statement about science is pretty clueless, too. I don’t think you likely understand evolutionary theory very well.

  16. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

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