On the Now Infamous Buzzfeed, “22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution”

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It has been amazing to see the speed at which the Buzzfeed article, “22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution,” has blown up on social media. Not only that, but the passionate response from people on both sides of the theological and scientific argument has been huge.

Click the link to see the article:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-from-creationists-to-people-who-believe-in-evolutio

Buzzfeed journalist, Matt Stopera, was live at the Nye vs. Ham debate last Tuesday. As I was making my way around the Creation Museum, taking pictures and writing notes before the debate, I saw Mr. Stopera actively working the crowd to get a balanced take and opinions from “both sides.” I did an on-camera interview for Jonathan Ryan from the, “Geek Goes Rogue,” blog on Patheos, but did not get to speak with Matt Stopera from Buzzfeed. I was impressed by his demeanor with the museum patrons and his efforts to get balanced coverage. Though the secular and non-young earth creationist contingent was in the minority at the event, it appeared easier for Matt to get “messages” from their side. As the appointed debate time drew nigh, he was still working hard to get enough message pictures from the creationist side to make the pictures even. 

Due to some things I’ve seen on social media stating that Buzzfeed was just trying to make people look stupid on the creationist side or that Matt Stopera was “leading” people in some way, I can say as a very close bystander, that is not correct. Matt would give the people who wanted to participate a marker and paper, then allow them ample time to reflect on something to write. He didn’t prompt them to write any particular thing. He told them to write anything they wanted. Also, he must have posted nearly, if not all the pictures he took, not just ones that made one side look better and the other worse. It appeared that he was able to actively interface with people from about 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. That isn’t a lot of time to get 44 people to participate in such a two-sided coverage piece, but he was able to make it happen. I was impressed.

Click the link to see the contrasting, “22 Messages For Creationists From People Who Believe In Evolution”:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-for-creationists-from-people-who-believe-in-evoluti

I have also seen no shortage of satirical photoshops of the pictures and serious responses posted by others this week, primarily to the creationist’s messages. See two of my favorites below.

“Answers for Creationists,” article by By Phil Plait:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/02/06/religion_and_science_answering_creationists_questions.html

“The Amazing Atheist Answers 22 Creationists”

Here are a few things I would like to mention based on the varied responses I’ve seen to the first “22 Messages” article online:

1. To my secular, scientific, and atheist counterparts: These are real people and most are probably nice, hard working folks. Just because you disagree with them, that is no cause to go “ad hominem” on them via social media. I’d almost guarantee you NOT ONE of the people in the pictures had any idea how HUGE the response to their messages would be. To the people who have kept their comments on-point, kudos. But, I’ve read quite a few comments on facebook and elsewhere criticizing the looks or build of some of the people in the pictures. I have also read some comments that are just very derogatory with nothing constructive or instructive said to refute the “message.” That is out of line in my opinion. If you despise the young-earth creationist ideology, attack the ideology. None of the people in these pictures have done anything to you or I personally I presume. Don’t attack them personally in a way not directly related to the issue, from a presumably safe vantage point on the Internet. It is a cheap shot and does nothing to further your own argument.

2. To Young Earth Creationists: Don’t assume all the people in the pictures are “angels” just because they believe like you theologically. One individual in the pictures sat next to me during the debate. He or she made an interesting remark about some people who should, “Go back to Africa.” The small group he or she was a part of had quite a few interesting things to say as the debate countdown was rolling. That being said, I don’t put that on creationists in general. Far from it. But, on both sides, this issue needs to be about the issue. Regardless of whether you or I think a person we disagree with is “a jerk” or “arrogant,” that means nothing relative to if they are correct. This is an issue about modern, evidence-based science and the supposed scientific authority of the ancient Bible text. To paraphrase Bill Nye, “Show me the evidence and you’ll change my mind.” If you are shown contradictory evidence, but yet your mind remains resolute in your beliefs, please don’t fool yourself into a self-evaluated position of intellectual honesty.

3. I was staggered by the simplicity and lack of insight in most of the “messages” and questions. I wonder if many of the people have bothered to give google a work out on these subjects to find relevant scientific data from valid sources. Also, many messages show a distinct confirmation bias from people who probably have never searched out the argument of the opposition. Most of the questions raised can be answered very quickly and comprehensively with just a bit of research. I am surprised that some or all of the people in the pictures saw their messages and questions as a knock-out punch to modern science and/or secularism.

4. My last bit of encouragement is as follows: Seek out honest dialogue over debate. Debate can be a wonderful thing and I was very encouraged by the turnout and response to the one this week. But, it only goes so far. Reach out to people if you want to change their minds in a constructive way. If you wonder what people of the opposing view think, ask them directly when you have opportunity. Engage in effective, personal communication whenever possible. Aggressive posturing rarely ever leads to minds being changed or relationships being built. We have the privilege to live in a Nation with true freedom of speech. Use it fully; just mix in a pinch of kindness and empathy as well.

If you have not yet seen the epic debate, click the link below:

-Copyright 2014, Luke Austin Daugherty

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The Debate is About to Begin! Nye vs. Ham

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I had a fun time perusing the “Creation Museum” this afternoon. Now, I’m waiting for the real fun to begin! The, “Debate of the Decade,” will be kicking off in just a few hours. 

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham is like the Super Bowl for science nerds, theologians, young earth creationists, and non-theists. I’ll be blogging asap after the event is over. Follow my blog for all the updates! 

And, It’s not too late to watch the live stream online! Click the link below: 

http://debatelive.org/

Rolling to Kentucky in my ’94… To the Nye/Ham debate!

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I’ve got my “duds” packed and the tires are aired up on my ’94 Buick Roadmaster. I’m ready to go! Tomorrow, come rain or snow, I’ll be heading to the “Creation Museum” to see Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate over the origins of life and perhaps the universe. I’m very excited, as I’ve never attended such a high profile debate in person.

I’ll do my best to get some blogs about the event up asap. Please follow my blog for updates delivered to your via email or through WordPress.

Here is the link where you can watch the debate live, including a countdown timer:

http://debatelive.org/

You can also read my two previous blogs about the upcoming debate. See the links below:

https://lukeaustindaugherty.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/4-reasons-in-defense-of-bill-nye-debating-ken-ham/

https://lukeaustindaugherty.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/i-got-a-golden-ticket-im-going-to-the-nye-vs-ham-debate/

4 Reasons in Defense of Bill Nye Debating Ken Ham

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When I heard several weeks ago that Bill Nye would be debating Ken Ham at the “Creation Museum,” I was beyond excited. Not only that, but I ACTUALLY got one of the less than 1,000 tickets to the event! (see my previous blog, “I Got a Golden Ticket! I’m Going to the Nye vs. Ham Debate!”)

Since then, I’ve noticed quite an outcry against Nye participating in the debate with a “young earth creationist.” There is the assertion that Nye’s presence will give the Creation Museum and it’s founder, Ken Ham, a new level of credibility. Also, that the task is a waste of time because those who don’t regard modern science over their religious dogmas regarding the age of the earth, evolution, etc. will not change their minds anyway. Some suggest that Nye, like Richard Dawkins, should eschew debates with creationists outright.

Let me give you several reasons why I support Nye participating in the debate:

1. Nye is a true ambassador for science- From 20 years ago with the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” show until recent years appearing on many news shows, Nye desires to educate the masses about the Scientific Method and demonstrable facts about the world and cosmos. We live in a Nation where nearly everyone uses advanced technologies, yet the vast minority of people is scientifically illiterate. We NEED people like Bill Nye, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and others who are giants in the scientific community, yet passionate and able to deliver a zest for science to the masses.

2. Bill Nye ISN’T a “debater”- Some have decried Nye’s potential potency as a debater against Ham, who is a seasoned debater for his YEC cause. Ham knows his “argument” well and is very experienced at presenting it. You can see Ham’s unforgiving debate style even against a fellow believer that holds an “old earth” position in his square off with Hugh Ross in this video.

Bill Nye is a natural educator, not a debater. He follows the patient, explanatory pattern of his own professor in college, Carl Sagan. Sagan’s desire to kindly and methodically impart scientific facts is illuminated in this video of his dialogue with a creationist challenging evolutionary science decades ago:

You can note Nye’s similar style in this video where he was supporting the issue of climate change:

In this ongoing, “beating a dead horse,” creationist vs. evolutionary science battle; we need more dialogue and less debate. Bill Nye can be a HUGE part of that needed dialogue.

3. People DO actually change their minds- I know, because I am one of them. I used to be a fundamentalist, Young Earth Creationist Christian. I took the book of Genesis as a literal history of the creation of the earth and humanity. Eventually, I had to face science, logic, and reason. When that happened, I changed my mind. Even if it’s the minority of adults who WILL ever change their minds for the better, it’s still encouraging. It is the next generation that will be the real catalyst for moving from fables to fact. Events like this one that Nye is participating in will add needed momentum to this paradigm shift in our scientifically ignorant Nation.

4. “Credibility” isn’t so easily earned- There is a large number of American Christians that give Ken Ham’s teachings and the Creation Museum credibility now. There is a larger number of Christians, believers in other faiths, and non-theists who do not. Successfully inviting an established scientist to a publicized debate isn’t going to cause many of the second group to dispense a new-found credibility to Ham or the Creation Museum. I am going to the debate. I spent my $30 for the ticket. But, I do not have 1% more respect for the veracity of Ham’s position or the Creation Museum than I already did. That said, I am glad the Creation Museum is having the event. I also doubt the “Museum” will lose much credibility with those that support it when they hear Nye’s presentation. Though I believe the greater potential for gains is on the side of science. Facts don’t always win, but facts do possess more traction than fables in the long run. We can’t be afraid of the bullying of fables or those who preach them as truth. I applaud Bill Nye for being willing to confront a premier preacher of these fables on Ham’s own turf.

I am in great anticipation of this event on the 4th of February. Please follow my blog for more updates and information before, during, and after the debate! For more information and opinions on this debate, see the links below:

AronRa’s take on the debate:

Bill Nye talks about debate:

Bill Nye’s original viral video against creationism:

Ken Ham’s initial response to Bill Nye’s viral video against creationism:

The Friendly Atheist’s blog on the debate:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/01/09/why-the-bill-nyeken-ham-debate-may-not-be-such-a-bad-thing/

 

I Got a Golden Ticket! I’m Going to the Nye vs. Ham Debate!

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A week ago, I got super excited. It was announced that there was an upcoming debate scheduled between Bill Nye, the “Science Guy,” and Ken Ham on February 4th. Not only that, but it will be just a few hours away from me at the Creation Museum (so called) in Kentucky. Needless to say, I was planning to go.

I’ve seen a few similar debates live, but never between such “giants” of their field in person. Bill Nye, the ever sought out scientist who studied under Carl Sagan in college, will be arguing on the side of biological evolution. Ken Ham, the founder of the “Answers in Genesis” ministry and a young earth Creationist, will be arguing on the side of a literal “7 day” creation model via the God of the Bible. The official question is, “Is creation a viable model of origins?” I presume they mean the origin of humanity and not the origin of the universe in this case. Maybe they will cover both, though that would be a lot of “ground” as it were.

I’m not much for watching your typical sports games. No major sporting events hold much allure for me personally. But a real battle of science, philosophy, or ideology…NOW you’ve got my attention! I’ve watched hundreds of debates on youtube and other online sites. From Hitchens vs. Lennox, to Russell vs. Copleston, I’ve watched or listened to any and all I can find. The only thing that excites me more that such a debate is an actual dialogue, being so much the rarer in this world.

Many have asked the question, “Why would Nye even waste his time debating a young earth creationist anyway?!” Well, I’m glad he is. I think that Nye is a man of dialogue, much in the same fashion that his kindly and outspoken predecessor Carl Sagan was. Not that I have any pretentions about Nye opening Ham’s eyes to the merits of modern science. Giving up on a literal interpretation of the first book of the Bible would be very inconvenient when you’re just getting started on building a “life sized ark” project that isn’t doing too well financially. But perhaps some “collateral damage” can be caused in the name of enlightenment. After all, one doesn’t have to give up on a god to accept the Theory of Evolution as scientifically valid.

So last week, when I saw that tickets would be for sale on January 6th, I was counting the days. Unfortunately, the Answers in Genesis website didn’t say what time they would go on sale. Would it be midnight? I stayed up until 1am…no luck. Next, I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and woke up with a start at the appointed time. Still no registration up online or time announced for ticket sales; back to bed. I checked again at 9 a.m. and still nothing. I called the Creation Museum. The nice lady said tickets would be on sale at 10.  YES! At 9:55, I was clicking “refresh” once a minute. THEN, at 9:58, the registration icon popped up two minutes early! CLICK! “Error Code”… CLICK! “Error Code”…

I tried to call and the phones were on infinite loop of the pre-recorded museum message. I checked their facebook page while incessantly refreshing and trying to add tickets to my cart. Everyone else posting was having the same problem. By 10:15, AnswersInGenesis.org was still operating with the efficiency of the Obamacare website. Then came the horrible news…the live room of about 800 seats was sold out, so on to “plan b.” I’d have to try for the 200 seat simulcast room. After twenty more minutes of frustration, I almost gave up figuring it was sold out too. But, I wanted this bad! I was working two tabs, refreshing, adding to cart, refreshing, adding to cart, “error code.” Then it happened…my cart loaded!

So my friends, I have my “golden ticket.” I also booked my hotel, since I figured they’d be packed soon. It will be hard to decide whether to dress respectably or wear my “Hitch Slap” t-shirt from the “Cult of Dusty.” Either way, I’ll be there with bells on. I had to add a day pass for the museum to buy my ticket, so I’ll get to hang out early and ride a dinosaur. I won’t disappoint on my blog reporting, so be sure to follow me for updates. Keep an eye out for me if you go and say, “Hi.” After the debate, we can grab a beer. And even if we don’t agree, we can still have a dialogue.

See links for info:

Debate info page: http://www.answersingenesis.org/outreach/event/Nye-Ham-Debate/

Bill Nye on creationism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHbYJfwFgOU

Ken Ham response to Nye video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxX11c1cSWU