Why are some atheists throwing a tantrum about the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye?
Some atheists are throwing a tantrum. Why?
Well, the media coverage of the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at the Creation Museum continues to grow. Many well-known figures on both sides are speaking out about who they believe will win or about whether there should be a debate at all. Recently, famed atheist Richard Dawkins weighed in on the debate in some impromptu comments on a recent web article decrying the debate.
The article, written by contributor Dan Arel, appeared on the Richard Dawkins Foundation website, and it urged Bill Nye not to debate Ken. Richard Dawkins’s remarks appeared in the comment section below the article, and he agreed that Nye was making a mistake. But Dawkins, realizing that the debate will happen whether he wants it to or not, decided to offer some advice to Nye concerning the evidence supposedly supporting evolution—all of which he bases on some serious assumptions.
Richard Dawkins is known for his firm stance against debating biblical creationists. His pride is evident in the things he says about those who disagree with him. For Dawkins, evolution in a godless world is the only option. And while Dawkins astutely says that those Christians who believe they can reconcile evolutionary ideas with Scripture are “deluded,” he doesn’t want to be challenged about the assumptions that underlie evolutionary ideas. As an atheist who ultimately hates God, Dawkins can’t even allow the possibility that he might be wrong. Instead, he comes up with all sorts of poor excuses to protect his worldview as his atheism is challenged by biblical creationists.
In a 2012 interview with CNN, Dawkins stated plainly that belief in a young earth “shows deep, profound ignorance” and that “there’s only one theory around, there’s only one game in town as far as serious scientists are concerned.” By that, he means evolution. He sums up his point by arrogantly asking, “Who cares about creationists? They don’t know anything.”1 Dawkins also resorted to name-calling and outrageously blasphemous statements in his attempt to shock and intimidate people to accept his anti-God stance.
In more recent comments, Dawkins explained that he believes debating a creationist gives biblical creationism credibility, which his aggressive atheism can’t tolerate:
“They want to be seen on a platform with a real scientist, because that conveys the idea that here is a genuine argument between scientists,” Dawkins continued. “They may not win the argument—in fact, they will not win the argument, but it makes it look like there really is an argument to be had.”2
The truth is, biblical creation does not derive its credibility from conducting debates.
The truth is, biblical creation does not derive its credibility from conducting debates. No, people are capable of examining evolutionary assumptions and looking at how the evidence supports the Bible’s clear teaching regarding origins. Dawkins acts as someone who is part of an intellectual elite and treats the general public with disdain. The February 4 debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, at its heart, is an opportunity for Ken to influence people for the gospel and to equip believers with solid creation apologetics—while at the same time exposing the assumptions the evolutionary ideas rest upon.
Unfortunately, at least in his interviews, Dawkins treats his opposition with a remarkable amount of disrespect and offers little more than blind assertions that evolution is true. Perhaps it’s better that he chooses not to debate biblical creationists as he has nothing concrete to offer, except his typical anti-creationist assertions seen in his books and articles. It’s like a child throwing a tantrum.
Dawkins’s recent comments on Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye carry the same level of disrespect as any of his other interviews. Clearly against the debate, Dawkins explains that while he does not agree with conducting a creation/evolution debate, he cannot change Nye’s mind at this point (and note his name-calling again with the use of the word “wingnuts”):
I agree that to do this on Ham’s home turf was a mistake, and indeed it is almost always a mistake to give wingnuts the oxygen of publicity, and the respectability of being seen on a platform with a real scientist, anywhere. However, Bill Nye’s decision is taken, and a good rule in life is, “Always start from here, not from some hypothetical point in the past.” Here are a few suggestions for anyone who, for one reason or another, finds him/herself debating one of these idiots.3
Speaking of respectability, referring to those with whom you disagree as “wingnuts” and “idiots” is not how to earn it—nor is challenging their credibility as scientists. Dawkins has made a career (and obtained great fame) out of denying the existence of God and, more recently, making inflammatory remarks to generate publicity (such as his statements about “mild pedophilia”).4 His attitude here is no surprise to those who have heard him speak.
The fact is, however, that biblical creationists go to university, earn PhDs, and perform observational, repeatable, testable science just as well as any evolutionist. At Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, we have a number of scientists on staff with the highest degrees in their fields. Some held positions as professors at secular universities and perform ongoing research in their fields; others worked in their fields before joining the AiG staff. They are real scientists and have garnered the respect of their secular colleagues—without debates to give them “the respectability of being seen on a platform with a real scientist,” as Dawkins so blithely asserts. And it’s not just the scientists at Answers in Genesis—consider this list of scientists (not complete by far) on the AiG website.
As for Dawkins’s advice to Nye, many of his claims have already been answered on our website. Below are Dawkins’s claims and links to the responses our scientists on staff have provided. Dawkins, of course, knows of the responses that creationists have presented, but he is “willingly ignorant” of them—and refuses to believe! (2 Peter 3:5).
1. Physical scientists (such as Bill Nye) should play to their strengths in physical science and call the wingnut out on the age of fossils, and cosmological evidence on the age of the universe. Radiometric dating of rocks is solid, irrefutable science. The agreement between different isotopes with overlapping time spans is so strong, it is impossible for anyone to wriggle out of the conclusion that the world is billions of years old, not thousands. Astronomical evidence of the expanding universe agrees.5
Dr. Andrew Snelling, who holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney, Australia, writes and speaks on radiometric dating regularly. He is also the director of research at Answers in Genesis. In his article series from Answers magazine, Dr. Snelling explains the problems with the assumptions underlying radiometric dating.
2. There are of course gaps in the fossil record. In the case of the Turbellaria, a large, flourishing and beautiful group of free-living flatworms, the fossil record is one big gap – there are no fossils – and not even a Young Earth Creationist thinks they were created yesterday. But although there are gaps in the fossil record, it is a very telling fact that not a single fossil has ever been found in the wrong place in the time sequence. To paraphrase JBS Haldane, not a single fossil rabbit has ever been found in the Precambrian.6
Roger Patterson, a former biology and chemistry teacher in the public school system, is a curriculum writer and editor at Answers in Genesis. He has a detailed analysis of the claims often made by evolutionists about the fossil record in his book Evolution Exposed, also available on our website. Ultimately, this is an issue of worldview. Dawkins views fossil evidence through an evolutionary worldview, while biblical creationists allow God’s Word to be their foundation for examining the evidence.
3. Even if there were not a single fossil anywhere in the world, the fact of evolution would be established beyond any doubt by the evidence from comparing modern creatures with other modern creatures. Comparative anatomy was highly convincing evidence in Darwin's time. Today we can add comparative molecular sequences (DNA and proteins) which are even more convincing, by orders of magnitude. Whichever molecule you look at, and whichever bone system etc you look at, the pattern of animal resemblances turns out to be the same branching tree (given normal, expected margins of error). What could that branching tree be but a pedigree, a family tree, a tree of descent with modification?7
Dr. Jerry Bergman, who holds a PhD in biology and is a regular contributor to AiG publications, wrote an extensive article for our website on the science of homology, which is the comparison of likenesses in structure between organisms.
4. The pattern of geographical distribution of animals and plants is exactly as it should be, on the assumption that slow, gradual evolution has taken place on slowly drifting (plate tectonics) continents and islands. Archipelagoes such as Galapagos and Hawaii are textbook examples, but the same kind of pattern is seen the world over. Species are distributed exactly where evolutionists would expect them to be (the pattern of distribution is not what you'd expect if they had dispersed from Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat!)8
Paul Taylor, a former science teacher in England and Wales, wrote an article on this topic for our The New Answers Book, also available on our website.
5. It's never ideal to argue from authority, but the fact is that the VAST majority of scientists working in relevant fields accept the fact of evolution and the fact that the universe is billions of years old. The mutually corroborating evidence spans zoology, botany, microbiology, bacteriology, genetics, geology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, anthropology, geography . . . the list goes on. As for Ken Ham's biblical alternative, Genesis is not accepted as literally true by any reputable theologian or ancient historian. And that is hardly surprising when you consider the obscurity of its authorship, and its obvious status as just one of thousands of origin myths from all around the world.9
This last point is an issue of authority. Richard Dawkins has lifted up man’s authority over the Word of God, so he interprets the evidence from an evolutionary perspective. But biblical creationists can show, quite convincingly, how that evidence supports what Genesis records about the origin of the universe. Dr. Jason Lisle, who holds a PhD in astrophysics and is the director of research for the Institute for Creation Research, has written an article on worldviews and evidence, available on our website.
After the announcement of the Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate at the Creation Museum, many atheists (including Richard Dawkins) threw something of a tantrum. They don’t want people to hear what biblical creationists have to present. These secularists want to censor what the public will hear, for they know that as soon as people are taught to think critically and correctly about origins, they will understand that molecules-to-man evolution is a belief system. Evolution is really the secularists’ religion to try to explain life without God.