Feedback: “Bill Nye the Straw Man Guy” Rebuttal

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Editor’s note: We received some feedback about our assertion that Bill Nye employed straw man arguments in his debate with Ken Ham. Our response is interspersed throughout portions of the feedback.

Mr. Tim Chaffey:

This is my rebuttal on Bill Nye the Straw Man Guy and Noah’s Ark dated February 28, 2014.

Thank you for reading the article, which I wrote shortly after the popular Ken Ham v. Bill Nye debate at the Creation Museum to address some of the fallacious claims Mr. Nye made about the biblical account of the Ark and the Flood.

The views in the bible concerning Noah’s Ark and the flood are easily found in Genesis 8: 13-18.

Those verses speak about the earth drying up in the last two months of the ordeal as well as Noah’s family and the animals leaving the Ark after the Flood. The account about Noah’s Ark and the Flood spans Genesis 6–9.

what is truly sad is that Chaffey and millions of others have rejected the Paleoanthropology.

Tim Chaffey straw man arguments these misrepresentations may have been intentional or they may have been the result of Tim Chaffey ignorance of paleoanthropology.

Perhaps you could explain to our readers what facts of paleoanthropology I and millions of others have rejected. For those unfamiliar with the term, paleoanthropology technically means the study of ancient man.1 But it is usually defined from an evolutionary perspective, meaning that paleoanthropology would be the study of the predecessors of modern humans and our origin using fossils and other remains.

We do not reject any of the evidence that is found, whether it is an ancient tool or fossilized human or ape bones. What we often reject are the interpretations of this data. That is, we do not agree with the evolutionary story attached to these remains that interpret these fossils as evidence that humans arose from ape-like ancestors.

The primary reason we reject the evolutionary view of man is because of the Word of God.

The primary reason we reject the evolutionary view of man is because of the Word of God. He revealed to us that He made man in His image on Day Six of the Creation Week. Furthermore, the field of paleoanthropology is full of errors and changes regularly as new discoveries are widely touted as the latest and greatest evidence of our evolutionary past, only to be thrown out or rejected even by evolutionary scientists. With a past that boasts such busts as Nebraska Man (built from the tooth of a pig), Piltdown Man (a fraud composed of a human skull and orangutan jawbone), and Ida (a fossilized lemur), we have strong reasons to be skeptical of paleoanthropological stories about fossils.

You neglected to mention that Noah’s Ark only needed to float for a maximum of five months is wrong because you did not read your bible if you did Noah entered the Ark in the 600 th year of his life on the 17 th day of the 2nd month. (Genesis 7 11-13) Noah left the ark on the 27 th day of the 2 nd month of the following year Genesis 8: 14-15 there fore a Lunar calendar of 370 days Noah was on the Ark for approximate 370 days.

Yes, I’m quite aware that Noah, his family, and the animals were in the Ark for about a year. Which type of month did the Flood account refer to? Did they use a lunar, solar, a luni-solar, or some other type of calendar? We cannot be certain since the Bible does not specify.

Although they were in the Ark for roughly a year, the Ark itself only needed to float for a maximum of five months. You seem to have misunderstood either my claim about the time they were afloat or what the Bible states about the timing of this. The Flood began in Noah’s 600th year, on the seventeenth day of the second month, and it landed on the mountains of Ararat on the seventeenth day of the seventh month of the same year. This means that the Ark needed to float for a maximum of five months—exactly as I stated in the original article.


The fact that the Ark floated for a maximum of five months has nothing to do with the amount of space required. The point was made that if similarly sized wooden boats could last for over fourteen years, then it is not unreasonable to think that the Ark could remain afloat for up to five months.

When it comes to the amount of space required, they would have needed enough food, water, and other supplies to survive for the year they were on board. But just because you can say that the space was highly inadequate does not make it true, and you have not demonstrated this claim. Have you calculated how much space was on the Ark? We have. Have you figured out how much food and water would have been needed? We have. Have you determined how many animals would have been on board? We have, and we’ve even used a “worst-case scenario” approach so that we are probably vastly overestimating the number of animals, and there would have still been plenty of space.2

Once again we see that Tim Chaffey resort to less than-honest tactics in an attempt to have misrepresenations of Bill Nye position.

You haven’t pointed out any dishonest tactics so far, but you have badly misunderstood the points I have made. Or perhaps you intentionally misrepresented them, in which case you would be guilty of using dishonest tactics.

On the Wyoming Tim Chaffey misrepresentations may have been intentional or they may have been the result of Tim Chaffey IGNORANCE OF SHIP STRUCTURE !

I freely admit that I am not an expert shipwright by any stretch, but that is not the point here. You still have not demonstrated any misrepresentations that I may have made. If you would like some specific details on shipbuilding from someone who has researched the subject for years, please read our three-part series by Tim Lovett, as well as an article that shows what experts from Korea found about the Ark’s structure.

The Wyoming was launched in 1909 winch I think is insanity to compare because of time span.

I assume you mean that it is insanity to compare the Wyoming to the Ark because they were constructed more than 4,000 years apart. Yet the claim we hear from skeptics so often, and which was made by Bill Nye in the debate, is that a wooden ship of this size simply cannot survive on the seas. So it is completely relevant for me to point out that a similarly sized wooden ship sailed for over 14 years.

were Tim neglected to mention is that the Wyoming designers stiffened her with internal steel bracing internally to prevent bending and Tim neglected to mention the Wyoming actually carried a steam engine. Not to drive the ship but it was USED FOR PUMPING OUT WATER ! and she sank taking thirteen Sailors down with her.

The wooden ships built in the Wyoming’s era were built as quickly as possible with an expected lifespan of 10–15 years. There are many ways to build stronger hulls as explained here. Noah took great care in building the Ark to the specifications God gave him (Hebrews 11:7), and he may have used a variety of techniques and materials to strengthen it, including iron (Genesis 4:22).

The Wyoming did have pumps to expel water that seeped in, but as far as I can tell, the donkey steam engine was used to raise and lower the sails, something Noah’s Ark would not have needed since it did not have masts and sails.

Now you can invoke a miracle if you want

We have not claimed that God miraculously held the Ark together. Of course, we believe He could have done that, but we don’t believe it was necessary. Mankind has been intelligent from the day God created Adam and Eve, and Noah could have built the Ark so that it was sturdy enough to survive the Flood.

but the greater wonder is that anybody believes in an omniscient being that would apparently suffer amnesia and as a consequence have second thoughts about his creation (Gen. 6:12.)

Genesis 6:12 states that God looked upon the earth and saw that all flesh had corrupted its way. What does this have to do with divine amnesia? Perhaps you are referring to Genesis 6:6–7, which mentions that God was sorry that He had made man and announced that He would judge them with the Flood. Maybe you had in mind the verse that states, “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1), but this does not mean that God had forgotten Noah. Instead, it reveals that God’s attention was focused on Noah and the others on the Ark.

These verses use a figure of speech known as anthropopathism (ascribing human emotions to God). Anthropopathism and the related anthropomorphism (ascribing human characteristics to God) can be found throughout Scripture and help us to understand what God is like.3 The point in these verses is that God was deeply saddened or grieved that mankind had become so wicked that they needed to be destroyed.

You don’t really need to be a scientist or very knowledgeable to come up with explanations for anything as long as you use an omnipotent being to work miracles in your story.

You are assuming that we follow a “God of the gaps” approach. That is, whenever we come across something in our world that we don’t understand we throw our hands up and say, “It must have been God.” Sorry to disappoint you, but that is not our approach. We let the Bible tell us when a miracle occurred. Since the Bible does not say that God miraculously protected the Ark during the Flood or that He gave Noah exhaustive details about the construction of the Ark, then we assume that Noah used the details God gave him to figure out how to build a vessel that could survive a global Flood.

Ironically, Bill Nye essentially used a “science of the gaps” approach in answering two consecutive questions. He acknowledged that he didn’t know where the first atoms came from or where consciousness came from, but then proceeded to confidently express how he believed scientific investigations would eventually answer these questions.

Your real scholars and knowledgeable thinkers will not let such a contradiction pass unnoticed.

This is a perfect example of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. You assume that if someone does not view this as a contradiction, then he must not be a scholar. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but there are plenty of real scholars who see no contradiction here because they understand some very basic principles of interpretation. Furthermore, you assume that scholars are the ultimate authority, but they are not. God is the ultimate authority, and anyone who disagrees with Him is automatically wrong.

Nor will they try to gloss over it. They will tell you that this story is false on its face because it portrays a perfect being as imperfect.

It does not portray the perfect God as imperfect. It uses a figure of speech that is designed to give us insight into God’s character.

Or they will tell you that the story is false if taken literally but true if understood allegorically.

You left out another option. Some scholars (yes, real scholars) will claim that the Flood account is completely accurate.

Real scholars will not waste their time trying to figure out how to explain the literal truth of every little detail in a STORY THAT IS OBVIOUSLY FALSE.

Alfred B.

I agree with this final statement. Indeed, it would be a waste of time to seek to find the literal truth in every detail of fictional stories like Star Wars, Avengers, or Jurassic World. It’s also a colossal waste of time and money to search for our imaginary ape-like ancestors or extraterrestrials—both stem from an evolutionary worldview and will never be found because they have never existed.

But it is never a waste of time for a Christian to study the Bible since it is inspired by the God who knows all things and cannot lie. The Bible tells us the truth about our origins and our future. God created everything in six days approximately 6,000 years ago. Man’s sin brought death and suffering into God’s perfect creation. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a man and paid for our sins through His sacrificial death on the Cross. He conquered death by rising from the dead and promises to give eternal life to all believe in Him (John 3:16). Those who reject His offer of salvation will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

I pray that you would turn from your sins and call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness.

Tim Chaffey, AiG–US


  1. Creationists have written several books addressing paleoanthropology, such as The Puzzle of Ancient Man, The Genius of Ancient Man, The Tower of Babel, and Bones of Contention.
  2. John Woodmorappe used different parameters when he conducted his very helpful feasibility study of Noah’s Ark. Both studies have shown that there would have been enough room on the Ark.
  3. From a philosophical perspective, this type of language is inevitable when speaking of the transcendent God of the Bible. Our language about God cannot be equivocal (a word applied to man means something entirely different when applied to God, which would leave us completely ignorant of God) or univocal (a word applied to man means the exact same when applied to God, which would place our understanding at God’s level). Instead, our language about God must be analogous. That is, a term applied to man means something very similar when applied to God. As such, anthropopathisms and anthropomorphisms help us understand what God is like by employing comparisons to man.


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