Debate Analysis: Evolution and Creationism

Human beings have always been curious to find out where they came from. This has led to endless debates, none of which has been proven or failed to be proven as true. The two main theories as to the origin of humanity are creationism and evolution. Creationists have their theory mainly based on the religious belief that the world was created by God in a span of six days as described in the Christian Bible. This theory is found in the book of Genesis. Australian-born scientist Ken Ham supports this position and engaged with scientist Bill Nye on a debate concerning the two theorists. The debate took place in the Creation Museum in Kentucky in 2014.

Bill Nye, host of the TV show ??Bill Nye the science guy’ defends the evolution theory (Nye, p.96). The second theory of evolution was proposed by Charles Darwin in 1859. Darwin insists that all life evolved from simple forms of life over 4.5 billion years ago. The reason that the debate came to be was the offense taken by Ham on a video known as ??Creationism is not appropriate for children’. The video featured Bill Nye who explained that most of the US population did not believe in evolution. And that this fact has had a negative impact on science education I institutions of learning. According to Nye, innovation would be hampered by the fact that students do not believe in science.

This video prompted a response by Ken Ham in his blog, ??Answers with Ken Ham’. Ham invited Nye to a debate in Kentucky. While many felt that Nye’s participation was a way of giving credibility to Ham’s beliefs, Nye felt that such a debate would be beneficial to both parties, the creationists as well as those who believe in evolution. This debate was widely viewed, with tickets to the actual venue selling out and millions streaming live over the internet.

The debate is undoubtedly an informative one with both speakers giving compelling points to support their arguments. I personally support the creation theory. Many people debate that this theory may be inaccurate because there is no way the world can be created in a matter of days. Despite skepticism, about forty six percent o people in the United States subscribe to the theory of creationism. Neither Ham nor Nye are scientists, hence the points they present are purely from their own viewpoints and beliefs.

Both debaters presented arguments that they believed would adequately defend their positions. Nye emphasized the importance of a good understanding of science, which he obviously loves, and its importance in the future. Ham also stood firm in his belief and command of the scripture. Nye aimed to challenge the creationist point of view in several ways. I found these challenges to be rather weak as there are several explanations for them. For example, he refuted the idea of one human race using evidence that different hominid skulls have been discovered, which can be countered with the fact there are many variances in the human race. He also considered the evolution theory as having no evidence when he said, “when you go to a crime scene and find evidence, you have clues about the past. You trust those clues and you embrace them…” he also refuted the flood, “when there was a big flood on earth, you would expect drowning animals to swim up to a higher level. Not a single one of them did.” (Miller, p. 46).

Nye also suggested that creationists can’t be scientists or are not interested in science. This is completely baseless as there are many Christians such as the inventor of the MRI machine who just happen to be Christians. Nye’s reference to the Bible as a document as a document is offensive to Christians who believe that the Bible is their Holy Book. His arguments can be simply termed as logical fallacies from ignorance. A fallacy from ignorance or appeal to ignorance is used when one speaks from ignorance to support their idea. Nye also used Ad hominem fallacy during the debate in referring to ??Ken Ham’s model’. This can be seen as a personal attack. Ad hominem fallacy in the end, Nye did not present very compelling arguments, both for evolution and against creationism.

Ken Ham concentrated more on defending his theory from myths rather than presenting actual facts to support creationism. This is a fallacy of circular argument where no new fact is presented. This was one of his weak points. However, his arguments were generally very strong and convincing. For example, he made quite logical rebuttals to Nye’s claim that creationists aren’t real scientists. He said, “The idea that scientists who believe the earth is 6000 years old cannot do real science is wrong.” (Miller, 40).In the end he also acknowledged the fact that some atheists have made valuable contributions to science “I challenge evolutionists to accept the belief aspects of their worldview.” This shows a maturity to accept others’ views even when they are different from theirs. Some weaknesses of Ham in the debate include the fact that he did not adequately call out Nye on some of his assertions that may be considered condescending.

Pathos is the use of emotion to appeal to someone. Logos on the other hand refers to the use of logic in making an argument, and ethos uses ethics to prove character or credibility. Both Ham and Nye use some of these in their arguments. Logos is used by Ham as his point of reference for the creationist theory is the Bible. Bill mentions other scientists who have studied evolution with results that can be replicated. From the standpoint of ethos, both men were almost equal. Ham had many Christians in the audience who obviously support his point, with almost half of Kentucky’s population being Christian. Nye’s advantage comes in due to his fame as host of ??Bill the science guy’, a show that many remember. Pathos corresponds to the explanation above, many people already knew Nye thus their bias, and Ham appealed to the faith of those in the crowd.

The debate was a persuasive one, although it could not have easily convinced one to take up a position different from the one they held before. Nevertheless both men made informative discussions and those of dissenting views had a lot to learn from the others’ viewpoints. As a creationist myself, I feel that Ham did a good job defending the creationist theory, but I also learnt much about the evolution theory from Nye.

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