Bill Nye to battle Ken Ham in epic Flintstone Face-off


    If you’ve read this site for any length of time, you likely know how I feel about Ken Ham, the Australian ex-patriot (and accomplished charlatan) behind the evangelical anti-science group, Answers in Genesis, and Kentucky’s monument to stupidity, which he and his disciples refer to as the Creationism Museum. Well, I know that I’ve said before that I’d never willingly give Ham a dollar of my money so long as he’s actively engaged in intellectual child abuse (children are free at the museum in 2014, by they way, as part of Ham’s “Rescuing our Kids” campaign), but I’m tempted to drive down, buy a ticket and visit the his anti-intellectual evangelical Christian entertainment complex on February 4, when Ham will be debating evolution with Bill Nye. According to Ham, his 900 seat lecture hall sold out within two minutes of the event’s announcement a few days ago, but I have to think that I’d have a pretty good chance of sneaking past ushers who believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and our ancestors used to ride on the backs of friendly dinosaurs.

    Personally, I’m not expecting the debate to be all that fruitful. I imagine that it’ll play out a lot like the debate I saw in the late ’80s between Larry Flynt and a televangelist on the subject of pornography. Both sides will say what you expect them to say. Both sides will get a few good, witty jabs in. Both sides will claim victory. And, in the end, no one in the audience will change their mind on the subject. Still, though, I think it would be something cool to experience, especially if Nye channels his anger and really comes out swinging. He’s not an evolutionary biologist, but, from what I’ve read, he knows a thing or two about the subject, and, like me, he seems to get genuinely pissed when people try to pass pseudo-science off as the real thing, especially to impressionable kids.

    This whole thing was apparently set in motion a few years ago, when Nye took to the internet to express his view that “creationism is not appropriate for children.” Here’s the video.

    “I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution, and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything that we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems.” -Bill Nye

    Specifically, it would seem that Bill “The Science Guy” Nye, the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, an advocacy group promoting space exploration, is concerned about global warming, and our ability to meet the challenges which lay ahead of us as polar ice caps melt, ocean levels rise, and crops wither.

    “If we raise a generation of students who don’t believe in the process of science, who think everything that we’ve come to know about nature and the universe can be dismissed by a few sentences translated into English from some ancient text,” Nye warned in a 2012 interview with the Associated Press, “(we’re) not going to continue to innovate.”

    And he’s absolutely right. Those who want to keep fighting a battle that was already won about 90 years ago by Clarence Darrow, are doing nothing but holding our nation back and putting the future of the earth at risk. I would have thought that all of this nonsense would be behind us by now, but I guess it took a few hundred years for people to accept that the Earth orbits around the Sun, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that folks might take a while to accept the fact that human beings evolved. It’s only, after all, been about 185 years since Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle. In the meantime, I guess we have no choice by to engage with the likes of Ham, and beg him to stop assaulting our children with his ludicrous notion that humans lived like the Flintstones a few thousand years ago.

    Speaking of the Flintstones, I mentioned them in the title of this post as I didn’t know how else to frame the debate. I was looking for something with a nice ring to it, like “Rumble in the Jungle,” or “Thrilla in Manila,” but I just wasn’t having any luck. After considering both the “Evolution Resolution” and the “Creation Annihilation,” I settled on the “Flintstone Face-off,” as it made me the happiest.

    It should be noted that a significant number of Christians believe in evolution… And, for what it’s worth, it should also be noted that Ken Ham hates them.

    The following is from the Christian Post.

    …Progressive Christians, or those who believe in evolution, are “more dangerous to Christianity than the atheists” are, says Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham. He made the argument in response to criticism that his insistence on Young Earth Creationism is driving believers away.

    “Apparently they call this sort of thing ‘Progressive Christianity.’ I guess that means ‘evolving Christianity’ – whatever the secular world believes about where they came from, you accept that as infallible and then change their assumed fallible Word of God to fit! So sad,” Ham wrote on Facebook Friday, as he was responding to a critical post written about him in the “Unfundamentalist Christians” blog about his upcoming debate with “The Science Guy” Bill Nye in February…

    And that, I think, is the best possible thing that could come of this debate. If nothing else, it might give the science-loving Christians of the world a little encouragement to stand up against this nonsense, and say with conviction that their faith is strong enough to coexist with reality. Evolution doesn’t mean there isn’t a god. It just means that the world is a lot more beautiful and intricate than we could have imagined.


    [According to Ham, the event will be streamed live, and, after the fact, DVDs will be available for sale "to help offset significant costs in organizing and sponsoring the debate."]

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      1. EOS
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Pathetic straw man arguments Mark. You can do better. Since you are so scientifically minded, show us the naturalistic mechanism by which living organisms arise from non-living matter. Where are the reproducible experiments that create life from non-life without the intervention of pre-planned intelligent design? Show us the genotype of a common ancestor to reptiles and mammals and how a species might have evolved into either by random mutations. Where is the scientific experimental evidence?

        Sad fact is most people “believe”in evolution based on faith unfounded by any evidence.

      2. Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

        I kinda want to have a viewing party complete with a drinking game. That is the only way I could possibly sit through this. Actually, that is the way I sit through most things. Come to think of it, that is how I get through life. :) Carry on….

      3. anonymous
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        While you’re waiting for your answer, EOS, I have a question for you. Where’s the scientific proof that Triceratops were saddled and ridden?

      4. 734
        Posted January 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        Evolution for Dummies:

      5. frank
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Hey anonymous, look up the Ica Stones of Peru, or the Chupicauro ceramic pottery excavated from El Toro Mountain, or the ta prohm stegosaurus, and then use your brainwashed evolutionary bias to do your best at explaining them away so you can sleep better tonight. And hopefully EOS will soon get his answer.

      6. Mr. Y
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        If you’re really serious about wanting to know the answers to your questions, EOS, UC Berkeley has a comprehensive website dedicated to the explanation of evolution.

      7. frank
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        That is a comprehensive website Mr. Y
        Mutations, natural selection, sexual selection, adaptation, all observable none of which help prove evolution. In fact I’d say they back up creation.

      8. EOS
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Mr. Y,

        I checked the comprehensive website and didn’t find the answers to my specific questions. I’ve studied evolution and genetics for a number of years and I wholeheartedly agree that the genetic traits of populations change over time. That’s not being disputed or debated. The debate is over the origins of life. Creationists believe God created a variety of organisms initially, while evolutionists believe a single organism came into being spontaneously, without any supernatural force, and all other life forms have evolved from that original living organism. (or perhaps a few)

        Yet how this life came into existence is pure speculation for evolutionists. That they can’t explain exactly how it happened doesn’t necessarily mean it couldn’t have happened that way. But they provide no evidence to show that it couldn’t have occurred by a creator God either. The entire body of scientific evidence to claim that life was an accident that created itself out of the primordial slime is the claim that there is no God so it must have occurred by itself. Hardly scientific proof.

        Mark ridicules creationists for not accepting established scientific fact. I’m merely challenging him to produce a link to the body of scientific evidence that supports his assertion that the fact of abiogenesis or spontaneous generation has been proven.

      9. Jean Henry
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Points to EOS for simultaneously acknowledging evidence of evolution and diverting to questions as yet unanswered– the origins of life. The truth is that belief in evolution does not preclude belief in a divine being. They are two separate questions. To deny what we do know about the evolution of our species in favor of creationism and a fundamentalist reading of the biblical genesis narrative is the subject of Mark’s post. I actually find the room for what we don’t know in both science or religion very compelling. It shows our limits and that’s ok. It leaves room for awe. Absolutism is both anti-religious and anti-science. More on what we know and don’t know about evolution and that pesky word ‘theory’ here:

      10. Rustbelt Revival
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        hmm evolution puts life on earth at 3-4 billion years old– creationists say 6-10,000 years. (Shhh! don’t tell them we have fossil evidence of dinosaur existence 240 million years ago).

      11. Thom Elliott
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        I’m not a fan of Bill Nye, but this is a slam dunk, will be ponderously boring, and will probably be unhelpful ultimately. Fortunately for Nye, this isn’t the 19th century, biblical explanations don’t even come close to being contenders for truth claims in the physical sciences. No matter the bluster, evolution by natural selection and the tree of life enjoy high levels of predictive success in expirimentation, it is indeed the proper methodological undergirding for the study of biology. No 1st century religious texts, no matter how meaningful, have predictive success in postmodern scientific expirementation, or would provide an alternative grounding for biology.

      12. Thom Elliott
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Abiogenesis or panspermia are theories, these theories could be tested statistically, biblical explanations cannot be tested empirically, and it would in fact be blasphemous to attempt to. The major problem as I see it is that Creationists have a faulty conception of what evolution by natual selection entails, and the epistemology of evidence, which they regard as like legal evidence. Evolution is wrongly understood in William Paley’s terms; random chance occurence leading to irreducable complexity, or the tornardo blowing through a junkyard producing a 747. This was St. Paul’s arguement against Epicurean metaphysics, not against the contemporary theory of evolution by natural selection and the tree of life.

      13. dot dot dash
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        I’ll take a shot at EOS’s first question.

        He’s right. No one has created life from inorganic material in the lab. That doesn’t, however, mean that it’s not possible for life to have started on earth without the interference of a all-powerful god. There are numerous theories as to how life began, and you can easily find more information online. For what it’s worth, it’s also true that scientists have yet to create a sun in the laboratory. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t know how suns form. The process of scientific discovery is difficult and takes years. That’s how science works. We slowly build upon the work of those who came before us. EOS would have us believe that just because we don’t know for certain, at this moment, how life began, that god must have been involved. That’s nonsense. After hundreds of years of working on the problem, we’re just now really understanding how different forms of cancer operate. Things take time, and, just because we don’t know the definitive answer to a problem immediately doesn’t mean that we should throw up our hands and say “god did it”.

        If you want to know more about the various theories that exist as to how Abiogenesis may have taken place, here’s a excerpt from Wikipedia (

        Abiogenesis is the natural process by which life arose from non-living matter such as simple organic compounds.


        The Miller–Urey experiment and similar experiments demonstrated that most amino acids, often called “the building blocks of life”, can be racemically synthesized in conditions intended to be similar to those of the early Earth. Several mechanisms have been investigated, including lightning and radiation. Other approaches (“metabolism first” hypotheses) focus on understanding how catalysis in chemical systems in the early Earth might have provided the precursor molecules necessary for self-replication.

        There is still no “standard model” of the origin of life. Most currently accepted models draw at least some elements from the framework laid out by the Oparin-Haldane hypothesis. Under that umbrella, however, are a wide array of disparate discoveries and conjectures such as the following, listed in a rough order of postulated emergence:

        • The Oparin-Haldane hypothesis suggests that the atmosphere of the early Earth may have been chemically reducing in nature, composed primarily of methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), water (H2O), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO), and phosphate (PO43-), with molecular oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3) either rare or absent.

        • In such a reducing atmosphere, electrical activity can catalyze the creation of certain basic small molecules (monomers) of life, such as amino acids. This was demonstrated in the Miller–Urey experiment by Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey reported in 1953.

        • Phospholipids (of an appropriate length) can form lipid bilayers, a basic component of the cell membrane.

        • A fundamental question is about the nature of the first self-replicating molecule. Since replication is accomplished in modern cells through the cooperative action of proteins and nucleic acids, the major schools of thought about how the process originated can be broadly classified as “proteins first” and “nucleic acids first”.

        • The principal thrust of the “nucleic acids first” argument is as follows:

        1. The polymerization of nucleotides into random RNA molecules might have resulted in self-replicating ribozymes (RNA world hypothesis)

        2. Selection pressures for catalytic efficiency and diversity might have resulted in ribozymes which catalyse peptidyl transfer (hence formation of small proteins), since oligopeptides complex with RNA to form better catalysts. The first ribosome might have been created by such a process, resulting in more prevalent protein synthesis.

        3. Synthesized proteins might then outcompete ribozymes in catalytic ability, and therefore become the dominant biopolymer, relegating nucleic acids to their modern use, predominantly as a carrier of genomic information.

      14. Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        These debates are pointless.

      15. EOS
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink


        One can certainly believe in a god and also in the theory of evolution, but you cannot believe in the God of the Bible and the theory of evolution without disregarding a large amount of written material in the Bible.

        Dot dot dash,

        I didn’t claim that I could prove that God created, but merely stated that science hasn’t yet proved the mechanism of how life arose. It’s a push for both views.

        The standard “models” for the origin of life come no where near creating a living organism. Miller–Urey experiments created a small number of amino acids that would break apart as soon as they formed. And the conditions they used were not at all similar to the environment of the early earth. Currently, scientists speculate that the least number of specific genes required for the simplest organism is 300, with an average of 10,000 specifically ordered base pairs in each.

      16. Posted January 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        Let’s try to find some common ground here. To do that I think we need to agree on a definition of “evolution.” Back in undergrad, we always used something like “evolution is the change in gene frequencies within a population over successive generations.” Nothing too sexy about that. Basically this is just talking about small scale changes in populations over time, not the development of new species. This type of micro-evolution shouldn’t be too controversial.

        Now, let’s consider natural selection, everyone’s favorite mechanism by which evolution occurs. Chuckie Darwin concisely explains natural selection in his 1859 classic, On the Origin of the Species. To summarize:

        -Variation exists within a population of organisms, an interbreeding group of the same species. e.g. in a group of oak trees in a forest, some individuals produce more tannins, which in turn protect them from insect herbivory.

        -This variation is due to underlying genetic differences. In the above example, let’s say the oaks that produce more tannins have an extra copy of a gene involved in the regulation of tannin production.

        -Because of these variations, individuals differ in their ability to survive in different conditions. Again, going back to the oaks, the high tannin producing individuals will fare better when there are pest outbreaks. Conversely, the low tannin producing individuals will fare better when there are not pest outbreaks; they wont be wasting energy making defensive chemicals when there is nothing to defend against and can thus grow faster, or produce more offspring.

        -Individuals who are fitter will be able to survive better and reproduce more. In turn passing down their traits to their offspring. Let’s take one final look back at our oak population. There was a huge drought and no pest outbreak. The oaks that were producing higher levels of tannin can’t allocate as much energy to making acorns as the low tannin producing oaks. Individuals in the subsequent year’s crop of seedlings produce, on average less tannin than individuals in the parental generation.

        Intuitively, natural selection makes sense. In fact, given what we know about genetics, mutations, and sexual reproduction, it’s hard to imagine wild populations where some degree of natural selection isn’t constantly occurring. There are several very well documented examples of natural selection in action. eg anti-biotic resistance, or the case of the pepper moths in England. One of the best documented examples comes from Peter and Rosemary Grant’s research looking at finch beaks on the Island of Daphne Minor on the Galapagos. tl;dr: the Grants captured, and tagged all of the finches on a small isolated island. They took blood samples, weighed the finches, measured their beaks, and looked at their reproductive success over the course of their 20 year study. During the course of their study, there was an El Niño event that caused a huge drought. With fewer plants producing seeds, the only finches that could survive were those who had bigger beaks and could crack harder seeds. In the next generation, the finches had larger average beak size. The Grants were able to show that there was also a genetic change here.

        OK. so to be clear here, natural selection should not be controversial. In fact, biology doesn’t make sense without natural selection. And if we agree that natural selection happens, then we must agree that adaptation and micro-evolution occur. Now, let’s forget about macro-evolution or speciation for a moment.

        I think it’s important to talk about what science can and cannot do. Science can tell us that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. It can tell us that there has been life on earth for about 3.8 billion years. Science can’t tell us what exactly the first life on earth was like, or how it formed at this point. Though the Miller-Uray Experiment showed that amino acids, sugars and nucleotides could form from the components of the earth’s ancient atmosphere when exposed to electrical discharges. These molecules can assemble and interact, but at this point, we don’t know how things went from molecules floating in soup, to molecules floating in soup making copies of themselves.

        Whose to say that an intelligent designer (God, Yahweh, Brahman, Kabbalah Monster, etc.) didn’t intervene and give an adanine the little shove it needed to bond with the right guanine at the right time to form the first DNA strand? Science can tell us a lot, but it can’t tell us whether there was divine intervention in the beginning of life. It can’t tell us what a soul is or what happens when you die or the meaning of life. Science is really good at telling us things about the world that can be measured through experimentation and carefully tailored observations. It is a mistake to think it can tell us everything about the world. Specifically, science can’t tell us if there is a god. Science can say, “hey buddy, a literal interpretation of genesis might be a little bit logically dubious, and the world is way older than 6,000.” But proving or disproving the existence of god goes beyond the scope of the discipline.

        Intelligent Design has a place. It even has a place in the classroom. It does not, however, have a place in the science classroom. Intelligent Design, like other theologies, is not a science. I mean that in the most loving way possible. Intelligent Design is not a science like Catholicism, and Buddhism, and Jain, and Hinduism, and Islam, and Wicca, and Germanic neopaganism, and Zoroastrianism, and Krampus-Worship are not a science. Intelligent Design has a place in the theology classroom, and the philosophy classroom and the comparative religion classroom and the religious history of the United States from the 1980s through 2020s classroom. It doesn’t belong in the science classroom because it’s not science.

        The big danger in making evolution so controversial is that we have successfully dumbed-down our national science curricula. We need to teach good, current, engaging science to our kids.

        Anyway, that’s my $0.02.

        Some further reading:

      17. Thom Elliott
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        oh disregarding large parts of the written material of Bible? That should come easy enough to the catagorically unxtian plutocratic zelots who almost completely disregard biblical dietary laws, cherrypicking the parts they pretend to follow, or ignoring the specific teachings of Christ regarding the evils of capitalism and judging the other, in substitution for the mindless political punditry that passes for religious thought in this depraved era. No kidding, you mean scientists can’t replicate the conditions of early earth in the lab? shocking. give me a break.

      18. Thom Elliott
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        if people are going to claim their religious belief is the primary reason for supporting a policy or for blocking something, shouldn’t the degree to which they actually exemplify the religion they are claiming be an issue? I disagree with evolution because I’m a xtian, but I am fornicating pornography addict, money hungry, heartlessly cruel, obese racist without an ounce of the fruits of the spirit, unforgiving, harshly judgmental etc.

      19. EOS
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink


        That was a very good summary and we have a significant amount of common ground.

        There have been over 100 peer-reviewed science publications concerning intelligent design. Intelligent Design is mainly about detecting design and is utilized in forensic science, statistical analysis, and a number of other fields. It has a definite place in the science classroom.

        However, speculation about the origin of life, without experimentation, should be relegated to the philosophy classes and not be promoted as a scientific theory that has been proven without a doubt, just as discussion of religious matters is best accomplished in a philosophy class.

        If they eliminated macroevolutionary teachings and origin of life speculation from the science classrooms there would be absolutely no controversy.

      20. Thom Elliott
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        100 peer-reviewed articles=nothing in compairsion to over 100 years of predictive success in biological expirementation. Explanations which predict nothing are guilty of “overfit”, it is not scientific, which predicts unlikely hypothesis. How ridiculous “there would be no controversy”, other than the plutocratic propagandists attempting to eliminate evolution by natural selection from schools in favor of enforced teaching of a poem of great antiquity deluded moderns pretend has some resemblance to contemporary biological research. Francis Crick thought the most plausable explanation of the origin of life on earth was panspermia, not exactly the speculation of a Hegel.

      21. EOS
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Not sure if I shared a link to this before. Sorry if it’s a duplication.

      22. Peter Mychajlonka
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        The facts are simple: I personally created the entire universe and all the laws and tendencies in it. I did this thirty seconds ago. I created your future memories as well as the wikipedia entry on string theory.

        You can’t disprove my statement. What you can do is believe it or not believe it. What you believe has no bearing on the truth, but your beliefs can sometimes coincide with truth.

        Unless belief can create truth… Can it do that? Belief can create delusion, which can create behavior, which can alter reality in profound ways, especially if the behavior becomes coded for in your DNA.

        Gosh, this is tricky. Maybe a drinking game is a good idea.

      23. Thom Elliott
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        (from absurd documentary) “name some evidence of evolution by natural selection i can see right now” put your foolish hand into a tub of water for several moments till the skin of you hand prunes, this is evidence of specifically human evolution you can see. Your hand doesn’t prune because it is water logged, human beings’ hands/ dermis evolved to have greater grip in watery environements, causing the pruning.

      24. Posted January 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        “Intelligent design”

        More like “stupid design.” What perfect, all knowing being would have mammals eat through the same hole they breath through? Every meal is a dance with death.

        At least whales got it right.

      25. anonymous
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Time to reverse that evolutionary trend, Thom. Finger pruning is now working against us.

      26. Robert
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        I’d like to see EOS, as he portrays himself here, debate EOS, as he is in actuality.

      27. Stupid Hick
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Ken Ham: “whatever the secular world believes about where they came from, you accept that as infallible and then change their assumed fallible Word of God to fit!”

        EOS: “… you cannot believe in the God of the Bible and the theory of evolution without disregarding a large amount of written material in the Bible.”

        Dear EOS, with all respect, please consider the possibility that it is your (and Ken’s) reading of The Bible that is fallible: not the material in The Bible, and not science.

        Ask yourself, is it not blasphemous to be so certain of YOUR interpretation and judgement of what YOU read into The Bible, that you refuse to change YOUR views and YOUR interpretation when science proves it wrong?

        Do you accept the Earth revolves around the Sun? Hundreds of years ago, many people did not accept that. But is there now any Christian who still does not accept that truth?

        The Bible wasn’t invalidated by that discovery, only the stubborn, prideful, blasphemous opinions of those who believed they were perfect in their judgement about what The Bible meant.

        The Bible isn’t wrong; Science isn’t wrong. Please consider that it is more likely that it is YOU who is fallible.

      28. EOS
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink


        I am willing to change my beliefs based on proven scientific fact. All I am saying is: Prove it. Don’t claim it is fact without the proof. Don’t ridicule other belief systems without the proof.

        Show me the experimental evidence that proves macroevolution is fact and I will alter my beliefs.

      29. EOS
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Maybe I need to qualify my last statement. I’m not interested in evidence of one “species” changing into another “species”. Species is an artificial construct imposed by biologists. I’m looking for evidence for one kind of plant or animal changing into another kind, not just a slight variation of the original – a different breed or variety.

      30. Meta
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        A timely headline from the Guardian:

        “Mutation in key gene allows Tibetans to thrive at high altitude: The gene mutation is much more common in Tibetans than Han Chinese and may represent the strongest instance of natural selection ever documented in a human population”

        A gene that controls red blood cell production evolved quickly to enable Tibetans to tolerate high altitudes, a study suggests. The finding could lead researchers to new genes controlling oxygen metabolism in the body.

        An international team of researchers compared the DNA of 50 Tibetans with that of 40 Han Chinese and found 34 mutations that have become more common in Tibetans in the 2,750 years since the populations split. More than half of these changes are related to oxygen metabolism.

        The researchers looked at specific genes responsible for high-altitude adaptation in Tibetans. “By identifying genes with mutations that are very common in Tibetans, but very rare in lowland populations we can identify genes that have been under natural selection in the Tibetan population,” said Professor Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California Berkeley, who took part in the study. “We found a list of 20 genes showing evidence for selection in Tibet – but one stood out: EPAS1.”

        The gene, which codes for a protein involved in responding to falling oxygen levels and is associated with improved athletic performance in endurance athletes, seems to be the key to Tibetan adaptation to life at high altitude. A mutation in the gene that is thought to affect red blood cell production was present in only 9% of the Han population, but was found in 87% of the Tibetan population.

        “It is the fastest change in the frequency of a mutation described in humans,” said Professor Nielsen.

        Read more:

      31. EOS
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink


        No one disputes mutations or natural selection. Call me when the Tibetans evolve into dinosaurs or grow gills and live nderwater.

      32. Meta
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want to see a process that takes tens of millions of years take place before your eyes. Is that right?

      33. EOS
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        No. But genetic changes over millions of years leave genomes that can be sequenced and the steps from one kind to another can be reverse engineered.

      34. EOS
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Has any scientist found the gene sequence for reptilian scales lurking in some dark corner of the human genome?

      35. Kim
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Terrifying numbers from Bill Moyers this morning (

        “New research has found that about a third of Americans do not believe in evolution, more-or-less unchanged since the last time the Pew Research Center asked the question in 2009. But researchers did notice a note-worthy shift — Republicans are now far less likely to believe in evolution than Democrats. In 2009, 54 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats endorsed evolution, a ten-point gap. That gap has since increased to 24 points, with 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats believing in evolution in 2013.”

      36. EOS
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink


        You really need to study the questions that were asked, rather than read a non-scientific summary of the results. Go to the source.

        I would agree that humans have evolved over time, but would disagree that they evolved from less advanced forms of life.

        You should take heart. The percentage of Americans who believe in the theory of evolution has risen from 9% to 15% over the last 30 years. Hopefully, the Creation Museum can reverse that trend.

      37. MLK Day
        Posted January 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

      38. Meta
        Posted January 21, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Alternet is challenging Nye for taking the gig.

        When you accept a debate, you are accepting there is something worth debating. Political ideologies are worth debating, religion as it pertains to things like human well-being and flourishing can be worth debating, because these kinds of ideas claim to offer solutions to problems and they are debating the best way to achieve such problems. Debates about the existence of God can be fun, they are not really that meaningful, but they are a debate about ideas and beliefs and can be worth effort.

        Creationism vs. evolution however is not worth debating. Why? Simple, there is nothing to debate. Evolution is a scientific fact, backed by mountains of evidence, peer-reviewed papers you could stack to the moon and an incredible scientific community consensus. Creationism is a debunked mythology that is based solely in faith. It has zero peer-reviewed papers to back up its claims, it has absolutely no scientific consensus and is not even considered science due to the fact it cannot be tested.

        Why would a scientist debate this? Nye would do more good on his own going on TV and discussing evolution and the importance of scientific education instead of giving Ken Ham any publicity and a public forum with thousands, if not millions of viewers, to spew his dishonesty. Ham is a snake oil salesmen and Nye just offered him up an infomercial to sell his product. Ham can repeat his mantra over and over; “teach the controversy”.

        Read more:

      39. Edward
        Posted January 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Glenn Beck has weighed in, saying that Bill Nye, because he wants to keep Creationism out of the classroom, is no different from those who tried to silence Galileo.

      40. Scott Thomas
        Posted January 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Not all Christians believe Ham and what he’s preaching.


        “It is this huge stereotype that all Christians reject science and an event like this reinforces that stereotype,” said Deborah Haarsma, president of the BioLogos Foundation, an organization whose motto is “science and faith in harmony.” ‘’It looks like science versus Christianity and it ignores the people who have accepted the science of evolution and have not let go of their faith.”

        And that is a considerable number of people. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll found 60 percent of Americans believe “humans have evolved over time” while 33 percent reject that statement. Of those who believe in evolution, 24 percent say they also believe “a supreme being” used evolution to create life forms.

        “A debate like this sets up a false choice” between science and religion for viewers, Haarsma said. “We don’t want them to have to choose.”

      41. Dan
        Posted January 31, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        “The percentage of Americans who believe in the theory of evolution has risen from 9% to 15% over the last 30 years.”

        I don’t even want to make myself more depressed by seeing if those numbers are true (even though the use of “theory” is disingenuous). I wouldnt be surprised that they are. It’s almost incomprehensible though.

        Now why do we call other countries “radical fundamentalists” again ?

      42. EOS
        Posted February 4, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Debate starts at 7P tonight. Live streaming at

      43. Meta
        Posted February 5, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Bill Nye to Ken Ham during last night’s debate:

        “There are trees older than you think the earth is.”

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