I was thrilled to have front-row seats for last night’s debate. Well, fourth row, if you must know, but close enough that I’m pretty sure I saw Bill Nye discreetly roll his eyes when creationist Ken Ham started talking about the sudden speciation of dogs. At the very least, Nye let out a sigh.
Both debaters had their moments of posturing—Ken Ham in his desperate dog-and-pony show of real-life scientists who support biblical creationism, and the nerdly Nye in his efforts to convince us that he’s cool, bowties notwithstanding, just because he used to ride a motorcycle.
Here were seven of my favorite quips from last night, seven being appropriate because it is the Official Number of Genesis Chapter 1.
1. “Why do we wear clothes? Genesis!” – Ken Ham
In an attempt to show that the Book of Genesis is responsible for everything good in our lives, from traditional marriage to language diversity to Jesus dying on a cross (um, say again?), Ham made the unforgettable assertion that the Book of Genesis is why we wear clothes. “It’s a very important book,” he summarized. Meanwhile the people in the audience were all stripping down because it was hotter than Hades in the debate auditorium. Not sure what Genesis would say about that.
2. “Extraordinary!” – Bill Nye
I lost count of how many times Bill Nye used the word “extraordinary” during the debate, but his usage (“What you just said is so effing crazy that I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation”) is slightly different from the more positive OED definition. SEE ALSO: Nye’s use of “remarkable.”
3. “Get rid of old people. I mean, why not? I mean, they’re just animals, costing us a lot of money.” – Ken Ham
Ken Ham used this chart (right) to claim that if science is your foundation rather than God’s word, traditional marriage will soon be out the window and we’ll start euthanizing the weak. It’s the slippery slope theory: if we reject the notion of a six-day creation and a young earth, it’s only a matter of time before we off Grandma.
4. “Were the fish sinners? Have they done something wrong to get diseases?” – Bill Nye
Nye raised this as a rhetorical question in answer to Ham’s puzzling argument that if evolutionists are correct, then suffering and disease existed in the world before the Fall of Adam and Eve. But I think it’s a serious biblical question. The morality of fish is highly questionable. Even in the Bible, there’s that fish that swallowed a guy.
5. Evolutionary textbooks claim “the highest race of all, the Caucasians, represented the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America” – Ken Ham
Here Ham accused evolutionists of racism and eugenics, saying they had used Darwinism to elevate the white race to supremacy. To prove this he quoted a 1914 biology textbook – the same textbook at issue in the 1925 Scopes trial – that contained horribly racist statements. The implication of the moment was that Ham’s Christian counterparts in the early twentieth century would never, ever have done something so horrible as be racists (cough, sputter, BRITISH ISRAELISM).
6. “There are certain fish, the topminnows, who have the remarkable ability to have sex with each other—traditional fish sex—and they can have sex with themselves.” – Bill Nye
I don’t think anyone in the audience thought they would be hearing so much about fish, let alone such talk of fish having sex with themselves. The elderly woman down the row from me looked outraged. The prepubescent teen boy was thrilled.
7. “Did I not say ‘one word answer’?” – Moderator, to Bill Nye
CNN wasn’t just patting itself on the back when it summarized, “The debate was moderated by CNN’s Tom Foreman, and, if there’s one thing both sides can agree on, it’s that he did a swell job.” Here Foreman was being true to his name and keeping the shift running on time.