Bill Nye, Creation Museum head debate evolution

10:35 PM, Feb 4, 2014   |    comments
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Ken Ham (L) and Bill Nye (Cincinnati Enquirer/Getty Images)

(Cincinnati Enquirer) -- Tuesday evening, Creation Museum founder Ken Ham debated science educator Bill Nye on evolution and biblical creation.

Here we take a look at Nye and Ham's arguments side-by-side as originally presented in advance of the debate.

PHOTOS | Bill Nye, Ken Ham to debate evolution vs. creationism

Ken Ham

Why and how did you decide to challenge Bill Nye to a debate?

When Bill Nye came out with a video in 2012 saying creationism isn't appropriate to teach children, and if we aren't teaching evolution it's going to undermine the economy and technology, I came out with a video as well challenging Bill Nye that evolution has nothing to do with technology or the economy. I said that teaching children about animals and that there is no God is harmful because that's the basis for morality. We contacted Bill Nye because I thought it was time for this to go public in a big way because of censorship in the culture about this issue. Even when states pass legislation letting students think and decide for themselves, there's a censorship going on. When Bill Nye is out there making statements about evolution vs. creationism, everybody's happy. But when we want people to hear both sides and decide for themselves, people want to shut us down.

Bill Nye has received criticism from some in the scientific community for dignifying the creationist argument by agreeing to debate you. Have any of your supporters criticized you?

I have received criticism from Christians who believe in evolution and millions of years and don't want me out there making the case for a young earth. But for people who take God's word as historical fact, they are happy to have someone making the case in public for them.

Do you think your efforts are making a difference?

When you look at the latest Pew survey, 33 percent of those responding say they stand where we stand, which is not a small number. In the last 20 years Answers in Genesis has pumped out a lot of information on our website and in DVDs, and some of these discussions at school boards are based on our material. We aren't involved in those (campaigns), but it's our job to get the information out.

Atheists are so aggressive. They're in the minority but it's causing Christians to become more active in defending their faith. We're being aggressive too and we're challenging Christians that they need to be aggressive.

Is Christianity incompatible with evolution?

I'm not saying you're not a Christian because the Bible doesn't say you have to believe in six days (of creation) and a young earth. You have to believe in Jesus Christ to be a Christian. But you have to change the Bible to fit with the millions of years theory, and that undermines the Bible's authority.

What do you expect to happen Tuesday in the debate?

People are asking me who will win. I don't think it matters win or lose. The great thing is that people will be challenged to discuss the issues instead of people being censored. I hope they're go check these things out and critically analyze the issue of origins, and the important thing for me is I hope to get people thinking about the Bible. I hope people will discuss who they are, where they came from, how the Bible fits into that and ultimately the message of salvation.

Bill Nye

Some scientists think it's a bad idea to debate a creationist, that sharing a stage with Ken Ham will give his theory some credibility.

That may be true, but it will also call attention to this point of view. By the rules this debate isn't about evolution, it's about Ken Ham's creationist model of the earth. He claims to believe that the earth is 6,000 years old. This wouldn't matter except that we can't raise a generation of students who believe that. This is bad for Kentucky, Ohio, the United States and the world.

This debate is drawing a surprising amount of attention to an organization with fringe views that's related to organizations that are trying to put creationist views into textbooks. This isn't about religion. My point is the creationist model isn't accurate or credible.

What information do you want the audience to walk away with?

The audience in the theater isn't likely to be influenced by anything I say. By one account the tickets sold out in two minutes. Presumably the tickets all went to people in his church, and his organization. My main point is that these people exist in the United States, which when I stop to think about it is incredible. It means that I as a science educator have failed. I'm not sure he really believes it, but he says the world is 6,000 years old. Roads have been built, presumably using Kentucky tax money, to a museum that calls attention to this point of view. We cannot have scientifically illiterate students. We have too many problems to solve.

Another criticism of the event is that the museum and the Answers in Genesis ministry stands to profit from the debate, and from selling DVDs of it.

The way I understand it, ticket sales will not cover my fee. And I also have the ability to sell DVDs. Shoppers can choose who they want to support. I appreciate the concern, but I am trying to see it both ways. I'm trying to raise the issue in what is arguably the most technologically advanced country in the world.

Will you tour the museum while you're here?

I'll tour it if I have a camera crew. The pictures I've seen are incredible.

Why do you think people believe in creationism?

What I attribute it to is mediocre leadership and the curtailing of missions to deep space and the state of the space program outside the planetary science community. The U.S. space program doesn't do the extraordinary things they did 40 years ago, and this has influenced schools. The inherent interest in science has waned a bit. It's easily recaptured, but it takes leadership.

Science itself has become politicized, and the example there is climate change. The fossil-fuel industry has introduced the idea that scientific uncertainty is equivalent to scientific doubt. Plus or minus 10 percent is not the same as it's all wrong, but it's easy to confuse. It's in lockstep with what the cigarette industry did years ago. As the cigarette officials wrote, doubt is our product.

Does it matter whether people believe in evolution or creationism?

Evolution is the foundational idea in all life science. You don't want a physician, a surgeon or an emergency medical technician who doesn't understand life science. In the same way you don't want him or her to not understand evolution.

This is not a religious debate. I'm no expert in theology, and I don't have a dog in that fight. But this has served to politicize science in the U.S. in general, and it is unique to the United States. There's no other culture with groups that want to put creationism in science textbooks. You can have it in religion textbooks, or philosophy, or history, but you can't have it in science textbooks.

 

(Cincinnati Enquirer)

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