Science Throw-down! Intellectually, that is. Tonight marks the long awaited debate between the bow tie sporting executive director of the Planetary Society, mechanical engineer and all around "Science Guy" Bill Nye, and leading creationist and president/CEO of Answers in Genesis (AiG) Ken Ham.
The debate, to be hosted by CNN’s Tom Foremon, is the culmination of a public conversation on the validity of the biblically inspired “creationism” as a viable option to the question of how and why life exists on this planet that began with Nye making a comment regarding creationism in schools in a Big Think video.
Nye’s comments – which suggested that things like creationism were not only not for children, but were detrimental to their quest for real knowledge and to the population at large – spurred a response from devout creationist Ken Ham, who challenged Nye to a debate.
While many evolutionists feel that Nye’s willingness to participate in the debate gives too much credence to the creationist claims, others are simply excited to watch.
It should also be noted that it appears that the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, where the debate will take place tonight, has made statements that they are “hosting” Nye. Bill Nye, like many public speakers, is bookable. So, did Nye agree to participate in the debate, or was he booked by the Creation Museum? The fact that the Creation Museum – which features cave men hanging out with dinosaurs a la The Flintstones - is hosting the event. The 900 ticket venue sold out in 20 minutes, and that the museum has already begun selling DVDs of the debate. This has led some to speculate that Ken Ham and his supporters using the debate simply as a way to raise funds for their own means.
While Bill Nye may or may not have been paid to participate, his motivation seems pure and inspired by the very love of science and reason he ignited in the hearts of so many children through his PBS show Bill Nye: The Science Guy. Nye has come forward to refute those who would discourage the debate on the grounds that it gives too much credence to the creationist themselves. Instead, he feels a moral obligation to shine a light on the issue in hopes to encourage a more scientifically literate generation.
“I’m not going in really as a scientist as such. I want to remind everybody – I’m a mechanical engineer – I’m going in as a reasonable man, and I think to just call attention to this belief system has value.” Nye said. In past comments on the same issue Nye has expressed his concern about the spread of these ideas. ”If the United States produces a generation of science students that don’t believe in science, that’s troublesome.”
Ken Ham is also excited to debate his beliefs in hopes that it will draw more people to what he calls “real science”. In an Op-Ed published on CNN, Ham welcomed the debate, but was sure to throw in a jab or two to add a little spice to this particular scientific debate,
“Even though the two of us are not PhD scientists,” ooh, nerd burn, “Mr. Nye and I clearly love science” Ham goes on to make mention of Nye’s TV career, a not so thinly veiled attack on Nye’s credentials, and makes mention of the many actual PhD’s he has confirming his beliefs. The piece is written much like the tone of his retort video to Nye, with an undercurrent of passive aggressiveness that we are likely to see in action at the debate. Lets hope Nye can deliver a few zingers of his own, as Ham seems to have his debate strategy well in hand.
Annnnnd here is the complete debate from last night…