When I heard several weeks ago that Bill Nye would be debating Ken Ham at the “Creation Museum,” I was beyond excited. Not only that, but I ACTUALLY got one of the less than 1,000 tickets to the event! (see my previous blog, “I Got a Golden Ticket! I’m Going to the Nye vs. Ham Debate!”)
Since then, I’ve noticed quite an outcry against Nye participating in the debate with a “young earth creationist.” There is the assertion that Nye’s presence will give the Creation Museum and it’s founder, Ken Ham, a new level of credibility. Also, that the task is a waste of time because those who don’t regard modern science over their religious dogmas regarding the age of the earth, evolution, etc. will not change their minds anyway. Some suggest that Nye, like Richard Dawkins, should eschew debates with creationists outright.
Let me give you several reasons why I support Nye participating in the debate:
1. Nye is a true ambassador for science- From 20 years ago with the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” show until recent years appearing on many news shows, Nye desires to educate the masses about the Scientific Method and demonstrable facts about the world and cosmos. We live in a Nation where nearly everyone uses advanced technologies, yet the vast minority of people is scientifically illiterate. We NEED people like Bill Nye, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and others who are giants in the scientific community, yet passionate and able to deliver a zest for science to the masses.
2. Bill Nye ISN’T a “debater”- Some have decried Nye’s potential potency as a debater against Ham, who is a seasoned debater for his YEC cause. Ham knows his “argument” well and is very experienced at presenting it. You can see Ham’s unforgiving debate style even against a fellow believer that holds an “old earth” position in his square off with Hugh Ross in this video.
Bill Nye is a natural educator, not a debater. He follows the patient, explanatory pattern of his own professor in college, Carl Sagan. Sagan’s desire to kindly and methodically impart scientific facts is illuminated in this video of his dialogue with a creationist challenging evolutionary science decades ago:
You can note Nye’s similar style in this video where he was supporting the issue of climate change:
In this ongoing, “beating a dead horse,” creationist vs. evolutionary science battle; we need more dialogue and less debate. Bill Nye can be a HUGE part of that needed dialogue.
3. People DO actually change their minds- I know, because I am one of them. I used to be a fundamentalist, Young Earth Creationist Christian. I took the book of Genesis as a literal history of the creation of the earth and humanity. Eventually, I had to face science, logic, and reason. When that happened, I changed my mind. Even if it’s the minority of adults who WILL ever change their minds for the better, it’s still encouraging. It is the next generation that will be the real catalyst for moving from fables to fact. Events like this one that Nye is participating in will add needed momentum to this paradigm shift in our scientifically ignorant Nation.
4. “Credibility” isn’t so easily earned- There is a large number of American Christians that give Ken Ham’s teachings and the Creation Museum credibility now. There is a larger number of Christians, believers in other faiths, and non-theists who do not. Successfully inviting an established scientist to a publicized debate isn’t going to cause many of the second group to dispense a new-found credibility to Ham or the Creation Museum. I am going to the debate. I spent my $30 for the ticket. But, I do not have 1% more respect for the veracity of Ham’s position or the Creation Museum than I already did. That said, I am glad the Creation Museum is having the event. I also doubt the “Museum” will lose much credibility with those that support it when they hear Nye’s presentation. Though I believe the greater potential for gains is on the side of science. Facts don’t always win, but facts do possess more traction than fables in the long run. We can’t be afraid of the bullying of fables or those who preach them as truth. I applaud Bill Nye for being willing to confront a premier preacher of these fables on Ham’s own turf.
I am in great anticipation of this event on the 4th of February. Please follow my blog for more updates and information before, during, and after the debate! For more information and opinions on this debate, see the links below:
AronRa’s take on the debate:
Bill Nye talks about debate:
Bill Nye’s original viral video against creationism:
Ken Ham’s initial response to Bill Nye’s viral video against creationism:
The Friendly Atheist’s blog on the debate: