- (Photo: YouTube screenshot)
Bill Nye "The Science Guy" opened up about his February debate with Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham, noting that he agreed to do it because he felt it was an opportunity to express why he finds the views of Ham and his supporters to be "bad for humankind."
"I held strongly to the view that it was an opportunity to expose the well-intending Ken Ham and the support he receives from his followers as being bad for Kentucky, bad for science education, bad for the U.S., and thereby bad for humankind-I do not feel I'm exaggerating when I express it this strongly," Nye, who is also the CEO of science-advocacy group The Planetary Society, wrote in the May/June 2014 volume for The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
The debate in question was held at the Creation Museum in Kentucky on Feb. 4, and was watched online by an estimated 3 million people. Nye argued in favor of evolution, while Ham defended a literal interpretation of the Genesis account in the Bible.
Nye revealed that Ham invited him to a debate following the scientist's critical comments on creationism in a video for BigThink.com, where he argued that children and science students should not be "indoctrinated" into the "weird worldview" of creationists.
Nye accepted the debate challenge on the topic "Is creation a viable model of origins in the modern scientific era?" but noted that he was surprised by how much media attention the event generated, as he did not expect it to be more prominent than the college appearances he makes every year.
After detailing his preparation and strategy for the debate, including his thoughts during the event itself, Nye said that although the debate was not scored and there was no winner, he felt that most accounts suggested that he "bested" Ham.
"The fundamental idea that I hope all of us embrace is, simply put, performance counts as much or more than the specifics of the arguments in a situation like this. I admit that, for me at least, it took tremendous concentration. I was and am respectful of Ken Ham's passion. At a cognitive level, he believes what he says. He really means it, when he says that he has 'a book' that supersedes everything you and I and his parishioners can observe everywhere in nature around us," Nye wrote.
"After the debate, my agent and I were driven back to our hotel. We were, by agreement, accompanied by two of Ham's security people. They were absolutely grim. I admit it made me feel good. They had the countenance of a team that had been beaten-beaten badly in their own stadium."
Back in February, a week after the debate, Nye talked about some of the backlash he received, noting that a person defaced his or her own car to take a shot at him.
"Somebody out there hates me enough to actually deface their own car," Nye told CBS 58 News, showing a photo that was sent to him. The photo is of a car with its windows marked with the lettering "Bill Nye the Science Lie."
There were mixed responses to the debate, with some Christians expressing that they felt Ham delivered the stronger arguments.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and who supports young earth creationism, was present at February's event. He said that Nye, who identifies as an agnostic and as a "reasonable man," failed to acknowledge that man's reasoning has been corrupted by the fall (of man), as described in Genesis and other passages in the Bible.
"This is what theologians refer to as the 'noetic effects of the fall.' We have not lost the ability to know all things, but we have lost the ability to know them on our own authority and power," the theologian argued. "We are completely dependent upon divine revelation for the answers to the most important questions of life. Our sin keeps us from seeing what is right before our eyes in nature."
Some who agree with evolution and Nye's views, said that they thought Ham was better prepared.
"All Ham had to do was sit still for two-and-a-half hours, sound vaguely professional, and pander occasionally to his base. Sure, if you listened closely, what Ham was saying made absolutely no scientific sense. But debate is a format of impressions, not facts. Ham sounded like a reasonable human being, loosely speaking, and that's what mattered," the Daily Beast wrote.
"Nye, meanwhile, spent three-quarters of the debate sounding like a clueless geek, even if his points were scientifically valid. He went on strange asides and made awkward appeals to the obviously hostile audience, which he at one point referred to as 'my Kentucky friends.' He spent 10 minutes delivering a dry lecture on geological sediments and biogeography, using the kind of PowerPoint slides that a high school junior might make for his AP Biology class."
For his part, Ham said that what he has found more troubling than Nye's interviews following the debate is the criticism other Christians have directed toward him.
"What is sad to me is not what Bill Nye thinks about me. What I found really unfortunate is that after presenting my stand on God's Word, there were a number of Christians who were more complimentary of Bill Nye than of me because Bill Nye was defending evolution and billions of years," Ham wrote in a blog post in February.
"You would think these Christians would be thankful that I presented the gospel at least three times during the debate. But it seems these Christian critics are more concerned about what I believe in Genesis than about people hearing the gospel."
Answers in Genesis, of which Ham is also CEO and President, created a post-debate section on its website addressing the number of scientific arguments brought up during the event, which Nye also refers to in his CSI article.