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Ken Ham: Why I'm debating Bill Nye about creationism
Bill Nye and Ken Ham will debate the origins of life Tuesday at the Creation Museum.
February 3rd, 2014
01:15 PM ET

Ken Ham: Why I'm debating Bill Nye about creationism

Editors note: Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye on February 4 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, with CNN's Tom Foreman moderating. The debate will be livestreamed at CNN.com at 7 pm ET, and Piers Morgan Live will interview Ham and Nye on Tuesday at 9 ET.

WATCH TUESDAY NIGHT'S DEBATE HERE: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/cvplive/cvpstream1.html

Opinion by Ken Ham, special to CNN

(CNN) - Public debates on evolution and creation have become increasingly rare. Several hundred well-attended debates were held in the 1970s and 1980s, but they have largely dried up in recent decades.

So I look forward to a spirited yet cordial debate on Tuesday with Bill Nye, the "Science Guy" of television fame.

I also look forward to the opportunity to help counter the general censorship against creationists' view of origins. While we are not in favor of mandating that creation be taught in public school science classes, we believe that, at the very least, instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution.

Even though the two of us are not Ph.D. scientists, Mr. Nye and I clearly love science.

As a former science instructor, I have appreciated the useful television programs that he hosted and produced, especially when he practiced operational science in front of his audience.

He and I both recognize the wonderful benefits that observational, operational science has brought us, from cell phones to space shuttles. But operational science, which builds today’s technology, is not the same as presenting beliefs about the past, which cannot be tested in the laboratory.

For students, the evolution-creation discussion can be a useful exercise, for it can help develop their critical thinking skills.

MORE ON CNN: Bill Nye: Why I'm Debating Ken Ham 

Most students are presented only with the evolutionary belief system in their schools, and they are censored from hearing challenges to it. Let our young people understand science correctly and hear both sides of the origins issue and then evaluate them.

Our public schools arbitrarily define science as explaining the world by natural processes alone. In essence, a religion of naturalism is being imposed on millions of students. They need to be taught the real nature of science, including its limitations.

Nye, the host of a popular TV program for children, should welcome a scrutiny of evolution in the classrooms.

As evolution-creation issues continue to be in the news - whether it relates to textbook controversies or our debate - there is an increasingly bright spotlight on the research activities of thousands of scientists and engineers worldwide who have earned doctorates and are creationists.

On our full-time staff at Answers in Genesis, we have Ph.D.s in astronomy, geology, biology, molecular genetics, the history of science, and medicine. Yes, creationists are still a small minority in the scientific community, but they hold impressive credentials and have made valuable contributions in science and engineering.

I remember the time I spoke at a lunchtime Bible study at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington. I was thrilled to meet several scientists and engineers who accept the book of Genesis as historical and reject Darwinian evolution. They shared with me that a belief in evolution had nothing to do with their work on the Hubble Space Telescope. Why should our perspective about origins be censored?

Our young people and adults should be aware that considerable dissent exists in the scientific world regarding the validity of molecules-to-man evolution.

It’s an important debate, for what you think about your origins will largely form your worldview. If you believe in a universe that was created by accident, then there is ultimately no meaning and purpose in life, and you can establish any belief system you want with no regard to an absolute authority.

Ultimately, I have decided to accept an authority our infallible creator and his word, the Bible over the words of fallible humans.

Ken Ham is founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis (USA) and founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The views expressed in this column belong to Ham.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Culture wars • Evolution • Opinion • Science

soundoff (4,336 Responses)
  1. Dan

    I too get my theories on the origin of man from the Flintstones.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:45 am |
    • doobzz

      The Flintstones were based on the Honeymooners, so I'd say it's at least as viable a guess as the bible. The bible bases its stories on other stories throughout.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:52 am |
  2. csharpdrummer

    "Ultimately, I have decided to accept an authority — our infallible creator and his word, the Bible — over the words of fallible humans."

    Argument over; Fallible Humans placed the words in the bible, therefore it cannot be trusted. I believe in a creator, but not anything man has touched and revised repeatedly over centuries.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:45 am |
  3. OldSchool

    I had a rather long discussion about this with my dad and brother on Sunday. I am a bit conflicted on actual scientists having these debates with creationists because it gives them an air of legitimacy. They can point to this and tell their sheep "see, if creationism didn't have some merit, would the snooty scientist guy be here to discuss it with me?". I fear that their flock lacks the capacity to recognize when their leaders have been put in their place in regard to science and the scientific method.

    One thing is for sure, I just hope that Bill Nye had the forethought to demand full equal rights to the video of the event. It would be a shame if another instance of a church refusing to release an atheist/religious debate video because they got utterly trampled, like Pastor Rick Stedman of Adventure Christian Church (who only caved after significant pressure)...

    February 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
    • Jahtez

      I hope so too; there will be done creative editing going on, you can be sure of that.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:49 am |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    We are yet to hear an evolutionary biologist claim that they accept Darwin's Theory of Evolution because:

    1. They had an experience one day and now feel "born again" after Charles came into their lives.

    2. Evolution is written about in a 2,000 year old book of late Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Jewish mythology.

    3. It makes them moral and good.

    4. "Well, how else could it have happened."

    I guess we rational people just hold ourselves to a higher standard than the sky-fairy believers.

    – Colin

    February 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
    • but

      Both you and Colin are not rational people. Sorry. I'm sure you have faith that you are. But you have both failed to prove it to anyone but yourselves. It's ok, though. Knowing is half the battle.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:47 am |
    • k210

      Debating you on the issue of creation vs. evolution would be short but fun. My guess is you would fold to name calling in the first 30 minutes. Consider this a challenge by the way.

      February 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • Rick

      Lots of books are old that doesn't mean they are true. Do you really believe the world is 6000 years old like the bible says? Do you really believe some old guy managed to collect 2 of every animal from every continent in the world and put them all on one boat and none of them died for months while a god who "loves everyone" slaughters and drowns every man woman and child on the planet? All because he had a temper tantrum?

      The bible is obviously a book of fiction, Hell green eggs and ham is more plausible than the bible

      February 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
  5. Cinman

    Creationists have never cared that the early books of the Bible have no timeline. The dates were backtracked by a bit of a nut thinking it was real math and science. We have been given the ability to see the great creation of science from the laws of physics to testing the age of materials. All we do is discover what was created, already exists. God is the first scientist and it's not a big deal if what was done covered millions of years in OUR short lifespan.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
  6. Kerowack

    "Ultimately, I have decided to accept an authority — our infallible creator and his word, the Bible — over the words of fallible humans." The infallible creator and his word, the Bible, were created by fallible humans.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
  7. Lou

    I learned about religion in high school mythology...

    February 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  8. Valkyrie

    I tend to agree with a quote from Einstein. For me, the question is not whether God (however reasonably defined) created the Universe (or Universes), but whether God had a choice in how He created it.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
    • Ray Sanders

      Einstein didn't believe in the Jewish God or the Christian God. When he talked about God he was referring to the harmony that exists in the universe. Einstein believed in Spinoza's God. Spinoza was a pantheist. God is nature and nature is God.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:49 am |
  9. GOD of ALL GOD's yes even that one

    boy, I bet this show gets the BIG RATINGS

    February 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  10. doobzz

    "The point is that evolutionists fail to distinguish between guesses about the past"

    Evolutionists are comfortable with "guesses" because they don't claim to know everything about the origins of the universe, and are open to wherever the evidence leads. They know that the evidence leads to the truth, whether it takes one year, five, or a thousand. Repeatable, verifiable evidence.

    Creationists only have one "guess" about what happened, and they can't go where the evidence leads because they have to follow their book. When the evidence contradict their book, they discount the evidence, when they should be throwing the book away.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  11. Jamie

    Did anyone see that story about the demon possessed kid walking up the wall onto the ceiling and being witnessed by a nurse and child protective services employee? That story has some BS to it, but that particular incident has no rational explanation. Take that and combine it with all the possible evidence from historical hauntings.

    So I took that, and combined it with stories from my parents of what they have seen, and what some missionary friends have claimed to have seen during their adventures. I've known my father his whole life, you wouldn't believe him as a stranger, but he would never lie to me about what he told me.

    I simply can't take this information, and figure out a way to apply it to the idea of a totally Godless world based on evolution. That doesn't mean the Bible is compeltely right, but evolution also cannot be completely right. And from the evidence I have heard, I believe the Bible has gotten close, esp about Jesus and his sacrifice for us.

    Hoaxes and mental illness mixed in with truly unexplainable incidents make the situation even harder to sort out scientifically.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:41 am |
    • Jahtez

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/29/alleged-demon-home-sells-for-35000/5044459/

      There is a link within the story to the original story, which the wall walking you referenced is contained.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
    • HolyWar

      It's indicative of how religion can hijack the minds of what would be otherwise 'normal' individuals. One of MANY examples on how religion can be misconstrued and counter intuitive. Abolish all religions for once.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:46 am |
    • Brian

      Technically it is impossible for you to have known your father for his whole life – that would mean you are as old as your father. Just saying....

      February 4, 2014 at 11:55 am |
  12. ellid

    I cannot believe that CNN gave a forum to a scientific illiterate like Ken Ham. This is nothing more than an attempt to promote his failing museum, and if he actually tells the truth more than once or twice in the debate I will be shocked.

    Shame on him for forgetting that the Bible instructs us not to bear false witness, because that is exactly what his "museum" is doing: bearing false witness about science and the past.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      well said!

      February 4, 2014 at 11:41 am |
  13. mudbone9

    Why can't evolution be part of God's grand design. This argument is so stupid. Only a Sith thinks in absolutes!

    February 4, 2014 at 11:39 am |
  14. DaveFl

    Jesus built my hot rod.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:38 am |
    • Tamra

      How long, Dave?

      February 4, 2014 at 11:39 am |
      • Jewlz

        Hey now!

        February 4, 2014 at 11:42 am |
    • Jewlz

      He built mine too!....................oh wait, never mind. Wrong 'Rod'

      February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    FAIL

    creationists are opposed to science because it proves them to be fools.

    if cell phones and airplanes somehow disproved your primitive goat herder written book, then creationists would deny them too.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:38 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      sorry ... meant to be a reply to @nathanrobertham

      February 4, 2014 at 11:38 am |
    • Shelia

      False.. GOD is and was the first scientist..

      February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        LOLOLOLOL Comedy Gold!!!

        February 4, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • but

          You are not a renowned scientist. All you do is spread your bad philosophy.

          February 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          actually, I am. shows how little you know. 🙂

          February 4, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • but

          I bet you are not a renowned scientist. I'll give $1,000 to the Richard Dawkins Foundation if you can provide credentials that prove you are famous for your scientific knowledge and contributions.

          February 4, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • 12Sports

        Yes. We study his laws.

        February 4, 2014 at 11:42 am |
    • Mike

      If that is the case then are scientists opposed to math? You have a better chance to win the Mega Jackpot Lottery 10 straight times than for all of creation to form with no higher power in control. We can't even survive the ends of our own earth, yet we're to believe that everything just perfectly fell into place. No offense, but I'll give some sort of higher power better odds than that.

      February 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
      • Karl

        Do you understand statistics?
        Think of it this way: You pull up behind a blue car with the Ohio license plate XJQ34 (or whatever). What are the odds that of all the cars and states and letters and numbers, you, of all people, would wind up behind that one car? And yet, here you are. Of all the events possible, given the matter existent at the beginning of the universe, there were infinite possibilities. We wound up with this one. A deity had nothing to do with it.

        February 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
  16. Marty in MA

    the sad truth is that noboby is going to change anybody's mind with this debate. Minds are made up and are closed. Values are not changeble, be they right or wrong.

    If you believe in invisible wizards in the sky and angels, nothing anybody says will change that 🙁

    February 4, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "cognitive dissonance":

      Mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The concept was introduced by the psychologist Leon Festinger (1919–89) in the late 1950s. He and later researchers showed that, when confronted with challenging new information, most people seek to preserve their current understanding of the world by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding the new information or by convincing themselves that no conflict really exists.

      this peculiar human trait has kept religion going through the centuries despite the mountains of evidence proving its foolishness.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:39 am |
    • OTOH

      Marty,
      "If you believe in invisible wizards in the sky and angels, nothing anybody says will change that"

      In general, maybe so, but it seems as if most of the non-believers that I run across are former believers in that stuff. **Something** helped change that...

      February 4, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  17. ShawnDH

    There is no real argument or proof for "creationism." It's just mythology-based "faith" which is fine, but it has no basis in reality.

    "Look around! This couldn't exist without God." is not a point.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:35 am |
    • rpavich

      I can tell by your comment that you have no idea of the argument that the Creationists forward in this debate. I encourage you to watch it so that you at least are familiar with their arguments.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:38 am |
      • Jewer

        Ya no thx. Pointless and redundant

        February 4, 2014 at 11:41 am |
      • thomasphillips314

        He or she doesn't have to be familiar with the exact Creationist points because they all stem from the same philosophical position. However a Creationist decides today to word his arguments, in the end he still possesses an outcome for which he is looking for evidence to support. Science, on the other hand, advances by trying to disprove something until it has withstood rigorous scrutiny.

        Any faith-based concept of origins can't survive even the most basic investigation. You're free to believe whatever you want, but Creationism is not an idea that will EVER be supported by real science. By it is by its very definition anti science.

        February 4, 2014 at 11:47 am |
      • JQP1122

        @rpavich:

        I know I would enjoy watching BECAUSE I cannot fathom how a creationist can support their claims when most if not all their claims are faith based.

        February 4, 2014 at 11:47 am |
    • Ray Sanders

      Faith has no basis in science. Faith is the belief in something without evidence. I can have faith that unicorns exists. Most people will not believe in unicorns without evidence they exist. Since there is no evidence for unicorns people don't believe they exist. Religion is the only place where believing without evidence is a virtue. Because they have no evidence.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:44 am |
      • Shelia

        Funny since science evidence is either wrong or ever changing...

        February 4, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • Shelia

      Your belief in a theory is nothing but faith.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:45 am |
      • thomasphillips314

        You don't understand science if that's your position.

        February 4, 2014 at 11:55 am |
      • Dave

        Faith because of evidence is not faith by definition. A scientist argues because of the evidence. A believer argues in spite of the evidence. It would be fantastic if religious evidence was held to the same standard as scientific evidence, but at the end of the day we all know that religious evidence is an oxymoron.

        February 4, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
        • Shelia

          ... just goggle theories proven wrong if you want some evidence..

          February 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
        • Dave

          Oh I expect there are many theories that have been proven wrong. That's what science does. It's how we came to realize the Earth isn't flat. It's how the heliocentric model of the solar system took the place of the stars and planets revolving around Earth. Once a theory has been proven infallible it becomes a law, ie how the theory of gravity became the law of gravity. Has evolution been 100% proven? No. Current consensus probably puts it at about 95%, about 95% higher than creationism. The problem is that religion does not subject itself to the same level of scrutiny that science does. If simply believing in something made it true, I'd go hop into my DeLorean, gun it to 88 mph, and time travel to the not so distant future when evolution has become law. Sadly, I will have to wait for the scientific method to run its course.

          February 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
  18. sly

    This debate might be as exciting as the Super Bowl.

    Once we have exhausted this subject, let's all have a debate about the upcoming Farm Bill.

    Anyone with problems sleeping – come to this blog and offer your opinion about what happened 40 million years ago. Don't worry – there are no pre-requsites – just throw out your guesses, and if you have photo's, please bring them.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:32 am |
  19. nathanrobertham

    It is amazing to me how many people still don't get that this is not a science vs religion debate. Did you read the article written above? Neither evolutionists nor creationists are opposed to observable, repeatable science. The point is that evolutionists fail to distinguish between guesses about the past and operational science that gives us cell phones, airplanes, etc. Creationists are NOT opposed at all to operational science. The disagreement is about the past, which cannot be tested or repeated by either side.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:32 am |
    • tony

      That's right.

      Creationists want to cherry pick science, so that they don't look as stupid when contradicting the working of everyday objects and most peoples' taken for granted experiences.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Pharmaceutical biochemistry is an "operational science" predicated on the application of evolutionary theory.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • billlongbottombeef

      " Creationists are NOT opposed at all to operational science." is misleading. They actually oppose anything that conflicts with their crazy beliefs. Really, "operational science" is a non-term, used to conveniently group stuff that doesn't directly contradict their lunacy. It has no meaning in real science.

      Creationism lost out as something to be taught in science class, because of lack of evidence. Now the frustrated creationist wingnuts are pretty much fighting with their last gasp, and running out of steam. It's almost fun to watch their crazy beliefs die out.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:39 am |
    • Sungrazer

      It is amazing that you don't get that conclusions can be drawn from past processes. It is amazing that you don't get that we see evolution occuring today.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • JohnC

        yes. While we can certainly get more feedback from an experiment done in person we can still observe aspects of the past, make hypothesis and test those. We can test them by predicting that we may likely find something else from the past (or in the present) that would result from our hypothesis. Even in the present science is rarely 100% certain as there may be some aspect yet to be noticed. Instead we gradually converge on the truth and now and then have to admit to some mistakes. One problem some creationist have with evolution is they can't comprehend and factor in lots of time. They may agree we see adaptations (they won't say evolution) in viruses, bacteria and small creatures like insects. They feel the lack of clear similar changes in larger animals means no evolution. But larger animals more likely die from mutations. But the rare changes in larger animals that survive add up if you can accept the idea of over a billion years.

        February 4, 2014 at 11:57 am |
        • nathanrobertham

          "But the rare changes in larger animals that survive add up if you can accept the idea of over a billion years"
          - You just proved my point. The molecules to man evolution is a guess, an extrapolation. By definition, it is not observable. It is a guess, at best a theory. But it is not testable or observable. Bacteria adapt but are still bacteria. Dogs produce a variety of different dogs, but they are still dogs. There is not a single observable proof of one animal kind changing into another.

          February 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Much of it is inference. So? It adds up to a compelling case. A theory is not what you think it is. A theory is not just a guess. It is a well established set of facts. Evolution is as well supported as the idea that the Earth orbits the sun. Do you want to do away with all detective work because it could only produce a "guess"?

          "There is not a single observable proof of one animal kind changing into another."

          The fossil record contains many. The genetic record contains many, many more.

          February 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      FAIL

      creationists are opposed to science because it proves them to be fools.

      if cell phones and airplanes somehow disproved your primitive goat herder written book, then creationists would deny them too.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
    • ME II

      @nathanrobertham,
      The very idea that you buy into the division of science into "operational" and "historical" indicates that you don't understand the science that's involved.

      February 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • Rick

      Creationists think a fictional book written a thousand years ago to control a weak minded population then re-written and translated and changed countless times over the centuries is some kind of source for scientific fact.

      February 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
  20. Alex

    Historical beliefs should be taught in social studies. Science should be taught in science.

    February 4, 2014 at 11:32 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      and cults should be kept to their houses of worship on sunday ... they have no place in schools!!!

      February 4, 2014 at 11:33 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        "A prayer in a public school?! God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place in an organized religion!"
        – Supernintendo Chalmers

        February 4, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • Anon

          Don't pray in my schools and I won't think in your churches.

          February 4, 2014 at 11:51 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.