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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. Bollucks

    Religion is mind-control of the masses. Break free already.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
  2. Bollucks

    How do you "debate" something that has no proof other than a book of fairy tales written by humans and the unwavering "faith" of people wrought with guilt and shame. Religion is nothing more than and effective means to control the weak-minded.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      "Can genetic engineering explain Fluffy the three-headed dog? Could antigravity research produce a flying broomstick? A class at Frostburg State University in Maryland tries to answer these questions and more. In the Science of Harry Potter course, students analyze magic by applying concepts of physics, biology, chemistry and engineering, and they take a look at everything from the latest teleportation research ("apparating") to Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and the science of taste."

      My point is that fiction can be a fun tool to use to learn about science, but no one needs to break their neck trying to fly on a broomstick or rely on prayer to find out there is no supernatural world we have to appease.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • durundal

      well, you could hold it up to all the other 'books' from all the different societies and then collectively smack yourselves on the head for being so silly and giving it such weight.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • Barcs

      I find it enjoyable to simply dismiss their bible quotes and instead present quotes from the Egyptian book of the dead and stories of Horus. It was written so it much be true.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
    • charleschapmantest

      Of course, if you were being honest with yourself, you would remember that in terms of creative writing, science is guilty of the most of it, and the worst of it - changing stories along the way as humans prove themselves wrong, over and over.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:43 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Science looks at the evidence and forms a conclusion. Religion looks at the conclusion and forms evidence.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • weatherman

      is science capable of answering how life began? Noooo way. Never will and never can. think about a molecule laying on the surface of a hot rock. that molecule can't become anything more unless it reacts with another molecule. It can't find another molecule so it needs to see. Wait.... it can't see. It doesn't even know of the existence of photons. There are problems with the explanation that molecules are randomly reacting into more complex molecules that suddenly obtain attributes that they don't posses before they reacted. Something tells me this is illogical. Science better have a good answer to dumb molecules understanding a photon exists.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
      • Barcs

        Yeah and 500 years ago if somebody thought about a combustion engine, they would say, "Nooooo way! Never will and never can". As if science never advances and learns new things. 😆 The rest of your post is chicken scratch.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
  4. LightHouse

    Any meaningful debate between evolution and creationism must focus on the logic and rationale behind each argument, as opposed to the physical/anecdotal evidence that each side would claim to have (reasoned from the assumption that each side does not trust the other, any presentation of evidence becomes a (s)he said/(s)he said shouting match).

    The theory of evolution has a logic based on rules of genetics, random mutation, and natural selection. Evolution on a small scale based on these principles is not difficult to reproduce in the laboratory. To account for the wide variation of life that has developed throughout biological history with this theory is plausible but leaves many unanswered questions that lie under the hood of the process of evolution. For example, how did land-vertebrates evolve from the presumable common ancestors between fish and land-vertebrates? Will this common ancestor resemble anything that we can imagine? (If we were to see it, it would probably look like a creature from an alien planet.)

    For an argument between evolutionist and creationist to be meaningful, it must be possible to provide clear, rational reason why the other explanation could not work.

    In order to firmly provide evidence against the evolutionist belief for the origin(s) of life, a creationist needs to provide a clear, mathematical reason why a certain branching-off process that must have happened could not have happened. If this is possible, it seems like it would be very difficult, first to find the branching-off in evolution that must have happened (based on observations) while showing that this branching off could not have happened (based on logic).

    The evolutionist will have trouble using the tools of logic or reason to contradict a creationist, because the views of the creationist are based on traditional/anecdotal/biblical beliefs, most of which are neither verifiable nor disprovable.

    Conclusion: A debate between a creationist and an evolutionist could have no serious (non-entertainment related) purpose.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Jake

      This board supports your conclusion. The believers here never seem to learn anything, but they sure are entertaining!

      February 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  5. CSD

    This is like debating with someone who says the sky is green and water is dry. Numbers, data, facts mean nothing or else there wouldn't be so many twits walking around embarrassing themselves with displays of man walking with dinosaurs, It's always a hoot debating someone whose reply ultimately boils down to "nuh uh"....

    February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  6. D

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

    Okay...except, who told you that the Bible is the word of your infallible creator? Fallible humans. Sorry, guy.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  7. Bill Robinson

    The debate of creation and evolution is a manufactured argument of the neo-platonic formula to defuse real credibility of the origin of life. The whole scheme of is becoming unraveled as the global community interconnect with global history and the likes of politics, religion, and science. We are beginning to realize the subjects connect and has been used as way to divide our thinking what is true and what is believable.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  8. sandiegowatch

    I don't believe in Creationists theory to the letter....the world is billions of years old.

    ....as for evolution...if you really look at it.....it supports the theory that someone manipulated human DNA. No other species evolved as rapidly as human beings.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
    • Barcs

      That's actually false. It took 7 million years to go from ancient ape to modern human, and every hominid species we have found shows slow development of the brain and cranial capacity over time. There is nothing sudden about humans.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
      • sandiegowatch

        Spiders, alligators, ants, various plant life have existed since the time of the dinosaurs.

        A fossil of a monkey over 45 million years old was found.

        The skeletal structure of our most closest humanoid ancestor resembles for more ape than modern man. There is no missing link. Between the modern man and that fossil there would have to exist at 50 different various.

        I seriously doubt our arm, hips, skull..etc..bones changed and our brains increased in size in just a few millions years.

        Name one species that evolved in a similar fashion...there is none.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • Barcs

          The whale.

          So you find it more likely that aliens spent 7 million years tweaking apes into humans? I mean, that's kind of a long time to invest in something like that. Why even bother? I do like AA theory and all, but humans didn't suddenly emerge unless you are saying 7 million years is short.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Barcs

          Also 20 different species of hominid have been found in between ancient ape and modern human. The idea that aliens would spend 7 million years creating humans for slave labor is a bit silly when they have the technology to automate everything.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • Barcs

          Also evolution is guided by the environment, which is constantly changing. There is no timetable. Some evolution happens quickly, some takes millions of years. White shark ancestors predate dinosaurs, yet they have barely changed in 200 million years. This is because they have been well suited for their environment and it hasn't been necessary.

          February 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • frespech

        The only thing required to make evolution practical to the intellectual is Millions if not billions of years and even scientist suggest that at different time there had to exist quantum leaps in evolution. My question to anyone is has there been any recorded verifiable leap in evolution in the past 6,000 years? The only species alive that could even begin to enter the discussion, contemplate it or form any opinion about it. There is nothing like us today,tomorrow or yesterday.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Barcs

          There is a measurable difference from modern humans today and humans from 30,000 years ago. It's small but its there. Slow change over time.

          February 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • not bob levy

      What is your proof of this? And what standard are you using for 'No other species evolved as rapidly as us"? You could argue several viruses have evolved exponentially faster than humans. Is H1N...whatever strain it is at now...the chosen 'people' then?
      -not bob levy

      February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • Barcs

        The evolution of amphibians, the whale, the cambrian explosion, etc were all much more rapid than humans considering what took place. There are tons of examples. Insects evolve into new species every dozen years or so.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • Michael Hunt, Esq.

      Creationism is not a theory, it is a hypothesis, and a completely untestable one at that. Please don't give credit where it is not due.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • Barcs

        Honestly, I don't think it even qualifies as a hypothesis. Usually hypotheses are educated guesses based on existing information (experiment results). It's just a complete guess out of left field.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • numbnut

      Have you read anything by Zecharia Sitchin? This is exactly what he discusses in The Twelfth Planet. Excellent read.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • lunchbreaker

        I have and hope you don't take him seriously.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • Ziggy

      How about dogs? Many species of dogs are only a couple of hundred years old.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Tangent001

    "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."

    Why do I not believe you?

    Maybe it's because of statements on the your AiG web site:

    "The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout." and "By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record."

    February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
  10. scarf

    I only hope Nye prepares for this debate. I don't want him to fall into the trap of other evolutionists who don't look into the arguments likely to be used by the creationists and look foolish because they are caught flat-footed. The classic that always gets me is the contention by creationists that evolution violates the Laws of Thermodynamics, but then they don't distinguish between open and closed systems. If you're not ready to respond to that, then the creationists look like science is on their side........

    February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
  11. Cupojavajoe

    I so want to see this and watch Bill Nye mop the floor with this guy. Creationists are not subjective. They are also not wanting to look at any other evidence and will force their views onto others. As for saying that Creationists don't want creationism in the schools to supersede the "operational science" is an outright lie. Creationists want to live in a world where everyone is expected to live with blind faith and believe in a non-existent "person" who is jealous and vindictive.

    Next...

    February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
  12. Ryan

    I really wish you folks would quit saying scientific "fact". Until its called the evolution facts instead of the evolution theory....is it accurate?

    The irony in that makes me laugh. Especially from higher thinking folks.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
    • Cupojavajoe

      Evolution is fact. The "theory" is the description of how things evolve over time. But it IS scientific fact. So please take your bible-misty glasses off and start reading. Your holding onto "theory" is not a valid argument.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      You should inform yourself about what it means to be a scientifict theory. It does not mean hunch or guess. When something in science is elevated to a theory, it is essentially established fact.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • frespech

        Seriously dude is gravity a theory.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          "Gravitational theory" is the term used to describe the mechanics behind the attraction of physical bodies. That is my point. Something can be called a theory and still be established fact. Note that it's not GRAVITY that is a theory, it is the explanation of what gravity is that is what is meant by gravitational theory.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
    • UncleM

      Evolution is an observable fact. Scientific theories such as natural selection provide explanations of the processes involved. Please educate yourself regarding the scientific meaning of the word theory. On the other hand, creationism is a myth made up by guys with no scientific knowledge and has no scientific merit.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • frespech

        Really, what is the last bit of evolution you observed, other than the fact you might be taller,heavier and have lived longer than both your parents.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Are you trolling? Evolution concerns the development of populations of organisms, not single organisms. In case you aren't trolling, do you wonder why you need a new flu shot each year? Those pesky viruses are evolving.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jake

      I think you should look up what a scientific theory is before you make a claim like that... Unless you're trolling, you just look foolish trying to talk science when you don't even know the difference between a theory and a different theory.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • Barcs

      Yeah, those higher thinking folks understand what a scientific theory is. Too bad you do not.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
    • Ryan

      3 answers...not one was anything other than a blowhard being sarcastic.

      Until you have connected all the dots with the evolution theory....it is still a theory. It has NOT been proven this is how life began. I dont need to know the defintion to come to that conclusion.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
      • Zeplin

        Evolution does NOT explain how life began. It only describes a process of how life changes. How life began is still not understood.

        Life from no life is a question both scientists and not scientists don't have an answer to. My own opinion believes that many of the smart people working on this question will soon make a breakthrough and life from no life will be accomplished in the laboratory. That will be an interesting day.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • frespech

          Zeplin, I am torn myself forming my own conclusion but I thank you for at least simplifying what really is at issue. Life from life or not- that is the crux of the discussion or it should be.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • Barcs

        😆

        Pay attention to this guy's tactics, everyone. This is exactly how Ken Ham is going to do it tonight. We showed him that he doesn't know what a scientific theory is and instead of looking it up or showing he does, he just repeats the same argument again as if nothing was said. My response was NOT sarcastic. It was true. Scientific theories are based on FACTS. Look it up. Evolution never claims to have started life. It changes life via genetic mutation. You can't have genetic mutation without DNA being present, so stop with this blatantly false comparison to abiogenesis. Trying reading just the basics of science 101 before attempting to dishonestly discredit it.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
      • HoustonOilMan

        Ryan, do you have a dog. Did you know they all came from wolves? Now how can you have a Chihuahua and a St., Bernard that started off as wolves?

        February 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
    • Mike

      Ryan, you misunderstand the scientific definition of "theory." In common vernacular, a theory is an educated guess. In science, a theory summarizes a group of hypotheses that have been supported by repeated testing. A scientific theory is accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon. No one doubts the "theory of gravity," and yet no one calls it the "fact of gravity."

      February 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • genophage ready

      Evolution is both a scientific theory and fact. It is the logical conclusion using *only* the molecular genetic data. The extensive-but-never-going-to-be-complete fossil record are available for those who lack the training or desire to look at the molecular data.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • PHX

      So do you have problems with the Theory of Gravity also?

      February 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • Allan

      Gravity is a theory.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
      • Zeplin

        Bad example. As Einstein showed, the Newtonian "Theory" of gravity, was not completely correct.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Barcs

          That's a good example because even though our understanding of gravity has changed, nobody doubts gravity or claims it doesn't exist or that it's just a theory and therefor can't be proven to exist. These claims are constantly made about evolution by people that haven't even read the basics of the theory. That's why debates like this are such a joke. Nye is wasting his time. It's like defending calculus to a 3rd grader that just learned basic math.

          February 4, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
    • Kevin

      Just like the Theory of Gravity is an attempt to understand and explain the observable fact of gravity, the Theory of Evolution attempts to explain the observable fact of evolution, which is overwhelmingly supported by what we know about the world.
      Intelligent Design is also a theory. But it ignores the vast storehouse of observations which lead most scientists to conclude that evolution is a fact, choosing instead to fixate on supposed ambiguities which can be interpreted as evidence for design. It is more like a conspiracy theory – data picked out to support a foregone conclusion.

      February 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
      • Barcs

        Intelligent design isn't a theory. It's a hypothesis at best, and even that is being generous. It's really just a worldview. They can't produce any type of real evidence for it. Their best argument for ID is "Well science can't explain XYZ!" Science doesn't know everything yet. 500 years ago science couldn't explain a lot more, but that didn't mean god or a creator was responsible.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
  13. 4_sanity

    Bill Nye and Ken Ham are not debating "science". They are debating philosophical approaches to rationalizing our existence: one is objective and scientific, the other subjective and transcendental.

    And lest anyone claim they are on equal footing, here's a brief definition:

    tran·scen·den·tal (adj.)
    1. Philosophy
    a. Concerned with the a priori or intuitive basis of knowledge as independent of experience.
    b. Asserting a fundamental irrationality or supernatural element in experience.
    2. Surpassing all others; superior.
    3. Beyond common thought or experience; mystical or supernatural.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
  14. KimB

    The real difference between true science and religious belief is that scientific hypotheses can be tested. We can test if evolution is true. We can test if the universe is expanding. We can test for changes in DNA that alter animals. We can test, and more importantly dis-prove true scientific hypotheses, but no matter what, you cannot develop testable hypotheses about religious beliefs. People have tried, such as those that claimed to have found human and dinosaur tracks in the same fossil beds only to find out that it wasn't really human prints. This equals a religious hypothesis dis-proved, yet creationist sweep it under the rug and never speak of it again as it only PROVES that theology is not REAL SCIENCE!!

    February 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • MBane

      This is not even a religious belief. This is something made up by the Evangelical church in the USA. Catholics – the original Christians believe in evolution.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Cupojavajoe

      EXACTLY!!!!

      February 4, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
      • Cupojavajoe

        My comment was in support of KimB.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Red

    "They need to be taught the real nature of science, including its limitations." Science's limitation is just science that we don't yet understand. Whether or not the universe came from an "authority" has no bearing in and of itself on whether evolution is fact. That debate is actually whether or not the Bible is fact.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  16. Carl LaFong

    This sort of thing sends the wrong message. All it does is to give Mr. Hamm a platform of false legitimacy he and his ludicrous worldview deserve. I propose a drinking game. One drink every time Mr. Hamm invokes magic. Magic is any miracle or 'Gods mystery' or Deus ex machina.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  17. Allan

    If the evolutionists are so sure of their theory, then why are they so dimissive of other points of view, why shouldn't our kids learn the controversy of evolution vs. creationism?

    Why? There is no controversy. Teaching creationism is equivalent to teaching kids a flat-earth theory of geography, or the stork theory of human reproduction.

    Ask Ken Ham for evidence that the universe was created and he'll pull out his holy book. Excuse us if we're not impressed. Get a hypothesis, put together some evidence, test it, write a paper, get it peer reviewed and then we'll talk. Evolution is a fact proven over and over and over again and is the basis of modern biology.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • T

      "get it peer reviewed". Yeah right. that would be like "ask Peyton Manning to referee the superbowl 2014". No thanks.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
      • Jon Guthrie

        If he would have done that, the Bronco's would have had a chance.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
  18. Kaeepme

    All that religion is at it's base premis is a way for humans to deflect responsibilty for their own actions and re-actions. If man "Creates" a diety and endows him/her with the power to create and controll everything imaginable then man can step back and say "Not my responsibility". Have some self-respect people.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
  19. gspot

    words from a preacher! This video contains foul langauge beware http://youtu.be/fMM8KMBNNDw

    February 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
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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.