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. geraldine

    maybe we care too much what other people believe?

    February 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
    • Felix Sinclair

      We ought to care what's taught in schools.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      When people attempt to legislate their belief into laws, that is when we should become concerned.
      If Mr. Ham had his way, the United States would experience a "Baptist Revolution" like Iran did with Islam.
      Theocracies aren't fun.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • Augustus Ogu

        Because a theocracy is possible in the United States. Learn to1st Amendment.

        February 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Doc said it best.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • Barcs

      Science denial is way worse than simply caring what other people believe. It is a plague that has been trying to legislate religion as law for thousands of years. Thank GOD for science that deals in proofs and facts.

      February 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
  2. Jerrico71

    He said, “I have decided to accept an authority — our infallible creator and his word, the Bible — over the words of fallible humans.” Ooops! Guess what. It was fallible humans who interpreted the Bible, edited the Bible, and decided over all…what was and was not acceptable and what could and could not be included in the Bible e.g. what Gospels etc. That is the root of the problem people! Now, if a golden book or something simply appeared out of nowhere in front of thousands or millions of people and was to never be edited, rewritten etc and could never be tainted by the fallible human mind…then you would have my attention. Anything otherwise has been infected, convoluted and tainted by the human mind…PERIOD! Can’t trust it. Simply trust the purest honest depths that are within you, and you’ll be fine!

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

      Yes, apparently Mr. Ham finds it easier to believe humans that died thousands of years ago. It's interesting how folks like him describe the Bible as though it's some immutable text, when history clearly demonstrates it to be anything but. Both its words and interpretation have and continue to change over time.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • Just a thought

      And how do you determine that what is in the depths of you is truth? Is it truth because you simply say to yourself that it is truth? Or do you compare that to other things in order to decide truth? You said to a degree that humans are infectious so I would assume you, too, are human and could be infectious to your own version of truth as well.

      If you don't have a solid foundation of belief in a truth outside of yourself "as an infectious human being" that you accept to build on then it's quite possible that nothing is acceptable as truth to you...even in the depths of yourself. If you simply go by how you feel then you are more easily swayed...ultimately resulting in not truly believing in anything or anyone at all, including yourself.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
  3. Don

    "If you believe in a universe that was created by accident, then there is ultimately no meaning and purpose in life..." Unblievable quote. How can anyone believe that life has no purpose unless there was a 'creator'? I have no interest to listen to anyone that has as a starting point such a position.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • erinogirl123

      I thankfully have a life full of meaning and zero believe in a creator or god. I actually find it quite sad that one would need such a thing to find purpose in their lives. I do good for the sake of doing good, not for some false promise of a reward in the end.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • Matt

        How do you know your definition of what is "good" is the same as others'? One person could see killing another as ultimately "good" if they are allowed to define the word. See what I'm getting at?

        February 4, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • LessBias

          We define "good" as a society. 2,000 years ago, you were "good" to keep slaves as long as they were from another land. 500 years ago, you were "good" to murder an entire culture if they were too uncivilized to believe in your god. 100 years ago, you were "good" to buy and own slaves as long as they were black. 50 years ago, you were "good" to deny equal rights to groups of people based on their ethnicity. All of these morals used the immutable truth of the Bible for validation. Yet now nearly all followers of that same Bible believe such acts to be immoral. The Bible has changed, and continues to change over time. Our collective morality can and does change over time. Our individual morality can and does change over time. We're always trying to be better. Aren't you?

          February 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • Eyeroll

      He gets this wrong from the get go. His standard answer will be "God did it."

      February 4, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
    • LessBias

      Yes, Don. But it does offer significant insight into the rationale behind Mr. Ham's logic. The statement demonstrates that *his* life holds no meaning without a creator. Therefore he must ignore any evidence which he percieves will devalue that creator. And that's why tonight, you'll hear him regurgitate claims which have already been debunked hundreds of times over.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
  4. mo

    there is no empirical or factual evidence to support creationism... it's completely based on arguments with fallacies that aren't apparent to people that are inclined to believe it anyway.

    i do hope this will be a civil exchange, and I know that Mr. Nye, from previous debates, will at least represent science in a noble manner.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  5. erinogirl123

    For me the question then becomes, which creationist story do they tell? There are centuries of hundreds of cultures with varying creationist theories.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
    • Damocles

      Yeah, but those are all wrong. By some quirk of fate they happen to believe in the only true one.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
    • Nicodemus Legend

      Exactly. The reason Ham is giving for having creationism in the schools is for kids is to have alternate versions that question evolution. Why is he only using the Judeo/Christian story? Why not Native American, Viking, Polynesian, Ancient Greek, etc?

      February 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
  6. just_another_atheist

    Quote from last line of article "Ultimately, I have decided to accept a (not proven to actually exist) authority — (whom I believe to be) our infallible creator and his word, the Bible (written by fallible humans, who did not not have even a fraction of the knowledge we have today) — over the words of (much more informed) fallible humans (than those fallible humans who wrote the bible).

    February 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  7. Logic

    How do you debate someone who gets to make up their own facts?

    February 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  8. Horus

    "God".... the ever-shrinking unknown.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  9. Clayton Colwell

    How can a debate exist where the sole argument on one side is "My absolute authority is always right"? That's not an argument - that's a bald assertion.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      But don't forget that Ham is only appealing to his fellow nutters, Topher take a bow, in order to keep his version of fantasy land up and running. It is all about free publicity and money with Bill Nye being used as the shill. Surprised he got sucked in, unless he also needs the publicity??

      February 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Dan

    Bill Nye will make this guy look like a foolish child.

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

      He doesn't need Bill Nye for that

      February 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  11. jack johnson

    It's hard to believe all the people on earth came from Adam and Eve.

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

      "Impossible" you mean.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Oh but god wiped them and then drowned everyone leaving only Noah and his boys and their wives...so in reality, we're all descendents of Noah. 😉

      February 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      And Noah and the kids, Mrs. Noah gets no credit as Eve the second, no name, no statues, no fame, I guess she was a tired old b!tch having to shovel all that sh!t out of the Ark.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Let alone that all of humanity was decimated 4,000 years ago and current ho/mo sapiens all come from 3 breeding pairs of humans where the males were 1st order relatives.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  12. kurtinco

    First he says, "instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution." Then he goes on to tell us, "operational science, which builds today’s technology, is not the same as presenting beliefs about the past, which cannot be tested in the laboratory."

    That's the problem with creationism, not evolution. Creationism cannot be tested in a lab. Therefore, creationism is an expression of belief not of science. Stop trying to push it into schools.

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

      Excellent point. THe argument has been to test/challenge evolution, but as you note, creationism is a belief – and therefore not a science and therefore cannot be tested. Its like trying to prove Santa Claus does not exist – an impossible task. Creationism needs to present some scientific validity to the perspective in order for debate to occur.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
  13. CoolCMo

    My advice to Mr. Nye comes courtesy of my grandfather: "Do not try to teach a pig to sing. It will only frustrate you and annoy the pig."

    February 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  14. mindstorms1

    I seem to remember when I was in a science class that there are over 250,000 different types of beetles. On which day of the six day creation of the Earth did the supreme being create just this single type of insect? I would think it took at least a month.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • LinCA

      Poof!. Magic. Nothing is impossible for the Easter Bunny.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  15. tom

    A bit of poisoning the well ahead of the debate Mr Hamm?

    February 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  16. Paul

    I sure do hear a lot of intolerance in these posts. I thought we were required to be tolerant these days.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • Barcs

      Agreed. The fact that so many creationists are trying to argue against evolution without even a basic understanding of it, really shows their level of tolerance for scientific progression.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
    • Allan

      Believe what you want to believe, you are free to do this. However, if you go into the public sphere to express a view and invite comments, expect to get comments. If I saw a religious person with a cross around his neck I would not stop him and say "hey, christianity is immoral and false"....that would be intolerant. But if someone wants to go on the internet and tell us a god created the universe and that it is only 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs played with modern humans, but offer no evidence, people might express contrary views. Go figure.

      People should be treated with dignity and respect but religion should be treated with ridicule and contempt.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  17. gspot

    If you believe in your faith then pay your bills for the month save some money to get by for the month. Now take the rest of your money and go to the grocery store and find a single mom or dad with 2 kids that are trying to choose what to buy with what little money they have. Then give them all the cash you have based on the faith that these children are gonna eat well for the next couple days. When you donate directly to the people you are not taking away from God you are helping. Not looking for a tax deduction or to impress your church or its members. Do not tell anyone what youve done and I promise you wont see GOD but you will feel him in knowing that you helped another person directly.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
  18. Lightfoot

    “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.” – Ken Ham

    You mean like your listed speaker, John Baumgardner? He preaches the young earth garbage (i.e. only thousands of years old) when he’s speaking for creationists, but if you read his papers for his WORK and JOB he references the earth dynamics in MILLIONS of years. So which is it? I wouldn’t trust any of them any further than I could throw them.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Tom

    I am not sure that there is a difference between the two.

    How long is one of Gods days? No one knows…Maybe one of his days is a billion of our years…No one knows for sure.

    That being said….The Bible was written so long ago for people that had a knowledge base of just a degree higher than bean dip. You could not explain to them a atom, or a sub atomic particle, let alone how the universe was created…So there is a way that both Creationism and Evolution can be one and the same.

    So the Bible says that god created the earth in a day…Again How long is one of god’s days? The bible does not say one of our days does it? And since they had very little knowledge, God would not have explained it in graphic detail about the universal creation…Big Bang, then Galaxies forming, then stars forming then planets and so on and so on…He just would have explained it as a day, or in other words, when he got up that morning he began the creation of the universe, and when he went to bed, the earth had already formed, thus 1 day.

    Adam and Eve…Bible says that god created man in a day…..again, how long is one of his days? It says that God took a part of Adam to make Eve….How does a single cell divide? You take a cell and it pulls apart thus making two cells. Again, the Bible was written when you could not explain cell division so God put it that he took a rib from Adam to create Eve…thus explaining the process without getting too technical. Or in other words, when God got up that morning, he placed a cell in the ocean, and when he went to bed that night, man was walking upright (Thus skipping the entire Evolutionary process that we would not of understood at that time)

    So as you can see…If put in the proper light, there is no difference between Creationism and Evolution, thus no argument.

    February 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • Jake

      That's not the proper light. That's what you see when you look through Christian-colored glasses. The amount of bending you have to do to get the bible to be remotely possible illustrates how impossible it is.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • Jim

        And the amount of faith one must have in order to believe in macroevolutionary theory is just as large as with creationism. ALL the proposed 'solutions' to the origins of life (let alone the Cambrian Explosion) fall so far short of being plausible, they are no more possible than a creative mind behind the information-based life in the universe.

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

          How many books on evolution have you read?

          Wait don't answer it, we already know.

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

          Evolution says nothing about abiogenesis – the origins of life.

          You have a warped idea of probability if you think it's just as probable that a god created life as it is that life arose naturally. Do you really think a being with such powers is just as likely as anything else?

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

          You're incorrect Jim. I don't have any faith – I only believe things based on evidence. Therefore, I believe in evolution and I do not believe in creationism.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
    • Damocles

      That's a mighty dark light you have there.

      February 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
      • Tom

        Not really a dark light, I am a person of Science. I hold a Master’s degree in Atmospheric Physics from Creighton University. I am Catholic, but that doesn’t mean I am not a realist. I totally agree with evolution. People that don’t are totally ignoring everything that we have learned. Just as ignorant are the people that believe that we are the only intelligent life forms in the universe.

        However, people of faith are not without merit, they just need to understand just how long ago the old testament was written, and what intelligence it was written for. Most 6th graders have better knowledge base than the average mind back when the Old Testament was written.

        I was not getting into whether religion is right or wrong, I was not taking the side of Atheists or Christians, I was saying that they may need not debate this issue, because they both could be correct…If looked at it differently.

        February 4, 2014 at 2:43 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.