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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. Jon

    If you study some areas of science, especially quantum theory, brane theory, expansion of the universe, origin of matter, wave collapse, etc., you begin to understand how little science can explain the behavior of matter in the universe. As we identify more areas of science we are unable to explain using scientific method, the more we validate creation. No scientist that we know of can prove the origin of matter in our visible universe, why the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing, the nature of virtual particles, the exact cause of waveform collapse, and any number of other scientific issues that cannot be rationally explained by science; they all defy logic and scientific method. Until science is able to explain all of these things, creation cannot be ruled-out.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
    • Evan

      "We don't know, therefore, god" is an old and entirely unsupported string of 'logic'.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " Until science is able to explain all of these things, creation cannot be ruled-out."

      Why? There are thousands of mutually exclusive myths. Yours is no more special than any of the others. We could falsify ToE tomorrow and it would do absolutely nothing to add to your creation myth.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
    • bob

      100% bs.
      science validates theory where the evidence supports said theory.
      lack of understanding of a physical phenomenon does NOT provide credence to 'god made the universe'. find me god, have him demonstrate his ability to create matter and then THAT will be evidence of creationism.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • Cheetahe

      Science uses a methodical and logical way of explaining nature, and its truisms can be verified by experimentation and analysis. Religion is a belief system based on fiction and needs blind acceptance of a supreme human being for Abrahamic religions and explanation of the facts that neither can be proven nor verified.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Jesus Saves

    In the beginning God created.....

    This is a chance for many people who haven't heard the Good News that Jesus came and died for all of you!!! Praying that evolutionists will come to saving knowledge of Him through this. In the beginning God created......

    February 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Bullshit. I relish the day when your cult of stupidity dies out...

      February 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
  3. georgex9

    Finally, non-believers are becoming more organized with various organizations. Many previously thought they were alone are being connected by Internet and by local groups. One of the primary benefits of organized religions has been the social connections. One organization is the Council for Secular Humanism.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
    • georgex9

      Or the Freedom From Religion organization.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
  4. JimBoston

    Science is correct and creationists base their assumption on a mistranslation of the first two sentences in the Bible. I can prove it.

    First sentence: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth".
    First of all, 'God' is the English translation of the Hebrew word Elohim, which is in the plural form. It does not say an individual, who's name is 'God,' created the universe at the beginning of time. What? That's right. It literally says, In the beginning a group of individuals going by the name of Elohim, created the heavens (the sky, the atmosphere) and the earth ( the ground). The first sentence is an introduction to the creation of this planet as we know it today, not the universe. Second sentence makes it more clear.

    Second sentence: "and the earth was void" Another simple mistranslation of a word but this word is what creationists hinge their entire belief on. The word 'was' in this sentence is translated elsewhere in the same chapters as 'became'. So this sentence should read, "and the earth BECAME void".
    So the literal translation should read, "In the beginning, a group of individuals, a consortium, created the atmosphere and the planet. The earth had become void."
    Simply stated, some catastrophe had wiped out the atmosphere and all life on the planet earth. Technologically advanced beings going by the name Elohim had terraformed the earth much like scientists today are discussing the terraforming of Mars, by creating an artificial green-house effect, melting the polar ice caps, and creating an oxygen rich environment where we can introduce plant and eventually animal life.
    Can these be done in a matter of days as the Bible state? Of course not, and neither does the Bible state that. In the following verses it speaks of things being done in days but the Bible also states clearly that "To God a day is like a thousand years, and a thousands years is like a day." It's pretty clear then that the "creation week" isn't really a week but thousands of years.
    God did not create the universe or the planet earth. In the beginning of the current state of affairs, a group of technologically advanced beings reintroduced life by terraforming this planet and it took them thousands of years to do it.
    Science is correct and creationists are misinformed due to thousands of years of religious dogma.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
    • Yevon

      "God did not create the universe or the planet earth." LOLsmh... were you THERE??? 1 Tim. 6:20, 21 – "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
      Which some professing have erred concerning the faith...".

      February 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
    • TheTruth

      In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. GEN 1:1
      Elohim doesn't refer to some "cosmic consortium" – it refers to Jehovah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Your mistranslations and misdirection shame you.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
      • JimBoston

        ...the earth BECAME formless. It was already in existence. Research it.

        February 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
  5. georgex9

    On a Bill Moyers show (PBS)he mentioned that there will be an updated "Cosmos" program on the National Geographic channel in March. This is from the BM site:
    "Starting in March, Tyson will host a new, updated version of the hit PBS television series Cosmos, which made the late Carl Sagan a household name. This time the new series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, comes courtesy of the National Geographic Channel and Fox TV."
    For those who were around at the original time of Cosmos this was a ground breaking presentation for television which emphasized the naturalness of the universe. I am looking forward to this and I am sure that many of the posters on here will want to tune in.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
  6. YJD

    My money's on Nye.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
  7. Earthling

    Creationists deny reality at the most fundamental levels.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
  8. dave

    This isn't a debate. This is one man telling facts to someone living in a fantasy land. Bill Nye is going to crush you.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bob

      But but...People put saddles on dinosaurs and rode them!! Haven't you been to Ken Ham's Creation Museum?

      February 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  9. bobsyuruncle

    Mr Ham is right about one thing...there is dissent about whether evolution is the correct explanation; however, he misses the point that all of the dissent is based on mysticism rather than facts and evidence.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  10. 3C

    Since you appear to be unaware, the bible was written by men. So not only do you believe the words of "fallible humans," you believe them solely on "faith" (which, of course, means without evidence.) You're debating from a very weak position so as long as Bill can keep you on topic you're gonna get creamed, Ken.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
  11. Smack Dab

    Ken can't PROVE creationism, and Bill can't prove there is no God, so this is all pointless. Bill Nye is a good guy, but really, he shouldn't be getting into all this. Being of scientific mind, the idea that the Earth is only a few thousand years old is ludicrous, although that does not mean there is no God. The Earth is billions of years old, and God or no God, it will outlast all of us.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
    • snowboarder

      bill can certainly prove that the literal interpretation of genesis is false, as nearly every scientist for more than a century.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
    • bobsyuruncle

      Bill doesn't need to prove there is no god...one cannot prove a negative. He just has to present the evidence that obviates creationism.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
  12. BobtheBuilder

    Mr Nye is just wasting his time because you can't teach to stupid people with a closed mind.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
  13. bec215

    I believe in God, and I believe in science and that the world is far older than 6,000 odd years. It's possible to believe in a divine presence without believing the Bible literally. I find it fascinating that so many creationists hang their hat on the literal words of a book that is a) translated through three languages – including one that lacks a neutral pronoun (It, vs. He or She) – and b) that was cobbled together by a group of scholars from dozens of options they had to read and choose and curate into a volume we call the Bible. So even as a believer, I do not comprehend the literalist view of the Bible that drives the Creationist belief system. The whole premise of the Creationist system is founded on the assumption that the words in the Bible are God's own – but last time I checked, no religious scholar believes God etched the words of the Bible in English onto papyrus....

    February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
    • CEC

      Sorry, you can't have your cake and eat it too on this one.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • Someone

        Actually – why not? I know of a fair number of people who believes as the original poster does. I don't want it taught in schools though – I recognize it as FAITH, not FACT. It also means that I reject the Testament as a literal book – I will accept the 10 Commandments, for example, which are largely just rules for any good society, but the rest of it can be taken in the privacy of your own home, you place of worship, or your own private life.

        February 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
    • David

      Sorry you have zero intelligence. Guess your brains forgot to develop beyond a monkey.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
      • CEC

        "your brains forgot to develop beyond a monkey"

        Kinda says it all.

        February 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
  14. boofer

    calling this a debate is an insult to debates. if a scientist was going to debate a person who believed that fairies existed we would all think that was crazy and cnn would not report it. this is equally as crazy.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
    • CEC

      thumbs up

      February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  15. Hey

    Evolution is not a belief system. It is a science. Creationism is a belief system and does not belong in science classes.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
    • roccop777

      You wrote that evolution is not a belief system? Before biological evolution can even take place, then there must be a living organism. Evolution adherants accept that life can spontaneously arise from lifeless chemicals (abiogenesis). What is this based on? Has it ever been observed or replicated? No! Then it is not empirical science. What is abiogenesis based on? Blind faith!
      Evolution adherants claim that an organism can aquire new, more complex genetic information via random mutations - which can later be filtered out by natural selection to give rise to new genus'/families and life forms. Is there any empirical proof evidence that the team random mutations + natural selection can enable an organism to eventually cross the border of its genus/family and form a new genus/family? Long term laboratory experiments with fast replicating/breeding organisms such as e-coli bacteria and Drosophila have demonstrated that it does not happen. The organism eventually uses up all the possible combinations in its gene-pool and then begins repeating these combinations. Or if it does not recombine and goes too far off the limits of its gene-pool it goes sterile and goes extinct. It is blind faith, which flies in the face of empirical science, to claim that mutations + natural selection can give rise to new genus'/families on a higher level of complexity.
      So, yes, evolution does indeed require a lot of blind faith.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
    • Stan Kamps

      How is evolution not a belief system when there is NO scientific observable evidence to back it up? Both evolution and creationism are faith based. Evolution = nothing created everything. Creationism = God created everything

      February 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        Evolution only comes into play once life exists and there's plenty of evidence for it and none for creationism.

        February 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
  16. CEC

    Let's lay the whole "theory" thing to rest:

    "Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge, in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better defined by the word 'hypothesis')."

    February 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • Hey

      Correct. Plate tectonics and gravity are theories and their existence is not in doubt.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  17. Someone

    Just out of curiosity – at what point do we stop teaching controversy? Do we also teach that here are those who believe that we never landed on the Moon? Do we teach that 9/11 was a hoax engineered by whatever forces? Do we teach that FDR let Pearl Harbor happen to get the US into the war? Do we teach that Jonestown was a CIA neutron bomb? Do we teach that all scientific advances are stolen from a crashed UFO? We start at one place.....

    February 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
    • dman

      Why does no one state the obvious-Science is a series of ideas, or scientific theory followed by testing to support or refute the the theory. The existence of God cannot be quantified or verified by scientific testing. The existence of God is a matter of FAITH. It's like testing an apple to prove the existence of oranges.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
      • bobsyuruncle

        Faith is the belief in something for which there is no evidence. By definition it cannot be science.

        February 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
    • Caroless

      Excellent point! Besides, this is a religious debate really. If one feels strongly about teaching religion based philosophy, send your kids to the appropriate schools.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
  18. Bob

    I hear time and time again from the religious fundamentalists that evolution is a theory, I agree, it is, and it is being constantly tested, revised as new evidence is found, and then tested again. It's called the scientific method. But are creationism a theory? If so, how is it being tested and revised, refined, retested, under the scientific method? Or is it fact? In that case, where is the proof they are facts? And the bible does not suffice as fact. And, honestly, anyone who invokes god or scripture must be excluded from any real rational discourse on the subject.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • Science

      You keep using the word 'Theory' but I don't think you know what it means. In science a 'theory' is a a well-confirmed type of explanation, made using the scientific method, fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. They are described in such a way that any scientist in the field is in a position to understand and either provide empirical support ("verify") or empirically contradict ("falsify") it. I think the word you actually mean to use is 'Hypothesis', in which something is unproven or speculative.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • Bob

        OK, so where does that leave creationism, or it's cousin of intelligent design?

        February 4, 2014 at 5:30 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.