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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. ItsOver

    Humans are the most intelligent beings in 4.5 billion years of existence. Nothing more intelligent than us has ever existed. sad.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
  2. flying spaghetti monster

    this ken ham guy is an idiot. he has not provided one piece of evidence and keeps sidestepping every question.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
  3. georgex9

    From the New York Times:Texas Republicans Vying for Lieutenant Governor Lean Heavily Right
    By MANNY FERNANDEZ FEB. 2, 2014

    "HOUSTON — One candidate has called for the impeachment of President Obama. Another wants the National Guard to help secure the border. Yet another criticized the openly lesbian mayor here for marrying her longtime partner in Palm Springs, Calif., saying it was “part of a larger strategy of hers to turn Texas into California.” And all of the leading contenders want to allow Texans to carry handguns in holsters on their hips.

    Four powerful state Republican officials have been locked in a tight race for lieutenant governor — a job that in Texas is no mere sinecure, but one with powers that rival the governor’s when it comes to controlling what comes out of the Legislature.

    A month before the March 4 primary, the race is illustrating the increasing shift to the far right for Texas Republicans as the rivals — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is seeking re-election; State Senator Dan Patrick of Houston; Todd Staples, the agriculture commissioner; and Jerry Patterson, the land commissioner — try to appeal to the grass-roots and Tea Party conservatives who make up the bulk of the electorate in Republican primaries....
    ...
    And all four candidates want the religious theory of creationism taught in public schools, despite the Supreme Court’s 1987 decision that banned it from classrooms."

    February 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
  4. T

    "Theory" of evolution vs "Law" of gravity. 'nuff said.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      We have a fairly good idea of how evolution works. Gravity – not so much.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
      • JJ

        True, but you never hear anyone trying to diminish the teaching of gravity theory.

        February 4, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
      • Nathan

        We know far more about the mechanisms of evolution than those of gravity. Evolution is far better understood.

        February 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
    • Nathan

      The "law" of gravity only describes the mathematical expression of observational mechanics. Why gravity exists, how it functions, why it has the strength it does, and a thousand other points are part of the THEORY of gravity. The law of gravity comes under and supports the larger umbrella concept of the THEORY of gravity. Laws support theories. They do not trump them. Nor are they theories that "got promoted" to law status. In science, a theory is the greatest form of acceptance there is. Evolution has laws within it as well. They support the greater theory.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
  5. YeahItsMe72

    There aren't 'both' sides to the origin of man. There's a scientific approach based on observation of historical evidence. An understanding that adjusts as new evidence shines a light on areas where prior scientists could only speculate. Within that approach people have different ideas that are challenged using scientific methodology. The only hypothesis that matches all the known facts is evolution.

    Then you have a series of pre scientific origin myths from all different religions around the world. Whether it's Zeus or Odin or Jesus, these were just oral stories that people told to entertain themselves. The New Testament is not the established alternative to Science. It's just one of a few different popular belief systems that primarily thrive in the non educated world.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
  6. Helen

    Ken Ham is getting destroyed by science...

    February 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
  7. RD

    Keep in mind that Ken Ham does not define all creationist viewpoints. There are a number of other creationists I would much rather see in this debate that have much more significant scientific credentials than Mr. Ham. I am a "creationist" with a scientific degree, but would disagree with Ham in several areas – but not as many things I would disagree with Mr.Nye about.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
  8. SAM

    Ok, Bible lovers, since that old book of yours is the true answer for all questions, take a look at it and tell me when will the snow ends this month, because clearly you do not need to study your damn PLANET to tell that.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
  9. Sigmundfreud

    You say:

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

    Ah .... can you prove it? I mean, what is your authority that the Bible is infallible, other than the bible itself. Do you know what circular reasoning means?

    But hey, the collected laws, myths, folktales, and moral instruction of bronze age shepherds means more than actual scientific research. Well done. You have one book .... I have thousands that say you are wrong.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
    • Andrew

      It is a fair question, but it is a question that goes both ways. Let me ask, can you disprove the existence of God? The answer is no, just as I cannot prove Him. I can provide evidence, and I would recommend "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" as a place to start. Reads like an argument, so it is well-structured. And there is just as much literature that argues for the existence of the divine (I will not limit to a Christian God in this comment), as there is against. Since humans have believed in a deity for thousands of years, I might well be able to suggest there is actually more. But let's get down to the real sub-structure...Science is a method. It is a verb. We call the practice of the methodology "science", but it based on the empirical, quantifiable observations that we can statisitcally analyze. That is incredibly limited. It is a wonderful techinque and had provided insight into increaible things. When limtied to the empirical, it tells us a lot about our natural world. However, things like evolution are a theory. That is, to say, not a fact. There is a reason that atomic theory is called theory, it isn't knowledge. It is hypothesis, A good hyppothesis. I BELIEVE an accurate hypothesis, but a hyppothesis none the less. And who is to say that God did not create the world using the very natural process He put in place? Perhaps even evolution in some cases? Again, you can't disprove it. Indeed, you have as much faith as I do. 🙂

      February 4, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. If you want to claim that god exists, it is up to you to provide proof that god exists; it is not up to the skeptic to disprove it.

        Evolution is a fact just as much as the fact that the Earth orbits the sun. Atomic theory is a fact (are you seriously doubting that matter is not made up of atoms?). Gravitational theory is a fact. The trouble is that you don't know what theory means in the context of science. It is not a guess or a hunch or hypothesis. It is established fact.

        February 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
      • LinCA

        @Andrew

        You said, "Let me ask, can you disprove the existence of God? The answer is no, just as I cannot prove Him."
        That neither position can be conclusively proven doesn't mean that they are equivalent. Not by a long shot. The same can be said for any fictional character yet you'll be hard pressed to find many people that believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

        The case for these creatures is equally strong as the case for any god.

        You said, "I can provide evidence, and I would recommend "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" as a place to start."
        Please share what you think is the most convincing piece of evidence to support the existence of a god.

        You said, "Since humans have believed in a deity for thousands of years, I might well be able to suggest there is actually more."
        So, per that logic, when people realized the earth was approximately spherical and not flat it changed shape? Just because a lot of people believe some nonsense doesn't mean it's any more likely to be true.

        Belief in god(s) is a virus that you get from your parents, and they from theirs. Just because people can't shed their childhood indoctrinations doesn't mean they are true.

        You said, "However, things like evolution are a theory. That is, to say, not a fact."
        You are not a scientists, are you?

        February 4, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
  10. ItSoNlYmE

    There can only be one reason you're "debating" something that is established, irrefutable, incontrovertible, hard scientific fact: Because you're intellectually incapable of comprehending the incredible complexity of something like evolution. You fall back on religion and pseudo-science to back up your "argument", and only make yourself look even more like the ignoramus you are. There is no other explanation. If I said stop signs are octagonal and red, you'd argue that they're blue and round with about as much authority as your creationism arguments.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
  11. Matt

    No theory is ever truly proved from a technically scientific point of view – the purpose of science is to disprove a theory, and when it cannot be disproved as such after myriad studies and hypotheses, and the exploration of alternative models of potential attribution, a general scientific consensus emerges about the validity of said theory. Ham is a crackpot, and it's farcical that Nye even has to share a stage with this buffoon. Has anyone seen the Creation Museum he helped to found? A triceratops with a saddle on it? Seriously? How can anyone take him and his perspective seriously? To argue that "all we want to do is allow students to decide for themselves by holding evolution and creationism in equal terms in a classroom" is as appropriate as putting the flying spaghetti monster in the curriculum as well. His position is the height of absurdity.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
  12. Sam Yaza

    so your last name is ham,... and your a scientist who believes in creationism??

    February 4, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
  13. JW

    TEXTBOOK DRAWINGS AND MODELS OF APE-MEN

    ▪ Fact: Depictions in textbooks and museums of the so-called ancestors of humans are often shown with specific facial features, skin color, and amount of hair. These depictions usually show the older “ancestors” with monkeylike features and the ones supposedly closer to humans with more humanlike facial features, skin tone, and hair.

    Question: Can scientists reliably reconstruct such features based on the fossilized remains that they find?

    Answer: No. In 2003, forensics expert Carl N. Stephan, who works at the Department of Anatomical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia, wrote: “The faces of earlier human ancestors cannot be objectively constructed or tested.” He says that attempts to do so based on modern apes “are likely to be heavily biased, grossly inaccurate, and invalid.” His conclusion? “Any facial ‘reconstructions’ of earlier hominids are likely to be misleading.”

    February 4, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
  14. oddjob3422

    Bill Nye's argument is almost completely specious.

    It assumes, falsely, that any discussion of a theory of creationism is logically equivalent to abandoning science and the thought processes that go into it. This really flies in the face of history, where many very smart people – scientists, inventors, philosophers – have managed to see through that false choice.

    I tend to agree that creationism doesn't belong in a science class, but not because I think including it will destroy science in its entirety. Really, I find this false choice tiresome and disingenuous, not to mention truly insulting to the intellect of every student. Bill Nye seems to think that merely having any discussion of religious beliefs will destroy the ability of students to think.

    It's Bill that is the one who has failed to think in this case.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:46 pm |
    • LinCA

      Calling creationism a "theory" is an insult to science and scientists everywhere. It is nothing of the sort. It isn't even a valid hypothesis.

      February 4, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
      • chris ozman

        oops! I think you meant to say "Evolutionism"

        February 4, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
        • J

          So you think god created domestic turkeys just as they are? Evolution is the basis for domestication. Without it's tenants domestication is impossible.

          February 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
        • LinCA

          Indoctrination is a funny thing, isn't it? It can make people reject reality and accept all kinds of abject nonsense. It is how religious beliefs are perpetuated. Beliefs in gods are very much like a virus. Believers get them from their parents and give them to their kids. Once the indoctrination is complete most believers will vehemently deny ever having been indoctrinated, yet their beliefs can be traced back to the ignorant sheepherders of the middle east.

          Creationism is nothing more than the ignorant ramblings of ignorant peasants.

          February 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Religious beliefs have no place in a science classroom.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
  15. CaptainObvious

    God and science and not mutually exclusive concepts for many (most?) people. For many, God is in science and science is in God. Purporting there is a conflict is appears on its fact to be intellectually dishonest.

    I can believe the Bible to be the word of God without accepting its purported "inerrancy" and "infallibility" but lunatics. Likewise, I think it equally absurd to place one's faith in a magical primordial soup in the molecules to man argument; just because we have begun to understand some of the basics of God's toolbox does not give us the claim or the right to reject the creator himself.

    Science, religion, spirituality and God all play a significant role in my life. For me, this "debate" is nothing more than an exercise in futility between two lunatics who represent the extremes of both camps.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:46 pm |
    • oddjob3422

      Well said. Believing in the fallacy of this false dilemma is what is illogical, and I daresay, unscientific. That said, I don't think this belongs in a science class. A philosophy or religion class? Why not.

      February 4, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      There is really only a conflict if gods and other religious nonsense are used to explain nature. Science and god(s) are mutually exclusive to the exact same extend as science and the Tooth Fairy are, and for the same reason.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
  16. Po

    If Evolution is true. Why don't we see half ape half man still walking out of the woods. Hummmmmm....

    February 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
    • oddjob3422

      Why would you expect such a thing, except as a result of having a profound misunderstanding of natural selection.

      February 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        A clue to why he said such a thing is in his name: Po. Or, Poe.

        February 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
    • Sigmundfreud

      Probably because our ancestors killed them off. Now go read a good book on fossils. NEXT!

      February 4, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
      • methos75

        I love this, Bill isn't even debating. He is teaching and insinuating the audience he is speaking to is stupid for not already seeing and understanding the facts he is stating. This is how it is done.

        February 4, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  17. Rational

    Bill Nye doesnt even need to say anything. He can just play what Ham said and end with....really...really? This is insanity. I think even most religious people are ashamed.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
  18. JW

    Belief in Evolution—An Act of “Faith”

    -Why do many prominent evolutionists insist that macroevolution is a fact?

    Richard Lewontin, an influential evolutionist, candidly wrote that many scientists are willing to accept unproven scientific claims because they “have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.”* Many scientists refuse even to consider the possibility of an intelligent Designer because, as Lewontin writes, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”30
    In this regard, sociologist Rodney Stark is quoted in Scientific American as saying: “There’s been 200 years of marketing that if you want to be a scientific person you’ve got to keep your mind free of the fetters of religion.” He further notes that in research universities, “the religious people keep their mouths shut.”

    If you are to accept the teaching of macroevolution as true, you must believe that agnostic or atheistic scientists will not let their personal beliefs influence their interpretations of scientific findings. You must believe that mutations and natural selection produced all complex life-forms, despite a century of research that shows that mutations have not transformed even one properly defined species into something entirely new. You must believe that all creatures gradually evolved from a common ancestor, despite a fossil record that strongly indicates that the major kinds of plants and animals appeared abruptly and did not evolve into other kinds, even over aeons of time. Does that type of belief sound as though it is based on facts or on myths? Really, belief in evolution is an act of “faith.”.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
  19. Og

    The big bang was not invented to explain the origin of the universe. It was deduced from the evidence. There are two main pieces of evidence. (1) The galaxies are all receding from each other. There are literally thousands of data points verifying this, independently by hundreds of researchers. The evidence that the universe is expanding is undeniable. (2) There is radiation emanating roughly equally from all directions in space, as a result of the explosion. This has also been observed by many astronomers independently many many times, and occurs at the wavelength that it ought to if it were caused by such an explosion. You might find the facts of the matter interesting.

    The bible is the written mythology of a specific Middle Eastern, Bronze Age tribe combined with the propaganda surrounding one of the many messianic cult figures found in Rome 2000 years ago. It was compiled and edited in the 300s by a group of men who directly benefited from a codified and structured church. It has been translated numerous times since, and has spawned over 30,000 denominations, all with their own interpretation of what it means. The roots of the bible are obvious and very human. The fact that so many people still believe that it is the immutable word of god is incomprehensible and rather sad.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:42 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.