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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. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Q. Mr. Ham, do you take the bible literally?

    A. It depends what you mean by literally. I understand it 'naturally'. ...
    and then goes on to say how some of it is historical science and some of it is poetry.

    So which is which Ken? How do you know?

    February 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
    • Eb

      The bible is a book written by man. It has a specific context and culture in which it was written. If it was intended for people of a specific culture, that is the way it should be interpreted. People may say, it is an ancient book, written thousands of years ago, but being old does not make the translation less true. The dead sea scrolls are an example of the accuracy in which the bible was translated.
      Since the bible has a context, there is a specific way in which to interpret it. This involved people researching that translation. If people do not research the bible, they will get bad translations.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        So eating shellfish, wearing mixed fibers and sitting on a couch with a menustrating woman are now OK, and slavery is now not OK but being gay is still bad.

        Same book, same translations – different interpretations. How is that a function of research and context and culture?

        February 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
  2. flying spaghetti monster

    has the ham guy answered a single question? what an idiot.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
    • JO

      All he has done is preach, preach, preach giving no proof to anything he says.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      When you don't have any facts, and are too ignorant to admit same, all you can do is bullsh!t aka preach.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
    • thc

      What an idiot you are.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
  3. JO

    People like Ham Bone frighten the hell out of me.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
  4. JO

    Mr. Nye, I don't know how you could debate with Ham Bone and stay sane.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
    • Jose

      I watched bits and pieces while I worked and thought the exact same thing! He was SO GOOD at completely refraining from making any fun of that poor man's obstinate belief in a "creator deity that he would be reunited with", that it was almost painful to watch, poor Bill!!

      Hopefully his continually shouted out messages to the youth of America to follow true science and learning and knowledge will come to fruition...

      peace all

      February 4, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
  5. Nathan

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

    No. No there is not. Not in the life sciences, anyway.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm |
  6. Jake

    I think this debate already took place in 1925 in Tennessee when John Scopes was on trial for teaching evolution in public school. I am in disbelief that in 2014, 300 years after the Age of Enlightenment, there is still any argument between teaching science or religion in schools. Anybody who wants to worship invisible beings whom nobody has ever seen or has evidence ever existed, is fully welcome to do so in their church and it will be tolerated. Schools are places of education - or at least free babysitting - not places for the indoctrination of our kids into a belief system of fear and ignorance created by Humans. I will pray: Jesus Christ, protect us from your followers.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
    • notthatguy

      I do not believe in "God" per say, but I do believe in Intelligent Design. There is too much complexity that evolution cannot answer. Intelligent Design does not have to have anything to do with religion.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
      • Nathan

        Can not YET answer. A lot of things we know now weren't known 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 years ago. That didn't make the theory wrong. It made it incomplete. As all scientific theories are. Most of those "mysteries" have numerous proposed, wholly natural possible explanations that just require additional testing, data, observation, and technology to confirm or refute. If you look at a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle all put together but with 20 random pieces missing, the "mystery" of what is on those pieces don't magically make the picture something other than it is.

        February 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        Who or what would be the designer?

        February 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
        • DN

          @In Santa we trust And indeed it must follow: Who/What designed the designer? What designed the designer's designer? etc etc.

          February 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm |
        • h l george

          ...or designer's'. since nothing in the premise of 'intelligent' design- that the world is too complex to just have come about on its own- limits the possible number of design sources. Do the 'intelligent' design proponents have evidence limiting i.d. to one source? They don't even have evidence to back the premise..

          February 5, 2014 at 2:23 am |
  7. Henry

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

    It seems to be lost on Ham that the Bible is a collection of stories written by a collection of largely unknown, fallible humans.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
    • JO

      Ham is a true ham bone.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
  8. JJ

    Why would Bill Nye debate this nut? Nye throws out facts to support his side and Ham just says "God did it".

    February 4, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
  9. tor5

    I believe that human beings were created by Zeus, and I am outraged that my view is CENSORED in the public schools! This makes as much sense as Ham whining about censorship of creationism. Creationism isn't in the schools because the rational majority don't want valuable time and resources devoted to teaching dumb ideas.

    Seriously, those who really think that creationism is right and evolution is wrong should simply live by their beliefs and stop their prescription medication, stop seeing their doctor, and never go to the hospital because modern medicine simply would not exist without the theory of evolution. Come on creationists, be true to your beliefs. And next time you have a fever, this silly debate will be over.

    February 4, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
  10. Theo

    Ham is getting his butt kicked

    February 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • Helen

      he isn't offering anything other than his personal "belief" in his little deity.

      WHY?

      simple. His deity has promised to grant him eternal life.

      (stupid Humans 🙂

      February 4, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
  11. notthatguy

    someone please help me understand. We think there was a big bang because the universe is expanding like an explosion would. However the universe is currently accelerating?

    I have never seen an explosion accelerate after the first few milliseconds. Those physics don't add up.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • tor5

      I guess that settles it. All of science is wrong.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
  12. JJ

    "we believe that, at the very least, instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution."

    What problems?

    February 4, 2014 at 8:57 pm |
  13. tednugent'sdiapers

    Religion – Because thinking is hard.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:57 pm |
  14. kyle

    Science is not a belief system. Science is a method.
    Stating that "science is a belief system and hence is on the same level as religion" is an arbitrary change of meaning of words. No point then in debating anything with someone like that. By this logic then also the existence of other planets is a belief because -clearly- I cannot go there to see for myself and I have to believe others (who incidentally also did not go there).

    The level of public discourse is amazing...

    February 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  15. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Is Ken Ham able to say anything other than

    "For the Bible tells me so"

    February 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
    • JO

      Apparently not.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
  16. silo11

    The two big differences I see between the two arguments when it comes to the difficult questions:

    Evolutions: Its a mystery, we don't know
    ID: God

    take either how you want.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Evolution is not a mystery – it is well explained.

      The origin of the first lifeform on earth is a mystery, but one that abiogenesis might explain
      What happened before our time frame started (with the big bang) is a mystery
      Sentience is a mystery, but one that neuroscience is getting closer to.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • JJ

      You should at least understand what evolution is before speaking about it as if from authority.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • Shaun

      Evolution is well explained and has supporting evidence for it. A progression can be seen from earlier to later animals but the most overwhelming evidence is DNA. DNA shows how these animals were very closely related and how they evolved.

      ID: No evidence of anything. Everything is too complex soooo god must have done it. This argument shows that the person lacks thinking skills and will to find the truth for themselves. This is not science at any level. Psuedo-science at best....

      February 5, 2014 at 12:15 am |
  17. OpenYourMind

    I think both sides can be ignorant, Religion with its its blind belief that they are completely correct and have all the Answers and Scientists who believe they know the Answer and completely reject what they see as ignorance.

    Ptolemy was a great example he "Knew" that the earth had to be center of the Universe. So he created Elaborate Complex models that explained the motion of the Planets. All his work went to proven what he "Knew to be true", yet he was completely wrong. Scientist are in the same boat today many are Atheist (Which is not Science it is a belief) to them they know there is no God or Higher Intelligence and that everything is created out or Randomness and Natural Selection. So all of their Models will be based around a Godless Universe. Yet there they can't explain why the Universe on it's most Fundamental scale seems to be fine tuned for even matter to exist. There a constants in the Universe that have to be in place for the Universe to work in the way it does and those constants had to be there at the beginning meaning they didn't change over time. In a Single Universe that came from nothing the odds for those Constants (I mean the forces, Cosmological Constant, etc) to lineup is over a hundred orders of magnitude greater then the number of particles in the known Universe. Does that prove god exist, of course not. It does prove that we are a long way from understanding the Universe in its most basic form. I think any Scientist or Atheist that says God or a Higher Intelligence is impossible or even implausible can only reach that assumption out of personal Bias and Ignorance and not from Science.

    It's easy to come up with a Ptolemy Model when you assume you know they answer and don't have all of the Evidence. Most Scientist today seem to know that we live in a Godless Universe and everything is created out of randomness and natural selection. So the will reject the God Variable and build the models to reflect that. Personally I believe in God at the same time I think most of the Big Bang and Evolution models are correct. You can't rule out a variable based on belief or bias that is not Science.

    As for the Religious side I don't believe in the Super Natural or Literal Scripture. As a Christian (At least in principle) I believe parts of the Bible are metaphorical and not Literal and its the overall message that's important. That's my belief and my Faith and I'm not afraid to say its wrong. Science will always be right because it self-correcting and Religion will always be wrong because it ignores physical observation in favor of Ritual and Tradition.

    As for this Debate I think Ken Ham has it completely wrong because he see everything in the Bible as literal and not for what it is. Which is far worst then a bad Scientific Model, because he flat out ignores any evidence that contradicts his beliefs. Most Religious people have that same problem and that's fault of the leaders. They say you have to believe in one way or you will suffer for all eternity. That is just ignorance and has cause so much hardship and suffering. It is also why Science has such a hard time mentioning the possibility of God.

    Come one Bill Nye is a bit overkill in this debate, I think it would be more fair for a Jr High student to debate Ken Hams. For crying out loud he think humans lived with Dinosaurs and that even the Noah's Ark had 2 of each.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    The book says God was in the beginning, and created everything. How do we know the Bible is true in the claims that are relevant to that?

    February 4, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
  19. Andrew

    It is unfortunate that a respected scientist is debating this theocratic quack. Just look at the CNN homepage – it makes it looks like both sides have facts on their side.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:45 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.