Bill Nye: Why I'm debating creationist Ken Ham
Science educator Bill Nye, left, will face off against creationist Ken Ham in Tuesday night's debate.
February 4th, 2014
01:17 PM ET

Bill Nye: Why I'm debating creationist Ken Ham

Editor's note: Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye on Tuesday at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, with CNN's Tom Foreman moderating. The debate will be live-streamed at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.com, and CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" will host both Ham and Nye at 9 p.m. Tuesday after the debate. 

Opinion by Bill Nye, Special to CNN

(CNN) - A lot of people have been asking why I accepted Ken Ham’s invitation to debate the origins of life Tuesday night at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

In short, I decided to participate in the debate because I felt it would draw attention to the importance of science education here in the United States.

What keeps this country in the game economically is our ability to innovate. New ideas lead to new technologies, which drive new businesses and new opportunities.

Technological innovations absolutely cannot be created without fundamental understanding of science, the means by which we know nature.

How many young adults and taxpayers use mobile phones? How many of us rely on global navigation systems that use satellites high above the Earth’s surface to find our way around?

Even if you eschew smartphones, you rely on the system to keep airplanes in the sky and ships at sea on their routes. Modern farmers plant seeds in fields with extraordinary precision using information beamed from satellites in space.

MORE ON CNN: Ken Ham: Why I'm Debating Bill Nye 

For the United States to maintain its leadership in technology, we need well-educated science students. To allow our students to come of age without the knowledge gained through the extraordinary scientific insights and diligence of our ancestors would deprive them of understanding of nature and our place in the cosmos.

It would also rob our students of their future. Without scientists and engineers to create new technologies and ways of doing society’s business, other economies in other countries will out-compete the United States and leave our citizens behind.

Tuesday's debate will be about whether Ham’s creation model is viable or useful for describing nature. We cannot use his model to predict the outcome of any experiment, design a tool, cure a disease or describe natural phenomena with mathematics.

These are all things that parents in the United States very much want their children to be able to do; everyone wants his or her kids to have common sense, to be able to reason clearly and to be able to succeed in the world.

The facts and process of science have enabled the United States to lead the world in technology and provide good health for an unprecedented number of our citizens. Science fuels our economy. Without it, our economic engine will slow and eventually stop.

It seems to me that Ham is a fundamentalist. Around the world there are billions of people, who embrace the facts and process of modern science, and they enjoy their faith. By all accounts, their faith enriches their lives. These people have no conflict with their faith and science. Ham is unique in this regard.

Fundamentally, Ham’s creation model is not part of modern science. His idea has no predictive quality or ability. It provides no means to learn more about the world around us. It does not enable students to make consistent sense of nature.

So, we’ll see. We’ll see if his model stands up to traditional scientific inquiry: If a certain claim is true, then we would expect a certain outcome.

I’m excited and very much looking forward to the encounter.

Bill Nye is a science educator and CEO of the Planetary Society. The views expressed in this column belong to Nye.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Evolution • Science

soundoff (2,162 Responses)
  1. Golpher

    Shame on you, Mr. Nye. Spending any time debating such a issue with so much scientific data to support it is giving creationism acknowledgement that the religious crave. Open minded, intelligent people will listen and decide; religious people who believe in creationism will not change. What a colossal waste of time!

    February 4, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
  2. countingdown

    The existence of God is ones personal belief. However, human behavior requires a moral direction and most religions provide that direction.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Reasoned thought provides moral direction. Religions just wrap up their morality in a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

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

        Thank you for providing a case in point to my post!

        February 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
        • Just one question...

          I appreciate your recommendation. I'll work on that. But could you please answer the question?

          February 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
      • Just one question....

        I just have a question for you where did reason come from??? Did matter make reason? Because if everything came from two atoms, and then exploded to produce humans and plants and seashells and elephants and everything in existence, how did reason and logic and the laws of nature come to be?

        February 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm |
        • countingdown

          When you learn to how to read and write things will become clearer for you!

          February 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
    • jzzzz

      The truth is, many people are good, in spite of their religious beliefs, not the other way around.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
  3. chosenbygrace

    We Christians already know why Nye: 1. You believe in stereotypes 2. You have faith in no God 3. You trust in men that agree with you over men that don't 4. You're ignorant of Scripture 5. Ignorant of archeology 6. packed with logical fallacies 7. you're biased 8. Jealous of Christians 9. Angry at God for not giving you whatever you want in life. Who are you Bill, that God should bow down to and answer to you? You're no Job. To learn how to get eternal life, rather than wasting your time on Bitter Babbling Big Banged Up Head Wild Bill, go to eternian.wordpress.com/life

    You won't find a life by listening to Bill's angry rants about you can't learn anything if you believe you were made or are a Christian.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • Wendy

      Get a life. You weren't 'chosen' for anything, stupid.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      In reading the angry, hate filled page of the bible "evidence" for beginners page it's pretty evident that the author chooses to ignore the many facts refuting various bits of "evidence".

      Not to mention the whole 90-95% statement in the opening paragraph which is awesome. Just remember folks – you don't need to believe in god's exact word – just 90-95% of it.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      Lots of ad hominems.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
  4. Eric Bonner

    Something came from nothing OR Something came from something. It's as simple as that. These are the only 2 possibilities.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And we therefore delve into an argument of infinite regression.

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

      Eric, do you believe in god? If so, do you believe he came from something or nothing?

      February 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  5. Mary

    Why must the meaning of life be subjective when everything else in science is supposed to be objective?
    Why can't the meaning of life be objective, too?

    February 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Max

    Mr. Ham's argument is an insult to those of us who are non-Christian and, oh yeah, believe in science. His view - God said it, God did it, so therefore it's true, and if you don't believe me you're wrong - belongs in a church, not on a secular stage. As for hos assertion about Creation scientists: I know lots of medical professionals who smoke. Contradictory? You bet. He tells Bill Nye that Nye "assumes things" he doesn't know are true. And Mr. Ham does? This is an insult. I feel my IQ dropped just watching this.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • istenno

      Ham can't even say god said it. he has to say that the bible says it. how he knows who wrote the bible, i have no idea. he has to take the word of other humans, i guess.

      February 4, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
  7. Hey Zeus

    It's incredible that this argument is still being made in 2014!

    February 4, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
  8. chosenbygrace

    "creationism allows us to learn nothing about the world" cuz he said so. It sure doesn't allow us to learn that God created the universe, and yes, belief in it prevents us from opening our eyes and looking at what God created, dur. Clearly the road block to learning about creation is Bill Nye and his Satan puppetted ilk.

    And sure, saying "evolution did it, and here's yet another theory that we admit can't be proven" sure doesn't get in the way of learning facts. Hypocritical morons = evolutionists and humanist atheists. How's that for a "just wow"?

    February 4, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Anything questioning your religion or faith is evil. We get it. You have no room for free or reasoned thought. You can go away now.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
  9. Bob

    Nye missed his chance to destroy this idiot on the aging of fossils. Ham said that 45,00 year old wood was found in 45 million year old rock, He's done if his assertion the Earth is only 4,000 years old. How could wood be 45,000 years old, If the earth is only 4,000 years old.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
    • Nathan

      I think he's an old Earth creationist.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
  10. JB

    Did they build boats as big as the ark? Why did no one else build a boat that big for thousands of years again? So many holes in your logic, so little time.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
  11. JB

    Bears eat fish. Bears are omnivores, not herbivores.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
  12. Age of Reason

    ...."No one knows if this jesus Christ existed, and if he did, NOTHING is known about him!"
    "WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN" Bertrand Russell 1928

    February 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
  13. JB

    How many of those people shared your view and that model before you began your quest?

    February 4, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
  14. berniecat@outlook.com

    these bible thumpers are a disgrace , they have infiltrated our government and deny facts about science ,lie and distort and why would groups of people be doing such a ignorant thing ? money ! there's money in fooling the dumb and ignorant and SCARED ! ha fools who suggest our world and the vast universe is someone's idea and invention are stupid people ! yet the neocon fascist drool and froth when given the chances to play dumb !

    February 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
  15. M. C.

    Mike C, the problem with not bringing attention to these issues is because the very future of science is at risk, many states want to teach creation, and ONLY creation in schools. How is this a good thing? I think the debate with Bill Nye is a great idea because it might enlighten some religious crazies who think that evolution can't possibly exist because it goes against their very beliefs, it might also enlighten people who have never heard the theory. You may not be able to change everyone's minds, but there have to be some reasonable people in the crowd who have just never had the opportunity to hear about evolution.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
  16. JB

    Using God as a witness without proving the existence of God is no position at all.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
    • JW

      Nature and its complexity proves the existence of a Designer...a Creator. If Evolution would be true, life makes no sense!

      February 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        How does that proof work, JW. Can you present it in detail?

        February 4, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • JW

          The immune system is actually an astonishing array of structures and mechanisms designed to defend us from a wide variety of agents, including bacteria and viruses. The mechanisms, in turn, can be grouped into two complementary systems. The first mobilizes an attack on invading microbes within hours. The second takes several days to respond but targets the invaders like a well-aimed arrow. This second system also has a good memory, so that if a specific invader returns years later, this enemy will be met with a rapid response. The whole system works so well that often you do not even realize that you have been infected and effectively defended. Also amazing is the way the immune system distinguishes between foreign substances and the hundreds of cell types that make up our body.

          Microbes sneak in through our breath, our food, our urogenital tract, or breaks in our skin. When the immune system detects intruders, it sets in motion a cascade of reactions involving dozens of precisely designed proteins. Each component in this cascade activates the next to amplify the counterattack. The process is mind-boggling!

          Absolutely! The power and sophistication of our immune system points to a wise and loving Creator.

          February 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
        • Fallacy Spotting 101

          Post by 'JW' is merely an elaborate form of the Argument from Ignorance fallacy.


          February 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The awe inspiring specificity and complexity of the immune system formed the Cruz of creation scientist Professor Behe's hypothesis of irreducible complexity.
          At the Dover trial regarding evolution/creationism in Kansas, Behe was presented with an enormous heap of immunological evolutionary data and dismissed it all out of hand as being "insufficient".

          February 4, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
      • JB

        That is total nonsense. Using the idea that there must be a designer to prove that their is a designer is circular logic. Prove that something came from nothing to become God. God could not create themselves before they came to exist.

        February 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
      • Fallacy Spotting 101

        Post by 'JW' is a well known instance of the Argument from Ignorance fallacy.


        February 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
  17. JB

    Ham just said Jesus would die "Once and for all" yet the Bible says Jesus rose to Heaven and would come again. IS that they once and for all death?

    February 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
  18. JW

    Does It Matter What You Believe?

    Do you think that life has a purpose? Evolutionist William B. Provine says: “What we have learned about the evolutionary process has enormous implications for us, affecting our sense of meaning in life.” His conclusion? “I can see no cosmic or ultimate meaning in human life.

    Consider the significance of those words. If ultimate meaning in life were nonexistent, then you would have no purpose in living other than to try to do some measure of good and perhaps pass on your genetic traits to the next generation. At death, you would cease to exist forever. Your brain, with its ability to think, reason, and meditate on the meaning of life, would simply be an accident of nature.

    That is not all. Many who believe in evolution assert that God does not exist or that he will not intervene in human affairs. In either case, our future would rest in the hands of political, academic, and religious leaders. Judging from the past record of such men, the chaos, conflict, and corruption that blight human society would continue. If, indeed, evolution were true, there would seem to be ample reason to live by the fatalistic motto: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”—1 Corinthians 15:32.

    By contrast, the Bible teaches: “With [God] is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) Those words have profound implications.

    If what the Bible says is true, life does have meaning. Our Creator has a loving purpose that extends to all who choose to live in accord with his will. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) That purpose includes the promise of life in a world free of chaos, conflict, and corruption—and even free of death.—Psalm 37:10, 11; Isaiah 25:6-8.

    With good reason, millions of people around the world believe that learning about God and obeying him give meaning to life as nothing else can! (John 17:3) Such a belief is not based on mere wishful thinking. The evidence is clear—life was created.

    February 4, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
    • heroicslugtest

      Wanting life to have an ultimate meaning is not a reason to believe, contrary to the evidence, that it does.
      Create a meaning for your own life. The freedom to do so is infinitely preferable to the idea that a meaning was chosen for you.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
      • JW

        "Create a meaning for your life"...I try to make it more meaningful as possible, but 70 or 80 years is very short, compared with trees or even animals that can live for 1000 years...

        February 4, 2014 at 8:31 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.