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.
About this blog
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.
Bill Nye offered no facts or proof and he's not in touch with all the new theories in science which prove the science in the Bible. For example the rapid expansion theory which could explain star light distances. The black theory proving the flood. The Russian astronomers theory of a young sun and so forth.
There is no science in the Bible except for ancient belief's by primitive men. Maybe you are referring to how a rainbow is not light refracting through water droplets, but rather God's promise not to kill all his naughty children in the future.
No. Science and Bible don't go together unless..."It was science that created the mechanism for mass printing of the Bible"
"The Bible says..." is not science.
Science in the Biible.
The vast majority of evidence and scientists support a non-Biblical record of natural history. As Bill Nye said, this does not address the idea of God itself. But the Biblical narrative is not supported by empirical data, unless people leap to rare new hypotheses, such as the ones to attempt to support Noah's Flood or what have you. Bill referred to generally known data such as the use of uniformatism to show that a young earth is highly unlikely, that the evidence would point to an extremely ancient Earth. One example among many.
The belief of God should be between the believer and God Himself only. As a scientist, I am completely baffled by how some Christians, dubbed creationists, chose to believe parts of an ancient text written by men and translated by other men countless times to be true. How do you know those who wrote it really was talking to God? How do you know what other people wrote really were God's words?
To me God can only exist in one way. He created the laws of nature. He designed evolution to be random and survival of the fittest. He created the world billions of years ago instead of what the Bible says. I'm not a believer of God, but if I were, this has to be the only way because it's what we observe and must be what God wants us to observe.
God did not create evolution, since Genesis says that God created everything according to its "kinds". There are many variations within a "kind".
Why we consider the bible Gods word?
2 Peter 1:19,20 – "For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. 21 For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were moved* by holy spirit."
Regarding Babylon, it was foretold: “She will never be inhabited, nor will she reside for generation after generation. And there the Arab will not pitch his tent, and no shepherds will let their flocks lie down there.” (Isaiah 13:20) This prophecy did more than predict a city’s fall. It showed that Babylon would be desolated permanently. You can see evidence of the fulfillment of these words. The uninhabited site of ancient Babylon—about 50 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq—is proof that what Jehovah spoke through Isaiah has been fulfilled: “I will sweep her with the broom of annihilation.”—Isaiah 14:22, 23.
The Bible also predicted Egypt to be desolate and waste. And look at it now, it's probably the most developed city in Northeastern Africa.
Again, because a text says it wasn't brought by man's will, you will just believe it? Anyone can claim their words are words of God. Why do you believe ancient texts written by men and altered by men over what God may be showing us right here and right now?
If God is all-knowing, and men aren't. How do you expect ancient men to be able to interpret His words too 100% accuracy? They didn't have the scientific knowledge we have now.
I have no problem with you believing what God has personally said to you. I have problem with Christians believing what other Christians say instead of hearing it from God Himself.
Egypt as a waste?? Which scripture are you referring to?
The bible interprets itself.
God himself does not talk to any human directly today. God speaks through the bible.
Actually the bible tells us to becareful that even "words o angel" are in accordance with what is in the bible, since the message could actually come from an evil source, Satan..
It's pretty interesting that these old Israelites (Isaiah & Jeremiah, etc.) prophesied real bad stuff to happen to their **enemies**, i.e., Babylon and Egypt. No specifics of the collapse of hundreds and hundreds of other cities all over the world over the centuries for various reasons, both human-caused and natural. They were just talking trash about their foes and wishin' and hopin' that their downfalls would occur someday.
Actually, Sir, newer archaeology has increasingly proving these Old Testament "stories" to have validity, with some otherwise unexplainable finds at the sites. Check out archaeology on Jericho, one of the oldest cities around, where the wall has fallen out, etc., just like the Biblical account. The details are amazing, between the Bible and the actual site! And then there are the cities found that archaeologists believe Sodom and Gommorah were. There is a thick layer of charred material, that has clearly been burnt with very strong fire. Just a couple of many, many examples in archaeology.
If your 'god' knows everything that is going to happen a million years from now then it is not free choice. If it isn't free choice then why is 'he' playing this stupid game.
Doesn’t God control all things?
The Bible does teach that God is Almighty, that his power is not limited by anyone other than himself. (Job 37:23; Isaiah 40:26) However, he does not use his power to control everything. For example, the Bible says that God was “exercising self-control” toward ancient Babylon, an enemy of his people. (Isaiah 42:14) Similarly, for now, he chooses to tolerate those who misuse their free will to harm others. But God will not do so indefinitely.—Psalm 37:10, 11.
The Babble teaches that there are zillions of gullible, if not mentally ill, people in the world, unable to shed childhood myths.
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.
The simple fact of the matter is that there are more followers of other faiths on the planet than followers of the bible. What makes the completely uncorroborated imaginary fables of the bible any different to their equally uncorroborated imaginary belief system?
Nothing at all actually.
Just that you were brainwashed as an impressionable child to have "faith" in one, not the other.
Science, on the other hand, is not a system of faith but a system of forever questioning. Forever asking "yeah, but WHY?". Then you devise a theory of "why" and a means to gather evidence to find out if your "why" stands up to scrutiny and can withstand everyone else asking "why". if it does, no matter what gets thrown at it, then it becomes a proven and demonstrated "fact". Evolution stands in that category.
Bill did well, nailed it!
each of the crated day could have been thousands of earth years...One day on the sun for example will be millions on earth..2 things to know about creationism .
The bible in genesis mentions 2 creations. the first its said in verse 1 was destroyed, and the second what christians call creation was actually recreation. I wonder why christians don't ready their bible. how can the earth be without form an void be a new creation. The earth is indeed millions of years old, but in its recreation is a a few thousand years. so sciene and the bible are accurate.
2. If day and night was created on the 3rd day, then that means the first day was not a 24 hour earth day. WE ALL KNOW THAT THE BIBLE SAYS A DAY TO THE LORD IS LIKE A THOUSANDAS TO US. The 7 days of the bible were certainly not 7 earth days, hence why its kepis saying evening nd morning the first day. Time does to start in the evening unearth, so
Well done Bill Nye.
Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill Bill!
I second that. Great job Mr. Nye, you smoked out Ham Bone.
I liked the explanation about the sea-floor banding, but he could have used that on the question about alternatives to radiometric dating, as well as star light.
Not that he didn't do a good job.
Great Job Dr. Ham
Yeah, he did a great clown impression tonight.
This goes to show that those who can't argue the facts will resort to name calling. Very scientific of you /s
Yeah, using the bible to defend the bible. That's a great job?
He wasn't defending the Bible? He was defending Creation. He was rebuking Evolution with the Bible.
Bill Nye avoided difficult questions. He kept repeating questions to Ham which were already previously answered. He offered no real facts or proof, and is obviously oblivious to the new facts which support the Bible, or he is choosing to ignore them. If i was to rule a winner, I'd say Ken Ham had the stronger points, and had the cool head. Notice how Nye was quite flustered, but Ham was not intimidated at all.
What was great about it? He was repeatedly asked to predict something. He could not.
Lets see if CNN has the guts to call a winner in the debate
Dr. Ham is using more science to debate Nye, than Nye is... Nye is trying to be philosophical and it isn't working
Psuedoscience is not science. If he was using science then he would be arguing in favour of evolution. His smoke and mirrors job has obviously had it's intended effect in confusing you.
We all know Bill Nye and Ken Ham are highly science knowledgeable, but their discussion of evolution and creation shows they are clearly way out of their zones.
Evolution as we know it is pretty straightforward as both presented, but Ham’s explanation of how creationism fits with evolution was remedial. Although science does prove evolution and creation, I was surprised how so far outdated Ham’s conclusion were.
That’s too bad since it’s an opportunity lost since there is so much better knowledge on that side of the equation.
Science proves evolution, not creation.
Science supports Creationism, not evolution
I've heard of the scientific Theory of Evolution, but I've never heard of the scientific Theory of Creation. Imagine that.
shehar, show one credible scientific peer reviewed article that backs up your statement. just one. What, can't find it? That's probably because it doesn't exist.
If you're going to make BS statements, then prepare to have your BS called.
Ham is so quick to say that you can't trust anything that happened in the past, then why doesn't his 3000 year old bible fall into that categoery.
Game. Set. Match. Good night folks.
You're supposed to ignore the inconsistencies in biblical arguments. Millenia of Christians selectively choosing what parts of the bible the "believe" as fact and what parts they gloss over cant all be wrong can they?..... Pffttttt.
Ham claims you cant trust the past when no one was there to observe it. Basically he is arguing from the premise that God was there. so if God was there it is plausible that he shared his order of creation with the creatures he created. if you have no one there you cant be certain about it. it just makes no logical sense to believe the past if you no one was there to observe it. If you believe in God the logic fits obviously but the individual can choose to make that assessment or not
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it ...
In order to prove that God was there to observe it and pass the knowledge on to humans would require evidence that there is a God. They can not do that . . .
Go Bill Go!
I will not be praying for you, you don't need imaginary support.
If the universe was created by god, then it would want us to know it, not ignore it in lieu of our feelings.
Your approach is sound. Thank you for taking this on!
Ham has hamstrung himself a number of times when he said you can't prove evolution. The fact that you can't prove something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. A logical fallacy, and Ham stepped right into it, as smart as he pretends to be. And at no time did Nye say god doesn't exist. He is so much smarter than Ham.
A cantaloupe is more intelligent than Ken Ham.
there doesn't need to be a false dichotomy set up of faith vs.science. The problem is, the sides in this debate began back in the Enlightenment when the church denied science and claimed that certain scientific findings disagreed with the bible. Christian fundamentalists (and in many respects I would be described as one) have created an unnecessary battleground. It starts from a misunderstanding of what the Bible is... and what it is not. Simply put, Genesis 1 thru 3 was not written as a definitive manual on origins, but rather rather to say that God was and is Designer, and to place mankind within the framework of His design. Genesis shows excellent examples of jewish story telling and teaching methods. But 6 days or billions of years... is not a deal breaker or foundational pillar of judeo-christian faith.
Ham is missing the point of what Nye and others are saying, and christians like me need to take heed. a) we live in a post-Christian society, and as such we cannot apply a christian world view, however erroneous (or correct), onto that society. b) Faith is not in battle with science. Use your critical thinking that God gave you. c) faith always needs to meet the needs and questions and concerns of people today. A faith that does otherwise is of no use to the very people who need to hear it. d) be missional on things that really matter today. But this gets back again (for those of faith) to what the bible is really about. And it gets back, for scientists like Nye, to the aim and goals of science... to understand and make sense of the world in which we live, which is a forward question, not a backward one. It becomes an intersection of faith with science to create a world view of my place within this society, world, universe, and for me, a choice to believe in a Saviour and a Creator. But this does not create a conflict for me between my faith and observable, quantifiable science. We have pressing issues to solve together, in the here and now.
It takes as much faith to believe in evolution as it does the Bible
Give us a break!!!
If it took belief but it does not. One "accepts" the theory of evolution because that's what one does with facts. You wouldn't say "believe in gravity".
shehar, your statement just shows you know nothing about evolution. Evolution is a proven fact, has been demonstrated through experimentation and natural observation over centuries now by thousands of researchers. It does not require faith, as it has more than ample evidence to back it up. The Bible is the only book in existence that makes its claims, there is no supporting evidence whatsoever. It's the Bible that needs blind faith to survive. Evolution will carry on whether you believe in it or not as at is a fundamental part of the universe. The Bible relies on people to carry on, and without them would fade away to be never heard from again.
Evolution is not proven
The 19th century is calling, they want their myths back.
Au Contraire shehar, been proven many, many times in observation of genetic and physical characteristic transformation over generations in short lived species.
Try doing some reading before making statements where you obviously have no knowledge.
Neither is gravity but there is sufficient evidence to support that it exists. The only thing you have to support creationism is the bible which is the claim, not the evidence... and the bible is filled with so many contradictions that it pretty much disproves itself. I challenge you to truly ask yourself this. Your God, a omniscient and omnipotent supreme being gives his word to man, who writes it in a bible. It consists of who we are and where we came from (in other words his design). With stories of talking snakes, man being made from dirt and woman being made from the rib of the man he clearly had no problem with giving a hard to believe account of his design. He even detailed the creation of the earth. Why then did a God who is omniscient, who clearly wanted us to know where we came from and was not concerned about how wild the story would be, decide not tell us about atoms or the structure of the the solar system, the galaxy and the universe, and the physics (by his design) that makes it all work? Is it more likely that God decided not to tell us despite his determination to tell us the creationist side of events or that the writers simply didn't know about these things over 2000 years ago? For you to consider
I bet you can't identify one scholarly article in a recognized scientific journal that successfully debunks evolution and successfully concludes with "some god did it."
No...not faith, that would be proof, science...doesn't have anything to do with faith, it is experiment and prove, before you open your mouth understand the difference between the two.
Um, no, no it doesn't. All it takes is an unbiased mind and the ability to read and comprehend.
It takes more faith. An infinite, complex cosmos emanating from nothing . . . Ummm! Ok! I think it would take less faith to believe in the tooth fairy.
Evolution can be falsified. The bible cannot. One is science. The other is not. Once you learn the difference you'll be alright.
The only wrongdoing of Bill Nye in this debate is that he might give "creationism" a certain amount of credence by simply agreeing to participate. He may as well agree to debate followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It will certainly be entertaining to watch though.
Science is still so young. Not too long ago, everyone on earth still need horses for transportation. Just because God wasn't discovered by scientific community, does not mean god doesn't exist. To say so is vanity and foolish. However intelligent we think we may be, there's a limit to human comprehension, sometimes there are things that can't ever be understood. Just like trying to teach ants to do tricks, or teach dogs calculus.
Science has been in existence since man has roamed this earth. Certainly you don't think we knew everything from day one, that experiments didn't take place in order to determine what food was poisonous and what food was not. Science isn't new, it has been around for longer than you think. Even some early scientists were atheistic in nature.
You've missed the point. Did you read the rest of my paragraph or just the 1st sentence? And I'm talking advance science, theoretical science, etc. Not the invention of the wheel and taming animals, even these aren't that old. Because young/old is only relative to what we're comparing to.
I believe that God created the particle that in turn led to evolution, which in turn led to man as we know him/her. I do not believe that God created us in the form we now inhabit; I believe that God created us to be whatever He wished us to be. His (or Her) image is everything. That may be a particle in the universe, a fish in the primordial sea, a crossopterygian crawling out onto the firmament, an ape, Neanderthal, Lucy, etc.
"In His own image" is astonishingly easy to believe, if one accepts that God created all. I mean, God created a germ. God created disease. God created the brains that allow us to find cures for disease.
As a Christian, I am completely content knowing that God created so much. I also accept that Satan exists, and that he/she will try to upset the world. I believe there must be a balance between Good and Evil (or God vs Satan, etc.) and that the battle is eternal. I also KNOW that God gave us brains with which to sort out our own opinions–including those held by people who do not self-describe as Christians. I don't happen to agree with all opinions, but I believe that God granted us the right to free will, and free opinions. I do *not* accept that "all Christians" are the only ones privy to God's preferences. I think God gave us free will to do our own thing, and that we are flawed beings. And that we will make mistakes. After all, we humans are NOT God.
Bill Nye–and others–are correct. It is science that dictates what we know of the world. I have always believed that "evolution"–that dirty word!–is science; it's simply a mechanism for change.
If God created the particle that led to evolution, where did God come from?
How was the first particle evolved? How did it know that it need to be so that from it everything else could grow, think, breathe, live, think, communicate and reason?
Great job CNN! We get to re-live the Scopes monkey trial. Were it not for Nye's patient and persistent presence I would be completely depressed by our lack of progress. Why do Kentucky hayseeds need an Australian spokesman? I guess hayseeds learned about image at some point. That's a dubious form of progress I suppose.
Sorry Ham, citing your 'Historical Science' is not making a prediction. Prediction is citing something that will happen in the future, not something in the past.