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Bill Nye the Science Guy Takes on Creationist in Live Debate

On Feb. 4, scientist Bill Nye took creationist Ken Ham head-on in a live debate hosted by the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. The debate, which aired live to internet viewers, raised the question, “Is creation a viable model of origin in today’s modern scientific era?”

Ham, who is the founder of the Creation Museum, opened the debate by pointing out a number of working scientists still subscribe to the belief that Genesis is the literal history of the world. He then insisted that the idea that creationism opposes science is a myth perpetrated by the fact “science has been hijacked by secularists,” and ignores the small minority of Christian scientists who embrace creation science and Genesis literally, “as Jesus did.”

Not surprising, Nye backed mainstream science in his opening remarks. He noted that, while the tale of Noah’s Ark is a great story, there is no evidence of a world flood as recounted in Genesis. He further stressed that if such a flood existed, it would likely be reflected in the fossil record. He ended his opening statement by saying that science is important to America’s prosperity and “what makes the United States a world leader is our technology.”

The two debaters then launched into 30 minute lectures explaining their positions.

During his slideshow-heavy presentation creationist Ham insisted, “you can’t observe the age of the Earth” and that the terms ‘science’ and ‘evolution’ were both  “hijacked by secularists.”

He then launched into an argument countering evolution by trotting out a racist 1914 quote from Civic Biology, the same text used in the Scopes ‘Monkey’ Trials, that insisted there are 5 races with “the highest type of all, the Caucasians.”

This, Ham claimed, was incorrect because the Bible refers to only one race, all which originate from Adam and Eve. Therefore, since the conclusions of the 1914 text “were based on Darwin’s ideas that were wrong,” a fact supported even by mainstream scientists today,  he deduced that molecule-to-man thinking is also flawed, since it likewise opposes biblical facts found in Genesis.

He also pointed out that Genesis offers many factual answers for the world today, including the fact marriage consists of “one man and one woman.”

Nye’s 30 minute presentation focused heavily on the fossil record and evidence, overwhelmingly supported by mainstream science, that make Ham’s truncated 6,000 year timeline for the earth impossible. “We are standing on millions of layers of ancient life,” Nye told the audience. “How could those animals have lived their entire life, and formed these layers, in just 4,000 years? There isn’t enough time since Mr. Ham’s flood for this limestone, that we’re standing on, to have come into existence.”

During his 5-minute rebuttal, Ham explained the timeline was based on the biblical narrative that began “from Adam to Abraham” and extends to the current day. Using the Bible to define earth’s age, the total amounts to 6,000 years, not the 4.5 billion that most scientists estimate. The theory of an old earth, Ham said, come from the inaccuracies of the carbon-dating methods and the fact “we certainly observe radioactive decay,” but “when you’re talking about the past, we have a problem,” leading to flawed conclusions made by secular scientists today.

Given the final word, Nye pointed out that the notion Ham was basing his truth on an English translation of an ancient text as “a science text” over things observed through the scientific method and what you can observe in nature “unsettling.” He then concluded by pointing out that Ham’s main assertion, that the past cannot be observed is incorrect.

“As far as, ‘You can’t observe the past,’ I have to stop you right there,” Nye told Ham. “That’s what we do in astronomy. All we can do in astronomy is look at the past.”

Nye then, conceded that the two would have to agree to disagree. “This idea that you can separate the natural laws of the past from the natural laws that we have now, I think, is at the heart of our disagreement,” Nye said. “Why we should accept your word for it that natural law changed completely 4000 years ago and there is no record of it?”

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.