Second Round of the Nye-Ham Debate

by Ken Ham on October 1, 2016
Featured in Answers Magazine
Audio Version

Bill Nye, after his famous 2014 debate with Ken Ham, agreed to visit the new Ark Encounter. Ken emphasized what matters most.

Ken Ham

illustration by Viktor Miller-Gausa

Ken Ham
Answers in Genesis

On February 4, 2014, I debated Bill Nye “the Science Guy” before a watching audience of millions (via YouTube, Facebook, and so on). It’s now estimated that upwards of 20 million people have watched the debate.

Before the debate, numerous people told me the arguments I needed to use. Afterward, I received a ton of emails, letters, phone calls, and social media comments telling me the arguments I should have used! Most people gave me so-called evidences that to them were “magic bullets” to defeat Bill Nye. But I believe that would have been the wrong approach.

On July 8, 2016, I had the opportunity of continuing this “debate” with Bill Nye for two hours, in what I saw as phase 2 of our ongoing clash. My aim was different from the initial 2014 formal debate, but I still didn’t focus on evidences. Instead, I challenged Bill Nye about the consequences of his worldview, and I shared the gospel again.

In the first debate, I determined to do something different from most creation-evolution debates. I illustrated that this was really a clash of worldviews, not ultimately a clash over evidence. I correctly defined terms like science and evolution so I could show clearly that Bill Nye and I had different worldviews. Our different starting points—man’s word versus God’s Word—explain why we interpret present evidence in regard to the past (the origins issue) so differently.

I also clearly presented the gospel. After all, what’s the point of trying to get someone to believe creation and reject evolution if they don’t receive the free gift of salvation! Bill’s eternity (and that of many watching) was really at stake.

On July 7 the Ark Encounter, a themed attraction with a life-size Noah’s Ark, opened south of Cincinnati. Before the opening, I publicly offered to give Bill Nye a personal tour through the Ark. To my surprise and elation, Bill Nye accepted.

I found out, however, he wanted to bring his video crew for a movie to be released in 2017. I agreed as long as our video crew could tag along. I spent two hours walking Bill Nye through all three decks of the Ark, followed by crowds of young people and adults. It really turned into an impromptu second debate, where I focused on the consequences of his worldview.

I asked what would happen to him when he died. He answered, “You’re done.” We then discussed what that ultimately meant. In the end, Bill did not have an adequate answer to how hopeless his worldview really is.

This reminds me once again that whenever we debate, we must never divorce our arguments from God's Word.

Later, I got Bill to admit it was “not crazy,” based on evolutionary “science,” to believe we’re “descendants of Martians.” I wanted people to see that an evolutionist like Bill will claim we’re descendants of Martians as part of his so-called science, but mock people who believe we’re descendants of Adam and Eve based on the account of history revealed in the Bible.

At one point I had Bill tell the people watching that we’re animals and related to bananas. He said, “What makes you think we’re not related to bananas?” I wanted people to understand that evolutionists see all organisms as belonging to one tree of life. Creationists, in contrast, believe in a Common Designer so we expect similarities; but all life is not related!

I asked Bill Nye how he determined right and wrong. He said, “Based on what I think as a member of the human tribe.” I asked this to show that when people have no absolute authority, morality is ultimately subjective.

Towards the end of our time together, I asked Bill to explain why he wore clothes. Again I wanted to show he had no moral basis for his worldview, but it was just subjective opinion. I then used Genesis’ account of the origin of clothing to explain the gospel to Bill. God gave Adam and Eve clothes because of sin. The first blood sacrifice was a covering for our sin, a picture of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

At the end, I prayed for Bill. He was quiet while I prayed, but then once again challenged people to go to college and study science.

Only God knows Bill Nye’s heart. But while the Lord gives me opportunity, I will continue to answer his questions, defend the faith, and present the gospel.

In regard to Bill Nye, I often think about Saul. He had a very hard heart towards the gospel. But when the light of God’s Word opened his heart, he became Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever known. Who knows, maybe Bill can become a Paul with a phenomenal witness to millions. But regardless, Bill is a soul who will live for eternity, and I will continue to pray that God will open his heart to the truth.

This reminds me once again that whenever we debate, we must never divorce our arguments from God’s Word and the message of the saving gospel: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Ken Ham is the founder and president of Answers in Genesis–USA. He has edited and authored many books about the authority of God’s Word and the impact of evolutionary thinking on our culture, including Already Compromised and The Lie.
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