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Bill Nye and I Have Different Accounts of Our Debate

by Ken Ham on April 16, 2014
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Not only do Bill Nye (the “Science Guy” of TV fame) and I hold totally different positions on origins, we also have different accounts of the history surrounding our debate at the Creation Museum on February 4.

In an April 14 article titled, “Bill Nye’s Take on the Nye-Ham Debate,” published by the Huffington Post (and based on an essay that Mr. Nye wrote for the Skeptical Inquirer), Mr. Nye gave his story to the background of the debate. Sadly he made disparaging comments about me and even about our highly professional public safety officers.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate

Watch the creation debate and get answers to Bill Nye’s arguments at debatelive.org.

In this article, I will take some statements made by Mr. Nye as recorded in the Huffington Post article and respond to them.

On the Origin of the Debate

Mr. Nye, referring to his 2012 YouTube video titled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children,” is quoted by the Huffington Post:

Among the viewers apparently was one Ken Ham, who is the head of a congregation in Kentucky that holds doggedly to the idea that the world is somehow merely 6,000 years old. Furthermore, he has raised millions and millions of dollars for what he calls the “Creation Museum,” a facility across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio, in Petersburg, Kentucky. He wrote to me and challenged me to a debate.

For several months, I put the offer or proposal aside thinking the whole thing would blow over. After all, his challenge was based on a minute and a half of video that exists with little context. He was persistent. So, as the weeks went by and we corresponded, I acceded the challenge. More specifically, I was willing to come to his facility if the topic was: “Is creation a viable model of origins in the modern scientific era?” Note that this title does not include the word “evolution,” nor does it connote or imply that we would discuss evolution specifically.

Hmmm—we seem to have a different account of how the debate came about. When his YouTube video titled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children” went viral, AiG produced a video of me responding to Bill Nye (two AiG scientists also produced a video responding to him). As a result media began contacting AiG to talk to me about this Internet controversy.

During the time of the dueling YouTube videos a year and a half ago, an Associated Press reporter talked to me and our CCO Mark Looy about this online “debate” of sorts for a story he wanted to see AP syndicate around the country. Mark suggested to the reporter that because Mr. Nye had become so public in his contention that teaching creation was bad for children, that he, the reporter, might want to ask Mr. Nye if he would engage AiG in a public debate. The reporter then contacted Mr. Nye who told the AP reporter that if AiG would pay his expenses, he would agree to debate. The AP reporter then contacted Mark to inform us of Mr. Bill Nye’s response. Mr. Nye had also told the reporter that we could contact his office to get the ball rolling on the debate, which Mark did.

Just prior to the debate with Mr. Nye at the Creation Museum, I recognized that very AP reporter and spoke to him briefly about the fact that, because of his discussion with Bill Nye, this debate became a reality. The AP reporter could verify all of this.

Bill Nye, in the essay that the Huffington Post summarized, stated that I am “the head of a congregation.” Of course, AiG is not a church. We don’t have a congregation. But because he made a similar statement during the debate, I believe he is trying to portray me as some sort of tyrannical leader of the AiG staff and supporters, who follow me as people might do with some sort of cult leader. Why does he continue to say this? I believe he is trying to get the public to believe that AiG is some sort of cultic fringe group! It’s all a part of trying to marginalize Bible-believing Christians in the culture, of which there are tens of millions of people in the USA alone.

You can read AiG’s lead web article about Nye’s YouTube video that eventually led to the now-famous debate.

Once Upon a Visit

Mr. Nye commented on the fact that, though he usually disagrees with Fox News, he relishes the opportunity to confront them in their studio. In relation to his appearance at the Creation Museum, he said,

I had that same feeling about Ken Ham’s building. I wanted to be in the belly of the beast. I drove by there when I was on other business in Cincinnati a few years ago. The building was closed, but driving around the grounds I saw numerous depictions of ancient dinosaurs. One infamous sculpture featured humans of apparent European descent astride a triceratops-style ancient animal adorned with Christmas lights. I wanted to see the inside someday.

In his 30-minute debate presentation, Nye repeatedly used phrases like “Ken Ham’s creation model,” “Ken Ham’s flood,” and “Ken Ham and his followers.” I don’t know his motive in saying such things except it seems he is continuing to suggest that I am the leader of some sort of minority group, with people who just follow me and I dictate what they believe. It’s so sad that he would try to demonize us in this way. That’s why at the debate, I stated that there are millions of people across the USA and around the world who believe God’s Word as we do and as most of the church leaders did up through the Reformation.

Also, Mr. Nye’s account as recorded in the Huffington Post about his “visit” to the Creation Museum in 2011 is very different than ours. In fact, I reported on his drop-by at the museum on Facebook, and it was also summarized in a lead article on the AiG website.

On February 4, 2011, I stated on Facebook the following:

Bill Nye (“The Science Guy” of PBS-TV fame) visited the Creation Museum for .... 2 minutes this past week. He only stopped in front of the museum to take photos. In our photo attached, he is standing in the driveway in front of the museum. He did not go inside. Including the drive in and out the gate, he was on-site for a total of 122 seconds. .  .

I wonder if he'll now say he's visited the Creation Museum--I suppose he did--well sort of--well he saw the outside--for a few seconds anyway!

Now, I am even more perplexed by Bill’s assertion about the extent of his visit:

The building was closed, but driving around the grounds I saw numerous depictions of ancient dinosaurs. One infamous sculpture featured humans of apparent European descent astride a triceratops-style ancient animal adorned with Christmas lights. I wanted to see the inside someday.

No, Bill, the Museum was open, not closed, when you visited for that 122 seconds. And, no, you did not drive around the grounds. You pulled up the short driveway, stopped to take photos, and then drove out. It all took two minutes. And, no, Bill, you did not see “numerous depictions of ancient dinosaurs”—there is only one sculpted dinosaur in the front circle of the museum where you stopped.

Also, Bill, you did not see (as you claim), “One infamous sculpture featured humans of apparent European descent astride a triceratops-style ancient animal adorned with Christmas lights.” First, I point out that there was a wire sculpture of a Triceratops near the driveway that was used for our Christmas program (and is lit up). But there are no “humans of apparent European descent astride” this Triceratops.

Now, inside the Creation Museum there is a small sculpture of a Triceratops that is not a part of any of our exhibits. It’s merely a photo opportunity for kids 12 and under—they can hop on to have their parents take photographs. It’s no different to what you find at other secular museums, zoos, etc.

And why did Mr. Nye say “humans of European descent” who weren’t there to begin with? Is he trying to play some sort of race card? If Mr. Nye had bothered to tour the museum in 2011 or during the day of the debate, he would have seen our exhibit dealing with the theme of there being only one race and the answer to racism. Furthermore, Mr. Nye would have seen our life-size models of Adam and Eve inside the museum with a middle-brown skin shade. Actually, I offered to give Bill Nye a personal tour through the museum before the debate, but he declined. We are aware that he arrived in our area several hours before the debate, so his travel schedule certainly would have allowed for a visit.

Misjudging Our Public Safety Officers

AiG astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner made the following observation regarding Bill Nye’s comments about our officers:

His paragraph really puzzles me. He took what he saw as a grim demeanor on the part of our officers as a tacit admission that he (Bill Nye) had won the debate. But then he completely reversed himself by observing that he thought that the officers were trained to appear grim regardless of the outcome. We can view this as two hypotheses:

  1. If Bill Nye won, the officers would appear grim.
  2. If Bill Nye lost, the officers would appear grim.

The officers appeared grim, so Bill Nye concluded that the first hypothesis was confirmed.

I had already concluded after the debate Bill Nye doesn’t understand science. This statement from him confirms my conclusion. Or is that a hypothesis? – D. F.

In the article Bill Nye also misjudges our public safety officers when he states,

After the debate, my agent and I were driven back to our hotel. We were, by agreement, accompanied by two of Ham’s security people. They were absolutely grim. I admit it made me feel good. They had the countenance of a team that had been beaten—beaten badly in their own stadium. Incidentally, if the situation were reversed, I am pretty sure they are trained to feel bad about feeling good. They would manage to feel bad either way, which is consistent with Mr. Ham’s insistence on The Fall, when humankind took its first turn for the worse. And by his reckoning, we’ve been plummeting ever since.

It is so sad to read such a silly, demeaning statement like this. AiG’s public safety officers are highly trained and very professional. For example, when Mr. Nye insisted that AiG provide metal detectors at the debate, our Department of Public Safety complied and did everything asked of them to ensure the safety of Bill Nye and all those who were at the debate. It was also snowy and icy the night of the debate and our AiG public safety officers were onsite to ensure the safety of everyone entering the building and while inside. Most of the officers that night didn’t even watch the debate as they were busy watching over the entire facility. They didn’t get to experience the debate itself until they watched it later on video.

CNN Interview

Bill Nye also mentions our post-debate interview with CNN:

In an interview after the debate, Piers Morgan of CNN asked Mr. Ham about climate change. Ham denied denying it, but I reminded the audience that he did deny climate change in at least one interview. It’s somehow connected, because it points to Ken Ham and his followers’ ability to exclude themselves from responsibility and from nature. It is weird and, for me, troubling.

First, the CNN interview with Piers Morgan was a setup. Our understanding was that the interview was to be about the just-concluded debate. But Morgan launched into climate change, which had nothing to do with the debate topic. From statements Bill Nye made in the interview, I am quite sure he and Morgan set this up ahead of time. Also, I did not deny climate change. I observed that there had been climate changes ever since the Flood of Noah’s time. What I did say was that the debate over what has caused climate change is somewhat like the creation/evolution debate. You see, how you interpret the evidence in regard to the past about what causes climate change depends on the person’s assumptions.

And notice again Nye’s statement about “Ken Ham’s followers.” Of course, people who support AiG are followers of Jesus Christ—not Ken Ham! And his statement that we “exclude ourselves from responsibility” about the environment is insulting. AiG scientists have written on environmental issues and the importance of having a Christian worldview so we can correctly look after the earth God has entrusted to our care.

“There Is a Book”

It was encouraging that Mr. Nye repeated the most-referred-to quote from the debate: “There is a book [the Bible]. . . .” And it’s also encouraging that Mr. Nye has changed his mind, from at one time thinking that I was some sort of charlatan (as he once said in an interview) to recognizing that I do believe what I am teaching, and that I’m passionate about it. Sadly, though, he has once again made out that the AiG staff and our supporters are my “parishioners,” almost as if I lead some sort of cultish group. Here is what he said:

I was and am respectful of Ken Ham’s passion. At a cognitive level, he believes what he says. He really means it, when he says that he has “a book” that supersedes everything you and I and his parishioners can observe everywhere in nature around us. I respected that commitment.

There is so much more I could respond to regarding this Huffington Post article of misinformation about me and the recent debate.

I encourage you to go to our website where you can view the entire debate as well as the post-debate discussion, and also see the drop-down menu on the right side for commentary on the debate.

Every topic that either Bill Nye or I mentioned during the debate is listed on this menu. You can then click on the topic, and you will be directed to the spot in the debate video where you can watch that section. At the same time, links will appear to articles on the AiG website that deal with that topic. It’s a great teaching tool.

Opening Up Discussions About Origins

So, who won the debate? Before the debate, reporters asked me if I hoped to convince Bill Nye of my position, and what I hoped would come out of the event. I responded that the greatest thing that could come out of the debate would be for discussions on the topic of origins to open up around the world, for right now, secularists have largely shut down discussions in the public arena. At least Mr. Nye agreed to have a public discussion about the topic of origins with me, whereas as people like evolutionist Richard Dawkins refuse to engage in such debates. They don’t want people to have the opportunity to critically analyze the issue. Dawkins and his ilk want their anti-God atheist religion forced on the public.

I believe this debate did and continues to spark interest across the world about the creation/evolution issue, and has opened the door for Christians to witness to their friends and family. I have also seen more Christians (including young people) becoming more bold for their faith! Meanwhile, I ask you to continue to pray for Bill Nye.

As of now, we believe around 14 million people have probably seen the debate, and the number grows daily.

Unanswered Questions

And I have two questions for Mr. Nye, which are the same questions I challenged him about during the debate and continue to be left unanswered:

  1. How do you account for the laws of logic and laws of nature from a naturalistic worldview that excludes the existence of God?
  2. Can you name one piece of technology that could only have been developed starting with a belief in molecules-to-man evolution?

I await the answers.

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