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Bill Nye–Ken Ham debate facts for kids

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The debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on the question "Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins?" was held February 4, 2014. The event took place at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Ham is the founder and chief executive officer of the Young Earth creationist (YEC) ministry Answers in Genesis (AiG). He challenged Nye, science educator. Nye is best known for hosting the 1990s television series Bill Nye the Science Guy. This happened after Ham took exception to a YouTube video. Nye was worried that a large number of people in the US do not accept the theory of evolution. Tickets to the event sold out within minutes. The televised event drew over three million viewers. Debates such as this one have been going on since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859.

The debate

Nye stepped onto the stage in front of a hostile audience. It wasn't Nye's first time debating. Since his show on PBS ended in 1998, he has been making speaking tours at colleges and universities. He has also appeared on several cable television programs. It was Ham's home turf. Ham is the head of the museum as well as the Christian outreach organization called Answers in Genesis. He argued the Bible was the ultimate authority on natural history. During the debate, Ham talked about his model of the universe's origins. Nye cited observations from a variety of scientific fields to defend the majority scientific consensus that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old.

Science versus creationism

Bill Nye said that "Creation is bad for science." Ken Ham then referred to several scientists who were young earth creationists. Ham asked Nye how he could explain the laws of logic and physics in a naturalistic worldview. Ham asked Nye for an example of something that could only have been invented from an evolutionary worldview. He also showed the difference between what's called historical science and observational science. Ham gave an example of biological adaptation. He brought up Tiktaalik as an example of a scientific prediction. He added, "Mr. Ham and his worldview does not have this capability". Ham claimed the mainstream scientific community has made creationists afraid to speak out. He went on to say they need "scientific freedom" to speak.


Nye offered several objections to Ham's young-earth position. He stated that ice cores and tree rings show that a young earth view is wrong. Nye also offered radiometric and carbon-14 dating to show that a young earth view is wrong. Ham disagreed; he called radioactive dating "assumptions". He said the only authority was the word of God, the Bible. Ham stated he saw two kinds of science. One called "observational science" which is science that can be observed. The second he termed “historical science" meaning fossil records and similar artifacts. Ham stated "I assert that the word 'science' has been hijacked by secularists in teaching evolution to force the religion of naturalism on generations of kids".

The results

Many scientists were critical of Nye for accepting Ham's invitation. They claimed his participation in the debate gave Ham's views undeserved legitimacy. Two humanist groups—the American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry praised Nye's decision. Scientists from both camps generally agreed that Nye won the debate. However they did not agree on how convincing the victory was. Ham later announced that the publicity from the debate helped fundraising for AiG's planned Ark Encounter theme park. It allowed the ministry to begin construction.

A related book by Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, was just released. Ken Ham released a book after the debate titled Inside the Nye Ham debate: is Creation a viable model: revealing truths from the worldview clash of the century.

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