What Bill Nye and Ken Ham gained while we thought they were talking about Evolution vs Creation

Bill Nye, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The buzz in our house last night was all about the debate between Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Ken Ham (CEO of Answers in Genesis). We watched it online, streaming live from Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky. We were hoping to hear some new scientific evidences, and were surprised to hear both Nye and Ham rambling on about politics. It wasn’t about Evolution or Creation for either one of them.

See it on YouTube.

This was only Ham’s second debate on this subject. His first was in the 1990s. Nye is an experienced performer. He’s comfortable on stage and in front of the cameras. So why would such a mismatched pair agree to debate one another? And why now, as opposed to the opening of the Creation Museum in 2007, or Darwin’s 200th birthday in 2009, or some other date?

WHAT WAS IN IT FOR BILL NYE

Science research and education is big business—huge business—in the US. Lobbying and perks and grant money and government contracts go hand-in-hand, and most of the money depends on how Americans vote. For the debate, Bill Nye displayed NASA stickers on his laptop, including SOS, for Save our Science, a campaign of the Planetary Society to try to get Congress to release more money to NASA. Nye became the Planetary Society’s CEO in 2011. In the past, the Planetary Society has been able to generate enough public support to stop Congress from implementing proposed budget cuts in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Throughout the debate, Nye referred to NASA projects and talked about how NASA is looking for the fundamental answers to life. He directly addressed voters, warning that if we don’t embrace this line of research, America will lose its economic and influential edge. He even reminded his audience that, unlike Ken Ham, who came to America from Australia, he’s one of us. He said, “I was born here. I’m a patriot. And so we have to embrace science education. To the voters and taxpayers that are watching, please keep that in mind.” His emotional pleas felt personal, as if his own economic and influential status was at stake, and I imagine it is. The next budget announcement from Congress is expected in March 2014. And that’s why Nye chose to debate now.

WHAT WAS IN IT FOR KEN HAM

Choosing to bring in a celebrity gave Ken Ham opportunities for news media interviews, and social media buzz for the Creation Museum and his website Answers in Genesis . With such a large audience, Ham had an amazing opportunity. Instead of methodically explaining the key points of Creation science, he skimmed over them, making sure to say that God created marriage in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He said repeatedly that the Biblical account of Genesis teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. He said that by not teaching Creation, we’ve created an immoral worldview that allows for homosexuality. And that’s why Ham chose to debate now.

Garden of Eden display from Creation Museum
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

THE WRAP UP

Nye’s overall argument, that American money and power is a compelling enough reason to embrace Evolution, had nothing to do with scientific truth, and not really anything to do with Evolution. But then, Ham’s argument that without the hope of eternal life, there is no purpose in discovery, so we must believe in Creation, is not scientific either, and didn’t have much to do with Creation either. In the end, it was nothing more than political posturing, with both sides preaching to the already-converted. That is disappointing. Did you watch it? What did you think? Can you answer some of the unanswered questions posed?


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