‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye to debate Biblical creationist

‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye to debate Biblical creationist
In an Oct. 18, 2010, file photo, Bill Nye arrives at a White House science fair in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Actor and TV teacher Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” is set to square off in a Feb. 9 debate against Answers in Genesis — USA founder Ken Ham, at the $27 million Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., founded by Ham to advocate for the Old Testament account of creation.

The forum is a lot fancier than the Tennessee courtroom that hosted the 1925 Scopes trial, but the debate topic is very similar: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

“Those of you who know me know that I don’t relish public debates: So please pray for me,” Ham urged followers in a newsletter announcing the debate.

Nye is a former Boeing engineer, veteran of KING/5′s “Almost Live” and a person who has gained fame explaining science to both adults and children. He has done an online video, viewed by 6 million people, arguing that teaching creation is bad for children.

An outspoken environmentalist, Nye argues in the video:

“I say to grown-ups: If you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids, because we need them.”

In a recent wire service interview, Nye said: “If we raise a generation of students who don’t believe in the process of science, who think everything that we’ve cone to know about nature and the universe can be dismissed by a few sentences translated into English from some ancient text, you’re not going to continue to innovate.”

The Australian-born Ham has other ideas, specifically those of the Old Testament. He believes in the book of Genesis, specifically that the universe was created 6,000 years ago, and that Noah took to his ark to escape a great flood in the year 2348 B.C. He believes that species evolved from those rescued on the ark, and that dinosaurs once coexisted on Earth with humans.

“The devastating effect that evolutionary humanism has had on society, and even the church, makes it clear that everyone — including Christians — needs to return to the clear teachings of Scripture and Genesis, and acknowledge Christ as our Creator and Savior,” Ham argues.

“In fact, Genesis has the answer to many of the problems facing the compromising church and questioning world today.”

The trial of a high school teacher in a Tennessee courtroom, nearly 90 years ago, seemed to give a lasting boost to the theory of evolution in at least the minds of educated Americans. The Scopes trial saw famed lawyer Clarence Darrow cross-examine three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan on such Old Testament passages as the temptation of Eve.

Still, during a 2013 U.S. House hearing, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, used the Old Testament to question human-caused global warming. “If you believe in the Bible,” said Barton, “one would have to say the great flood is an example of climate change. That certainly wasn’t because mankind overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

A recent Pew Research poll showed that 33 percent of Americans — and 48 percent of those identifying themselves as Republicans — believe that all living things on Earth existed in their present form from the beginning of time.

The Creation Museum will charge $25 for admission to the debate.

Some have questioned whether Nye will change any minds, even if he debates as brilliantly as Darrow did in defending teacher John Thomas Scopes. (The trial was later made into a movie, “Inherit the Wind,” starring Spencer Tracy as Darrow.)

“Even the evidence — as powerful as the evidence can be — won’t save him,” author Tyler Franke wrote in the blog God of Evolution: Theology with an Attitude. “Because evidence only changes the minds that are open to it. And those of Ham and his followers are not.

“They’re not looking for the truth. They just want their truth, since they firmly believe they are doing God’s work.”