Students gather to watch live creationist debate

Kristina Burton

It’s safe to say that most college students can hear the name “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and a catchy theme song will immediately pop into their heads. For many, however, the name Ken Ham, does not illicit the same reaction.

Ken Ham is an Australian young-Earth creationist who advocates a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. He is also the president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, which is located in Petersburg, Ky.

On Feb. 4, Ham joined Nye, an evolutionist, at the Creation Museum to debate the merits of creationism and evolutionism. The debate was streamed live online, and the WKU Secular Student Alliance screened the streaming in the Mass Media and Technology Hall auditorium.

Several people braved the rainy weather to come to MMTH and watch the debate.

Amanda Tinch, a Bowling Green sophomore, said she is a big fan of Nye and came into the debate with an open mind to see what would happen.

“I’m curious to hear his point of view, especially while having an intelligent debate with a person that’s here in this state and is an entity that they really pride themselves on,” she said.

Tinch said she is definitely on the evolutionism side of the debate.

“I don’t know how this is going to go without turning nasty,” Tinch said. “Not necessarily on Nye’s side, but on Ham’s side.”

Burlington freshman Johnny Burke said he has been to Ham’s Creation Museum a few times because it’s a short distance from his house.

“Nye has been out of commission for a while, so I’m curious as to why this sprung up out of nowhere,” Burke said.

Burke said he intended to get tickets to the event, but he was unable to because of how quickly they sold out.

“I can’t go, so of course I’m still going to watch,” Burke said.

Burke said he is also leaning towards Nye’s side in the debate.

“If I look at this like a boxing match, I think Nye’s going to do a lot more damage than Ham,” Burke said.

“Ham’s crucial point is about the dinosaurs and his whole thing is how they were wiped out by the flood,” he continued. “He doesn’t have much to argue, so all he can do is turn it into a church seminar. Nye will be as factual as possible.”

Burke said he anticipated that Ham would focus mostly on what his Creation Museum is all about.

“What I’m afraid of happening is Nye anticipating a discussion and Ham trying to make him look stupid,” Burke said. “Hopefully they both come in with an agreement on how it’s going to go—not Ham advertising his museum and Nye trying to take him down. Hopefully it’s just a fair, educated discussion.”

Michael Schrader, a Bowling Green freshman, said he wanted to watch the debate because he is very interested in science.

“I like to see truth prevail over deception,” Schrader said. “I like to know what’s true and the arguments behind it and how to determine it.”

Schrader said he doesn’t feel that creationism is a viable model.

“It’s at best a hypothesis,” Schrader said. “But I’m open to be convinced.”

Schrader said he thought Ham would have the advantage in terms of rhetoric and debate.

“Nye has facts on his side, and if he takes advantage of that, he’ll come out on top,” Schrader said. “I hope he comes up with something that Ham can’t answer.”

Throughout the debate, Ham said both his and Nye’s theories involve historical and observational science. He also said that radioactive dating methods — something that Nye cited to support his claims — have different results and are full of assumptions.

One of Ham’s memorable quotes of the night was his stance on the word “science.”

“I believe the word ‘science’ has been hijacked by secularists,” Ham said.

During a question-and-answer portion of the debate, after Nye had expressed that he wasn’t sure where matter and consciousness come from, Ham said there’s already a book that answers both of those questions, referring to the Bible.

Nye made several points throughout the debate as well. He said that the story of the flood and Noah’s ark isn’t reasonable and supported his statements with evidence from ice layers, trees, rocks, fossils and more.

Nye repeatedly said scientists want the ability to predict and he found Ham’s arguments to be “unsettling.”

One of Nye’s memorable quotes of the night was his question to Ham about Christians who don’t accept that the Earth is of an extraordinarily young age.

“What is to become of them?” Nye said. “What is to become of all the people who don’t see things your way?”

After the debate, Burke said he was surprised at Ham for not using it as a platform to promote the Creation Museum.

“I was also shocked by Nye using this as a platform to encourage people to vote for things like advocating science education,” Burke said. “I didn’t expect it, but I’m happy he did it because there’s a ton of people watching.”

Burke said he felt Nye was more charismatic during the debate, which helped him a lot.

“Ham is more faith-based, and I don’t think that hits as hard as pure science does,” Burke said. “Especially to us in college where we base so many things on academia.”

Schrader said he was surprised at how well Nye held his own.

“Ham didn’t seem to have any actual evidence to support his claims,” Schrader said. “He just wanted to poke holes in what Nye was saying.”

Click here to watch the debate between Nye and Ham.