The infamous and ill-conceived debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) seemed like a terrible idea when we first learned of it. That’s when we wrote Ken Ham to Debate Bill Nye — Big Mistake! We’ve always opposed debates with creationists, and we explained why in Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism. Among the many reasons we gave was this:
It’s bad strategy, because the mere appearance of a respected scientist on the same platform gives creationism credibility and creates the illusion that there’s some kind of scientific controversy that’s worth debating — and that creationists are qualified to debate with knowledgeable scientists.
Many people advised Nye not to do the debate, but he was determined. As expected, Nye did well, Hambo babbled his usual creationist patter, and the debate changed no one’s mind. However, ol’ Hambo has never stopped bragging about the event. He imagines that it gave him a kind of intellectual legitimacy.
As you know, Hambo’s Ark Encounter had its grand opening last week, attended by thousands of drooling creationists — but it wasn’t a sell-out crowd or Hambo would have bragged about that. Guess who visited the next day? That’s right — Bill Nye. His appearance has generated considerable attention in the press.
Typical is this article in London’s Daily Mail — their headline is unusually long: ‘The kids are being brainwashed’: Bill Nye the Science Guy slams new Noah’s Ark attraction during a visit Friday after protests were held at its opening. It has almost 100 comments. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Science educator Bill Nye took a tour of a new Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky that he has called a danger to the nation’s science education. Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham invited Nye, best known for his 1990s science TV show, to visit the Ark Encounter on Friday. The Christian group says the ark is part of its ministry that teaches Old Testament stories as true historical events.
But merely showing up wasn’t enough for Nye. Let’s read on:
Nye toured the ark with his own film crew and the pair engaged in an unscheduled debate discussing creationism versus evolution in front of hundreds of people.
Amazing. He never seems to learn. We continue:
Nye ‘The Science Guy’ told The Washington Post that his takeaway from the visit was that the kids were being ‘brainwashed’. He added: ‘This could be just a charming piece of Americana, just something — I recently used an app called Roadtrippers that takes you to odd or unusual places…but this is much more serious than that. ‘This guy promotes so very strongly that climate change is not a serious problem, that humans are not causing it, that some deity will see to it that everything is ok.’
That’s nice, but Nye didn’t need to visit the ark in order to make that statement. Ol’ Hambo took full advantage of Nye’s appearance to promote his endeavors: We’re told:
Meanwhile Ham wrote in a Facebook post: ‘Bill challenged me about the content of many of our exhibits, and I challenged him about what he claimed and what he believed. It was a clash of world views. At one point I asked Bill: “What would happen to you when you die?” He said: ‘When you die “you’re done”.’
He [Hambo] added: ‘We both agreed to video the entire discussion as we walked. Numerous children, teens, and adults swarmed around us as we passionately interacted as the audience grew.’ The president of Answers in Genesis said that those who gathered around the pair as they walked and talked later ‘prayed for Bill’. Teenagers and adults also came up and spoke with Nye, asked him questions and ‘challenged him’ according to Ham. He also said he ‘had the opportunity’ to share the gospel with Nye a number of times.
For Hambo’s drooling followers, the event was a great triumph. But Nye seems to have done the best he could do — given the impossible circumstances in which he found himself. The Daily Mail reports:
When Ham suggested that Nye speak to Answers in Genesis’s team of scientists, Nye said they were ‘all incompetent’.
Ham asked Nye if they could be friends, but Nye replied that they ‘could be acquaintances with mutual respect, but not friends.’ Ham described the two-hour encounter as ‘fruitful and exciting’ and said they ended the talk with a friendly handshake.
Yeah — “fruitful and exciting.” The newspaper has nothing else about Nye, but it says a lot more about Hambo’s ark, and it has a load of pictures. It may be worth your time to look it over.
So what can we say about Bill Nye? He’s a bright guy, but he’s terribly naïve. He doesn’t realize that Hambo won the day merely because he was foolish enough to show up.
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