A few days ago Bill “The Science Guy” Nye appeared on the Cable News Network discussing his upcoming debate (Feb. 4) with Ken Ham at Kentucky’s Creation Museum. The topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins?”
Here’s the clip from CNN:
Nye’s rationale, as given in this interview, is not to “win,” nor to change “this guy’s mind” (I love that he refuses to mention Ken Ham’s name), but to prevent children from adopting a “scientifically illiterate” view of biology. He adds he hopes to “influence people in the area”—presumably Kentucky.
If that’s the case, I reiterate that this debate is pointless and counterproductive. The audience is not going to comprise children, but (as Nye admits) mostly fundamentalist adults—Ham supporters. How, then, can this change the minds of the younger generation? And if the audience does consist of Ham supporters, how can Nye influence the thinking of Kentuckians? If Nye makes a good showing, which I hope but consider unlikely, then Ham may not release a video.
If Nye wants to further acceptance of evolution, he should just continue to write and talk about the issue on his own, and not debate creationists. By so doing, he gives them credibility simply by appearing beside them on the platform.
Further, even in this friendly interview Nye doesn’t respond well to the criticism that he’s not really an expert on evolution, nor does he seem especially eloquent.
I suspect that Ham, in a William Lane Craig-like way, is preparing furiously for this debate, and I pray* that Nye is doing likewise. That’s the only way he’ll survive.
Some readers have suggested that this debate is a very good thing, but I simply can’t agree. I suspect that such optimism stems from their respect for Nye’s accomplishment as a science presenter, and his demeanor as a nice guy. But Nye never had Ken Ham on his children’s show.
And I can’t shake the feeling that part of Nye’s motivation is to stay in the media spotlight. But doing it this way is a terrible mistake.
*I am praying metaphorically