Bill Nye and Ken Ham had an old-fashioned debate on Tuesday. "Sciene Guy" Nye was on the side of evolution, while Ham, who is founder of Answers in Genesis-U.S. and the Creation Museum, argued for creationism. The debate took place at the Creation Museum in Kentucky and was covered extensively by the media and social media.
The creationism vs. evolution debate lasted more than two hours and, while never contentious, neither side conceded defeat after it was over. The debate between Nye and Ham was framed on the question, "Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?" At the end of the debate pundits weighed in on who won and what the debate means for proponents of evolution and creationism.
In the view of Daily Beast writer Michael Schulson, the Nye-Ham debate resembled the one-sided Super Bowl XLVIII with Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, in the role of the Seattle Seahawks and the Science Guy playing the Denver Broncos. "Nye never had a chance. Ham won this debate months ago, when Nye agreed to participate," said Schulson. While he argued that Nye may not always have presented his argument well, just giving Ham the platform was a defeat. Schulson said, "Ham had nothing to lose. When you exist on the cultural fringe and make your living by antagonizing established authority, there’s no form of media attention you don’t love. "
On social media, and sites like Reddit, Nye was the clear victor. Memes and images appeared on Imgur detailing some of his responses and hypothetical reactions to some of the comments made by Ham.
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NBC News' Alan Boyles believes every party, Nye, Ham, evolution supporters and creationism supports, won. Nye's message was promoted, as was Ham's, and there was a renewed attention to the argument. Boyles also mentions the financial benefits for each party, Nye's speaking fee was paid for the event whereas Ham may see a bump in funding for his Creation Museum from DVD sales.
Forbes' roundup concludes Nye handled the debate well, but another party that was not involved directly with the debate, intelligent design supporters (who posit a 'designer" without resorting to biblical literalism), may have been the night's biggest loser based on Jason Rosenhouse's critique of the night. Rosenhouse said in his blog, "Seeing Ham drone on and on about the Bible, to the point of defending the plausibility of Noah’s ark for heaven’s sake, must have had the ID folks seething." The National Center for Science Education had Nye as the clear winner while noting Ham was a usually good orator who seemed to have a bad night.
Ham and Nye continued their debate on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" when they discussed climate change and global warming with the scene getting a bit more contentious as the segment drew to a close.
The full debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham can be viewed below.