There's been no shortage of controversy surrounding Tuesday's debate between "Science Guy" Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham. While some evolutionary theorists and atheists have chastised Nye for his willingness to publicly face-off against Ham, the former PBS host hasn't been swayed by their arguments.
Instead, Nye has defended his decision to appear at the event, which will be held at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. -- and in an op-ed published on CNN.com Monday, Ham, too, reiterated his own personal quest to use the debate to give creationism a more public voice.
Reflecting past comments he's made to TheBlaze, Ham said that public debates over evolution and creationism are rare and that this face-off, which will be moderated by CNN's Tom Foreman, provides a unique opportunity for the public to hear both sides of the ever-contentious issue.
Image source: Answers in Genesis
Ham also clarified where his group stands on integrating creationism into public school classrooms -- a stance that may surprise his ideological opponents.
"While we are not in favor of mandating that creation be taught in public school science classes, we believe that, at the very least, instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution," he said.
Noting that both he and Nye have a love for "operational science," Ham said that there is a difference between what can be seen, understood and tested -- and theories surrounding "beliefs about the past, which cannot be tested in the laboratory."
At the heart of Ham's frustration is the idea that students are censored from hearing challenges to evolution in public school settings.
"Most students are presented only with the evolutionary belief system in their schools, and they are censored from hearing challenges to it," he continued. "Let our young people understand science correctly and hear both sides of the origins issue and then evaluate them."
According to Ham, opinions on creation are paramount to informing one's entire worldview. If a person believes the universe was created by accident, he or she finds no purpose or meaning in life, he said. But if there is causation -- and a creator -- Ham believes it forces people to look at life a bit differently.
He concluded, "Ultimately, I have decided to accept an authority -- our infallible creator and his word, the Bible -- over the words of fallible humans."
In a previous interview with HuffPo Live, Nye also gave his reasons for participating in the debate.
“Well I don’t think I’m going to win Mr. Ham over any more than Mr. Ham thinks he’s going to win me over, if I understand that expression ‘win over,’” he told host Josh Zepps earlier this month. “Instead, I want to show people that this belief is still among us … it finds its way onto school boards in the United States.”
Nye, who once hosted PBS’s “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” said that he isn’t going into the debate with Ham as a scientist, but that he plans to debate evolution and creationism as “a reasonable man.”
“I’m not going in really as a scientist as such. I want to remind everybody — I’m a mechanical engineer,” Nye said. “I’m going in as a reasonable man and I think that to just call attention to this belief system has value.”
So rather than seeing his participation in the sold-out event as a detriment, Nye believes it is important to step into the debate to help the public better see his perspective.
Presenter Bill Nye speaks on stage at "Hub Network's First Annual Halloween Bash" on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Calif. (Invision for the Hub Network)
The roots for the sold-out debate were apparently set in 2012 when, as TheBlaze previously reported, Nye lambasted creationists in a Big Think video and proclaimed that teaching ideas contrary to evolutionary theory is damaging to both children and society.
At the time, Ham and his organization, Answers in Genesis, responded with video critiques of their own. And when an Associated Press reporter contact both Ham and Nye to discuss the back-and-forth, Answers in Genesis asked the reporter to inquire whether the “science guy” would be interested in going head-to-head with Ham.
Nye inevitably agreed — and more than a year later that debate is slated to become a reality.
The sold-out debate will be streamed live online Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET. Who do you think will win? Take the poll below:
Featured image via Answers in Genesis