Ken Ham Challenges Bill Nye to a Debate

Bill Nye made a video advocating for evolution.

The Creation Museum made videos responding to Nye… and now Ken Ham is throwing down an imaginary gauntlet:

Ken Ham doesn’t want to hear your evidence.

… Dr. [Georgia] Purdom stated to the Christian Post, [an evolution-creation debate] “could be held at a public university, using an impartial moderator. I would think that someone as polished and charismatic as Mr. Nye would relish the opportunity to debate a creationist. In addition, since Nye will soon be hosting a new science program, I would think he would like to see the publicity generated by his participation in a major public debate.”

First of all, Nye doesn’t need the publicity. He’ll be able to go on plenty of talk shows and radio shows to promote his new program.

Second, doing this debate would be a waste of Nye’s time. These debates don’t settle the truth of evolution — the evidence does. Obviously, the Creation Museum has none of that, so they feed off of publicity. Of course Ham wants this debate. It doesn’t matter that his side will lose it. He’s just going to spin it by saying evolution and Creationism are locked in some sort of debate, period, which is why the debate was necessary. Therefore, let’s get Creationism back into the schools.

There’s no need for a debate, because there’s no credible challenge to evolution. Rest assured that all the “controversies” in the scientific world have nothing to do with Creationism.

We don’t have debates between astronomy and astrology.

We don’t have debates between chemistry and alchemy.

And we shouldn’t have debates between evolution and Creationism.

They’re not in the same realm of reality.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Paul Caggegi


  • Mark Whatman

    If that debate happened, creationists would think Ham won and anyone else would think that Bill Nye did. It is indeed a waste of Bill Nye’s time.

    Unfortunately, if he doesn’t do it, Ken Ham will brag that Bill Nye was afraid to debate him. From a PR standpoint it’s lose-lose for Bill Nye.

  • Sunny Day.

     You’ll get dirty, and the pig likes it.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    If Bill Nye does not do this debate, I will bet that he will be “chaired” by whatitsface Ham.

  • Adam Patrick

    This unfortunately. No matter what reasons Nye gives for not debating, the creationists will interpret it as “I’m afraid of the big bad Ken Ham.”

  • Sue Kocher

    Perfectly stated, Hemant!

  • Rob Bos

    I think Dawkins put it best. “It would look good on your resume, not so good on mine.”

  • Gregory Stacey

    I think this is entirely unintentionally the most sensible thing this blog has said about  creationism- (“we don’t have debates between astronomy and astrology”). As the earlier posts on Nye and attempt at Creationist rebuttals show, the reasons for the two sides holding their belief systems are completely different- one assumes that the fossil record etc. is reliable evidence and the other assumes (or could well assume- I don’t claim to know what Ken Ham says or thinks) that it is at least possible that God could make such evidence to test humans, while providing a certain method of discovering truth and demonstrating faith in Him in reading the Bible.

    In this case, therefore, appeal to scientific evidence may just be pointless from an atheist (or strictly, evolutionist) perspective. But actually, it might be worse than that; since if the believer in evolution is an atheist, the Creationist might claim that their model for how they discover truth is at least internally consistent- whereas the atheist’s is perhaps not (see Plantinga’s EAAN).

    The best way to show that Creationism is irrational, however, is to point out problems with its proposed epistemology- but this is clearly a task for theologians and philosophers. How ironic, given the hostility of some atheist thinkers obssessed with both disproving Creationism and the superiority of science over these disciplines. 

  • DougI

    There’s an easy way for Ham to debate scientists, publish actual scientific research.  Ham pulls in millions of dollars each year in his religion business, you’d think he could manage to put out one publication in a peer-reviewed journal.  Real scientists would love to get the sort of money his business does, yet they still manage to put out more research than Ham does.

    Sorry Hammy, you lost the debate before it even started.

  • opie

    Short term, it might be a good for the creationist, but long term I think it ends up great for logic and reason.   The more material that can be presented with honest debate to show the amazing weakness of using religious material for scientific pursuits.  

  • Dan Hildebrand

    If you’ve never studied the scientific evidence for Creationism, it’s no wonder you think Mr. Nye would win this debate.  I hope it happens so that Mr. Nye can have a heaping helping of humble pie.

  • Dan Hildebrand

    I just hope we can find a network willing to air such a debate when it happens.  Maybe some people will be convinced of the truth.  The Bible really is God’s Word, and God really did create the world in 6 days.  Mr. Ham doesn’t need publicity; he like all Christians, has a job to do: speak truth and bring the people of the world to salvation in Jesus.  He has the intelligence, wisdom, and scientific knowledge to put Mr. Nye in his place.  I just wonder if Mr. Nye is brave enough to take on someone as educated as Ken Ham.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • A3Kr0n

     There’s no such thing as “scientific evidence for Creationism” because science is based on the observation of nature. Creationism is based on the supernatural, therefore it’s outside the scope of science.

  • Nomail

     So I assume you and reality still are not on speaking terms?

  • Renshia

    “They’re not in the same realm of reality.”

    I agree, but following that line of reasoning, why is there any debate with christians at all?
    Should not everything they say or claim, start with, can you prove there is a god. Any religious discussion after that is completely useless. Jesus is nothing with out first proof of god. Period, end of discussion. This is the crux of it and I agree the line should not be crossed.

    I think doing this debate is only giving unwarranted respect to the creationist ideas. Follow Richard Dawkins lead and tell Ken to go read a book. A real book, not a fantasy one.

  • Greisha

     Who cares what creationists think.

  • Greisha

     You make a great Poe.  Well done.

  • Renshia

     There is never time in these things  to present “with honest debate”. It is always the one that have the quick jabs and impacting ridicule that usually win. Especially in a setting full of religious sheep. Ken will know all the buttons to push to get his audience nodding instead of thinking. It is a waste of time. It will only feed the crazies into thinking there argument has legitimacy. There is enough information available to clear up the confusion if they only look. Bill can spend his time in way more productive ways I think. Maybe we could find someone in grade 8 to take his place. That would set the tone best.

  • Adam Patrick

    When they use what they think to indoctrinate children to believe in their nonsense, I do and so do many others.

  • LesterBallard

     “scientific evidence for Creationism”
    God did it. The Bible says so.

  • Robert

    Just as Ken Ham might be expected to boast, rather hypocritically, about Bill Nye and the debate thing, I have got Ken Ham on the ropes and he is refusing, has been refusing, to “come out” and “come clean” and meet me on a level playing field in order to simply verify his agreement with me as to my representations of his positions regarding my “Goliath of GRAS” argument or discuss any exception he may take to my representations.

    You can find the discussion of that at my place and at the following wherein are the references to my place and the specific issues and evidence regarding the fact that Ken Ham is on the run from me and my “Goliath of GRAS” argument:

  • Baby_Raptor

    Please tell me you forgot a snark tag. Please. Because it would just be sad if you actually meant this.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yeah, seriously. Please be snarking. The amount of bullshit you’re talking really should not be possible to seriously say.

  • Robert

     I just wonder if Ken Ham is going to be brave enough to “come out” and “come clean” with me about his positions regarding my “Goliath of GRAS” argument that so many of his followers have been stumbling over for years. 

    See my post about about that, Dan.

    If not Ken Ham, maybe you will deal with it or get a Ken Ham surrogate to deal with it.

    Ken Ham has no business hounding Bill Nye for a debate while he runs from me and these important, fundamental matters that go to demonstrating why it is that young-earth creation-science promoters have failed in their scientific pretensions and legal challenges.

  • Robert


    Let’s see if you can get Ken Ham to eat a little humble pie and, after all these years, “come out” and “come clean” about his positions on my “Goliath of GRAS” argument.

    See my earlier comments above about that.

  • julie

    As someone who used to passionately believe in creationism and was always eager to hear more and more evidence for it, I can tell you that there is none. Reading Ham’s Answers Magazine is what made me start doubting creationism. I kept waiting to hear more scientific support for it, but all I got in every article was: Look at this animal, it’s too complex for evolution to create, this Bible verse reminds us that God created it.
    It became really hard to pretend that the science was on the Bible’s side.

  • julie

    Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!

  • The Great Ape

    Nye would absolutely crush Ham.  I would love to see it.

  • Rich Wilson

    There is no scientific evidence for creationism, or ID.  Creationism is a set of stories that make claims that cannot be tested or verified or falsified in any way. That’s not scientific.  ID attempts to disprove evolution.  It does not present any mechanisms itself.  It is at best an anti-theory.

  • elefacets

    Haha, that’s brilliant and succinct. I’ll have to use that line next time someone accuses some atheist or another of being fearful of open debate with demonstrably incompetent opponents.

  • Annie

    I just  imagined a debate between Ham and Nye in my head.  It was hilariously funny, and in the end (well, since the beginning, really) Nye won.

  • Marco

    Debates do not establish truth or even count as evidence. There is no point in debating these people. The outcome of the debate is not going to change the facts one way or another. 

    If Bill Nye agrees to debate these people it would be a very grave mistake. There is simply no good way to tell somebody that they believe in fairies.

    I think someone else had a great idea, to tell Ham to first publish some peer reviewed papers and then discuss those in a debate.

  • Jonni

    Yes, I once subscribed to that particular publication. Not to mention purchasing all the books, attending all the seminars, watching the movie “Expelled” etc.
    Lots of propaganda. It can only make sense if you lack reasonable knowledge of how evolution works, and the ways it has been repeatedly confirmed. 
    I was SOOO embarrassed when I finally realised how ignorant I’d been (while arrogantly assuming it was everyone else who was ignorant and deceived). Cringe!

  • Richard Wade

    Ken Ham has challenged Bill Nye to a debate on creation vs. evolution.

    In other news, world champion heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko has challenged theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to a debate about whether or not gravitational singularities emit radiation, and Hawking has counter-challenged Klitschko to fight him any place, any time. 

  • Maleekwa

    An honest debate? Do we seriously think that such a debate wouldn’t be hacked an edited to make Ham look like a genius? Regardless of how good Nye would do, all of his arguments would be misrepresented post-hoc. I sat in a fundamentalist church many a Wednesday night and watched propaganda videos by the likes of Ray Comfort and Ken Ham. Quote mining and cherry picking are what these people do. They aren’t honest, and dont deserve to debate honest people.

  • oambitiousone

     Your post sent me to look up epistemology. I think I need a nap — good stuff, but heady.

  • Pstryder

    The Debate An Atheist subreddit is challenging Ken Ham to a debate.  We have time to waste, and this won’t make Ken look any better.

    Don’t worry Bill, we’ll handle your light work.

  • Mehman

    I’d like to see this debate courtroom-style, with judges and evidence and all thar stuff.

  • cipher

    I just wonder if Mr. Nye is brave enough to take on someone as educated as Ken Ham.


    Nothing else need be said.

  • Amakudari

    Recommendation to Ken Ham on how to debate a scientist:

    1. Go back to school and get a PhD (not because the degree imbues you with any magical insight but because it attests to a minimal standard of competence)
    2. Spend your life focused on disproving evolution
    3. Succeed through decades of study and research
    4. Win Nobel Prize

    It’s a pretty glorious road, really. I wonder why no one’s done it before (maybe it’s #3?).

  • Amakudari

    Dawkins certainly likes the phrase, although he attributes it to Bob May:

    I always hear it in the voice of Dawkins imitating an Australian.

  • Amakudari

    I can remember this.

    Growing up I never believed, but I tried to believe because, hey, I was in a deeply religious part of the South. I spent my senior year of high school writing my thesis on ID by reading Behe, Dembski and everyone else, and then had to stand in front of folks and defend my initial position. Those were nails in the coffin.

    One of the most encouraging supports for evolution is how vapid the counterarguments are. “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.”

  • Rich Wilson
  • Glasofruix

    Oh look at this, an ant challenges a barril of insecticide…

  • Glasofruix

    You must be new to creationnism, here’s how it works:

    -Make a claim
    -Try to find something to support the claim
    -Find nothing
    -Blame it on scientists, because they must be hiding your proof

  • phantomreader42

     Creationism is a pack of idiotic lies, nothing more.  There is no evidence for creationism, and no creationist has ever even tried to offer any.  All they can do is spew lies and distortions to try to cast doubt on evolution, hoping to win by default.  But they’re too stupid to understand that it doesn’t work that way.  If creationists weren’t totally full of shit, they’d at least occasionally TRY to present a BETTER explanation.  They don’t.  Because they know that they’re lying through their teeth. 

  • phantomreader42

     Of course, everyone knows that creationists are all pathological liars.  There is not a single creationist argument that isn’t founded on shameless lying. 

  • amycas

     I disagree on one point Gregory:
    “The best way to show that Creationism is irrational, however, is to
    point out problems with its proposed epistemology- but this is clearly a
    task for theologians and philosophers.”
    The whole idea behind New Atheism, is a final abandonment of formal philosophical arguments against theism and an assumption that the scientific method is indeed the correct method for finding truth.

    I think this assumption is completely valid. The scientific method is so demonstrably useful in developing technology, improving society, and predicting the behavior of the physical universe that the assumption that it is the superior epistemology is completely warranted.

    So even the lay person, with very little philosophical training can say “Hey, we didn’t use the bible to make integrated circuits. Science wins.”

  • Lucilius

    Well, really we did have debates on astronomy vs. astrology and chemistry vs. alchemy. But the first was decided conclusively in favor of actual science more than 2,000 years ago, and the second more than 500.
    And there was an actual debate of evolution vs. creationism, but in short order the latter proved wanting in every area but sentiment and rhetoric. That debate was more recent than the others, but it’s long since over too.
    So really, Ham’s problem (besides pathological dishonesty) is that he’s 150 years late to the party.

  • The Disco Spider

    Bill Nye and Ken Ham, each is more of a jabroni than the other.  You, however, are one of the biggest pieces of shit of all time.

  • The Disco Spider

    Dawkins is a piece of garbage, anyone who takes that jabroni seriously is clearly retarded.

  • amycas

     “The Bible really is God’s Word, and God really did create the world in 6 days.”

    I guess if you assert it, then it must be true.

  • Johnflux

     What an intelligent rebuttal.  Clearly your parents brought you up right.

  • Seladora

    Though Ham’s call-out is childish and I wouldn’t debate him either, I can’t help but feel it’d be awesome to see Nye tear him a new one.

  • Gus Snarp

    This. I’ve read PZ and Dawkins saying this about debates, but it was the debate between Dan Savage and the NOM guy that really made me get it. Facts are not subject to debate. Debates are about matters of opinion. And a debate should not even start while the two sides are operating on separate facts. A debate is completely useless and unproductive if you cannot agree on an underlying set of facts and express them honestly. Since evolution is a scientific fact, there is no room for debate. The very nature of debating something that is a matter of fact and public record *requires* Ham to lie about the facts. There can be no debate when the other side is simply going to lay out a Gish gallop of lies.

  • Gus Snarp

    Didn’t Dawkins say “Good for your CV, not so much for mine.” Nye shouldn’t give Ham the time of day.

  • Todd Ellis

    This friggin’ idiot? His heavy artillery consists of asking archaeologists, palaeontologists, etc. “Were you there?” like he personally escorted the velociraptors onto Noah’s ark. What a tool.

  • Todd Ellis

     Oh, yeah? Where did you get your degrees?


  • Tim

    If you are so sure that Nye has all of the evidence on his side (Evolution) and that he would win the debate, then why doesn’t he take the challenge.  Wouldn’t it be hands down for Nye?  Simple as that.  Show the evidence and Ham and the scientists of Answers in Genesis would just shut up.  So simple. 
    Hmm.  I wonder if Nye knows that he really has no more evidence than Creationists.  In fact both sides have the same evidence, don’t they.  It all depends on how one interprets the evidence and that all depends on what realm a person’s mind is operating in.
    You are right in saying that Creationists and Evolutionists are not in the same realm of reality.  Another way of saying it is that they both have different belief systems.

  • Tim

     Hmm.  I suppose you do not know what kind moola Dawkins pulls in. 

  • Tim

     I’d say that Nye and others who sound off with such authority and surety about things they know nothing about should either put up or shut up.

  • Tim

     I think you missed Ham’s proposal.
    He suggested that Nye debate one of the PhD scientists with AiG.

  • TCC

    Show the evidence and Ham and the scientists of Answers in Genesis would just shut up.

    This is incredibly unlikely.

    It all depends on how one interprets the evidence and that all depends on what realm a person’s mind is operating in how much evidence you decide to ignore.

    Fixed that for you.

  • DougI

    Dawkins doesn’t and isn’t asking to debate creationists.  So what’s your point?

  • Renshia

     Why? I think they have Hordes of stuff they already have “put up”. Just because someone is to closed minded and ignorant to do a little research and think that the experts just might know a bit more than he does, does not obligate Nye or the others to entertain idiots.

    For goodness sakes, this guy has invested his entire life to an invisible man that makes no effort to “reveal” himself and a poorly written story that anyone with half a brain can see is not, at the very least, meant to be taken literally.  What could possibly warrant people who have invested their lives in hard work and study to really understand mans origins, to entertain an idiot of that magnitude, just because he makes a challenge.

    How about this, why doesn’t MR. Know it all Ham, just take some of the work Nye has done and refute it with his evidence. Then challenge Nye to explain his scientifically dis-proven claims. Oh wait that won’t work, Ham has no scientific evidence.

  • guest

    Put up or shut up Nye.

  • Sven

    “Show the evidence and Ham and the scientists of Answers in Genesis would just shut up.”

    The fact is, the evidence has already been shown over and over again. They don’t shut up.  That’s because creationists are not scientists, and they don’t care about the evidence.

    Here: a categorized scientific refutation of EVERY creationist claim anyone’s ever heard of.  Read up.

  • RobertoTheChi

    You can’t possibly be serious. Please re-read what you just wrote and ask yourself if that even sounds remotely intelligent.

  • RobertoTheChi

    I certainly hope you’re not being serious.

  • Steven
  • Jay Brook

    Bill should simply accept the debate with the AiG scientists.  They seem to be the most reasonable opponents.  Whoever has the best evidence and arguments will win.  Forget your resume and CV.  Just do it.

  • saywhaaaa

    OK so you have #1 -

    Still waiting on 2 – 4

  • saywhaaaa

    While we are at it we should hold debates between nuerosurgeons and your local mechanic on the pros and cons of different types of brain surgery.

  • saywhaaaa

    Will Ken Ham be riding his triceratops or his velociraptor to the debates? Will they have valets trained in the use and operation of riding dinosaurs?

  • Chris Mankey

    Why don’t you shut up!

  • smarty

    I suspect Ken Ham suffers from the brain damage caused by Biblical literalism.

  • john

    Wow, Bill Nye really is chicken shit.