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Bill Nye: Bible doesn't tell Earth's true history

PETERSBURG, Ky. (AP) - True to his passionate and animated TV persona, "Science Guy" Bill Nye tapped on the podium, threw up his hands and noted that science shows the Earth is "billions and billions" of years old in a debate at a Kentucky museum known for teaching that the planet's age is only 6,000.

Nye was debating Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and promoting science in the snappy way that made him a pop culture staple as host of "Bill Nye The Science Guy" in the 1990s.

The event was meant to explore the age old question, "How did we get here?" from the perspectives of faith and science.

Ham, an Australian native who has built a thriving ministry in Kentucky, said he trusts the story of creation presented by the Bible.

"The Bible is the word of God," Ham said. "I admit that's where I start from."

Nye delivered a passionate speech on science and challenged the museum's teachings on the age of the earth and the Bible's flood story. Like most scientists, Nye believes there is no credible evidence that the world is only 6,000 years old.

"If we accept Mr. Ham's point of view ... that the Bible serves as a science text and he and his followers will interpret that for you, I want you to consider what that means," Nye said. "It means that Mr. Ham's word is to be more respected than what you can observe in nature, what you can find in your backyard in Kentucky."

The event drew dozens of national media outlets and about 800 tickets sold out in minutes. Ham said ahead of the debate that the Creation Museum was having a peak day on its social media sites.

"I think it shows you that the majority of people out there, they're interested in this topic, they want to know about this, they don't want debate shut down," Ham said before the debate.

At times, the debate had the feel of a university lecture, with slides and long-form presentations.

Responding to an audience question about where atoms and matter come from, Nye said scientists are continuing to find out.

Ham said he already knows the answer.

"Bill, I want to tell you, there is a book that tells where atoms come from, and its starts out, 'In the beginning ...,'" Ham said.

Nye said there are plenty of religious people around the world who don't question evolution science.

"I just want to remind us all there are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion," said Nye, who wore his trademark bow tie. "But these same people do not embrace the extraordinary view that the Earth is somehow only 6,000 years old."

The debate drew a few Nye disciples in the audience, including Aaron Swomley, who wore a red bowtie and white lab coat. Swomley said he was impressed by Ham's presentation and the debate's respectful tone.

"I think they did a good job outlining their own arguments without getting too heated, as these debates tend to get," he said.

Some scientists had been critical of Nye for agreeing to debate the head of a Christian ministry that is dismissive of evolution.

Jerry Coyne, an evolution professor at the University of Chicago, wrote on his blog that "Nye's appearance will be giving money to organizations who try to subvert the mission Nye has had all his life: science education, particularly of kids." Coyne pointed out that the Creation Museum will be selling DVDs of the event.

The debate was hatched after Nye appeared in an online video in 2012 that urged parents not to pass their religious-based doubts about evolution on to their children. Ham rebutted Nye's statements with his own online video and the two later agreed to share a stage.

Join the discussion

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Michael February 05 2014 at 7:12 AM

Amazing how many people believe in the Flinstones.

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Frank February 05 2014 at 7:14 AM

It is ironic that creationists depict Charles Darwin as the anti-Christ. Darwin was an extremely religious man. It was his unwavering belief in God that was at the heart of his motivation to explore the origins of life. Proponents from both sides share a common belief that God's hands were involved. As to how long it took? To say that it all started just 6,000 years ago sounds like "Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up." When belief and fact are at odds no one seems to be listening. But God is still speaking.

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1 reply
hi joe and gina Frank February 05 2014 at 8:11 AM

unwavering belief?? I think not, I don't think he was a Christian at all from the looks of it. just because someone decides to go into the clergy doesn't mean thier heart is right with God. there are many wolves in sheeps clothing.

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Hello Walter February 05 2014 at 7:14 AM

Looking out at my back yard and who do I see?? Bill Nye

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mahrmach February 05 2014 at 7:17 AM

While not being a strict follower of the Bible I do believe inthe hand of God being involved in the world. Also the Bible is the word of God but was written down by man and as such probably has some misstatements. The thing to get from the Bible is the moral lessons it teaches. The timeline is far less important than the ideas put forth.

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1 reply
hobbs74 mahrmach February 05 2014 at 7:31 AM


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witness February 05 2014 at 7:18 AM

False Religion has presented the Bible in Fables, doing more harm than good.

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jlipdude February 05 2014 at 7:19 AM

I've learned that there's no arguing with hate, and many (though not all) of the anti-evolution arguments spring from anger, resentment, and castigation of anyone who believes in evolution. Didn't religion teach us not to hate? Clearly, Nye and Ham handled themselves appropriately, and both deserve credit for being amicable and descent - all to rare a quality these days.

I believe deeply in God, but from the perspective of one who also believes that our intelligence and curiousity are God's gift to us, and using those attributes are our gift to Him/Her. Why are these anti-science zealots writing these comments ON A COMPUTER (technology based on the very same science they detest) when they don't believe in science? How many of them overlook the fact that the cancer treatment saving their lives is based on the very same science, not Bible stories? Evolution is real. So is God. Anyone who thinks they've got it all figured out in either discipline has no idea how little they know.

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2 replies
jlipdude jlipdude February 05 2014 at 7:20 AM

That's "decent," not "descent."

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Michael jlipdude February 05 2014 at 7:21 AM

Finally intelligence!

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courtneyjimsusan February 05 2014 at 7:21 AM

People who think they have all the answers are usually wrong, no matter the subject. Some people think science has all the answers, but in reality it just seem to create more questions. Some people think they understand the Bible, but try to add to it's words as well. Nowhere in the Bible did I see it say 6,000 years ago, or any true amount of years, was the earth created. To try and say or do so takes away from the message of the Bible itself. Both science and the Bible say one thing that neither group of followers seem to agree they are saying it, that the universe as we know it started from nothing and became something. Isn't that a creation?

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1 reply
lesijoh courtneyjimsusan February 05 2014 at 7:41 AM

If you add up all the years of generations given in the Bible, we are now in the 7000th year and this is according to the Hebrew.

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1 reply
lesijoh lesijoh February 05 2014 at 7:43 AM

Scuse me, typo, I believe their calendar says 6,000

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lesijoh February 05 2014 at 7:21 AM

There seems to be some misunderstanding about carbon dating. You see the accuracy of any of these element datings depends upon the constancy of weather patterns and atmosphere which none of us can attest to. Carbon dating has been deemed accurate only to about 6-10,000 years

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reelanimals February 05 2014 at 7:21 AM

We think as humans. That everything that is created is new. Who's to say that GOD didn't make rocks with millions of years of age on them when he created the earth? Just as artist use aged things in their artwork. The artwork is new when it is created but pieces of it have more age on them then the time it was created

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Woody February 05 2014 at 7:30 AM

Each person is entitled to their own opinion. However, facts are facts and to deny every day facts is to deny your own intelligence. God gave us a brain, and we are to use our brain, not stuff it away in mothballs. In my opinion God created far more than even what our scientists have today do far discovered in this quest. It's mind boggling when we see the beauty of thousands of galaxies out in deep space. It's so exciting. Why deny children this wonderful adventure of learning and discovering!

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