Was it wrong for Bill Nye to debate young-earth creationist Ken Ham? Some scientists--including celebrated evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins--have spoken out against such debates, saying they lend an air of legitimacy to views for which there is no scientific support.
Why then did Nye agree to the Feb. 4, 2014 debate with Ham, founder of Kentucky's Creation Museum and an outspoken doubter of evolution?
It wasn't an easy decision, America's beloved "Science Guy" explains in a new first-person piece in Skeptical Inquirer magazine. He writes:
Many of you, by that I mean many of my skeptic and humanist colleagues, expressed deep concern and anger that I would be so foolish as to accept a debate with a creationist, as this would promote him and them more than it would promote me and us. As I often say and sincerely believe, "You may be right." But, I held strongly to the view that it was an opportunity to expose the well-intending Ken Ham and the support he receives from his followers as being bad for Kentucky, bad for science education, bad for the U.S., and thereby bad for humankind--I do not feel I'm exaggerating when I express it this strongly.
Nye says he was aware of the risks involved in participating in the debate, acknowledging his own lack of deep expertise in geology, evolutionary biology, and astrophysics. But after consulting with various experts, including some at the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif., Nye decided to go forward with the debate. And as is clear if you read the entire piece, he seems glad he did.
What do you think?