Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

My husband is in the other room, listening to the live stream of the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate occurring now at the Creation Museum, south of us. (We pass it every time we drive to the Cincinnati airport. I’m curious to go, but not curious enough to pay the $30 entrance fee.) I’m half-listening because I feel obligated, since I’m teaching two courses right now that this debate is relevant to. But I can’t actually sit and watch it–it’s too squirm-inducing.

I’m a bit surprised that Nye agreed to the debate, since by doing it he lends Ham a kind of validity, as contrasted to the strategy of acting as if creation science is beneath notice. In terms of the ongoing (it will never end) tension around teaching evolution in public schools, Ham’s proudly fundamentalist style of creation science is beneath notice, since the Supreme Court has already rejected it as unconstitutional. The more pressing challenge comes from intelligent design, which is more modest and not overtly Christian in its claims, although that movement, too, got slapped down in the federal courts a decade ago in Kitzmiller v. Dover.

I wonder: Could Nye be debating Ham in order to link creation science and intelligent design in the public’s mind–an association that intelligent design proponents have been keen to avoid? Or is that too generous a reading of Nye’s capacity for subtlety?

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