To Mr. Nye

Dear Mr. Nye,

I read with excitement that you would be debating Ken Ham on evolution and Biblical Creationism. I think the first word I used to describe it was “epic”.

Feb. 4, 2014 in Petersburg, KY

“Is creation a viable model of origins?” Creation Museum Founder and AiG President/CEOKen Ham will debate Bill Nye at the Creation Museum on Tuesday, February 4, at 7 PM. Bill Nye is the former host of the popular Bill Nye the Science Guy TV program for children, current Executive Director of the Planetary Society, and frequent pro-evolution guest on TV interview programs.

You had a significant impact on me as a student and as a teacher. I was in Jr High and High School when you were “the Science Guy”, and remember sitting in the audience at the International Science and Engineering Fair in the stands of Churchill Downs for opening ceremonies my senior year of high school. In college I held titles like “Chem Club Demo Guru” and worked at a kids museum, where I performed demo shows and live animal talks and tried to bring enthusiasm to my audiences and students, like you.

When I tried to find out how to watch your upcoming debate, I learned that it will take place in northern Kentucky (a little more than an hour from me), but my heart sank as I read on… at the Creation Museum, for a $25 ticket, on a Tuesday night. I have long avoided going to the Creation Museum. As a paleontologist, I don’t want to spend the $20 in admission to support an organization that I strongly disagree with. To see this debate, I would certainly consider the $25, but I am concerned that this money will go towards funding the Creation Museum. But a Tuesday night – that’s difficult too. As a high school science teacher, to drive to the Creation Museum after work, watch the debate, and come back home is doable, but a stretch. Too bad it couldn’t be on a Friday or Saturday.

As the Science Guy, you are a leader in science education, and those of us who teach students daily (a quarter of my biology course focuses on evolution) want to see how exactly you handle this debate. I’m delighted to see that there will be DVD and Streaming options to watch the debate. Please, please, please give us the opportunity to watch this event for free. Now that the event has sold out, it will be my only option.



A link was posted to my Facebook page yesterday that included options to buy the live-stream of this debate.  The least expensive is $4.99.  From the site:

Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Leading creation apologist and bestselling Christian author Ken Ham is joined at the Creation Museum by popular TV personality and evolution apologist Bill Nye.

Ham, a former science instructor who emigrated to the USA from Australia over 25 years ago, is joined by the popular children’s program personality Bill Nye “the Science Guy” for this first and only scheduled debate. Each man delivers what he believes is the best information currently available for his case. Each then has an opportunity for rebuttal and afterward answers questions submitted by the audience.

The upcoming February 4 debate has already generated significant attention from national media, and tickets to attend live were completely sold out within two minutes of release.

Don’t miss this “debate of the decade”! Watch at home, or organize to show the live stream to your small group, your youth group, or even your entire church.

The debate is to be held in the 900-seat Legacy Hall lecture arena at the Creation Museum (sponsored by Answers in Genesis). The live event is not expected to be televised but is being streamed live on the web and recorded for DVD and digital download distribution to help offset significant costs in organizing and sponsoring the debate.

Wait.  Because of “significant costs in organizing and sponsoring the debate”, you are charging for access to it forever?  As far as I can tell, its being held in an auditorium owned by Answers in Genesis (of which Ken Ham is CEO).  According to your website, you sold 800 tickets at $25 each (that’s $20,000) in 2 minutes. (Edit: I forgot about the 200 seat simulcast room.  That’s another $5,000.  $25,000 total from ticket sales.)

I’ve watched dozens of TED talks, for free, and I’m certain those cost money to produce.  They require venues, and fancy stage decor, and a few staff, and generating tickets.  AIG owns the venue.  I doubt it is costing more than $20,000.  I will probably watch this somehow, but I will not be doing it alone.  If you will not make this FREELY available to those who aren’t there, I will make it free for some.  (And readers, I challenge you to do the same.)

I went looking about what Mr. Nye has said about education, and found this:

So there are people that would, that believe when you need to make budget cuts the first thing you do is cut education.  Just increase class sizes, have fewer teachers.  But you can argue—I mean I’ll just point out, the heck with argue—that’s wrong.  No, instead you should invest more in schools and teachers, especially science and math education.  Teaching math is not expensive, it’s a value.

And the thing to do when a lot of people will pay to see a debate about Creationism and Evolution?  Charge for it.  I hope the money does something good.  Since I live near the Creation Museum, I wonder if this is a stunt to raise money for the Ark as attendance to the museum declines, but I really hope the Science Guy wouldn’t allow himself to be used that way.

Update (Jan 16, 2014):

It has been announced that the debate will be streamed FOR FREE!  I’m curious about the circumstances.

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