Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate

I’m sure that most people have heard of the debate between Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, and Bill Nye “the Science Guy”.

My questions are directed towards that people that actually watched the three-hour long debate.

What was your overall impression of the debate? Some thoughts that immediately came to mind was Bill Nye’s adamant claim that “a single fossil out of place, just one, would turn over evolutionary theory”… Richard Dawkins makes much the same claim, “Evolution would be so easy to disprove. Just find a single fossil that is not in the proper place in the strata.”

The other thing I noticed was that Ken Ham never even attempted to answer Bill Nye’s question, during the three-hour long debate, (I would think it would be an excellent opportunity to do so). Even though many YEC organizations have made claims that fossils are not in their correct place in the geologic column… but the president of one of the biggest YEC organizations doesn’t answer Bill Nye, during a widely televised debate?

What do you think? Was Ken Ham off his game that night, or did he simply not have an answer for him? And what do you think about Nye’s and Dawkins’ claim that a single out-of-place fossil would destroy evolution? And as an added question, if they are both right, and the YEC claims are right, that there are fossils out of place , why is evolution still with us?


I watched the debate live on the internet. Bill Nye did a good job but I really wanted to see Richard Dawkins there instead of Bill Nye. That would have really been a “Clash of the Titans”. I would have been more entertaining but the results would have been exactly the same - those coming into debate with certain worldview kept them intact.


Thanks for the reply, Patrick… but I’m afraid you didn’t answer my questions about evolution theory and the geologic column … what is the truthfulness of their statements? Would misplaced fossils destroy evolutionary theory (like Dawkins’ and Nye state), and was Ken Ham off his game, or have a lack of evidence for Nye’s questioning?

I think it’s a good thing that a less biased competitor was debating Ken Ham. People who are fans of Ken Ham, and Young Earth Creationism, would be more inclined to listen to someone like Bill Nye because he’s a nicer guy. I think I remember reading a story on this site about a young kid who listened to Nye’s statements with attentiveness, contrary to his YEC classmates who called Bill Nye an idiot. Would that particular student (Mooneyham I think was his name) have listened to someone like Richard Dawkins with as much attention? Seeing how most people interpret Dawkins’ with more of ranting and vehemence … I don’t see YECs being as willing to listen to such a person.

It was Ken Ham’s mistake that he debated with “Bill Nye the nice guy”, because his follower’s would be more willing to listen to him, then a famous atheist, who would have dismissed his arguments out of hand.


I wish they would hold a similar debate at the national ice core lab in Colorado. Show the hundreds of thousands of annual rings to Ham (if he can count that high) and they ask him for an explanation.

Nye was talking science and Ham was quoting bible verses. They were talking past each other.

Yes misplaced fossils in the geologic column would destroy evolutionary theory. Find me a rabbit in the pre-cambian strata and I will make you famous as the destroyer of evolutionary theory.

Was Ken Ham off his game? - certainly not. He kept saying that “he has this book that has all the correct answers” Age of the earth 6000 years , age of the Sun same. A&E the first two people on earth -yep. Nye countered by saying that we have tree rings going back longer than that. And Ham would say “I have this book, that you should read to know the truth.”

To come to think of it, instead of Dawkins debating Ham, I would enjoy seeing (a healthy) Christopher Hitchen go at with Ham. But Hitchens would have cursed to much to have allowed children to be in the audience or view it on the internet. In any case, the results would have been the same as people’s minds are pretty much locked in beforehand.

Well, again, that is truly based on what you believe. I believe Nye is a nice guy scientist who tries to explain science to children. My kids use to love his programs. Ken Ham, in my opinion, is a liar, a charlatan, and (I know this get Brad’s brow up) I consider Ham a psychological child abuser because he tells children things that aren’t true (like people living with dinosaurs) that twists children’s minds. Later in life when these same children understand more, these memories will come back and have to get resolved. I would never take a child to Disney world and tell them that rides that they go on like the little mermaid is real. They are stories with real meanings. Ham on the other hand, insists that his stories are real and that hell awaits those who don’t believe it. That is frightening to a child and just plain wrong.

hi tim. as for your question. actually, ham bring one “out of place fossil” in the debate - the tree that date about 45000 years in a 45 milion years rock.

patrick agree with dawkins claim about the case of out of place fossil. but actually we find a lot of them. but before i will give some of them. what is the definition of "out of place fossil? i have notice that there is no such definition. so every time we find “out of place” fossil they just push back the fossil species to a new geologic age. its make the claim unscientific because we cant disprove it by any test.

Thanks for your answer. I asked for my own sake, so I could have a better understanding.

I watched this debate when I was still a young earth creationist, and even I was disturbed by Ken Ham’s reasoning. The debate is clearly called: “Is Noah’s Ark a Compatible Scientific Model?” <<< yet Mr. Ham spends 90% of his airtime discussing biblical theology. Him, being the president of the organization, did not present himself well in saying that the YEC movement is based on science … the comment that he “has this book” got tiresome after a while, and clearly demonstrated a lack of scientific persuasion power … were the debate called “Is Noah’s Ark a Compatible Theological Framework” then his reasoning would have been more applicable… maybe he didn’t get the memo.

The theme of the debate, as demonstrated by the title, was based on scientific compatibility. Not on whether or not Christianity or Atheism or any other belief was more compatible. Were someone like Ham going against Dawkins (or even Hitchens) then it would come off as more of “a war between two worldviews: atheism or Christianity” … which wasn’t the intention of the debate.

That being said, Nye has no real beef with religious people. He simply doesn’t like people promoting ant-science or pseudoscience … which fits very well with the theme of the debate. I can imagine someone like Dawkins getting more side-tracked and making anti-Christian comments, that have nothing to do with the original question… is Noah’s Ark a compatible scientific model or is it not? There are many other themed debates that tackle that topic, so I don’t think it would have been appropriate.

That’s just my opinion, though.


Guy, you present some interesting points… what would classify as being “out of place”…? Maybe someone more knowledgeable on the subject could answer your question better. As far as “being pushed back” to other geologic eras, don’t you think by it’s very definition all fossils can ever do is “be pushed back”…? They certainly couldn’t get “pushed inward”.

My question to you would be why any reasonable person would expect to find any sort of progression in the geologic column, were the geologic column formed by a great deluge, that randomly mixed up the fossils? I would think that to be an impossible task … almost like the claim that putting all the words in existence, putting them in a jar, and shaking them out so that they form a dictionary, is cause for doubt for evolutionary timescale?

The above is a comical cartoon that expresses my concern…



hi tim. i can give you interesting examples of “out of place fossil”. but when you will look at the articles you will see that they just push back the species in time. so like i said: there is no such a thing “out of place fossil”.

as for your second question about an order in the fossil- there is 2 option (actually 3 but lets strat with 2). but first- what do you mean by progression?

here is 2 options:

1)the fossils represent the size of the population (so there is a lot of bacteria- therefore it will appear first in the fossils)

2)the fossils may represent the high of the habitat. so fish for example will be in the bottom and mammal above.


Rather than discussing the odd placement of this or that fossil . . .
Don’t you think the overall fossil record is fairly convincing?

Virtually all dinosaur fossils, land and marine, are found in layers OLDER than virtually all large mammal fossils (both land and marine).
This would ONLY be possible if all the dinosaurs had PERISHED before the rise of the large mammals. Dinosaurs would have (and no doubt did)
eat any mammal that appeared on the scene large enough to be a meal.

It would be virtually impossible for the flood to have sorted out MARINE dinosaurs at the lower levels … while Marine mammals like whales were somehow
sorted out at the upper levels.

The only workable explanation is that large mammals slowly emerged after the killing machines we call dinosaurs had become extinct.

George Brooks

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You might be interested in this paper posted at the ASA website of all the ways the evolutionary model could potentially be falsified:

Under each “evidence” the author very specifically outlines how it could be potentially falsified. The reason the model is accepted is because none of those 29 lines of evidence have been falsified.
I have personally found that document helpful for putting a lot of information in one place.

Not only not falsified, but added to. Results are coming out in all fields of scientific research from all corners of the globe everyday that supports evolution. I just got a flu shot to combat this year’s flu which has mutated from last year. I am researching my genome for both medical and ancestral reasons. That is science and technology in action that fundamentally shows that evolution is factual.

hey george. its possible that they both living togheter. fossils actually show us the population size or the place height. so there is other options. the main claim is that “out of place fossil” cant disprove anything.

christy. did you find any test in the fossil area? lets test the theory and we will see.


Two points:

  1. elephants and right whales could not possibly have survived in a Dinosaur rich environment.
  2. But it’s not even an issue, because elephant and whale bones are NEVER found in the same layers
    as marine and terrestrial dinosaurs.

George Brooks

Guy, I’m not sure what you mean “height of habitat”… Are you saying that mammals simply lived on a higher level than dinosaurs? I don’t see how that makes sense since mammals could simply step down and die where the other creatures died.

Secondly, even if mammals and dinosaurs lived together I would think just the opposite. That mammals lived on a lower plane then that of the dinosaurs — they are after all much smaller creatures.

The word I used was “progression” which is admittedly a more interpretive choice of words. To be more objective I could simply say the fossil record seems to display creatures in separate categories. This set of creatures you find mostly in this layer, that set of creatures you find mostly in that layer.

I don’t see how that’s possible if animals were randomly destroyed in a flood. Unless of course you’re not trying to defend a global flood as being the cause of the fossil record. In that case I’m still confused with what you’re trying to get.


Thanks Christy. I’ll try and have a look at that.


gbrooks. its true that we dont find dino with elephants. but we do find in the same layer dino with ducks-like and parrots:

we also not find even one fossil of coelacanth between 0-60 my. but we know it do exist in this time. so if a species doesnt appear in the record it isnt a proof that it didnt exist.

tim. its true that it may happan. but it may not. i also gave another option that the fossil record present the population size. we can even check if its fit with the data of the number of species. bacteria have the largest population in nature. so they need to appear first in the record. after this we have fishs species and reptiles and so on.

and yes, im not talking about the flood now.

have a nice day.


Small mammals and small bird-like animals existed during the age of dinosaurs … because they were
too small to be systematically hunted into extinction.

Elephants, whales, giraffes … none of these appear mixed in with dinosaur bones because any mammal
approaching a large size became too visible to the reptilian predators and were quickly removed from
the gene pool.

The separation between large mammals (land and marine) from ALL the Dinosaur layers is the simplest
and quickest way to establish that the earth is millions of years old.

Otherwise… where did Whales come from? Where did Elephants come from? - - except from smaller and
different mammals that survived the Dinosaur extinction event(s).

George Brooks