Tonight Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham debate

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

at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. It starts shortly, 7pm ET.

According to the debate website:

[Ken] 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.

Josh Rosenau, a Public Information Project Director at The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) would have advised against it.

It won’t be Nye’s crowd, and it’s not Nye’s venue. As far as I know, he didn’t pick the question—“Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”—or the moderator or the format of the debate. He’ll be in the lion’s den, and he doesn’t have the faith of Daniel to shield him.

If Nye had asked me beforehand, I would have urged him not to agree to the debate. NCSE has a longstanding policy against debating creationists, based on our study of past creationist debates. Creationists are famous for using the “Gish gallop,” a rapidfire repetition of supposed evidence against evolution and alleged support for their own claims, reeled off so fast that neither the audience nor the other debater can even keep track of all the claims, let alone refute them in the time allotted. So there’s no chance of the audience learning a lot of good science in a creationist debate, and every chance of it learning a lot of bad science.

Debate Format:

7:00 Welcome by moderator, Tom Foreman, CNN
7:05 Opening statements by debater #1
7:10 Opening statements by debater #2
7:15 Moderator comments
7:16 Presentation by debater #1
7:45 Moderator comments
7:50 Presentation by debater #2
8:20 Moderator gives rebuttal instructions
8:25 Rebuttal for debater #1
8:30 Rebuttal for debater #2
8:35 Counter-rebuttal for debater #1
8:40 Counter-rebuttal for debater #2
8:45 Q&A instructions by moderator
8:48 Moderator reads pre-submitted questions alternating between debaters
9:28 Moderator concludes debate

Watch here and pass the popcprn.

More info from Alan Boyle:

“Many people have been critical of me for taking this debate because I’m not an expert on evolution,” Nye said. “But this is not advanced evolutionary theory. This is not high-school science. It might be elementary-school science. That Mr. Ham and his followers don’t embrace it is troubling.”

Ham is preparing as well — in consultation with creation-minded colleagues who have Ph.D.s, such as molecular biologist Georgia Purdum and geologist Andrew Snelling. Like Nye, Ham is researching his opponent’s past statements on evolution. And like Nye, Ham says he’s doing this debate to reach the next generation.

On his blog, Ham said he has seen lots of young people leave the church “because they saw evolution as showing the Bible could not be trusted.” In a follow-up interview with NBC News, Ham said, “If you’re taught that there’s no God, that you’re just an animal that arose through natural processes, that has great bearing on how you view yourself, and your fellow man, and your morality.”