(RNS) Bill Nye, known from his 1990s TV show as “The Science Guy,” toured the new Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky with the head of the Christian apologetics ministry behind it.
And it was “like the debate all over again but more intense at times,” according to a blog post by Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis. Ham also posted on social media about Nye’s visit, which occurred on Friday (July 8).
“Bill challenged me about the content of many of our exhibits, and I challenged him about what he claimed and what he believed,” Ham said on Facebook. “It was a clash of world views.”
“I chose to visit the Ark Encounter to see for myself the extent of its influence on young people,” Nye said Monday in a written statement.
“The influence is strong. I spoke with a lot of kids (and took a great many selfies). Almost all of them do not accept that humans are causing climate change — and that is the Answers In Genesis ministry’s fault. Through its dioramas and signage, the organization promotes ideas that are absolutely wrong scientifically, while suppressing critical thinking in our students — which is in no one’s best interest, conservative or progressive.”
Ham and Nye famously debated creation and evolution in 2014 at Answers in Genesis’ Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., about 45 minutes from the Ark Encounter. Afterward, Nye had said he hoped the planned theme park wouldn’t be built because it would “indoctrinate children into this extraordinary and outlandish, unscientific point of view,” according to The Associated Press.
Answers in Genesis promotes a view sometimes called “young Earth creationism” — that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, that humans once lived alongside dinosaurs and that the six-day creation and flood accounts found in the first 10 chapters of the biblical book of Genesis are literally, historically true.
By contrast, Nye and other scientists estimate the Earth is more than 4 billion years old and say life on Earth has evolved over that time.
Ham said he had invited Nye to tour the Ark Encounter several weeks before it opened to the public on July 7 in Williamstown, Ky. The 800-acre park includes a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark, built to the dimensions recorded in Genesis, with three decks of exhibits explaining Answers in Genesis’ views of the biblical flood account and depicting what life on the ark might have been like.
More than 30,000 people have visited the theme park between a preview and ribbon cutting Tuesday and Sunday, according to the Ark Encounter.
Ham said on Facebook the two had discussed what happens after death as they toured the ark, surrounded by surprised visitors. Nye answered him that when you die, “you’re done,” he said.
“I then asked him why he was concerned about what we were teaching at the Ark if when we die we’re ‘done,'” Ham said.
“He also stated that it’s ‘not crazy to believe we descended from Martians.’ I then asked Nye if it was ‘crazy to believe we descended from Adam and Eve!'”
The Answers in Genesis president said the tour ended “with a friendly handshake” and with him praying for Nye in front of a display showing Noah and his family praying together aboard the ark.
Nye’s assessment was also optimistic, but in a different way:
“On a hopeful note, the parking lots were largely empty, and the ark building is unfinished. We can hope it will close soon.”