Creation Museum founder Ken Ham announced Thursday that a municipal bond offering has raised enough money to begin construction on the Ark Encounter project, estimated to cost about $73 million. Groundbreaking is planned for May and the ark is expected to be finished by the summer of 2016.Interestingly, the article suggests that the money began to pour in after the televised debate between Bill Nye and Mr. Ham:
Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. He said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest."This is, perhaps, the great fear in debating a young earth creationist, especially one as nationally-known as Ken Ham. Many scientists were quite unhappy with Bill Nye for accepting the challenge to debate Mr. Ham for two reasons: first, it is almost impossible to bring up to speed the audience—be they studio or TV—on the science involved. Much of it is technical and complex and requires years of education to understand.
Ham's Answers in Genesis ministry and the Creation Museum enjoyed an avalanche of news media attention during the debate, which focused on science and the Bible's explanations of the origins of the universe.
Second, the very act of debating Ken Ham (or any young earth creationist, for that matter) is that it confers legitimacy to their arguments. If you are willing to debate them, it must mean that their side of the debate has as much validity as yours. Whether this is true or not becomes, at that point, irrelevant. This was especially the case in the Ham/Nye debate, where the structure did not really allow them to effectively cross-examine each other's positions.
I suspect that the difficulties inherent in the first reason likely influenced the kind of presentation that Mr. Nye employed. Nonetheless, because his talk was so general, there was little to really grab on to. As a result, he won points on a few arguments but let many other opportunities slip through his grasp.
I further suspect that there are other factors at work with regard to the uptick in financing for the Ark-n-Park and Mr. Nye should not feel so downcast. There are always people out there willing to fund this kind of thing and have money to burn. Like him, though, I am disappointed.