PETERSBURG, Ky. (AP) — True to his passionate and animated TV persona, "Science Guy" Bill Nye tapped on the podium, threw up his hands and noted that science shows the Earth is "billions and billions" of years old in a debate at a Kentucky museum known for teaching that the planet's age is only 6,000.
Nye was debating Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and promoting science in the snappy way that made him a pop culture staple as host of "Bill Nye The Science Guy" in the 1990s.
The event was meant to explore the age old question, "How did we get here?" from the perspectives of faith and science.
Ham, an Australian native who has built a thriving ministry in Kentucky, said he trusts the story of creation presented by the Bible.
"The Bible is the word of God," Ham said. "I admit that's where I start from."
Nye delivered a passionate speech on science and challenged the museum's teachings on the age of the earth and the Bible's flood story. Like most scientists, Nye believes there is no credible evidence that the world is only 6,000 years old.
"If we accept Mr. Ham's point of view ... that the Bible serves as a science text and he and his followers will interpret that for you, I want you to consider what that means," Nye said. "It means that Mr. Ham's word is to be more respected than what you can observe in nature, what you can find in your backyard in Kentucky."
The event drew dozens of national media outlets and about 800 tickets sold out in minutes. Ham said ahead of the debate that the Creation Museum was having a peak day on its social media sites.
"I think it shows you that the majority of people out there, they're interested in this topic, they want to know about this, they don't want debate shut down," Ham said before the debate.
At times, the debate had the feel of a university lecture, with slides and long-form presentations.
Responding to an audience question about where atoms and matter come from, Nye said scientists are continuing to find out.