The tally is in, the web connections totaled, and according to officials with Answers in Genesis an estimated five million people watched this week’s livestreamed debate between their chief, Ken Ham, and evolutionist Bill Nye, of “Science Guy” television program fame.
And that’s a conservative figure, Ham told WND, because there’s really no way to know how many people were there for the more than 13,000 groups – from families to universities – that signed in to watch the event streamed through YouTube and other channels.
The total audience could have been as high as 10 million, he noted.
For comparison, an average CNN audience during a similar prime time period was only about 408,000. The debate out-drew the Internet audience for the Super Bowl and the president’s State of the Union, although those audiences on broadcast channels were higher.
“We were trending No. 1 on Facebook,YouTube and Twitter” for that time, Ham said.
“I think this has started something that’s going to continue in a big way,” he said, noting Answers’ website saw a quarter of a million visitors the day after the debate, some 10 times the normal traffic.
On his own Facebook, he said, he gathered 20,000 “likes” in 24 hours and his “reach” went from 120,000 to 1.2 million.
Numbers, however, he pointed out, are only numbers, and the significance is the message.
“Non-Christians were talking to be about the debate,” he said. “People were saying to their friends, ‘Watch this.'”
He said momentum really has gathered on the side of discussing the questions and issues raised.
A report by Steve Golden posted on the Answers in Genesis site explained the winner was clear.
“The media is split on the issue. But the overarching victory for Christians in this debate is that the gospel of Jesus Christ was shared with the millions of people watching the debate,” he wrote.
“Biblical creation is not a salvation issue, meaning that belief or disbelief in the literal history of Genesis will not save a person. Eternal life is conditioned upon faith in Jesus Christ alone. But the debate between Ken and Mr. Nye highlights that the creation/evolution issue is one of authority. What will we look to for our starting point – the Word of the God who cannot lie, or the word of a man with an imperfect understanding of the world?”
He continued, “We are grateful to Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for his coverage of the debate. He attended the event and devoted an article and a podcast to discussion of what happened. After a thorough recap and analysis of the arguments presented by Ken and Mr. Nye, Dr. Mohler concluded, ‘The central issue last night was really not the age of the earth or the claims of modern science … It was about the central worldview clash of our times, and of any time: the clash between the worldview of the self-declared ‘reasonable man’ and the worldview of the sinner saved by grace.'”
The topic for the debate was: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”
Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, which owns the Creation Museum, presented the argument for creation.
“There is a distinct difference in what you observe and what has taken place in the past,” said Ham. “Creationists and evolutionists disagree on how to interpret data regarding the origins of our universe, and we can’t prove either way observationally, because all we’ve got is the present. When it comes down to it, this is a battle over philosophical worldviews.”
Nye, the Emmy-winning host and producer of the popular “Bill Nye the Science Guy” PBS-TV program for children, was on the other side.
He emphasized evidence he says documents an advanced age of the earth.
In perhaps the most compelling moment of the debate, Nye and Ham were confronted with the question. “How did consciousness come from matter?”
Nye replied bluntly with, “I don’t know. That is a great mystery.”
“Bill, I want to say that there is a book out there that does document where consciousness comes from,” Ham said, referring to the Bible, and adding that he believes man was created “in God’s image.”
“I don’t look on it as just defending my position,” Ham said. “It’s more showing that Christians can be bold in standing up, saying there is a God, the Bible is God’s word, morality comes from the Bible.”
The debate was set up after Nye previously posted an online video imploring parents not to teach their biblical beliefs to their children, and Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, responded with a video supporting biblical teachings.
Plans for the public debate developed from there.