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Creation Museum: Bill Nye Debate Sparked Funding 'Miracle'

Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum who last month debated TV personality Bill Nye "The Science Guy" pitting his Biblical literalism against Darwinian evolution, says the highly publicized showdown has been like manna from heaven for a foundering $73 million Noah's Ark theme park.

"It was a challenging time, one that on a human level required a miracle to overcome," Ham, who heads the Answers in Genesis ministry, said in a statement of the near collapse of funding for the long-delayed Ark Encounter park. "And God in His providence supplied our needs."

But, as Cheri Lawson of NPR member station WNKU reports, Ham also credits his debate nemesis with bringing the media spotlight to the Creation Museum, which, among other things features a version of Earth history where humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

Despite criticism from scientists who thought the debate would give Ham undeserved attention for his view that the Earth and all living things were specially created by God a mere 6,000 years ago, Nye accepted the challenge and faced off against Ham on stage at the Kentucky museum on February 4.

Nye is widely viewed as having won that debate, but Ham may have gotten the last word: on Thursday he announced that his Creation Museum's proposed Noah's Ark theme park, including a 510-foot replica of the Biblical vessel, had against all odds secured a last-minute $62 million municipal bond offering. The miracle was God's, he said, but Nye also had something to do with it:

As The Two-Way reported in January, roughly a month before the debate, Ark Encounter, which enjoys generous tax breaks from the state of Kentucky, looked like it was sunk.

But in the statement, Ham said:

"The recent global media coverage of the Ark project and the soon-to-be-released film Noah starring Russell Crowe, plus Ham's well-publicized February 4 debate with Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' (over 7 million people watched live), have all helped bring the Ark Encounter to the world's attention."

"The date of my debate with Bill Nye had been on our calendar several months before we knew the final delivery date of the Ark bonds. But in God's timing, not ours—and although the bond registration had already closed before February 4 and no more bonds could be purchased— the high-profile debate prompted some people who had registered for the bonds to make sure they followed through with submitting the necessary and sometimes complicated paperwork."

After Nye announced he would debate Ham, he heard from many scientists who disagreed with his decision. They feared that the confrontation would give Ham's fringe viewpoint a wide hearing that it did not deserve.

Jerry Coyne, author of the book and blog Why Evolution Is True, wrote ahead of the debate that "Nye's appearance will be giving money to organizations who try to subvert the mission Nye has had all his life: science education, particularly of kids."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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