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Do Celebrity Debates Help Christian Persuasion?

On February 4, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, and 1990s television host Bill Nye ("The Science Guy") will debate creationism. Tickets to the event at the museum's 900-seat theater sold out minutes after they became available. (Responses below are listed on a spectrum, with "Yes" answers at the top and "No" answers at the bottom.)

"Debates like the Ham–Nye one are indeed helpful, even though I don't fully agree (or fully disagree) with either man. The event at least got people talking and thinking and maybe even exploring the topic more fully on their own. That is the best outcome."
~ Michael Behe, biochemist, Lehigh University

"Debates, badly done, are of no use to anyone. But quite a few Christians need to be persuaded that debating or public disputes can ever be of any profit. With the proviso that you have an able debater representing the truth, the cause of kingdom work can be greatly advanced through debates."
~ Doug Wilson, senior minister, Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho

"Before all the media competition of today, these debates created more buzz and found a large audience, especially in small-town America where entertainment and substantive public discussions were scarce. In more recent times, they tend to attract church audiences."
~ Edith Blumhofer, historian, Wheaton College

"Debates between Christian spokespeople and various agnostic, atheistic, or secular foes have a long history in America, and evolution has often been the featured topic. They often serve as an exercise in reinforcing already held beliefs and conceptions." ~ Larry Eskridge, associate director, Institute for the ...

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March 2014

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