PETERSBURG, Ky. (AP) - "Science Guy" Bill Nye took the stage and promoted science in the snappy way that made him a pop culture staple on TV in the 1990s.
He was in Kentucky for a debate at a museum that has become widely known for exhibits that claim the Earth is 6,000 years old. Nye shared the stage Tuesday night with Creation Museum founder Ken Ham, who's built a ministry on a literal reading of the Bible's creation story.
The event explored the age old question, "How did we get here?" from the perspectives of faith and science.
It 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.
Nye defended evolutionary theory, which is widely accepted in the scientific community, while Ham championed a literal understanding of the creation story found in the Bible.
"I know a lot of people will come into this thinking 'Well I don't believe in the Bible, it's just a book,' but that we really do have scientific basis for thoughts and beliefs in creationism," said churchgoer Melody Claussen.
Each was allowed a five minute introduction and then 30 minutes to make their case and answer the question "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific era?"
"We observe things in the present. Okay we're assuming that that's always happened in the past and we're going to try to figure out what happened. See there is a difference between what you observe and what happened in the past," said Ham.
"Your assertion that there's some difference between the natural laws that I use to observe the world today and the natural laws that existed four thousand years ago is extraordinary and unsettling," said Nye.
First Baptist's pastor, Daryl Cornett, says whatever side you agree with, there are plenty of misconceptions about both camps, and trying to learn from the other side is important.
"I don't know if anyone will be convinced and change their position, probably not, but at least they'll be better informed, even of the side they disagree with," he said.
The debate coincides with a recent Gallup survey, which ranks Kentucky as the 10th most religious state in the country.
Nye is in Kentucky to debate with Ken Ham on Tuesday evening.
The event is attracting plenty of attention in science and faith circles, as Nye is a former TV star and Ham is prominent among Christians who believe the Bible tells a factual account of the Earth's beginnings.
The Creation Museum says the audience will be made up of visitors from 29 states.
Ham invited Nye to debate last year after Nye criticized the belief held by Ham and other creationists that the earth is just a few thousand years old.