Founder Ken Ham says the museum will host Nye, the former host of a popular youth science show, on February 4 (see details).
Nye has been critical of creationists for their opposition to evolution and asserting that the Old Testament is a literal account of the Earth's beginnings. Last year in an online video that drew nearly 6 million views, Nye said teaching creationism was bad for children.
Ham says he's glad Nye is willing to debate creation versus evolution. "I think it's important for there to be public debate on this issue rather than debate being shut down, as it has been by many of the ardent evolutionists," he tells The Associated Press.
Ham, who is also president and CEO of the apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis, is looking forward to debating Nye.
"Bill Nye has been in the news over the past couple of years for making statements about creation and about evolution, obviously as an ardent evolutionist," he notes, "and also speaking very much against those like ourselves who would take a stand on God's Word in Genesis, and saying that creation shouldn't be taught to children."
Ham differs strongly with Nye on that account. "That whole creation-evolution issue we see as a very, very important issue particularly in regard to influencing children – what they believe about who they are, where they came from," says the museum founder. "I mean, if they are taught that they're just animals, that has a great bearing on how they view themselves and how they view morality."
The event is likely to attract plenty of attention in scientific and faith circles, as Nye is a high-profile advocate of science education and Ham is a respected leader among Christians who believe the Bible's origin story is a factual account of the Earth's beginnings.