This is the big one folks. This has been rushing around the science/evolution/atheism groups for weeks now. I think Aron Ra sums it up nicely.
This will NOT be a debate about science. You will not see two men discussing the finer points of evidence and the conclusions based on that evidence.
On the one hand, you will see a creationist, with all the rhetorical tricks that have been refined for decades in debates like this one. On the other hand, you will see someone who thinks that reality matters and uses evidence and says “I don’t know.” None of which will help him in this situation.
Honestly, if Bill Nye says one word about science, then he has failed. His sole purpose in this debate is to make Ken Ham look like the moron that he is. Bill cannot compete with Ken in an evidence-based playing field. The timeframe of debates does not allow it. The Gish Gallop is a powerful tool in debates and has been used by creationists for decades. Whenever Bill deals with Ken, the first words out of his mouth almost must be “That which is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
Ken Ham has no evidence for any of his claims and everyone who can think rationally about these topics knows it. Bill must absolutely push Ken on the evidence that he doesn’t have. He must force Ken to admit that evolution does happen.
There is a good rhetorical trick that Bill can use. If Ken Ham starts talking about the evidence for X AND at some points uses the old “science is faith” canard, then Bill can make Ken look very silly for trying to use science to support his views.
Honestly, I think that this will be an utter disaster. This absolutely will not change anyone’s mind.
We need to educate our students, not engage in pointless debates.
That being said, the die is cast. I hope Bill does very well and I hope that this isn’t the disaster that I think it will be. Bill, hopefully, has contacted the NCSE and gotten with their experts on creationism. One thing that I hope Bill focuses on is the lies promoted by creationists.