Nye and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham are debating a question that has nagged humankind: "How did we get here?"
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.
Some scientists have been critical of Nye for agreeing to debate the head of a Christian ministry that is dismissive of evolution.
Jerry Coyne, a professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, wrote on his blog 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." Coyne pointed out that the Creation Museum will be selling DVDs of the event.
The museum quickly sold out its 800 seats, thanks in part to Nye's celebrity as the former host of "Bill Nye The Science Guy," a 1990s science education TV program that is still played in some classrooms. The museum's supporters are typically known as creationists, for their belief that the Bible's stories about the beginning of the universe and creation of humans are historical fact.
Nye waded into the evolution debate with an online video in 2012 that urged parents not to pass their religious-based doubts about evolution on to their children. Ham rebutted Nye's statements with his own online video with comments from scientists who work at the museum.
Nye told The Associated Press shortly after that he would be open to debating Ham if the museum paid for his travel to Kentucky.
Since the event was announced in early January, attention has been heaped on the Creation Museum and its directing ministry, Answers in Genesis, which is raising money for a theme park built around a replica of Noah's Ark. The project was announced in 2011 but fundraising has been slow and its groundbreaking date is in limbo.
The Creation Museum said visitors from 29 states bought seats for the debate, which was to be streamed live online.
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