PETERSBURG, Ky. -- At least 3 million people tuned in to watch Bill Nye quarrel with Ken Ham about the origin of all of existence, representatives from the organization behind the event said Wednesday in a release.
In addition to the more than 900 spectators and members of the media who attended the Tuesday night event at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., at least 10,000 groups watched a live stream of the debate in various public venues, according to museum spokesperson Melany Ethridge.
Roughly 750,000 computers logged on to watch as Nye attempted to undermine the credibility of the creationism worldview, with thousands of groups viewing the event in churches, schools and homes, said Ethridge, who based the viewership estimate on the assumption that each login accounted for four viewers. One location, Liberty University, a conservative Christian institution, reported 1,500 watchers on its campus.
The prompt for the debate was: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific era?" Nye and the founder of the Creation Museum spent the better part of two and half hours discussing the topic.
Nye said Wednesday morning during an appearance at the Schilling School in Sycamore Township that he thought his performance against Ham and the public's response to it has been "positive" so far.
"So far I think it has been positive. I think that ultimately it will work," said Nye, who ho shot to fame in the '90s with his kid-centric science TV show, "Bill Nye the Science Guy." "This will be another ... brick in the (wall) of getting people aware of the importance of science in our everyday lives and the importance of science in our future."
Nye spent the morning speaking to a crowd of about 500 people at the school on Cornell Road. Many of the those in attendance included Schilling students and their parents, some of whom Nye preached to about the importance of maintaining a pro-evolution science curriculum in schools.
Ham, who will join museum scientist Dr. Georgia Purdom for a post-debate analysis at 8 p.m. Wednesday, said before his on stage encounter with Nye that he was excited and surprised about how the event had "gone viral."
"We never expected it would go viral the way it has, it was never our intention," said Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genius, the Evangelical Christian organization behind the debate. "We were certainly excited by the numbers but we never expected them"
In addition to the overwhelming number of viewers, social media was supercharged by the energy from the goings on at the museum.
Facebook reported that the debate was the top trending topic for many hours before the event even began. On Twitter, the hashtags #creationdebate and #nyevsham trended during and after the debate. For a time, the event comprised half of Twitter's trending topics.
The debate has been archived at the debate live website and will remain there for several days for viewing. C-Span will re-air the debate Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.
You can watch Ham's post-debate analysis online at www.debatelive.org/