The Debate

While Bill Nye "The Science Guy" debates the Creation Museum's Ken Ham, a biologist rallies educators to teach evolution in schools.

The Debate
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
March 29, 2021
Headshot of The Debate producer, Clayton Brown

Clayton Brown

Clayton Brown is a Senior Lecturer in the department of Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University. He is a documentary and narrative filmmaker interested in exploring the hidden stories and compelling characters that emerge when people pursue their passions. Of particular interest are the ways in which science and storytelling intersect, both in Show more fiction and non-fiction. His fiction work includes Galileo's Grave, winner of the Chicago IFP Production Fund and Best Short Film at the Albany and East Lansing film festivals, and The Darkening Sun, about the first woman to photograph a solar eclipse in 1869. He is a co-founder of 137 Films, a Chicago-based award-winning documentary production company committed to telling stories about America’s complicated relationship with science. He co-directed The Atom Smashers (Independent Lens), a documentary about the search for the Higgs boson particle; The Believers, which tells the story of two scientists who thought they had discovered Cold Fusion; and 137 Films’ documentary We Believe in Dinosaurs. Show less

Headshot of  The Debate producer, Monica Long Ross.

Monica Long Ross

Monica Long Ross is a filmmaker and playwright. She is a co-founder of 137 Films, a Chicago-based documentary production company. Ross co-directed and co-produced the award-winning documentaries We Believe in Dinosaurs (Independent Lens), The Atom Smashers (Independent Lens), and The Believers. Monica's documentaries have been screened at Show more festivals around the world, as have her short films exploring women, memory, and the dangers lurking in nostalgia (Pantyhose, Dinner, Memory, The Story of My Life, We Read Different Books). Dinner was a finalist at the Rose d'Or Montreux in Switzerland. She was a founding member and playwright for Childsplay in Tempe AZ (Clarissa’s Closet, Montana Molly and the Peppermint Kid, Phoebe Joins the Circus) and the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company (Complications, Crazy Sexy). Show less

Amy Ellison

Amy Ellison

Amy Ellison joined the 137 Films team in 2010 by associate producing the award-winning documentary The Believers. Since then she has gone on to produce the 137 Films projects The Has Been To Space, a short following a group of middle-schoolers as they explore the outer edges of the earth’s atmosphere; and the Independent Lens selection We Believe In Dinosaurs.  She Show more lives in Chicago with her spouse, three kids, a dog, a cat, and (for the time being) a praying mantis. Show less

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The Film

The Debate is the short documentary sequel to We Believe in Dinosaurs. When Bill Nye “The Science Guy” claims that creationism is bad for children, Ken Ham, the CEO of Kentucky’s Creation Museum, challenges Nye to an online debate. Much to the dismay of the science community, Nye accepts. Meanwhile, as the press writes about the return of the culture wars, Dr. Randy Moore, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, knows from his own research that the war on evolution never fully went away. Year after year, he watches a number of his own students—many of them future biology teachers—leave college still clinging to their belief in creationism. Refusing to give up hope, Moore rallies educators to “Teach Evolution!”