I had thought of this. Immediately after watching the debate, I wanted to watch Inherit the Wind again (thank you, Amazon instant, and thank you Spencer Tracy)
I think it's a good comparison. There's a difference in the value of the two that can be debated, but Nye made it very clear that his purpose in being there was to plant seeds of curiosity in people, as well as make it known that science education is incredibly important and invaluable to the health of the nation, and as much as people keep espousing that all this debate did was give creationists a national stage and money, it did need to happen. For better or worse, these people have ended up changing policy, and it's an easier believe to take comfort in that the scientific reasonings. Evolution is complex and hard; religion is easy and warm. Of course without education, people take that stance. This article even mentioned that 48% of Republican voters don't believe in evolution. That's dangerous for the nation if that willful ignorance of science continues. Lamar fucking Smith is the head of the House Committee of Science for fuck's sake. This is a man who does not believe in climate change and is a Christian Scientist. That's frightening.
Introducing people, new minds, and especially young minds to this debate with one of the most likeable people in the country that most of us grew up with is far more valuable than people think. For most young people who don't believe the scientific arguments, it's usually because they've never been exposed to them. All it takes it one small piece of doubt to get the ball rolling.