Archives For Bill Nye

Yesterday I posted a video of Bill Nye calling creationists crazy for denying Darwinian evolution. “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology,” he says.

In the wake of this post, I came across a comment on the facebook page of a friend of a friend who had shared the article. I thought it offered a great opportunity for follow up and clarification, so I’ll share and respond to it here.

“This guy [meaning me] kinda missed the point entirely. Creationism isn’t a science, and it shouldn’t be taught as a science. It’s a perfectly fine theological argument, but it should not be taught in schools along with darwinism. Plus, really? Someone is going to go after bill nye about science? And cite lawyers? Really?”

Really.

Because the issue really isn’t about science, is it? As I said yesterday, it comes down to assumptions. Which means philosophy. Which means logic and argumentation.

The comment illustrates the point I was trying to make. Creationism is ruled out as a viable option from the start because it is by definition “unscientific.” It has been relegated to the realm of theology. But why should it be?

You have two views of how life began. My view says that an all-powerful, intelligent, personal Being brought life and everything else into existence. Bill Nye’s view says that matter has always existed and that life sprang from non-life on accident. Both views rest on an assumption. The beginning of life can’t be observed. It can’t be tested. It can’t be repeated. So proponents of both views rest their confidence on faith.

The difference is, I acknowledge that my view is based on faith, while Bill Nye claims his view as the very foundation of science and makes fun of my view.

Science is supposedly based on the scientific method. First a hypothesis is formed. This hypothesis can be confirmed using the scientific method if it is observable, testable, repeatable, falsifiable, etc. My belief that life began with an Intelligent Designer cannot be verified using the scientific method, though I believe that using the scientific method to explore the principles and properties of our world generates evidence of an Intelligent Designer.

Is Darwinism any different? No. Can you use the scientific method to prove the hypothesis that life accidentally grew out of non-life? Absolutely not! So much so that serious scientists have proposed that since we cannot find conditions suitable to the spontaneous generation of life on our planet, life must have been sent to our planet from some other planet on which conditions were more suitable to the spontaneous generation of life from non-life.

What we have here is a philosophical commitment that precedes any scientific inquiry. This is why Bill Nye can in all seriousness say that creationism is unscientific and crazy simply because it is not based on Darwinism. He didn’t pull that assumption out of a beaker or read it under a microscope. That is a philosophical statement.

So again, it is essential that we examine the logic of what anyone says. A white lab coat is impressive, but it’s no substitute for good old-fashioned logic. How do we know what we know? Bill Nye says that we can know nothing about our world until we place our faith in Darwin’s theory of evolution. But I’m not buying it. And neither should you.

And as a footnote, let me also acknowledge that many respected scientists are convinced that life was created by an Intelligent Designer. Also, many committed Christians believe that God created the world using some form of evolution. The issue really isn’t science versus faith. It’s about an a priori commitment to a philosophical assumption and then using that assumption as the litmus test for what constitutes science.

 

I recently came across the following video clip. It’s Bill Nye the Science Guy talking about science. He’s the guy who teaches kids fun facts about science and the way the world works. But this video is a bit different. Here he candidly shares his thoughts on people who don’t believe in Darwinian evolution.

Here’s the gist: if you don’t believe in evolution, you’re an idiot. Of course, you’re entitled to your opinion. If you’d like to ignore all of the evidence in the universe and believe your idiotic beliefs, go for it. Be an idiot. But don’t teach your kids to be idiots. We need them for the cause of evolutionary science. Bill Nye says it in a polite voice, but that’s pretty much what he’s getting at.

Nye’s thinking on this issue is actually very common. I can’t speak to the evidence for or against evolution, but I can say that things are not as obvious as Nye claims. Good and respectable scientists fall adamantly on either side of the issue.

What I think is worth pointing out, however, is Nye’s argumentation. According to Nye, creationism is not scientific. Why? Because science is based on Darwinian evolution. “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology.” In other words, science is built on evolution. If you are assuming evolution, you are being scientific. If you reject evolution, you are being unscientific.

So before the debate can even begin, the terms have been set in a way that assures the crazy creationists will be laughed out of the room. But isn’t Nye’s argumentation crazier? Evolution is more scientific, he says. Why? Because it is based on the foundation of evolution. The logic is completely circular.

Nye points to the existence or dinosaur bones, radioactivity, and distant stars as phenomenon that apparently fit perfectly within an evolutionary framework yet are somehow incomprehensible to creationists. Really? “Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution.” Really? How complicated is it to believe that each of these things was created by an intelligent designer rather than an impersonal force? (For more on that, click here, here, and here).

If you want to explore the logic of Darwinism, I recommend Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson. Johnson is a lawyer, not a scientist, so he is addressing the argumentation rather than the scientific evidence. I think this is the right approach because vague appeals to “all the evidence in the universe” from either side don’t move the debate forward.

In any case, Bill Nye thinks that we are idiots, and urges us not to idiotize our kids. Why bring them in on a dying way of thinking? Nye confidently asserts that “in another couple centuries that worldview won’t exist.” People have been making this claim throughout history, and yet Christianity proves incredibly resilient. People continue to look at our world and see the fingerprints of a Creator. Maybe we are suffering from mass hysteria. Or maybe the heavens actually are proclaiming the glory of God.