From the standpoint of a pastor who attempts to expose and analyze the common idols of contemporary society , Bill Nye “The Science Guy” gives interviews that are almost too good to be true. Precisely because he’s such a good teacher, his opinions, which decidedly undermine any concept of biblical authority and, instead, espouse the infallibility of modern science, are so succinct, so clear, that they’re almost too cliché. Nonetheless, they make for wonderful teaching opportunities.
Nye is currently doing a media tour for his new book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. In this interview posted by Huffington Post Religion, Nye repeatedly offers logical inconsistencies, which I’ll try to point out and explain. Ultimately, this is evidence, once again, that the Apostle Paul was right when he says, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14) Nye obviously isn’t unintelligent. And the biblical message is also not illogical. But these two paths (Nye and Scripture) simply cannot converge because he doesn’t have the Spirit of God in him. The Bible remains foolishness to him. In other words, there is nothing Scripturally incompatible with the universe looking 13.8 billion years old or our planet appearing 4.5 billions years old. Since the Bible clearly teaches the idea of God creating a world with the “Appearance of Age” (“seed-bearing plants,” not seeds in Gen. 1:11-12; chickens, not eggs in Gen. 1:20-25; sexually mature humans, not embryos in Gen. 1:26-28) we would expect an older appearance. Furthermore, it’d be very difficult to reasonably estimate the aging effects of a global, mountain-covering Flood as Genesis 6-9 records. Put differently, based on the Bible, not only does 13.8 billion years for the universe not work, but the earth “looking” 6,000-10,000 years old doesn’t work either. The earth was created with the “Appearance of Age” and therefore it should look older than what it actually is.
So, on to Nye’s interview and my bigger point today.
First, notice the overtly religious language Nye uses to describe his teaching. When the interviewer suggests he enjoys battling Creationists and teaching them about Evolution, he (and this has to be intentional) says, “I’m trying to spread the word. So anytime you get an opportunity, you take it.” (min 1:55) He’s paraphrasing the New Testament’s teaching on the Great Commission (Mark 16:15; 1 Peter 3:15). Nye understands evangelizing as well or better than many Christians – the very nature of “good news” is that it begs to be told. If you don’t feel compelled to spread it, by definition, you must not believe it’s all that good of news.
Second, he suggests his main concern is that evangelicals are cranking out a generation of young people who “can’t think.” (min 2:45)This is phenomenally inconsistent with his previous statement, that we live “in the world’s most technologically advanced society.” (min 2:10) Unless Nye thinks that orthodox Christianity somehow just recently sprang up in his lifetime, he can’t have it both ways. In the twentieth century, the century in which the United States became the world’s clear superpower, we were also unequivocally the world’s most evangelical Christian country. In other words, these same Christians who “can’t think” were largely responsible for producing the very technology Nye assumes they’re incapable of. As one of my favorite modern Christian apologists, Dinesh D’Souza, is accustomed to saying, “This is what happens when you let the scientist out of the laboratory” i.e. he doesn’t know how to do history.
Third, Nye describes religion as something by which people get “community and comfort” and “that’s great.” (min 3:00) Again, nonsense. Many contemporary thinkers like Nye assess religion by saying, “If it works for you, so be it.” An actual historian, Rodney Stark, makes the case in the Rise of Christianity that the early Christians who suffered unthinkable persecution at the hands of the Romans (or modern Christians experiencing the same in the Middle East) don’t do so because “it works for them” or “is comfortable for them” and it’s fairly insulting to suggest that. They suffer, even die – stripping them of their comfort and their community – because they believe those tenets of faith to be objectively true, not subjectively true. Again, this is someone like Nye trying to observe from the outside something he doesn’t understand. A swing and a miss. I’ve heard many other atheists make the same assessment.
Fourth, the interviewer asks Nye why he thinks it is that “evolution” has become something of a dirty word in many American households. This is perhaps where Nye’s self-defeating claims become most glaring. He candidly states, “I think it’s the troubling and compelling fact of life… we’re all gonna die… I just think it drives us all a little crazy. All of us.” (min 3:40) So……..wouldn’t that apply to Nye too? If he’s going to die, and dying makes people crazy, wouldn’t he be a bit crazy? How do you know if you can trust your own logic? On the basis of Nye’s answer, how does he not know that HE HIMSELF is not crazy? How can Nye know that he’s not just seeing the evidence in such a way that already fits his own preconceived conclusions? He can’t. He’s blind to his own blindness.
Fifth, Nye again proves a point (7:00 min) that I tend to bring up repeatedly – that people who have not actually spent any significant time studying the Bible or the history of its transmission and translation, and Nye most obviously hasn’t, still hold deep convictions about it. (Rom. 8:7) We don’t do this about most books. If you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird, you have little to no opinion about it. But everyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve studied it, has an opinion of the Bible and feels justified in that opinion. Nye concludes, “It’s a troubling thing. I mean at some point you smirk about it because it’s so…it’s silly.” And he proves the Apostle Paul right again, who promised that “the message of the cross is foolishness (or “silly” if Nye prefers) to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
There is A LOT more here, but I’ll get to my point…
The Creation account has been around since, well, Creation. The argument for Intelligent Design is not new and isn’t going to get any more logical. And while I enjoy the debates and think it’s important to practice civil discourse on items we don’t agree upon, I don’t know that debates are going to bring sweeping changes in the way the average person thinks and whether or not he/she believes the biblical Creation account ahead of what science textbooks are currently teaching. IF there is going to be a cultural change – and yes, like AnswersinGenesis.org, I do believe all of this is a MAJOR sticking point for non-believers considering Christianity as well as for believers falling from it – I think the change will have to come this way: important, influential Young Earth Creationist scientists are going to have to “come out of the closet.”
Consider this, the Gay Movement in our country did not become fully mainstream until when? In Selling Homosexuality to America, Paul Rondeau says that the successful strategy of the modern Gay Movement was dependent on engaging the “five markets of social influence…which touch every citizen in America: government, education, organized religion, the media, and the workplace.” The result? Within thirty years, the idea of being gay moved from clinically abnormal behavior (as classified in DSM) to being considered a normal alternative lifestyle.
Note carefully, however, that the argument for gay marriage and gay rights never actually changed. The exact same arguments existed 50 years ago. Few were persuaded through reason and debate. Rather, it took sympathetic, likable primetime television characters, musicians, political figures, etc., people like Ellen Degeneres, Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Rosie O’Donnell, Lance Bass, Ricky Martin and a host of others whom you may or may not have guessed. The argument never changed! The logic never improved! So what did it? How do we get from “silly” or “sick” to legal and applauded? Influential, credible characters came forward. That’s what changed the public perception.
What does this have to do with biblical Creation? Everything. You know what will change the public perception? Just like it took Ellen Degeneres, it’ll take some Young Earth Creationists who come out and prove that evangelicals can do science just as good as macro-evolutionists in order to give Creationism some credibility in the scientific community. They will endure academic ridicule, professional ostracizing, persecution for their faith. But this is nothing new. We need good, hard-working, talented, credible scientists who are ready to carry out the Great Commission.
By the way, this was EXACTLY Ken Ham’s trump card when he debated Bill Nye in front of millions of onlookers last February. Nye had claimed that “magical,” religious thinking ruins scientific thought. So, in his opening statement, Ham cited Young Earth Creationists like Dr. Raymond Damadian, inventor of the MRI; Dr. Danny Faulkner, an accomplished astronomer; Dr. Stuart Burgess, who works on billion dollar satellites. These guys all pointed out how, in the academic world, many of their colleagues who share similar views are afraid to expose those views due to professional criticisms they would receive from anti-religious academic lobbyist groups.
In a nation of supposed freedom of religion and freedom of expression, it’s getting incredibly difficult and increasingly intimidating to share your faith. Just ask Benjamin Watson. This group – scientists who believe in the authority of the Bible, are needed to take a step forward. It’s a case, as the Apostle Peter stated, of obeying God rather than man (Acts. 5:28-29), or, as even Bill Nye said, “trying to spread the word. So anytime you get an opportunity, you take it.”
I’ve recently been studying a decent amount about the history of the Great Awakenings our country has experienced. While I obviously can’t know for sure, for my money, Christians emerging in the scientific community and leading people to glorify an Almighty God ahead of random chance processes, repent of their sins, and trust in a Risen Lord and Savior in Jesus rather than a “Science Guy” who fears death … this might just mean the next Great Awakening.