I just had to think of my debate with Bill Nye the other day when I watched a short video featuring Nye discussing the supposed evolution of empathy. He received a question from a young man from Norway asking, “How come us humans have empathy? Is it normal for a species to have empathy?” Nye’s response was saddening and highlights how blind he is to the truth of God’s Word that was presented to him during our debate.
He responds by basically saying that humans are empathetic because it works, and without it we wouldn’t be successful. Of course, this really is no explanation for why humans are empathetic because it doesn’t explain why empathy is there in the first place. Nye says it might seem “extraordinary” but, just like our physical bodies are allegedly shaped by evolution, so, claims Nye, are our emotions. But how do we have emotions for evolution to shape?
Well, Nye can’t explain it! He did note that some animals display empathy and answered that maybe the person who asked the question can be the neuroscientist that figures it out! He says, “As to [empathy’s] origins, that’s a great one. I’m not sure where it came from . . . and it gets us back to this deep thing, the nature of consciousness . . . Where did that come from?” Well, something immediately came to my mind when I heard that—Bill, there is a Book! That’s what I told him during our debate in February 2014 when the question of where consciousness came from was asked. Nye said it was a great mystery, and I pointed to God’s Word.
The origin of empathy and consciousness isn’t a mystery—they aren’t “deep neurological questions,” as Nye calls them. God’s Word clearly tells us where both came from:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . . .” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26–27)
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
We experience emotions (including empathy) and consciousness because we are living beings created in the very image of our Creator. We don’t need to apply to some mystery process that has never been observed to explain the origin of emotions and consciousness. God’s Word gives us the answer! Sadly, Bill Nye continues to ignore God’s Word as he looks for purely naturalistic answers to explain what he sees in the world. But he won’t find satisfactory answers because it’s God’s Word—not man’s ideas about the past—that is true and explains where we came from and where we’re going.
Bill Nye finished his video by appealing to a neurological understanding of empathy as the harbinger of a greater society. But that simply won’t happen. We live in a fallen world that is groaning because of our sin (Romans 8:22), and we all are sinful humans beings desperately in need of a Savior. The only answer for our society’s problems is the gospel of Jesus Christ that transforms hearts and minds for now and eternity. Mr. Nye, if you truly want to see a better society, then I encourage you to repent and be reconciled to God. It’s only through the gospel that we see true change:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Oh, and Bill—if empathy just evolved by natural processes—how do you know it evolved the right way? How do you know it evolved the same in every human being? In an “empathy evolved” worldview, what’s to stop a murderer from claiming he was only showing empathy to his victim, based upon his perception of empathy? How can you ultimately say something is right or wrong? Without God, there is no ultimate basis for empathy, or right or wrong!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.