Book Review: Bill Nye’s Everything All at Once

on
Share:

Bill Nye, a former engineer popularly known for his kids’ show Bill Nye the Science Guy, recently published his third book, Everything All at Once: How to Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap into Radical Curiosity, and Solve Any Problem. In this 364-page book, Nye claims that tapping into your inner nerd is the key to bringing change to both the world and yourself.

Everything All At Once

Much of the book is devoted to stories of Bill Nye’s past and how he became the person he is today. Various anecdotes focus on his time with the Boy Scouts, at a private school, working at Boeing, trying out comedy, playing Bill Nye the Science Guy on TV, and serving as CEO of The Planetary Society. Nye uses each of these memories to illustrate a point about how to live and think “nerdy” and how to use this mentality to “save the world” (mostly to save it from man-made climate change).

Nerd Code of Conduct

Throughout his book Nye makes many ethical statements about what we should and shouldn’t do as we try to live nerdy. This includes laying out a way of thinking, living, and behaving that effectively comprises a secular ethical code summed up as his “Nerd Code of Conduct.”

  • Be open and be honest.
  • Don’t pretend you know what you don’t know (often a little too easy to do).
  • Show the world as it is, rather than the way you wish it would be.
  • Respect facts; don’t deny them just because you don’t like them.
  • Move forward only after you trust your design.1

Nye has an ethical code because he is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and has a God-given conscience (Romans 2:15), whether he recognizes his Creator or not. But since he starts with a naturalistic, secular worldview, he has no foundation on which to develop an ethical code except his own arbitrary opinions and ideas about what is valuable and what is not. These ethical statements may indeed be lofty goals to aspire toward, but without an absolute foundation, they are nothing more than subjective opinions. They have no authority behind them.

It’s Not “Us Versus Them”

As part of his ethical code, Nye urges his readers to recognize that we all live on one planet and that there are very few differences, scientifically speaking, between us. Because of this, there’s no need for “tribalism,” the “‘us versus them’ view of the world.”2 He writes,

From a scientific point of view, people are all just people. We are a single subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens, with remarkably little genetic diversity. We are all descended from a common ancestor, and the regional variations that we call “race” are minuscule compared with our overall biological and genetic identity.3

Now we would agree with Nye here (although we’re definitely thinking of a different “common ancestor” of humanity—Adam!). From a scientific perspective, we are all one race. Nye notes, in a chapter on US government and history, that “centuries before these ideas were established scientifically, Jefferson and the other founders established the same basic concept politically.” What he fails to note is that thousands of years before Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, the Bible taught the concept of one race. Because we’re all descended from Adam and Eve, we’re all “one blood” (Acts 17:26).

Open-Mindedness and Critical Thinking Skills

Of all his tips for thinking nerdy, Nye hammers hardest on the following: being open-minded and willing to change your mind; realizing you don’t know everything; and using critical thinking skills to filter what you read and hear.

In politics or religion, changing your ideas can be risky or even heretical. In science, abandoning a decades-old habit in response to new information reflects a vital quality of open-mindedness. Such open-mindedness is essential for making a fundamental discovery.4

I urge you to promote critical thinking and practice it every chance you get.5

Changing your mind. What a powerful idea! The possibility of change is essential to maintaining an honest, open view of reality. If you truly want to apply the nerd standards and find the best solutions, you have to be ready to give up a flawed position in response to new evidence.6

We certainly agree that open-mindedness, humility, and critical thinking skills are essential. But Nye is unwilling to apply these virtues to the discussion of origins. Why is this? He says that religion isn’t open-minded (and by this he means any religion but his own religion of atheism and naturalism) because there are certain non-negotiable facts that don’t change. But he does the exact same thing (because he too is religious). For him, naturalism (the belief that nature is all there is), the nonexistence of miracles, the reality of man-made climate change, millions of years, and biological evolution are all non-negotiable. These are his starting points, and he interprets the world through that lens. To change his thinking on these topics, he would have to give up his starting point, something he is unwilling to do (without the work of the Holy Spirit).

Nye is unwilling to apply these virtues to the discussion of origins.

As Christians who start with God’s Word, we should be open-minded and humble, and should employ good critical thinking skills. But there are certain non-negotiable facts. Our worldview starts from the premise that God’s Word is true—that’s something that doesn’t change. The scientific models (e.g. catastrophic plate tectonics) we build based on the text of the Bible and what we observe in nature are open to being changed, modified, refined, or even discarded as better evidence comes to light. That’s happened in the past in both secular and creation science, and it’s sure to happen again. But what doesn’t change is the truth of God’s Word and the history recorded therein.

Nerds Rule (and Save!) the World

The overall theme of Everything All at Once is using “nerdiness” to save the world from the problems that plague our planet. Basically, Nye’s mantra is “science will save the world!” He believes earth is fully in our control, so we are fully able to save it using science. He writes,

This is a stark difference between the religious and scientific viewpoints. If you depend on miracles to make great things happen, you rejoice in the moments when control is taken out of your hands. If you think like a nerd, you celebrate the moments when you are most in control—when you see a theoretical practice play out in a real way, in real time.7

For [atheists], there is no supercompetent deity running the show. In this community, final responsibility for human actions lies with us, and nobody and nothing else.8

Because Nye is a naturalist, he attacks the world’s problems as if the natural is all there is. The only problems we face are poverty, lack of access to clean water, resources, sanitation, health care, climate change, energy sources—natural problems that can be solved by science.

It’s an optimistic view of the future through science.9

We are living as we once imagined beings living in science fiction stories, as masters of our planet. The good news is, we know we have the ability. What we need now is the wisdom, the direction, and the execution to channel that ability in the most constructive ways. Humans are in control of the Earth, but we are not yet fully in charge of ourselves.10

There will be those who say we don’t need to worry because the world is in a deity’s hands, not ours. They don’t acknowledge how thoroughly the Earth is in our hands now. We just have to disagree with the apostles of inaction and respond forcefully that we take responsibility for our own actions.11

Nye believes this because it is the foundation of his religion—nature is all there is, and mankind is solely in charge. But Nye is, quite honestly, wrong. Science will not save the world. Happily, it may help fix some of the problems we face, as human innovation has done in the past, because God has given us the tools to temporarily fight against the Curse, but it will not ultimately save our planet or us.

Why? Because our biggest problem isn’t a changing climate or a lack of healthcare, education, or clean water. Our biggest problem is sin. And there’s nothing we can do about that problem on our own! But the good news is that we have hope, because we aren’t all there is!

There is a God, and he is our Creator. But he did so much more than just create us. He stepped into history as the God-man, Jesus Christ, and took the penalty for sin that we deserve—death—upon himself. Then he rose from the grave and conquered death, and now offers the free gift of eternal life to all who will put their faith and trust in him. This is the message—the only message—that will save the world!

Does this mean we don’t do what we can to make the world better? Of course not! It is a biblical principle, in fact, that we be good stewards of God’s creation and that we altruistically help others.

Get Your Facts Right, Bill

Although it was a rather minor point in his book, his statements regarding Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter deserve to be briefly addressed. Now, we’ve had to address the tired claims he makes (borrowed, no doubt, from other atheist writings) many, many (many!), times publicly on our website, so he, and the editor Corey Powell, have no excuse for not getting this information right.

He, rather predictably, implies the following about AiG, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter:

  • We violate the Constitution in our hiring practices. (Not true! We are a religious organization and are therefore allowed to hire those who agree with our mission and statement of faith, a fact recognized by the Kentucky courts)
  • We received “virtually free real estate from Kentucky and her taxpayers,” (Not true! We paid over $6 million for 800 acres)
  • We get “tax breaks” (Not true! We get a partial rebate on sales tax we generate at the Ark because of a facially neutral tourism incentive program).12

All of these accusations have been answered before, yet the misinformation and outright lies continue.13

It would seem Nye’s “Nerd Code of Conduct” that says nerds should be “honest,” “show the world as it is, rather than the way you wish it would be,” and “respect facts; don’t deny them just because you don’t like them” is ignored when it comes to those who don’t agree with him.

Are Creationists Anti-Science?

Nye goes on to write (again, predictably) that creationists deny observable science, calling Ken Ham “a notorious creationist . . . who denies virtually everything we know about geology and the natural history of the Earth).”14

Nye, like most evolutionists, refuses to acknowledge the difference between observational and historical science and the role that starting points play in interpreting historical science.

He describes the Ark Encounter (which he refers to as an “amusement park,” “Bible-literal theme park,” “Ark Park,” “Ark Project,” and only once by its proper name, “Ark Encounter”15) as “just one example of a much wider antiscience, antiprogress movement.”16

He adds:

I strongly feel that if parts of this country raise a generation of people trained not to think for themselves, we are all going to pay the price. We are all going to be burdened with reeducating these kids and young adults. The workers in these nearby economies will not have been brought up with the processes of science and reason that help us all understand the world. They will not grow up with the tradition of innovation that has led to the creation of search engines, smartphones, magnetic resonance images, and electric sports cars.17

Bill Nye has been publicly challenged by Ken Ham multiple times since their debate in 2014 to provide an example of just one piece of technology that was produced because of a belief in millions of years or evolution. He has never done so because there aren’t any. Technological innovation will not grind to a halt because people reject one interpretation of the evidence in completely different fields of science. You don’t need to believe in evolution or millions of years to be an engineer or develop new technologies!

You don’t need to believe in evolution or millions of years to be an engineer or develop new technologies!

It’s really quite ironic that Nye chose to include “magnetic resonance images” (MRI) on his list of innovations that would not be produced if we raise up generations of creationists. The MRI was invented by Dr. Raymond Damadian, a biblical creationist who loves God’s Word and the gospel and who publicly credits God for his discovery. Biblical creationists (like Damadian) can certainly innovate and do great science.

Indeed, to claim that creationists are anti-science is to claim that Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Louis Pasteur, and many other great scientists of the past were antiscience. This is a ridiculous assertion!

Creationists aren’t antiscience—we love science! Answers in Genesis employs PhD scientists, writes and sells science literature and homeschool curriculum, uses high-tech and world-class technology and electronics in both our attractions, does hands-on science workshops, and even partners with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) camp, Camp Infinity, because we love science and want young people to be inspired to study God’s creation. In fact, we encourage students to learn about evolution so that they can understand the problems with it and engage others who believe it. Do evolutionists do the same? We have found that most are “willingly ignorant” of what we say, in the same way that Nye is “willingly ignorant” (i.e., did not bother to research) of the financial facts regarding Ark Encounter. Why? It suits the agenda of our opponents to continue promulgating falsehoods. This is not an example of good science or honest and thorough “nerdiness.”

The claim that creationists are antiscience is based in ignorance and prejudice against an interpretation of the evidence that starts with God’s Word.

A Mere 30,000 Days

To finish his book, Nye reflects that each of us has (give or take) roughly 30,000 days on this planet. A mere 30,000 days to make a difference and leave a mark.18 (Though, in a secular view, when you die, that’s it, you’re dead. Why does it matter if you make a difference?). This sounds similar to what the Psalmist wrote:

As for man, his days are like grass;
    He flourishes like a flower of the field;
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    And its place knows it no more. (Psalm 103:15–16)

Or

The years of our life are seventy,
    Or even by reason of strength eighty;
Yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    They are soon gone, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)

Yes, each of us has only a short time on this planet, but each of us will live for eternity, either with God or separated from him. Someday Bill Nye will have to stand before his Creator, and it is our prayer that he will put his faith and trust in Christ before it is too late. All our humanly pursuits will eventually fade away and be no more. But God’s Word, and the truth contained therein, will last forever and, praise the Lord, we can experience that truth personally when we commit our lives to Christ.

All flesh is like grass
    and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
    and the flower falls,
    but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:24–25)

Footnotes

  1. Bill Nye, Everything All at Once, (New York: Rodale, 2017), 174.
  2. Ibid., 309.
  3. Ibid., 91.
  4. Ibid., 79.
  5. Ibid., 186.
  6. Ibid., 237.
  7. Ibid., 33.
  8. Ibid., 341.
  9. Ibid., 323.
  10. Ibid., 332.
  11. Ibid., 352.
  12. Ibid., 349–50.
  13. For example, see “Victory for AiG/Ark Encounter in Federal Court.”
  14. Ibid., 342.
  15. Ibid., 349–350.
  16. Ibid., 350.
  17. Ibid., 350–351.
  18. Ibid., 364

Newsletter

Get the latest answers emailed to you or sign up for our free print newsletter.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390