Book Review: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

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Abstract

Some people think the “Great Creationism Debate” between Bill Nye and Ken Ham represented a battle between science and the Bible, but the Bible and science are not at war. In the debate and in the ongoing duel of ideas expressed in these two books, the battle is between man’s fallible evolutionary ideas for which Bill Nye crusades with evangelistic zeal and God’s infallible Word, which Ken Ham defends in his book (in accordance with Jude 1:3). Biblical truth is by no means at odds with observational science, and it will triumph over man’s godless assertions—particularly Nye’s caustic caricatures and denial of a straightforward reading of God’s inspired Word (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

Punched Out

Some people think the “Great Creationism Debate” between Bill Nye and Ken Ham represented a battle between science and the Bible, but the Bible and science are not at war. In the debate and in the ongoing duel of ideas expressed in these two books, the battle is between man’s fallible evolutionary ideas for which Bill Nye crusades with evangelistic zeal and God’s infallible Word, which Ken Ham defends in his book (in accordance with Jude 1:3). Biblical truth is by no means at odds with observational science, and it will triumph over man’s godless assertions—particularly Nye’s caustic caricatures and denial of a straightforward reading of God’s inspired Word (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

Background

On a snowy evening in February 2014, Ken Ham and Bill Nye faced off in front of a packed hall in Petersburg, Kentucky’s Creation Museum, watched by over three million live-stream visitors, to debate “Is creation a viable model of origins in this modern scientific era?” In his new book Undeniable, Bill Nye dubs this “The Great Creationism Debate.”

Contrary to Nye’s claims, however, this debate is not a battle between scientists and “Ken Ham’s followers,” or even between science and the Bible. The battle is between a humanistic worldview and a biblical worldview. Though Bill Nye fails to see it, observational, experimental science is completely consistent with and even benefits from acceptance of God’s account of our history found in the Bible.

Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, demonstrated in the debate that observational science is not only consistent with God’s Word but also ultimately dependent on the Creator God for its existence. Bill Nye maintains that a person cannot understand science at all if he or she rejects evolutionary naturalism. Why the difference? Bill Nye treats science and evolution as if they were synonymous. In the debate, and more expansively in Undeniable, Bill Nye proclaims that evolutionary naturalism is the only foundation for science and implies that those who dare to accept creation as a model for origins are ignorant, foolish, and dangerous.

Marginalizing and Demonizing Bible-Believers

Bill Nye’s Undeniable mantra predicts gloom and doom for our nation if we fail to train up our children to accept evolution. Some of our readers doubtlessly still see Bill Nye as the energetic PBS-TV “science guy” they thought could make science interesting for their kids. For those still in doubt about the insidious threat of Nye’s crusade to your children, Undeniable should make that danger undeniably clear. The 2014 debate came about as a result of our response to a 2012 BigThink YouTube video in which Nye declared that today’s children must accept evolution if the United States is to remain a leader in science and technology. In Undeniable, he repeatedly equates wholesome scientific curiosity with evolutionary pursuits and continues preaching his children’s crusade:

Inherent in this rejection of evolution is the idea that your curiosity about the world is misplaced and your common sense is wrong. This attack on reason is an attack on all of us. Children who accept this ludicrous perspective will find themselves opposed to progress. They will become society's burdens rather than its producers, a prospect that I find very troubling.1

I reminded the audience [during the debate] of Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. One of the duties of Congress is “to promote the progress of Science and the Useful Arts.”2

Here’s hoping we can work together to bring the children of the creationists’ preachers’ flocks to a more enlightened, boundless way of thinking about the world around us.3

Nye’s exhortation demonstrates that his grasp of historical and contextual word usage is lacking.

Aside from the rather chilling implicit threat of calling upon the power of the federal government to force-feed evolution to children while guarding them against the biblical, anti-evolutionary influence of parents, preachers, teachers, and other adults in their lives, Nye’s exhortation demonstrates that his grasp of historical and contextual word usage is lacking. At the time the United States Constitution was penned, “the progress of Science” referred more to the distribution of knowledge than the meaning we ascribe to the phrase today, and “the Useful Arts” was a reference to the practical application of knowledge.4 Moreover, even if its writers intended a modern interpretation of the word, they certainly were not treating science as a synonym for evolution, as a biblical worldview was still pervasive among scientists in the western world at the time. Furthermore, neither during the debate—when challenged by Ken Ham—nor in this book, does Nye ever supply an example of “one piece of technology that could only have been developed starting with a belief in molecules-to-man evolution.” Why? Because there are none!

Nye claims that in the debate he said nothing “about The Bible,”5 an extraordinarily creative interpretation of that evening that should seem preposterous to all who watched. In any case, he made up for his apparent omission in Undeniable by repeatedly casting aspersions on the Word of God, the God of the Word, and anyone so evidently foolish enough to think the history of origins in the Bible or anything else in it has relevance or authority in the modern world.

Debate Answers

Undeniable, by Bill Nye, and Inside the Nye Ham Debate, by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge, will seem familiar to those who watched the debate. Each man had thirty minutes plus a five-minute rebuttal and an odd number of one- and two-minute Q&A segments to make his case. For those who felt frustration at the necessary brevity of the answers, given the essential time limits, and felt the participants needed more time to explore their points fully, these books give each man a platform to fill in the rest of their story.

Our website maintains a “Debate Answers” page to make readily available articles exploring the many topics broached in the debate. Most of the topics explored by Bill Nye in Undeniable are included in those articles and discussed in the context of the debate in Inside the Nye Ham Debate. Whether you read Undeniable or not, I strongly encourage you to read Inside the Nye Ham Debate. Then you will be ready to discuss the points your Undeniable-reading friends may raise, as even in an in-depth review like this one, space does not permit discussion of more than a few of these claims.

Throughout Undeniable, Bill Nye claims that evolution and science are the same. That is the reason he views any rejection of molecules-to-man evolution (and the extraordinary age of the earth on which it depends for even a veneer of plausibility) as a complete rejection of all things scientific and proof of science illiteracy. He attributes the marvelous advances of science to evolution. He even devotes a chapter to the virtues of Michael Faraday’s boundless scientific curiosity and drive to imbue the young with zeal for science literacy.

Michael Faraday’s discoveries about the relationship between electricity and magnetism are foundational for the physical sciences and hence for much of the technology that blesses (and occasionally curses) our everyday lives. Yet Nye fails to mention that Faraday was a devout Bible-believing Christian whose scientific predictions about how the world ought to work as well as his life of service to his community were grounded in his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and his Creator.

Extrapolating from the Observable to the Imaginary

Molecules-to-man evolution is of course the notion that life arose through natural processes from nonliving elements (aka abiogenesis) and that all living things developed across deep time through descent with evolutionary modification from a common ancestor. Bill Nye believes such evolutionary naturalism is undeniable because many organisms actually do change over time. They do not, however, change into new, more complex kinds of organisms. Charles Darwin provided many examples of what he considered to be evolutionary changes, yet all his examples were mere variations within created kinds of organisms.

Nye claims that there are 16 million species today that he cannot believe “evolved” in a mere 4,000 years since the global Flood (which he doesn’t believe in anyway) from the 7,000 created kinds that were on the Ark. First of all, he ignores our explanation of which animals even needed to be on the Ark (as explained in “No Kind Left Behind”), and, secondly, he equates speciation with what he ultimately calls macroevolution (which, according to him, is just microevolution over very long periods of time). And, strawman alert: created kinds are not at all analogous to species, and the distinction between species is often quite minor variation that can occur very quickly (Darwin’s finches anyone?). Bill Nye should be aware of and acknowledge this—since he brought it up—but he did not, and even changed his “7,000 kinds” to “7,000 species” in the very next sentence on page 13 of his book. See, instead, the well-thought-out explanation of Ark kinds at “Determining the Ark Kinds.”

Bill Nye is still only able to point to the observable variations that develop within particular kinds.

Following in Darwin’s footsteps, despite a century and a half of scientific progress, Bill Nye is still only able to point to the observable variations that develop within particular kinds of organisms and to the genetic and anatomical similarities expected in a world created by a Common Designer. In Undeniable, he uses these as the supposedly undeniable evidence for molecules-to-man evolution. (We recently discussed a similar catalogue of evidence in “Did “Life on Earth” Ever “Favour Evolution Over Creationism”?” and a similar line of thinking in a recent lecture by a theistic evolutionist—someone who professes faith in God but exalts the opinions of man over the truth in His Word.)

Abiogenesis

Though it fails in every way to demonstrate how life could evolve from chemicals, the famous Miller-Urey experiment, in which some amino acids spontaneously formed in laboratory conditions thought to resemble the early earth, remains one of Bill Nye’s favorite examples of evidence that life’s origins can be explained without God. Nye writes that “any quantity of the basic molecules of life is infinitely more than zero—infinitely more. The origin of life just requires some raw material that could allow the spark of life to emerge. Evolution is a powerful amplifier.”6 He adds, “A lot can happen in 3.5 billion years.”7 Yet the Miller-Urey research actually provides a powerful argument against the scientific possibility of abiogenesis—life from non-life—ever occurring. You can read more about it in the article, “Why the Miller–Urey Research Argues Against Abiogenesis.”

Ken Ham, summing up his faith in our Creator’s Word and the principles observable in biological science in response to Bill Nye’s answer to this abiogenesis question during the debate, said, “You can have all the energy that you want, but energy or matter will never produce life.”8

Bill Nye admits that there is no known scientific mechanism for abiogenesis—though he does not mention that it is a violation of the most fundamental principle of biology. However, he considers molecules-to-man evolution to be undeniable once the abiogenesis hurdle is overcome. That, for him, is sufficient evidence that the abiogenesis mystery also has an evolutionary solution:

Asking the big question [about the origin of life] sounds an awful lot like asking, ”Is there a god who runs the show?” There is an essential difference, however. Every other aspect of life that was once attributed to divine intent is now elegantly and completely explained in the context of evolutionary science. For me, there is no reason to think that the origin of life is any different. . . . Scientific theories of the origin of life [unlike religious explanations] are open to questions, to tests, to revisions, to replacement with new and more insightful theories.9

This supposed naturalistic connection to our chemical roots, however, is a chasm science cannot cross without a Creator. This mystery mirrors the problem evolutionary naturalism encounters in its effort to explain how ever-more complex and different kinds of animals and plants could have evolved through natural processes, as Answers in Genesis molecular geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom has explained:

The river between non-life and life is indeed "deep and wide" and cannot be crossed by a deeper or better understanding of biology and chemistry. Information is required for life and without an information-giver life cannot come about by random chance from a chemical soup. As researchers continue to search for that “magic bullet” to understand the origin of life, they will continue to be frustrated and in their rebellious hearts fail to acknowledge that life can only come from the one true Life-Giver, the Creator God.10

While evolutionary scientists often revise the details of their “theories,” they hold to the humanistic framework of naturalism, excluding any possible role for a Creator, a foundational assumption that springs not from science but from their worldview. Furthermore, scientific models based on biblical creation are subject to questions, tests, revisions, and replacement with more insightful theories. A creation-based model is not Scripture but must be consistent with Scripture. Bible-based predictions and models are tested in the same way as other hypotheses.

Given Enough Time . . .

Thus, even billions of years would not be sufficient time for life to spring into existence without a Creator to supply the necessary information, and even the raw materials—the atoms—for that matter. (During the debate, Nye was asked, “How did the atoms that created the big bang get there?” Nye replied with his now historic answer, “This is the great mystery,” to which Ken Ham responded with his equally historic remark, “Bill, I do want to say, that there is a book out there . . .” referring, of course, to the Bible.) Nevertheless, Bill Nye is confident that “a lot can happen in 3.5 billion years”! In fact, he writes that the age of the earth is one of the greatest issues he has with Bible-believing young-earth creationists like Ken Ham, all the scientists at Answers in Genesis, and other Bible-believing scientists around the world:

But I was, and remain, concerned about the extraordinary claim that Earth is extraordinarily young, which is an assault not just on evolution but on the whole public understanding of science.11

Bill Nye and smoke detector

Bill Nye in this 2012 CNN interview held up a smoke detector as evidence that America’s economic future depends on the children of Americans believing Earth is 4.54 billion years old. This present-day technology, however, depends on here-and-now experimental science. Smoke detectors typically contain a radioactive isotope (americium-241). The alpha particles it emits ionize the air in the detector. The ionized air completes an electrical circuit. Smoke disrupts the circuit because ions stick to smoke particles. Production of this technology has nothing to do with a belief in billions of years or knowledge of Earth’s age but only with the observable behavior of radioisotopes today. Read more about the interview in “Bill Nye Denies Young Earth.” Image courtesy of CNN, “The Science Guy Takes on Creationism,” http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2012/11/24/intv-nye-creationism.cnn.html.

Perhaps some of our readers recall a CNN interview in which Bill Nye maintained that smoke detectors, dependent as they are on radioactive materials, would not exist without benefit of evolutionary science.12 Nye, like other evolutionists, bases his belief in a world billions of years old on worldview-based interpretations, primarily those tied to radiometric decay rates, and the implications of those long ages when superimposed on the fossil layers in the geologic record.

In Undeniable, Bill Nye echoes the lofty inspiration Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke of in Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey series when he visited the Grand Canyon as he recounts his visit to another geologic record of God’s judgment upon the world in the global Flood about 4,350 years ago:

If you've never been, I encourage you to visit and tour the sandstone slot canyons in Zion National Park, where the history of Earth is laid out before you, fine layer upon fine layer, like the pages of a book. If you want to sort out the story of how new species appear, and how other species go away, this is an excellent place to look. It's mesmerizing – just stand there and try to count the layers. The formations run from the Late Permian to Early Cretaceous Periods. That's 200 million years’ worth of deep time. When you look closely, the layers are stacked like pieces of paper in a copier tray; only this stack is 1,000 meters—more than half a mile—high. . . .

Each exquisitely fine layer seems to have been laid down in regular fashion. Wind carried the grains there, forming enormous dunes. From time to time, things got wet. From time to time, things got dry. When things were wet, the minerals calcite, CaCO3 (carbonate with a calcium atom hooked on), and hematite, Fe2O3 (iron oxide, also known as rust), dissolved in the ancient water and cemented every sand grain into place. The rust makes for beautiful red tones.13

Layering in Zion National Park

This photo of Zion National Park shows the layering well. No one observed how these rock layers were deposited, but comparison of the detailed structure of these layers to similar layers of sediment deposited today in water-related catastrophes make the geological model based on the biblical Flood suggest a much more trustworthy history than that painted by Bill Nye. Image courtesy of Dr. Andrew Snelling.

Commenting on this passage in Undeniable, Answers in Genesis geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling explains how Bill Nye’s claims about these beautiful rocky layers are rooted in his personal opinion—his worldview that rejects even the possibility that the world has a Creator who loves us enough to tell us the truth about our history in the Bible:

What is seen in Zion National Park is a stack of rock layers—period! That’s a repeatable observation. But how these rock layers were deposited has never been observed, because no scientists were there to observe them being deposited. So Bill Nye’s story is just that, a story based on the assumption that geologic processes such as deposition of sediment layers has always occurred at the one-grain-at-a-time pace that it occurs at today.

Or does it? Actually no! Repeated observations of deposition of sediments in today’s world emphatically shows that deposition of rock layers occurs in floods, hurricanes, storms, and other catastrophic events! It requires fast-moving currents, and multiple layers are formed in a veritable geologic instant. Indeed, at Mount St. Helens on June 12, 1980, a 25-foot-thick sequence of alternating fine- and coarse-grained sediment layers was deposited within three hours from volcanic ash flows moving at 90 miles per hour. In the Grand Canyon, storm bursts produce debris flows in side canyons that carry boulders up to several feet in diameter and deposit them in sand layers up to six feet thick with the boulders in them.

And Bill Nye also shows his complete ignorance of two established observations. First, the supposed evidence of dunes, the so-called cross-bedding, is at the wrong angle compared to desert dunes today, but is exactly at the same angle we observe today in underwater sand waves deposited by fast-moving water currents. Second, the nearest source of the grains that make up the 2,000-foot-thick Navajo Sandstone in the photo is in the Appalachians 1,800 miles away. Even his fellow secularists admit that these sand grains had to have been washed right across the continent to be deposited here in Zion. What kind of storm with fast-moving water currents occurring today is capable of doing that? Indeed, many sedimentary rock layers in the Southwest contain marine fossils and can be traced right across the North American continent, testament to the ocean waters having flooded across the continent. And when the water between the grains dries out, the carbonate cements the grains together, while any iron oxides eventually “rust” when the rock layers are exposed again to the atmosphere.

A different story to that from Bill Nye, yes, but based on repeated observations in the present that match what we see in these rock layers. And it’s consistent with the eyewitness testimony of the One who was there and who has told us of a global cataclysmic Flood in His Word.

Bill Nye mocks the idea of a global Flood remodeling the surface of the earth. He does not see how biblical Flood geology models can explain what we observe in nature, such as the large boulders in the Pacific Northwest:

I pointed out the spectacular boulders one can see along highways in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. They were washed there by ancient floods, when ice dams periodically gave way in what is now Montana. If there had been a worldwide flood, and the heavier rocks sank to the bottom as Mr. Ham et al. assert, what are these boulders doing there on top of the ground and not under the soil? Well, they wouldn't be there, but they are. So, the creationists are wrong about the natural history of their world.14

The boulders Nye refers to are along highways in Montana and, as he suggests, resulted from the flood from Glacial Lake Missoula when an ice dam broke. Today, evolutionary geologists are largely in agreement with biblical creation geologists in attributing this particular geologic feature to the breakage of ice dams. However, the Ice Age—which is well-explained by the meteorological changes in the wake of the global Flood of Noah—occurred after the global Flood, so creationists do not claim that these boulders have anything to do with the global Flood. Nye’s accusation is false and ill-informed as he is misrepresenting the claims based on biblical models. (You can read more about this and other Ice Age events in “Where Does the Ice Age Fit?”)

Of course, Bill Nye doesn’t put all his eggs in one basket. As he showed in the debate, he believes multiple lines of evidence demonstrate an extraordinarily old age for the earth. One of these is the bristlecone pines that are supposedly—based on their tree rings—much older than the biblical age of the earth, about 6,000 years, and than the global Flood, about 4,350 years. Yet, as fully explained in Inside the Nye Ham Debate, tree rings result from growth cycles, not necessarily from yearly cycles:

Many types of trees are observed to have multiple growth cycles even in one year with favorable conditions. So depending on previous wet-dry cycles (or otherwise good or bad growth periods within a year), there could be multiple growth cycles, thus multiple rings.

Bristlecone pines are no exception. The ones that tend to have more rings and live longer are those in arid, higher altitudes where little rain occurs each year. Let me explain: in the dry, arid areas growth stops until the next rain or watering, then the trees can yet again begin to grow. But when they become dry and arid, the trees cease to grow once more.

So growth is dependent upon getting water, not upon a (yearly) calendar date. Thus a tree having great numbers of rings simply means there were greater numbers of growth cycles in the past. To say that each ring is a yearly ring would require Mr. Nye to prove that each year in the past, there was only one rainfall per year—a truly bold and unprovable assumption on his part. Such a situation is in the realm of historical science, involving hypotheses/beliefs about the past. But Mr. Nye refuses to accept this very obvious fact. The point to take here is that when someone says the bristlecone pines are of a certain age, it is not due to direct observation, but by interpretation based on un-provable assumptions.15

Of course, after the global Flood, weather conditions worldwide would have remained highly unstable for some time. The weather patterns in the present day home of bristlecone pine are certainly not a reliable indicator of those in the past. These trees likely experienced weather conditions that could have produced radically different growth patterns than those we see today, producing many rings.

Grand Designs and Great Engineering

Our Common Designer not only used many common designs in a variety of animals and people but also varied them to suit the needs of each. As Bible-believing scientists, we often point out the irreducible complexity and remarkable design evident in nature, and especially in the human body. Dr. Stuart Burgess, a creationist and a professor of engineering design at the University of Bristol, explains this in his foreword to Inside the Nye Ham Debate:

As a scientist I know that there is no conflict between true science and the Bible. I have carried out many experiments on biological systems and found them to contain solid evidence of purposeful design. In contrast, I have never seen experimental evidence that one could use to support evolution.

I totally disagree with Bill Nye that denying evolution hinders the development of technology. My belief in creation actually helps me develop technology because my high view of nature encourages me to copy the designs of nature. I believe my successful career has been partly due to my belief in biblical creation.16

Dr. Burgess, incidentally, presents many of God’s engineering marvels of the human body in his DVD The Uniqueness of Man. Bill Nye’s background is also in engineering. He has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. Bill Nye is under the impression that the human body and the rest of nature, rather than demonstrating the wisdom of a Creator, are evidence of the experimental nature of evolution and exhibit barely sufficient levels of functionality achievable in each lineage over millions of years of mutations and natural selection.

With undaunted faith in the sufficiency of Darwinian evolution, Bill Nye writes, “Perhaps there is intelligence in charge of the universe, but Darwin’s theory shows no sign of it, and has no need of it.”17

Left recurrent laryngeal nerve

As indicated in this illustration, the left recurrent laryngeal nerve, the nerve supply to the left side of your voice box, branches off of the vagus nerve near the heart. It loops under the aortic arch—the enormous blood vessel through which oxygenated blood exits the heart—and gives off several branches to other structures as it ascends through the chest and neck to reach the voice box. The nerve is drawn into this same pattern as the embryo grows in all vertebrates, even long-necked giraffes. Illustration by Jkwchui (Based on drawing by Truth-seeker2004), via Wikimedia Commons.

Bill Nye then contrasts Darwinian sufficiency with what he believes to be divine insufficiency. To illustrate his point, he uses the example of the circuitous pathway supposedly taken by a nerve that supplies the voice box in all vertebrates:

In a giraffe, it’s wild. The nerve [the left recurrent laryngeal nerve] runs from the brain down to the animal’s heart, which is in its chest, just like yours, then back up to its voice box, the larynx. If you were to sit down and design a connection from the brain to the larynx, you’d make it just 5 centimeters or so (2 inches). But because animals like us and giraffes came from ancestors with the same kind of nerve wiring, we end up and giraffes end up with this arrangement, which seems quite odd at first. After you mull it over, it’s just what you'd expect from fish, from yourself, and from giraffes.18

Nye believes that evolution was stuck with this seemingly silly arrangement from the vertebrate ancestral past when the giraffe’s long neck evolved:

Configuring necks this way is almost certainly not how a designer or engineer would build the world. But the details all make perfect sense once you embrace the idea that evolution does not work the way a human designer or engineer would.19

Nye is wrong in claiming that this nerve travels a crazily designed long pathway to get to the voice box. The nerve he refers to is the left recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN). The left RLN does not travel a long path from the brain to the voice box. It is not a “cranial nerve,” but instead branches from the much larger vagus nerve, which is a cranial nerve. This vagus nerve travels from the brain, down the neck, and to the heart, which it helps control. Near the heart (just below the aorta), the left RLN originates as a branch from the vagus nerve. Looping beneath the aortic arch, the left RLN sends additional branches to several important structures in the chest and neck as it ascends to innervate the voice box.

The nerve does many important jobs as it travels from its point of origin in the chest. And it is by no means a bad design just because a modern engineer like Bill Nye might not have designed it that way. This design (which you can read more about in Dr. Jerry Bergman’s article “Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Is Not Evidence of Poor Design”) has served vertebrates of all sorts well for 6,000 years.

Eye Design

Bill Nye, like so many other evolutionists, arrogantly assumes that a design he doesn’t really understand is a bad one. This is also abundantly clear in his declaration that the human eye’s design is a bad one:

Next time you look at an octopus in the eye, respect her or him, because her or his eye is a better design than yours. We have a blind spot near the middle of our retinas where optic nerves connect. Your brain has to fill in the missing piece of the picture so you don't notice it. Moreover, the human eyes light-sensing cells are tucked behind other layers of tissue, which creates a slight distortion. That's not an optimal optical arrangement, but that's how we evolved. Octopus eyes don't have either of these problems. The eyes of octopuses and humans came to be by way of different evolutionary path; and here we all are.20

Responding to Bill Nye’s assertion, internal medicine physician Dr. Tommy Mitchell of Answers in Genesis, who did a detailed presentation on the supposed evolution of the human eye and its marvelous design at our April 2014 Design(er) Conference, explains that the human eye is optimally designed to provide vision for us:

It is unfortunate that Nye continues to spout the same old tired arguments against our marvelous Creator. This time, as so many evolutionists have before, attacking the design of the human eye.

Nye's claim is that our eyes are evidence of poor design. This is based on the fact that in our eyes the photoreceptors face away from the light. Thus the light has to pass though layers of optic nerve fibers to reach its target (the photoreceptors). He further explains that our eyes are badly designed because these optic nerve fibers then have to leave the eye via the "blind spot" to go on to the brain. He claims that this "blind spot" is evidence of poor design.

As if this were not enough, Nye then repeats the claim that the eyes of an octopus are a better design than human eyes! As special as octopus eyes seem to be to the evolutionist, there is not one reason to claim their eyes are of better design. He is merely repeating what others have said (incorrectly, I might add) before.

Mr. Nye sees himself as one of the trumpeters for "real science," and thus feels the need to call out those who do not accept evolution as being unable to correctly understand science. This being the case, Mr. Nye displays a very poor understanding of his own field of engineering (He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering). If he understood engineering better (rather than being a TV personality), he would understand very quickly that the human eye is a marvel of engineering.

I personally am glad that our Creator God designed our eyes and not the evolutionists that constantly take Him to task. The inverted retina design of our eyes is exquisite and perfectly suited for human vision.

If the photoreceptors in our eyes did face forward, we would have insurmountable problems maintaining the integrity of the photoreceptors themselves. The metabolic and repair needs of these photoreceptors are so high that they require a high level of oxygen and nutrients. In addition there are many functions of the retinal pigment layer that help remove harmful chemicals that result from the action of light on the photoreceptors. Further, this high level of activity produces heat. The blood flow in the choroid layer helps the retina to maintain its temperature properly. If you separate the photoreceptors from the pigment epithelium and the choroid, the retina could not function.

And as if this were not enough, Mr. Nye completely ignores (or is perhaps unaware of) the presence of Müller cells in the retina. These amazing structures act like fiber optic channels that guide light to the photoreceptors. The cells help filter out light “noise” and help keep the image on the retina sharper.

So if Mr. Nye's engineering expertise is such that he would prefer a retina design that would put the photoreceptors, the pigment epithelium, and the choroid on the surface of the retina rather than facing the rear, he has difficulties to overcome. How is bathing the inner surface of the retina with blood better than having a few blood vessels on the retina that converge in the optic disk. That would place an opaque layer of blood between the incoming light and the photoreceptors!

Further, this absurd claim that the "blind spot" is evidence of poor design again calls into question Mr. Nye's understanding of engineering. You see, we have two eyes, with some overlap in the fields of vision of each eyes. Our brain processes the information from our retinas with such awesome speed and precision, the "blind spot" is more than compensated for.

As a physician (and that requires a doctorate, Mr. Nye), and one who has studied the human body for 40 years, I can only say that our wonderful Creator is a much better engineer than Bill Nye. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Dr. Tommy Mitchell presents a lecture titled “Evolution: The Eyes Don’t Have It.”

Evolution and Medicine

Bill Nye claims that evolution is the essential foundation for all science, including medicine. He writes, “Medical treatments have improved drastically, and evolutionary research is a major reason why,” adding, “It guides modern medicine.”21 His examples of how evolution enlightens medicine include the same poor examples we usually hear about. For instance, he says animal-derived hormones like insulin work in humans because we all share an evolutionary ancestor. Yet this, like the fact that all living things utilize the same genetic code, is a consequence of the common designs we expect from our common designer God even at the biochemical and genetic level.

Other examples include cancer cells that mutate into more chemo-resistant varieties and flu viruses that mutate rapidly, requiring new batches of vaccines each year. And of course he spends a lot of ink on the antibiotic-resistant populations of bacteria that develop to replace less-resistant ones. These examples supposedly show that viruses and bacteria (and even cancer cells!) evolve. Yet these examples hinge on genetic variations within a particular kind of organism or virus (or cancer cell line)—not evolution of new kinds of organisms. Variations within created kinds is scientifically observable, whereas neither the evolution of new, more complex kinds of organisms nor a mechanism by which it could occur has ever been observed.

Despite these rather obvious distinctions from molecules-to-man evolution, Nye insists, “Today’s medical practitioners can draw on predictions made by our understanding of evolution.”22 This comment reminds me of some of the ways evolutionary thinking has instead led many medical scientists to wrong conclusions with significant consequences for their patients. For the best part of the 20th century, the appendix—which based on its microscopic structure appeared to have some role in the human immune system—was casually regarded as an evolutionary leftover without any better function than to give an abdominal surgeon something extra to remove when visiting a person’s abdomen for other reasons. Children with a prominent but harmless thymus gland, another organ with immunologic functions, were irradiated to destroy this supposed evolutionary vestige.

Antibiotic resistance, touted as the great example of evolution in action by minds as scientifically astute as Hillary Clinton’s,23 has been made arguably worse by doctors who thought of it as an evolution problem rather than simply recognizing it as an example of natural selection of existing variations. Bill Nye perpetuates this outdated medical claim in Undeniable by his contention that the goal of antibiotic therapy is to wipe out every offending bacteria, lest any of the resistant ones remain alive. Recent research suggests this notion is a bad idea as the resistant bacteria can seldom be eradicated with medication, and other bacteria needed to compete with the survivors until the immune system can finish them off are also destroyed by a too-vigorous approach.24 (You can read more about this in “Traditional Treatments for Infections May Strengthen Antibotic Resistance.”)

Like all evolutionists, he has no way to explain how any kind of living organism can acquire the necessary genetic information to evolve into a new and more complex kind of creature. Observable variations that result from reshuffling and sorting existing information within a created kind of organism do not support the claims of molecules-to-man evolution, despite Nye’s claims. Science does not demonstrate that mutations could provide the raw material to ascend the evolutionary ladder. Natural selection is not the same thing as evolution.

The Crux of the Matter

The evidence does not support Mr. Nye’s position.

The crux of the conflict between Nye and AiG—from Bill Nye’s Undeniable point of view—is that Nye insists failure to accept molecules-to-man evolution over millions of years as the foundation for all of science will cause scientific progress to grind to a halt. Recognizing the difference between testable, observable science and unobservable, untestable origins science as well as the difference between variations within kinds and evolution of new, more complex kinds of organisms, we of course disagree. The evidence does not support Mr. Nye’s position.

The scientific evidence does support creation as a viable model in this modern scientific age. Yet this conflict is about an issue that transcends even the scientific evidence. The crux of the conflict—from our point of view—is that Bill Nye is demanding Christians disregard God’s authority and the authority of His Word in the Bible in favor of the fallible opinions of men. He demands Christians refrain from teaching children that there is a higher authority—God—with more knowledge than fallible human beings, and that He has provided a true, and humbling, history of our origins in the Bible.

Finally, Nye’s accusation that Bible-believing young-earth creationists stifle scientific curiosity and are anti-science is wrong. Bible-believing creationists are not anti-science. In fact, we understand that science, which we love to study, works because God did create a universe that is consistent and logical and follows the natural laws God created to govern it. Nothing about belief in the biblical model of origins will stifle anyone’s scientific curiosity. Whether we as creationists study science out of curiosity about how things work, the practical desire to discover the causes of and solutions to problems, or to discover more about the wonders that God created—we are not anti-science!

For more information

. . . about Bill Nye:

. . . about predictions:

. . . about medicine and health:

. . . about microbiology:

. . . about vestigial organs:

. . . about rock layers, dating methods, and age of the earth:

. . . about fossils and transitional forms:

. . . about human evolution:

. . . about the genetic code:

. . . about the origin on life:

. . . about variation versus the evolution of complexity:

. . . about climate change

This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Answers in Depth

2014 Volume 9

Footnotes

  1. Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, ed. Corey S. Powell (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014), 10.
  2. Ibid., 16.
  3. Ibid., 18.
  4. That the framers of the Constitution intended the meaning of science seen in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary rather than the common modern usage is confirmed by the fact they paired it with arts: “promote the progress of Science and the Useful Arts.” The 1828 Dictionary definitions of science included “knowledge” in the general sense, “ a collection of the general principles and leading truths relating to any subject” in the philosophical sense, “arts derived from precepts or built on principles,” and “any art or species of knowledge.” Art referred more to the application of knowledge and science to knowledge itself.
  5. Nye, Undeniable, 9.
  6. Ibid., 285.
  7. Ibid., 286.
  8. Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge, Inside the Nye Ham Debate (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2014), 246.
  9. Nye, Undeniable, 282–283.
  10. Georgia Purdom, as quoted in Elizabeth Mitchell, “Attempts to Trace Life Back to Chemical Origins Maps the Willful Ignorance of the Hunters,” Answers in Genesis, April 24, 2014, https://answersingenesis.org/origin-of-life/primordial-soup/attempts-trace-life-back-chemical-origins-maps-willful-ignorance-hunters/.
  11. Nye, Undeniable, 9.
  12. Of course, there were plenty of scientists and scientific advancements prior to 1956, which was the first time anyone (namely Clair Patterson) proposed the earth’s age was 4.5 billion years old!
  13. Nye, Undeniable, 117–118.
  14. Ibid., 14.
  15. Ibid., 85–86.
  16. Ham and Hodge, Inside the Nye Ham Debate, 9.
  17. Nye, Undeniable, 46.
  18. Ibid., 53.
  19. Ibid., 55.
  20. Ibid., 167.
  21. Ibid., 193–194.
  22. Ibid., 194.
  23. As discussed in “Priesthood of Science,” Hillary Clinton said, “I believe in evolution. . . . I am grateful that I have the ability to look at dinosaur bones and draw my own conclusions. . . . [Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are evidence that] evolution is going on as we speak.” Quoted in “Hillary Clinton on Teaching Evolution,” Physics Today (blog), January 2008, http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/10.1063/PT.4.1041.
  24. This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider.

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