Bill Nye: Science Guy or Secular Activist?

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We walked into a room full of people, young and old, who were eagerly awaiting their opportunity to see their favorite “science guy,” first on the big screen and then in person. Shortly after we took our seats, the directors took the stage to introduce a California premiere of their new documentary, Bill Nye: Science Guy, created with the purpose of battling what they see as an “anti-science epidemic” in America.

“Science is under attack,” one of the directors, David Alvarado, told the audience in the introduction of the film. At the film’s very start, it became clear that this would be a central theme that would appear throughout the movie. As the film progressed, it left no question in anyone’s mind about who these “science-attackers” were (biblical creationists) and who the hero of the plot was: Bill Nye, TV’s “the Science Guy.”

“This Is Anti-Science”

The film documents Mr. Nye’s recent exploits on his quest to convince the world of the reality of evolution and human-caused climate change. Featured prominently in the film are the Creation Museum and the famous debate that took place at the museum between Mr. Nye and AiG CEO/President Ken Ham in February of 2014, as well as Mr. Nye’s more-recent visit to the museum’s sister attraction, the Ark Encounter (2016), which included a personal tour of all three decks with Mr. Ham (you can watch the full, unedited video of their “tour-turned-debate”).

Bill Nye and Ken Ham at Ark Encounter

On day two of the Ark’s opening week in 2016, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” accepted Ken Ham’s invitation for a personal tour. But Mr. Nye decided to turn it into a debate instead and filmed the encounter for his documentary.

In both evolution/creation segments, Bill Nye and the other interviewees mince no words in describing what they think about creationists and their beliefs. The Creation Museum is called “Ken Ham’s anti-evolution institution,” a “temple of ignorance,” a “temple of lies,” and “irresponsible.” At one part of the film, Bill Nye, on a hill overlooking the Ark Encounter, points to the life-size recreation of Noah’s Ark and tells viewers, “This is anti-science.” Later, during his Ark Encounter tour with Ken Ham, Mr. Nye describes Answers in Genesis’ scientists as “incompetent.” Perhaps that comment says something about the professors at the secular universities who granted these “incompetent” scientists their PhDs. This is also a strange claim coming from someone who has a BS in engineering and is not a scientist, yet somehow feels qualified to condemn creationists as incompetent who work in fields related to the question of origins (biology, genetics, geology, and astronomy) and hold PhD degrees.

As Ken Ham pointed out repeatedly during his first debate with Bill Nye, being a creationist does not prevent someone from being a good scientist. He gave numerous examples of modern-day creation scientists who have contributed (or are currently contributing) to mainstream scientific research, such as the inventor of the MRI scanner, Dr. Raymond Damadian. In reality, believing in creation or evolution has nothing to do with a researcher’s ability to practice sound experimental science in the present. Where creationists and evolutionists differ is not in an understanding of natural laws and processes as they exist in the present, but in how one should interpret the past, either from a naturalistic (nature-only, antibiblical) starting point, or a supernatural (scriptural) starting point. From Bill Nye’s perspective, “competent scientists” only include those who accept a naturalistic (atheistic) explanation of origins. This is not an issue of scientific competence: it is a worldview conflict. Nye’s atheistic worldview is masquerading as “science.”

Despite the strong words against creationists by those appearing in the film, very little is offered as evidence to support the claim that biblical creation is “anti-science.” It seems as if the directors assumed that those watching the film would already agree with them, and thus did not feel the need to substantiate their claims with science.

More about the film Bill Nye: Science Guy

In a 25-minute Q&A session held at the film’s California premiere, Nye made some totally false claims about the Ark Encounter:

  1. “Mr. Ham is sort of going out of business” with the Ark. After an excellent first year of attendance, the Ark’s second year will actually see even more guests, especially with the explosion of motor-coach tours coming from around the country.
  2. Nye claimed that Ark staff interfered with his filming by having trucks go up and down a road near one of his filming locations with drivers supposedly putting their trucks into reverse to make a beep-beep noise and “interfere with the audio.” He charged that the Ark staff engaged in a conspiracy by not “playing fair.” On the contrary, the Ark staff member who coordinated Nye’s visit states that the Ark staff dealt with Nye and his film crew only with gracious hospitality and certainly did not position noisy trucks near Nye’s film crew to disrupt the recording.

The Bill Nye: Science Guy film makes much of both the Creation Museum’s and Ark Encounter’s portrayals of dinosaurs living alongside humans, mocking and ridiculing creationist belief. However, instead of addressing the strong evidence presented by the Creation Museum for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans (which includes a main exhibit on fossils and Noah’s Flood as well as an expansive display on dragon legends in the entryway), Mr. Nye simply asserts that this view contradicts “mainstream science” and that there is no evidence for such ideas. Mr. Nye is then shown telling museum guests that its model of “Lucy” as an ape contradicts “mainstream science,” and that conventional scientists depict Lucy as walking upright and less hairy. (It should be noted that pictures and recreations of such evolutionary interpretations of Lucy are included in the Creation Museum display, as well as reasons for the museum’s depiction of Lucy as an ape and not being in the family tree leading to humans.)

Obviously, biblical creationists (including the scientists and exhibit designers at the Creation Museum) recognize that their views contradict what is called “mainstream science” (which would be more accurately called, in this context, naturalistic/materialistic historical science). But they also recognize that when investigating the past, the evidence (including fossils of dinosaurs and so-called “ape-men”) is interpreted in the light of a person’s worldview. Instead of holding to the worldview of naturalism, creationists hold to a supernatural Creator and a belief in the authority of Scripture as supreme over all areas of knowledge. They believe that all human knowledge (including the process of science) must be subjected to the authority of Jesus Christ as Lord, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

This matter of interpretation, of course, is something that modern rationalist thinkers (including Mr. Nye) try to dismiss. The film shows a clip from the 2014 Nye/Ham debate, where both debaters give their answers to the question, “What, if anything, would ever change your mind?” While Mr. Nye claims that he would need sufficient evidence to cause him to change his mind about evolution, Ken Ham tells the audience that because of his Christian faith, nothing could cause him to change his mind about the truthfulness of Scripture. In the film, former director of the National Center for Science Education, Eugenie Scott, tells viewers that this was the moment of the debate that “crystalized the issue.”

The directors wanted to make the point that biblical creationists are closed-minded and unwilling to change their views. However, even with Nye’s own close-mindedness about origins, the film misses the point about the nature of scientific evidence. The main issue is actually about starting points. Ken Ham is willing to change his mind, for example, about specific creation models, but he is unwilling to reconsider his starting point: God’s revelation in Scripture. Though Bill Nye might be open to another naturalistic model of life’s origins, is he open to changing his mind about his starting point (i.e., worldview) of naturalism? It is clear that he is not.

Does Bill Nye Have a Problem with Religion?

In the same scene in which Bill Nye calls the Ark Encounter “anti-science,” he also makes the statement that he doesn’t have a problem with religion, just with the belief that the world is 6,000 years old.

Mr. Nye, as a secular humanist, insists that because science is “not supernatural,” any explanations that invoke miracles in the past are unscientific.

Though he claims to be tolerant toward people’s traditions and beliefs about God, meaning, and morality, Mr. Nye’s ideas are definitely hostile toward the biblical Christian worldview. The chief foundations of a biblical worldview are beliefs in God as a Creator of all things and the Bible as God’s inerrant Word. In contrast, Mr. Nye, as a secular humanist, insists that because science is “not supernatural,” any explanations that invoke miracles in the past are unscientific.1 Obviously, biblical creation holds that a miracle occurred in the past,—God’s creation ex nihilo is the reason everything exists. So Mr. Nye’s definition of science excludes divine creation a priori (that is, before he ever looks at the evidence). Though Nye might not have a problem with people believing in a distant creator who orchestrated things behind the scenes using natural processes (i.e., a belief called theistic evolution), he does have an issue with a belief in a personal Creator God that communicates truth to his creatures about their origins in an understandable fashion.

As Ken Ham made clear during his two debates with Mr. Nye, the idea of limiting science only to naturalistic causes for origins is really a type of secular philosophy (a form of religion) masquerading as “science,” and it is being forced onto generations of students in American public schools.

Nye does not have a problem with religion in one sense. One person featured in the film is a professing Christian, Dr. Francis Collins of the human genome project. Sadly, Collins states he believes in evolution and God, and that pseudogenes are supposedly great proof for evolution. (See one rebuttal of this claim at “The Human Beta-Globin Pseudogene Is Non-Variable and Functional.”) At the end of the film, Collins declares that the world needs a thousand more people like Bill Nye to educate people about science. But why would a professing Christian say the world needs more atheistic, naturalistic enemies of God and the Bible who deceive people about what science is?

Conclusion

With both Nye/Ham debates and this new film Bill Nye: Science Guy, I believe it has become increasingly clear that Bill Nye, the lovable 1990s kids TV show host, has become part of the larger shift in Western culture to a completely secular interpretation of reality (a worldview religion; see “Atheism Is Religion”), which has been happening over the last two centuries and has accelerated in the past few decades. This shift is evident from the recent de-Christianization of Western nations and the current threats to religious liberty that have been increasingly seen in the United States.

Evolutionist activists will marginalize and try to silence those who hold to different views.

Parents, pastors, and other Christian leaders must be alerted to the kind of message that films like Bill Nye: Science Guy are making loud and clear: secularists want the next generation of young people. Evolutionist activists will marginalize and try to silence those who hold to different views. Moreover, they want to train up a generation who will actively embrace and promote the secular worldview. This fact was made clear in the film when Bill Nye responded to a young Ark Encounter guest’s bold declaration that she “believes Mr. Ham,” but Nye replies that when she grows older, she should “make [her] own judgments” about the world and “go to college.” Gauging by the theatergoers’ reaction (laughter and applause), they grasped what Mr. Nye was saying. Today’s secular colleges are aggressively training young people to accept an anti-God, humanistic worldview (of course, this includes evolution), which is what the secularists want to happen to children from Christian families.

It can be easy to become discouraged and frustrated with what we are witnessing today with society’s growing secularization, as academics and media personalities like Bill Nye continue to push for even more of the secularization of Western culture and a rejection of biblical authority. We must remember, however, that our war is not with flesh and blood. Our fight is against principalities and powers of spiritual darkness (Ephesians 6:12), attempting to prevent people from seeing the light of the gospel. Let’s remember to pray for Bill Nye, the film’s directors, and those like them, that God might say to their hearts, “Let light shine out of darkness,” that they might come to see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4–6).

For information on the ministry of Genesis Apologetics, please see GenesisApologetics.com/about-us/.

Footnotes

  1. Mr. Nye makes both statements repeatedly throughout his “walking debate” with Ken Ham on the Ark Encounter (watch between 1:09:36 and 1:10:15 for one especially clear example). Also, when Mr. Ham challenges Mr. Nye about why he accepts this definition of science, Mr. Nye attributes it to Enlightenment philosophical thought (this very helpful exchange occurs between 1:18:43 and 1:21:37).

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