Bill Nye’s Undeniable and the Fear of Death

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Recently we published an extensive review of the fallacious claims in Bill Nye’s new book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation in which Mr. Nye details why he considers molecules-to-man evolution to be undeniable. If evolutionary beliefs are inseparable from science and necessary for scientific progress as Bill Nye asserts, why does he think resistance to evolutionary thinking is so common? He actually tells us, and his thought-provoking comments are worth exploring.

Bill Nye indicates in his book that he “thought a lot about the fear of death” after his debate with Ken Ham.1 I asked Mr. Ham if he had any idea why the debate might have triggered that line of thinking, and after pondering the question he recalled this:

During the question time in the debate, Bill Nye was asked where matter came from—he said this was a mystery. Bill Nye also talked about the joy of discovery. During my short response time, I asked Bill, from his perspective of naturalism, what was the point of the joy of discovery if he knows that when he dies he won’t ever know he even existed—also when people who knew Bill die they won’t know he existed—and eventually everyone dies and no one will know anyone existed—so what is the point of the joy of discovery? I believe this was a time when I saw for a fleeting moment what seemed like a shocked look on Bill’s face. It was the moment when in a sense, I was forcing him to face his mortality and the ultimate end of his purposeless, meaninglessness philosophy!

By the time Bill Nye wrote Undeniable, he had not only connected fear of death with rejection of evolution but even explained this seemingly (to him) “irrational” notion as a result of human evolution! He writes this explanation of why he thinks we, like so many others, believe in the Creator God of the Bible and reject evolution:

I thought a lot about the fear of death after I debated Ken Ham.

There is a deep-seated reason why intelligent, sensible people suddenly recoil from objective evidence when the topic turns to evolution. I think fear of death has a lot to do with it.2

The fear of death, combined with a novel ability to envision the future, enabled humans to outcompete other species. But that combination also makes us unable to believe that what we see around us is all there is.3

We are products of evolution and as such, we can’t believe it’s all over, when it’s all over.4

You see, Bill Nye attributes all that exists to evolution. Like other evolutionists, he blindly exalts evolution as the undeniable explanation not only for every bit of biology but also for every mental, emotional, and spiritual characteristic of human beings. Even our thoughts and behavior must have an evolutionary explanation, so the persistent reluctance of a large portion of our modern civilized American population to accept an evolutionary explanation for human existence, as popular polls repeatedly demonstrate, must be explainable by evolution too.

Therefore, Bill Nye believes evolution-deniers are driven by their highly evolved human brains coupled with an evolutionarily useful fear of dying to reject a molecules-to-man explanation for human origins. He thinks we only believe in a Creator God who made us and has plans for our future after this earthly life because we think we are too special to have simply evolved and certainly too special to be finite beings. In other words, he attributes the idea that God would find us worthy of continued existence after death to the highly evolved state of the human brain. (This, incidentally, further demonstrates Bill Nye’s misunderstanding of the Christian faith, for from the Bible we learn that we humans are sinful creatures unworthy of eternal life, but that eternal life is available to us only through God’s grace and mercy rooted in the sacrificial death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.)

Bill Nye expects the drive to survive and reproduce to be the driving force behind all that we think and do.

Bill Nye expects the drive to survive and reproduce to be the driving force behind all that we think and do. Along that line, Bill Nye also claims in Undeniable that the desire for reproduction-related activities is foremost in the minds of most people “all day, all the time.”5 To that claim, we would note that such preoccupation is not at all the way God wishes us to live our lives. God designed us to be able to reproduce and instituted that as just one of the purposes of marriage. In the context of marriage (which is intended to mirror the relationship of Christ to His bride, the church), the intimacy that the sexual relationship adds is a wonderful aspect that God has also given to us to enjoy, but to be constantly preoccupied with such matters is a perversion of God’s good design. God cares not only about what we do but also what we think. The abundant life He offers us in Jesus Christ is not only a life characterized by peace with God but also by purity, even of purity thought (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8–9).

But let’s return our focus to the “fear of death.” Bill writes that after the debate he tried to understand why “intelligent, sensible people” would reject the evolutionary evidence he considers undeniable. He indicates that evolution has made us preoccupied with two things—sex and fear of dying. It is very unfortunate that Bill misunderstands the message of the gospel so very much that he attributes our motives in sharing the truth that God’s Word is wholly trustworthy to an arrogant reluctance to accept his view of humanity as highly evolved pond scum. But the real irony is that, for evolution, death is the hero of the piece.

Evolution is, truly, a religion of death. Time, chance, and death are its trinity, supposedly ruling over all that ever has or ever will exist. Notwithstanding the misguided attempts of theistic evolutionists of various flavors to stuff evolutionary dogma into the Bible, the ultimate tenet of evolutionary philosophy holds that all life—including human life—came to be through naturalistic processes and will end just as surely with oblivion—a certain recycling of the atoms that make up our bodies and the end of all that a human body really is. Perhaps that is part of why Bill is so desperate to win the children of the civilized world to his evolutionary beliefs, to leave his mark on the world after he is gone.

Well, Christians understand that those who have repented of their sin and trusted Christ as their Savior need have no fear of death. The Bible indicates that Jesus Christ the Son of God is not only our Savior but also our Creator (Colossians 1:15–17). Our eternal future rests in the hands of our Creator who loves us and died to save us. Jesus Christ proved His divine power (Romans 1:4) over death—His own and ours (1 Corinthians 15:20–23)—when He rose from the dead after being crucified.

Evolutionists must claim death as their ally. Even some, who like evolution-rejecting old-earth progressive creationist Hugh Ross twist the Bible to try to make millions of years fit into it, claim death is our friend (as we discussed in “Examining Hugh Ross’s Navigating Genesis”) But God tells us that death is the enemy. Human and animal death entered this world as a result of man’s rebellion against our holy God. He declares that Jesus Christ has won the victory and will destroy death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

Death

Death, according to the Bible, is not our friend. But fear of death is not a result of evolution. Death is an intruder that entered the human experience as a result of the rebellion of Adam and Eve against our Creator God. Death is a reminder that we are sinful people, and that for all our efforts to delay death it is unavoidable. Even with the sure and certain hope of eternal lifethat comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,6 we naturally abhor death, if not for ourselves then for the pain it causes those we leave behind. But Jesus Christ, through His sacrificial death on the Cross and triumphant Resurrection, has defeated death and one day will destroy death forever.

We are not ruled by death, or by fear of death, but by our Creator, who has already proven His power over death.

We at Answers in Genesis are not driven to reject molecules-to-man evolution by our fear of death. (We reject it because it rests on a God-rejecting worldview and because it is unsupported by observational science.) But we are driven to share this truth by the desire to see all people—all children, all adults, including Bill Nye—come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and to glorify Him as Creator and Savior (Colossians 1:16–17). Knowing our place in eternity puts death—obviously a very important part of our lives and not something to be taken lightly—into its proper perspective. We are not ruled by death, or by fear of death, but by our Creator, who has already proven His power over death. He exhorts us to go into all the world to share the good news that Jesus Christ—not death and not evolution—is Lord.

Bill Nye’s book Undeniable, as we have discussed before, is undeniably inaccurate. Our extensive book review includes comments from various doctoral level scientists on the Answers in Genesis staff like Dr. Tommy Mitchell and Dr. Andrew Snelling, and it, along with our book Inside the Nye Ham Debate, will help you prepare yourselves for the many questions your friends and children may ask you as Undeniable makes the rounds. You can watch the debate itself and even get a DVD of the debate called Uncensored Science: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham or a boxed set containing the DVD and two books, Inside the Nye Ham Debate and Confounding the Critics.

But as you equip yourself with answers using these excellent resources, remain mindful of the heart of the matter: In the face of all this Bible-affirming evidence and discussion of the true nature of science, what a person believes about human origins depends in large part upon what he or she believes about God and God’s Word. What we believe about how we got here also affects how we answer life’s greatest questions about suffering and death and what will happen to us after we die. Evolution did not drive humans to fear death, but a healthy understanding of the origin of death and Jesus Christ’s victory over death is part of the toolkit that equips Christians who believe the Bible from the very first verse to face this life and the next with confidence and share with others the “reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Footnotes

  1. Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014), 175.
  2. Ibid., 175.
  3. Ibid., 179.
  4. Ibid., 180.
  5. Nye writes, “When we’re thinking about sex, what we’re really thinking about is what it would take to engage in activities (sex) that would lead to reproduction (babies). It goes on all day, all the time for most of us.” From Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, 176.
  6. Drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, many pastors use these biblically accurate words of comfort at the funerals of departed Christians: “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother (or sister) [name]; and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

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