I love watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Back in the 1990s, I would get up on Saturdays and watch Bill Nye’s science television show on PBS. It was fast-paced, slapstick comedy, but it was a very clever way to get young people excited about science.
Recently, while most folks were watching Bill Nye enter the realm of Dancing with the Stars (watch Bill go!….Bill! Bill! Bill!), here at Veracity, we have noticed a more serious “cha-cha” move by the geekie-favorite Science Guy. It appears that Bill Nye has entered the fray about the status of education in America. Nye is concerned that Americans might be losing the innovative edge in science and technology. What is the culprit for Nye? “Creationism.”
For Bill Nye, teaching kids that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that evolution is false is doing tremendous harm. If adults want to believe in these crazy ideas then fine, but Nye does not want American parents to foist such absurd ideas on children. Nye says that we need kids who are not absolutely confused and frustrated over science. We need a new generation of scientists and engineers to lead us and continue the American technological lead. Young Earth Creationism, on the other hand, threatens to squash the future of American prosperity.
In a recent interview on comedian and atheist Bill Maher’s television show (CAUTION: some objectionable language!!!), Maher talks with Bill Nye about the problem. As Maher joked with Bill Nye about the scientific consensus that the earth is millions of years old, you are “simply quoting facts, how much do we really know about facts?”
The Future of “Creation Science”??
Though Bill Nye is not as extreme as Bill Maher, he does raise a curious question: Where is creation science actually heading? Leaving aside the many, many Christian believers who are active in the mainstream sciences, there appears to be a growing minority number of trained scientists who are embracing the type of “mind-boggling confusion” that Bill Nye finds so troubling, and yet this new breed of six-24-hour-day creation scientists are acting without apology:
Jason Lisle, (check out the video), the new director of the Institute for Creation Research, earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado. Lisle debates creation oriented topics across the world and is prominent in many homeschool curriculums.
Kurt Wise is the director of Creation Research at Truett-McConnell College. Wise earned his PhD in geology from Harvard University, and sat under the teaching of Stephen Jay Gould, the famed American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist.
David DeWitt chairs the departments of biology and chemistry at Liberty University, which boasts the largest online student enrollment of any university in the world, over 100,000 students. Dewitt earned his PhD at Case Western Reserve University and has an NiH grant supporting his research on Alzheimer’s disease.
I am really curious. What would Bill Nye think of any one of these guys? Could Bill Nye and a “Bible guy” work together in any way? Would Nye be able to trust these men as scientific colleagues or would he dismiss them as pseudo-scientific cranks? Does the existence of this new breed of scientists prove Nye’s thesis that America has indeed gone astray, or is something new and “exciting”, according to Young Earth advocates, going on here?
Reinventing Science: Harmful Diversion or Exciting Exploration into New Vistas?
I remember reading an essay a few years ago by Charles Clough, another 24-hour six-day creationist, who had studied atmospheric science at MIT. Clough argued that the whole framework of modern science had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The dissolution of Western society brought about by Darwinian evolutionary theory demonstrates the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of modern science. Scientists must start over and develop a new science from scratch, based on the principles established in a traditional reading of the Scriptures regarding a Young Earth of less than 10,000 years.
My reaction is that if that is what folks like Lisle, Wise, Dewitt, and McIntosh are trying to do, then they surely have their work cut out for them. But as a mentor of mine once remarked to me, “if these type of creationists were really onto something, they would be winning Nobel Prizes in science.” Despite the strong current moving against them, this group of contrarian thinkers are lending the air of credibility to the Young Earth Creationist movement which has long suffered from a complex of not really having too many real scientists to go to in order to reinforce their case. But what does their acceptance among the many Christian homeschool groups and churches that encourage them indicate? Is evangelical Christianity failing to properly integrate the life of faith with the facts of science? Or is this new movement a revolution in thinking that is reinvigorating the Christian mind?
Alas, is this new breed of scientists standing on the cusp of something truly great, scientifically exciting, and God-glorifying, or is Bill Nye correct in implying that this is all simply a colossal waste of intelligent mind?
Think about that the next time you dance the “cha-cha”.
For you Dancing with the Stars fans, the word as of late September, 2013 is that Bill Nye’s dancing career might be cut short due to a torn ligament. Dancing with science appears to be a dangerous enterprise. UPDATE, OCTOBER 2013: It looks like Bill Nye’s televised dancing career after his torn ligament has come to an end.
Here is the 2012 video that originally made Bill Nye into a controversial figure. Here he lays out his case in a more sober manner less spoiled by the shenanigans of Bill Maher:
The folks at the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis, including Dr. David Menton and Dr. Georgia Purdom, took the most exception to Bill Nye’s video. Dr. Menton taught biological anatomy for many years and Dr. Purdom currently studies the propagation of pathogenic bacteria:
For an Old Earth Creationist perspective, below is Dr. Jeff Zweerink from Reasons to Believe, arguing that Bill Nye’s definition of creationism is too restrictive.