Bill Nye & Atheism’s Attack on Science

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Image Credit: James Grebey, Inverse, 2016

This is an article that I picked up at the pro-Intelligent Design website Evolution News penned by Casey Luskin titled “Real Science vs. Bill Nye the “Science” Guy.” I haven’t included the entire, somewhat lengthy, article, so please visit the original source for the whole story. Personally, I am pro evolution so I do not accept many of the claims the original author makes. To the contrary, I like Alvin Plantinga’s argument from evolution against naturalism (atheism). Also consider the argument for theism from evolution as presented by Barrow and Tippler. Nonetheless, what I liked most about Luskin’s piece was its explication on how atheists, especially those who are scientists or are portrayed at being the face of science, masquerade their naturalistic, materialistic, nihilistic philosophies as science itself. As the author shows, Bill Nye is a classic example of this. Though Nye claims to be an agnostic, the philosophical views he openly expresses are thoroughly atheistic. According to Luskin,

If you grew up among Generation Xers and Millennials as I did, then you probably loved watching Bill Nye the Science Guy on TV. Nye’s quirky, off-beat, after-school PBS show achieved no small feat: It made kids laugh and got them to appreciate science — and they didn’t even realize they were learning.

While most Bill Nye-fans — myself included — enjoyed his wacky experiments and corny jokes, few if any realized there was another side to Bill, one that he didn’t start unveiling until just the past few years: Nye advocates a hardline, intolerant, and divisive materialistic worldview view that stands diametrically opposed to the values shared by most Americans.

In 2010 he was named “Humanist of the Year” by the American Humanist Association. In his acceptance speech, he explained his deeply nihilistic views:

I’m insignificant. … I am just another speck of sand. And the earth really in the cosmic scheme of things is another speck. And the sun an unremarkable star. … And the galaxy is a speck. I’m a speck on a speck orbiting a speck among other specks among still other specks in the middle of specklessness. I suck.”

Nye again made headlines in 2012, after declaring that parents who “deny” evolution should not instill in their children their own beliefs about life’s origins:

When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in [evolution], it holds everybody back. Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science. … And I say to the grown ups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”

In 2014, Nye gained even more notoriety by participating in a debate watched by millions of people, pitting him against a famous young earth creationist, Ken Ham. While Nye deftly argued that the universe is billions of years old, he also highlighted his materialistic view that life is the result of strictly unguided natural causes. He then set out to capitalize on that publicity by releasing a book at the end of last year, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

Undeniable promotes the standard dumbed-down atheistic narrative about science, society, and evolution – except now his book is influencing younger thinkers who mistakenly think Nye is an objective source of information for everything about science.

On the first page, we learn that for Nye, evolution answered his biggest questions about life, the universe, and the meaning of everything. “As I learned about evolution and descent by natural selection, the answers fell into place,” he writes. “After all, evolution made us who we are.”

Later, Nye reveals that his view that humans “suck” comes directly from his study of evolution: “As I learned more about evolution, I realized that from nature’s point of view, you and I ain’t such a big deal.” According to evolution, Nye says, “humankind may not be that special.

And why aren’t we special? Under Nye’s nihilistic thinking, “evolution is not guided by a mind or a plan,” and nature even shows “lack of evidence of a plan.” For Nye, “Every other aspect of life that was once attributed to divine intent is now elegantly and completely explained in the context of evolutionary science.

Under Nye’s outlook, even humanity’s advanced abilities, like our moral codes and selfless altruism, are not special gifts that show we were made for a higher purpose. Rather, “Altruism is not a moral or religious ideal, no matter what some people might tell you,” for human morality is merely a “biological part of who or what we are as a species.”

I’ve tried my best to engage some of these challenges elsewhere. Regarding Nye’s conflation of evolutionary theory with his atheistic views see my article on Evolutionism. Regarding Nye’s views on morality, he commits the genetic fallacy. Also see my essay that argues for moral realism.

Moreover, Nye cannot live consistently with his philosophy. In similar way to other atheists, Nye defiantly lives his life as if it is imbued with meaning and purpose, even though he admits his own life “sucks.” The logical extension to this premise is that the atheist must live in a sort of self-delusion that falsely convinces him or her that what he or she does in life has some meaning. One, therefore, ought to credit Nye for his honesty that if atheistic materialism is true, then life is ultimately meaningless and devoid of any meaning. Many atheists will try to skirt around/sugarcoat that fact in debates and discussions.

Nonetheless, quite the irony, however, is that one could argue that Nye’s worldview actually attacks science. If life is purposeless, and if the universe exists for no reason whatsoever, why suppose the things within it yield anything valuable, including science? Thus, on Nye’s “atheistic” view, scientists themselves, along with all other human beings, are no more than meaningless “specks of sand” that “suck” engaging in just another pointless discipline we call science. Christian and scientists Neil Shenvi explains the obvious implications,

“If atheism is true, then the universe is one without ultimate… meaning, significance, and accountability. When you die, you rot. When everyone you love dies, they rot. Two hundred years hence, no one -not even your own descendants- will remember you. And a few billion years from now, when the universe undergoes heat death and all the stars burn out, none of your choices will have made even the slightest difference.”

So much then for science, and so much for Bill Nye the Science Guy.



10 responses to “Bill Nye & Atheism’s Attack on Science

  1. The reason we even have science is because the belief in a Creator convinced people we should expect predictable and repeatable phenomena, consistent with having been designed with specific capabilities. If they believed something from nothing were possible, there’d be no reason to assume such science was a necessary part of reality, because then any anything could just happen no matter what processes were typically involved. This isn’t some Christian revisionist propaganda, non Christian historians acknowledge that the premises of Christianity were the greatest influence for scientific discovery being possible.
    People had seen for all of history that things happen dependent of specific reactions to other things in nature, but it wasn’t until people carefully considered what was written in the bible that experimental and repeatable science as we know it now started. Clearly just seeing a correlation with things in nature wasn’t enough to conclude there were more complex things going on, without needing to deduce there is a creator. Greek natural philosophy knew there was a dependent relationship between things observed in nature, which of course contributed much to the discovery of science as well, but they never developed methods of experimentation to discover the fundamental processes for how things work. The bible taught that there is order in reality produced by an orderly being who wants us to rejoice in his creation as a testament to his wisdom and power. This influenced scientists to discover how things worked. Islam taught that Allah could do and change anything as he pleased so there was no need to see how things worked in nature. Hindu religions taught that this reality is an illusion. Polytheistic religions had no reason to assume there was a consistently working universe, because different deities had designed different phenomena and were constantly in conflict with one another. There’d be no one keeping things stable and consistently designed if there were so many creators making things work any number of ways, and starting conflicts, leaving the universe to fend for itself. That’s why most of known science was discovered by Christians. Everything in the universe works a specific way because of how they are designed, and is why the vast majority of scientists who have lived were convinced that it’s all more evidence for God.
    Bible believing scientist discoveries.
    Physics: Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Maxwell, William Thompson.
    Chemistry: Robert Boyle, John Dalton, William Ramsay.
    Biology: John Ray, Carolus Linnaeus, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Rudolf Virchow, Louis Agassiz, Edward Blyth.
    Geology: Nicolaus Steno, John Woodward, David Brewster, William Buckland, Georges Cuvier.
    Astronomy: Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, William Herschel, Edward Maunder.
    Mathematics: Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Leibniz

  2. “….however, is that one could argue that Nye’s worldview actually attacks science. If life is purposeless, and if the universe exists for no reason whatsoever”.

    Nye is pretty spot on, it is just your interpretation that is faulty. The very basics of life is to survive and procreate. Everything else we do is done to give life purpose or to pass the time. While we are here, we might as well do something! Do you not blog because you want to do something you deem meaningful?

    Science or knowledge is something we can pass on to future generations.

    • “The very basics of life is to survive and procreate.”
      Really? From where did this “desire” or “necessity” to survive and procreate, and indeed life itself, come from? Just unguided and Inert chemical processes, I suppose?

      • That’s a great question! There are those who offer no better answer to a mystery other than by appealing to an even bigger mystery! But we are not here to discuss the origins of life, we are here to discuss the meaning of life.

        It’s amazing though, bacteria, plants and animals all seem follow the same concept of surviving and reproducing! Maybe that’s just the nature of life, unguided chemical processes. It is quite interesting how the color black will absorb the heat and energy from the sun and the color white will reflects the sun’s light and energy. Do you find that a guided process? How about dripstones in a cave? Guided?

        • All natural processes, including your examples of heat and light from the sun, or dripstones forming in caves, only arise and exist because certain fixed laws of physics, chemistry, etc., control them. Laws cannot invent themselves, but require a lawgiver. I wonder who or what that might be?
          By the way, have you any thoughts on the meaning of life, or do you just accept that it is totally meaningless? If it is the latter, why is it so important, or even necessary, to pass on any knowledge to future meaningless generations?

          • Ah, appealing to a greater mystery! Let’s focus on what is factually true, is it an intelligent who or what? How can we claim phenomena is a who? or what? Why can’t it be just natural process that has no “intelligence”.

            If it has intelligence, than would it be expected that this intelligence should have known that some chemical processes can be deadly or cause sickness/cancer?

            Is there an ultimate meaning of life? Has some “lawgiver” placed us in a sort of terrarium? That’s a pretty big claim. I don’t find life meaningless but is there an ultimate purpose? If there is an ultimate purpose, I am not aware of it. Like I said, we live, we eat, we procreate, we die. Who knows how long we have but we are curious creatures and find meaningful things to do with our time. Part of the meaningful things we do is to teach our offspring how to survive. We teach them the skills they need.

            It may be comforting for you to feel that there is something greater than yourself, that set the universe in motion and created this “home” for you. Not everyone shares your belief. I quite enjoy the fact that we are curious beings and that not every question needs to be answered with the god of the gaps.

            • You say that it could just be a “natural process that has no intelligence” – if so, then where does our own intelligence come from?
              You say “I quite enjoy the fact that we are curious beings” – but why should that be so? How can mindless atoms and molecules somehow blindly “evolve” into intelligent creatures and thereby become curious?
              Finally, if life has no purpose, why even bother to reproduce and inflict future “meaningless” lives with the same mediocrity and pointlessness? Rather selfish isn’t it?
              Just because you are personally not aware of an “ultimate purpose” does not mean there isn’t one – it simply means you have not discovered it yet.

              • My intelligence comes from various sources such as my brain 🙂 But I’m quite certain you are looking to go for me to go through a regress to the “initial” source. I don’t have an answer for the question, I will always be curious about the answer but it serves me no purpose to insert a god into everything I can’t answer.

                “but why should that be so? How can mindless atoms and molecules somehow blindly “evolve” into intelligent creatures and thereby become curious?”

                Are we curious humans? are we intelligent?
                The answer is yes to these questions. Does it matter how we attained these traits? I guess for you, the gap in our understanding of the process points to a god. To me, it just points to a gap in our understanding.

                “Finally, if life has no purpose, why even bother to reproduce and inflict future “meaningless” lives with the same mediocrity and pointlessness? Rather selfish isn’t it?”

                Do you find it selfish that bacteria, plant and animal life..etc reproduce? You took what I wrote added terms such as life being mediocre, pointless and selfish, Could this be a reflection on how you view life? It certainly isn’t my view.

                “Just because you are personally not aware of an “ultimate purpose” does not mean there isn’t one”

                Exactly! I do things to give my life purpose but don’t appeal to a bigger mystery as a purpose giver.

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