Bill Nye the Anti-Science Guy

Most people have heard about Bill Nye the Science Guy. He had a high-energy television show that ran for five years, teaching children about science with cool demonstrations, lots of great interviews, and extreme enthusiasm. Nowadays, he produces videos about science and talks about science at many different venues. While I always thought that his approach was a little short on substance, I have to admit that he has the ability to communicate great scientific truths in an exciting, easy-to-understand manner. It’s no wonder that he has a dedicated following of students and teachers.

He recently made a short video that has become extremely popular (the one posted above). It’s gotten more than 2,000,000 Youtube hits, and I have seen it all over Facebook and my E-MAIL inbox. When I watched the video, my first thought was, “How can someone who knows so much science be so confused as to what science is all about?” As I continued to watch the video, I wondered “How can someone who knows so much science be so misinformed when it comes to creationism?”

Let me start by explaining why that first question came to mind. In essence, Bill Nye is imploring creationists to stop teaching creation to their children. He is saying that we should accept the scientific consensus and move on. The vast majority of scientists today believe in evolution, so we should believe in evolution, too. When you first hear such a thing, it might sound reasonable, but it is amazingly anti-science. What if all scientists had followed the scientific consensus that Newtonian physics was a complete description of the universe, and there were just a few “nagging problems” that still had to be worked out? If they had done that, we would have never learned about quantum mechanics and relativity, which are the guiding theories for most of today’s physics.

What if all scientists had accepted the scientific consensus that it is impossible for a crystalline substance to have a structure that can be rotated by one-fifth or one-tenth and end up looking the same as it did before? If that had happened, we would have never learned about quasicrystals, for which Dr. Dan Shechtman won his Nobel Prize. What if all scientists had accepted the scientific law known as Bateman’s Principle? If they had, we would still be laboring under the false notion that males are promiscuous in their mating habits, while females are more choosy about their mates.

The fact is that those who go against the scientific consensus are often the ones who are responsible for propelling science forward, or at least correcting false notions that had been promulgated by science. To tell people to stop going against the scientific consensus, then, is one of the most unscientific things you can do.

Now let me move on to my second question: “How can someone who knows so much science be so misinformed when it comes to creationism?” In this short video, Nye makes several claims that are simply false. In fact, the first nine words in the video compose a sentence that is about as far from the truth as possible:

Denial of evolution is unique to the United States.

I don’t know whether or not Mr. Nye has ever left the United States, but if he has, he must have been very selective about where he went, because denial of evolution is worldwide. In a previous post, for example, I talked about speaking at KAIST, South Korea’s main science-and-technology-focused university. On the third floor of the student center (which is on campus), there are several permanent young-earth creationist displays. Can you imagine finding permanent young-earth-creationist displays at the student center of MIT in the United States? Yet there they were…in South Korea! You can find major creationist groups in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, etc., etc. In fact, the oldest anti-evolution group in the world isn’t found in the United States. It is found in the United Kingdom! If Bill Nye had bothered to learn what creationism is, he might have found this out.

Mr. Nye also seems to think that creationists don’t believe in science:

…the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.

Of course, that is also false. There are scientists doing scientific research every day who are creationists. There is an even longer list of scientists who are not necessarily creationists but who have doubts that evolution is the end of the story when it comes to origins. These scientists clearly believe in science, but they are not 100% behind evolution.

Nye then goes on to repeat an old chestnut that has been demonstrated wrong time and time again:

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology.

If that were really true, what would happen to a poor student who is taught that evolution is incorrect and has been given detailed instruction in creationism? If evolution were the fundamental idea in biology, wouldn’t you expect the student to do very poorly in biology after high school? The fact is, however, that students who have been taught young-earth creationism excel in their advanced studies of biology (see here, here, and here, for example). The idea that these students could excel in their advanced biological studies while missing out on the fundamental idea in biology is just nonsense.

I could go on and on pointing out additional falsehoods that Mr. Nye promotes in this video, but let me close with just one more point. Mr. Nye ends the video in this rambling way:

It’s just really hard a thing, it’s really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I’m sure, will be, it just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.

If that’s really the case, then why worry? If there is no evidence for anti-evolutionism, and if it won’t exist in a couple of centuries, why all the fuss? Scientists believed in spontaneous generation for 2,000 years or so, and science progressed quite nicely over the same timeframe. If there are only going to be a mere 200 years before all of us anti-evolutionist nutjobs are gone, why worry? Why implore parents to keep their children in the dark when it comes to the serious scientific flaws with evolution? Why censor students? Why not encourage the debate so that the weakness in the anti-evolution side can be shown?

It is unfortunate that Bill Nye has decided that censorship is better than open academic debate, and it is even more unfortunate that he condemned a viewpoint that he obviously knows virtually nothing about. In my view, he’s no longer the “science guy.” As far as I am concerned, he is now the “anti-science guy.”


  1. gracekalman August 29, 2012 9:45 am

    There was a Yahoo news article about that video, and I posted a comment about its incorrectness and then recommended your blog. All before you even commented on it.

  2. Bruno Ping UK August 29, 2012 10:05 am

    First of all, congratulations for the excellent website!

    I work as a scientist in a Molecular Biology lab and I would have to say that the most fundamental idea in all biology or life sciences is DNA not evolution. I know I am slightly biased in my opinion because of my work but DNA it is what makes us all living organisms different and the same.

    Just by looking at the complexities of DNA and speculating how it possible came about in evolutionary terms is just mind boggling. So what came first? The chicken or the egg? The working DNA or the cell machinery?

    So fellow scientists saying that DNA is the product of evolution and chance is worst than ignorance. It is extremely biased prejudice.

    If anything, DNA has taught us that evolution in the form of random mutations leads to extinction – this is what most cancers are!

    IMHO evolution has been the most detrimental doctrine ever taught in schools and universities because it has stopped us asking further, deeper questions in the science realm. Evolution is the black hole of science – every intelligent question ends up being sucked in…

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 10:58 am

      Bruno, I agree that in many areas, evolution has been detrimental to science. Fortunately, there are scientists all over the world who have removed the blinders and are starting to do science from a more rational perspective.

  3. Jason Roehl August 29, 2012 10:23 am

    If I remember nothing else of my school days, I am thankful that I was taught first to be a skeptic in science class. Evolution has become an anti-skeptic religion. Too bad Bill Nye is drinking that KoolAid.

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 10:59 am

      You are absolutely right, Jason. Being skeptical is necessary in science, and Nye is most certainly not being skeptical when it comes to evolution!

  4. Timotheos August 29, 2012 11:08 am

    You might be interested in this article “Why Do We Invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology”, by Philip S. Skell.

    I heard him in an interview where he said that the lack of the theory of evolution to provide any practical discoveries actually falsifies it.

    Thanks for your blog, I look forward to every one of your articles.

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 11:14 am

      Thanks, Timotheos! I hadn’t seen that article before. I knew Philip S. Skell was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was overall anti-evolution. However, I had never read that piece.

  5. agatha August 29, 2012 11:28 am

    Would you please point me to a dissertation (from an R1 institution) in biology that provided evidence supporting new earth creationism while simultaneously refuting the theory of evolution?

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 12:00 pm

      Agatha, do you think the scientific validity of a view depends on whether or not it is in a dissertation produced at a university whose main focus is academic research? That is a classic example of the Genetic Fallacy. The origin of an idea does not determine its merit. The evidence behind the idea determines its merit.

  6. agatha August 29, 2012 12:08 pm

    Well, then I’ll take an example of a dissertation from a regionally accredited university.

  7. agatha August 29, 2012 12:48 pm

    While no doubt interesting (and I sincerely promise to read it)this is not a research dissertation.

    You state “The fact is, however, that students who have been taught young-earth creationism excel in their advanced studies of biology (see here, here, and here, for example). The idea that these students could excel in their advanced biological studies while missing out on the fundamental idea in biology is just nonsense.”

    My problem is that the students in the examples you cite did not go on to actually study biology, rather they applied biology in further study (did the one actually go to medical school?).

    I’m interested in learning more about the kinds of biological research that doctoral students are doing in this field and I’m looking for the evidence that they are finding in biology that refutes the current scientifically accepted understanding of evolution.

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 1:07 pm

      Agatha, you didn’t stipulate that you wanted a research dissertation. If that’s what you want, look at the young-earth creationist research shown on this website. Many of the authors are professors or graduate students at accredited universities. You can also pick up a copy of The Journal of Creation. It has a lot of original research related directly to young-earth creationism, and many of the authors are also professors or graduate students at accredited universities.

      Two of the students I mention most certainly did study biology, and there was nothing “applied” about it. Note that the first link discusses a student who took marine biology and got one of the few A’s in the class. There’s nothing “applied” about marine biology. In addition, the student says she is currently studying cellular biology and doing very well. The student says she is planning to get an MD and a PhD in biology. I have no idea where she is in her education, but there is nothing “applied” about what she has done so far or what she is planning on doing. Also, the third link discusses a young lady who got a double-major in biology and chemistry. Once again, there is nothing “applied” about that. She did so well that she was accepted into a biological and biomedical sciences PhD program at Harvard. Obviously, both of these students did very well, despite the fact that they were educated as young-earth creationists in high school.

      If you are interested in the current original research that is being done from a young-earth creationist perspective, you should definitely read the two sources I gave you above.

  8. agatha August 29, 2012 1:46 pm

    Ok, we seem to be not communicating all that well. I’m looking for an empirical biology research study that is available in Dissertation Abstracts International that supports the young-earth view and refutes the commonly scientific understanding of evolution. You keep sending me to opinion/thought pieces. I want to see empirical research in biology.

    Becoming a paramedic or doctor is not the same as being a research biologist. I’m looking for some kind of evidence that young earth biologists do scientific biological research that meets at least two of the requirements for scientific research: it’s hypothesis driven,and replicable.

    I’m in a church pew every week, so I’m not hostile, but I admit that I struggle to understand how science and religion aren’t compatible. Just send me a link to one empirical biology research study so that I can understand how you can participate in the science of biology while refuting the underlying theory of evolution. It shouldn’t be that hard.

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 2:15 pm

      Agatha, I think you are not looking very carefully at the sources I gave you. The Answers Research Journal and the Journal of Creation both publish original, empirical scientific research that directly relates to the creation/evolution issue. This article, for example, uses geology field work to test a specific young-earth creationist model. This article reports on the results of radiometric dating that was done on fossil ammonites. This article uses an original creationist model for classification to determine relationships among certain hominids. Sure, there are some opinion pieces scattered about as well, but you find that in many scientific journals. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that original, empirical scientific research is being published.

      I agree that becoming a paramedic or a doctor is not the same as being a research scientist. However, in two of the three students I linked, that’s not what they are doing. The first student is going for a dual degree, MD/PhD, which is exactly the kind of degree that you get for doing medical research. The third student I linked to is getting a PhD in biological and biomedical sciences. That mean she will also be doing biological research.

      It’s not hard for me to give you empirical biology research studies that are done in a young-earth creationist view. I have done so. It’s seems to be hard for me to get you to read those studies, however. In addition, here is a young-earth creationist study published in the secular peer-reviewed literature:

      Chase W Nelson and John C Sanford, “The effects of low-impact mutations in digital organisms,” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling, 8:9, 2011

      The authors show that the gold-standard evolution computer simulation, Avida, gives no evolution when realistic mutation impacts are used. They also show that it uses 85% junk DNA, which is unrealistic.

      I don’t find you as hostile, Agatha. I just find that you don’t seem to be interested in reading the material I am providing for you.

  9. Jason August 29, 2012 1:46 pm

    Thank you for your blog entry Dr Wile.

    Speaking of Bill Nye…

    I saw this YouTube rebuttal by two PhD scientists, Dr. Georgia Purdom and Dr. David Menton earlier. Hope you don’t mind if I share?!

  10. agatha August 29, 2012 2:27 pm

    Finally! The Nelson and Sanford study comes close to what I was looking for. The others aren’t really what I would consider to be biology (more geology and perhaps anthropology). Thanks.

    • jlwile August 29, 2012 2:53 pm

      My pleasure, Agatha. You should really read a few issues of the Journal of Creation as well. There are many similar articles there.

  11. Mark August 29, 2012 2:58 pm

    Thank you Dr Wile. Only just came across your site and was starting to feel alone in this.
    It good to see an up to date educated person who I can refeer to who shares my thoughts.

  12. Jacob August 29, 2012 3:31 pm

    When I was in elementary school, “Bill Nye the Science Guy”‘s show was the most highly anticipated part of science class. That or “Magic School Bus”. Both didn’t focus primarily on evolution, but when it did, it was a carpet-bombing.

    When I was in middle to high school, I studied some of your material.

    Looking back, I learned more about science, and not even regarding creation/evolution, from you, Dr. Wile, than Bill Nye.

  13. Michael Snow August 29, 2012 9:25 pm

    Over at First Thoughts blog on First Things, this charge is noted: “…Nye was booed and walked out on by the audience at a lecture in Waco, Texas for stating (I kid you not) that the moon reflects the light of the sun and produces no light of its own.”
    I have never read or heard any of the leading Creationist groups make such a claim. But the source of the charge is impeccable: Think Atheist

    On the other hand, Creationism is less than honest when they claim to take the Bible literally. They certaninlly do not take the first two verses of Genesis that way.

    • jlwile August 30, 2012 7:30 am

      Thanks for your comment, Michael. I would seriously doubt that Nye got booed off the stage for saying the moon doesn’t produce its own light. As you say, I don’t know any creationist who thinks that, because the Bible doesn’t say that the moon produces its own light. It simply says the moon is a light for the night, which it is. It is a light for the night by reflecting the sun’s light.

      I wouldn’t be so sure that the link you provide gives the literal interpretation of Genesis 1. While Aalders might see the first part of Genesis 1:1 as an absolute statement and not a preface, many other serious theologians see it as a preface and not an absolute statement. See, for example, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary. Even if it were an absolute statement, I am not sure what one would conclude from it. If there were some “initial” creation prior to what is described in Genesis 1:2 and beyond, it would not affect the way we measure things such as the age of the earth. After all, Genesis 1:2 says the earth was “formless and void.” Thus, there were no rocks, no radioisotopes, nothing that would be used to date the earth. As a result, even if there were a huge amount of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, the earth should still appear young to all the dating techniques used by science.

  14. W_Nelson August 29, 2012 9:54 pm

    This makes no sense: how can something — a theory — that purports to address the creation of ALL life, for ALL time — be “the fundamental idea” when it is so comically vague?

    It _literally_ is simply the supposition that an UNKNOWN number of UNKNOWN changes in an UNKNOWN sequence over an UNKNOWN timeframe in UNKNOWN conditions produced an UNKNOWN number of intermediate species… and so on. We don’t have a full understanding of the nature of life, yet it purportedly speaks for every instant of time.

    It’s nonsensical.

    • jlwile August 30, 2012 7:32 am

      W_Nelson, I agree with you. However, when you can’t defend your ideas, one thing you can do is try to convince people that they are vitally important. Since evolutionists cannot defend their ideas well enough with the data, they try to overstate the importance of evolution, hoping that will make people believe in it.

  15. Dan August 30, 2012 1:54 am

    Thanks for that excellent analysis of Bill Nye’s video, Dr. Wile.

    It also seems to me that Bill Nye combined two different definitions of “evolution” into one word. He failed to differentiate between evolution in the strictest sense (i.e., change in allele frequency in a population) and Neo-Darwinian evolution (the hypothesis that all organisms evolved from a common ancestor via those processes), when he stated that “evolution” is the “fundamental idea in all of life science.” Would you agree with this?

    I also have a question about one of your statements. You wrote:

    “If evolution were the fundamental idea in biology, wouldn’t you expect the student to do very poorly in biology after high school?…The idea that these students could excel in their advanced biological studies while missing out on the fundamental idea in biology is just nonsense.”

    However, couldn’t it be the case that these students understood the principles of evolution and used those principles to complete the work in their studies, even though they didn’t really accept evolution as a correct explanation? In that case, one could argue that they still had to assume evolution in order to succeed in their studies (even though they didn’t necessarily believe it), which would seem to support Bill Nye’s point. What are your thoughts on that? As always, thanks for your help and insight.

    • jlwile August 30, 2012 7:49 am

      Thanks for your comment, Dan. I am not sure Nye does that. I don’t think he is saying that change in allele frequency is the fundamental idea in all of biology. When you use that definition of evolution, it applies only to things like population genetics and adaptation. It doesn’t touch fields like microbiology, taxonomy, etc. I think he is saying that evolution is the fundamental idea in all science because it purports to explain how all biological structures came to be. When you use it in that sense, it does touch all areas of biology.

      Your question about students is a good one. In a serious creationist education, students do learn the hypothesis of evolution well. Unlike most methods of education, however, a creationist education typically shows the data related to evolution, and that’s why most students given a creationist education don’t believe in evolution. However, that’s not what Nye is saying. He isn’t telling parents to teach their children evolution. He is telling them to stop teaching the students about creation, because in order for us to move forward in society, people must believe in evolution. Thus, he is saying stop using a creationist education, even one that teaches evolution properly.

      Also, while I understand what you are saying, supposed we apply your reasoning to another area of science, like physical chemistry. Suppose you were taught all about quantum mechanics so that you knew it very well but you didn’t believe it. Instead, you believed in some other theory that attempts to explain the atomic world. Now suppose you go to university to study physical chemistry. Do you really think you would do well in your university physical chemistry courses if you didn’t believe that quantum mechanics provides the best description of the atomic world? I don’t think so. An enormous amount of physical chemistry is built around thinking in terms of quantum mechanics. If you don’t believe in quantum mechanics, you won’t think in terms of it. As a result, I don’t see you doing well in physical chemistry. In the end, quantum mechanics really is the fundamental idea in physical chemistry (with some thermodynamics thrown in as well).

      Using that analogy, it seems to me that if you don’t believe in evolution, you won’t think in terms of evolution. As a result, you shouldn’t do well in your biology classes if evolution really is fundamental to biology.

  16. Felice Gerwitz August 30, 2012 7:25 pm

    I have to commend you, Jay, it isn’t often I read an entire blog post AND all the comments and answers made. Well done!

  17. Templar September 1, 2012 11:39 pm

    One has to wonder whether Bill Nye is giving his personal opinion, or if he’s just towing the party line.

    • jlwile September 2, 2012 6:57 am

      Templar, it really sounds as if he is speaking from his heart. However, he is an actor. In fact, he was a cast member on a comedy show called Almost Live. So while it’s possible he is putting on a performance in that video, it seems to me as if he is giving his own view.

  18. Mia September 2, 2012 11:59 pm

    Well, I agree with you as far as challenging the orthodox position. That’s good. For instance, there are several biblical scholars who now question whether Jesus was a historical person. They’re called mythicists. This blog is the best place to find out more about this growing trend among historians of the ancient near east. They are found all over the world too, just like YEC.

    • jlwile September 3, 2012 6:46 am

      Mia, I am glad that you see the importance of challenging the orthodox position. You do need to learn a bit more about Jesus mythicism, however, as it is definitely not growing. In fact, based on the overwhelming historical evidence, the number of people who try to claim Jesus never existed has been dwindling for some time now. It was very popular in the 1800s thanks to people like Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis, but it has taken just too many hits from the wealth of historical evidence that indicates Jesus was real. For example, near the turn of the century, Albert Schweitzer produced a book called The Quest of the Historical Jesus. The second edition of the book (I think it was published in 1926) took on the mythicists directly, showing that even back then, the historical evidence was against them. Since then, modern scholarship has pretty much destroyed the movement. A good general article about how the evidence goes against the mythicists can be found here. Much more detailed discussions can be found here, here, and here. I especially like what the second reference says:

      But I think the basic factuality of Jesus is undeniable unless we (a) do not understand the complexity of the literature and its context, or impose false assumptions and poor methods on it; (b) are heavily influenced by conspiracy theories that–to use a Humean principle—are even more incredible than the story they are trying to debunk; or (c) are trying merely to be outrageous. To repeat Morton Smith’s verdict on Wells, the idea that Jesus never existed requires the concoction of a myth more incredible than anything to be found in the Bible. [emphasis mine]

  19. Jason September 3, 2012 5:48 pm

    Nobody but a small minority, or those with an axe to grind, argues against an historical Jesus Christ these days.

    Even Wikipedia, whose contributions I find heavily biased, had much to say on this subject.

  20. Mia September 4, 2012 7:47 am

    Again, I partially agree with you. The second part of a) in your quote, “impose false assumptions and poor methods on it” is right. New Testament scholars today, who are dominated by American Christians and cultural Christians, impose the false assumption that the Gospels are historical biographies and Paul’s letters talk about an earthly Jesus of Nazareth. as for poor methods, all of the special criteria only NT scholars use, embarrassment, double dissimilarity, etc. are highly suspect.

    How do you explain that there is a different historical Jesus for every historical Jesus scholar?

    • jlwile September 4, 2012 12:46 pm

      Mia, I agree that we should not believe the majority of New Testament scholars simply because they are the majority. We should believe them because of the evidence they present, and when it comes to a historical Jesus, the evidence they present is quite conclusive.

      I am not sure where you get the idea that New Testament scholars are dominated by American Christians or cultural Christians, as nothing could be further from the truth. Barbara Aland, Klaus Berger, Hans Waitzand, and Peter Lampe were from Germany; Francis Karl Alter was from Silesia; Matthew Black was from Scotland; Clemens Thoma was from Switzerland; William Hendriksen was from the Netherlands; James Carleton Paget is from the UK; and John Painter is from Australia. These are all very influential names in New Testament scholarship. There is a wide variety of New Testament scholars from all over the world.

      The most reasonable assumption is that the Gospels are historical accounts of Jesus and that Paul’s letters talk about an earthly Jesus. The evidence is quite clear on those points. Thus, far from being false assumptions, they are conclusions based on strong evidence.

      I think you need to learn more about historical analysis, as the “poor methods” you think are only employed by New Testament scholars are employed by historians of all stripes, and they are anything but poor methods. The criterion of embarrassment, for example, is a standard tool used by all historians in analyzing ancient literature. Here, for example, a hitorian applies it in answering the question, “Was Odard, First Lord of Dutton, a Distant Relative of William the Conqueror?” Now the criterion of double dissimilarity can only apply to religious writings, as it is a way of judging a statement compared to the religious views of the time (Judaism in the case of the New Testament) and the views of the religion that uses the text (the early church in the case of the New Testament). It does make sense that if a statement made is contrary to both, it was unlikely to be dreamed up and added to a text that was used as a basis for the early church. Thus, far from being highly suspect, it is a very reasonable inference.

      You ask, “How do you explain that there is a different historical Jesus for every historical Jesus scholar?” There is not. In fact, most historical Jesus scholars agree on the major points in the life of Christ. However, there are specific disagreements about Christ among scholars, because history always gives an incomplete picture of any historical figure. Scholars disagree about Euclid, Marcus Aurelius, and even Abraham Lincoln. Obviously, the nature of the historical record is bound to produce disagreements.

  21. Mia September 4, 2012 7:59 am

    And of course, if you agree with the majority of NT scholars that accept historical Jesus, then you should agree with the majority of biologists that accept evolution.

  22. Josh g. September 4, 2012 1:01 pm

    Thank you for the great blog. I was raised in a Christian home and attended church as long as I can remember. I attended a Christian private school and home school. I said all of that to say this: I know and was taught the Theory of Evolution as a child alongside creation. As a Sunday school teacher and have and will teach evolution right along with the Genesis account. The reason only 15% of Americans beleive in atheistic evolution is that if you examine it closely it is full of holes. Unkown this and may have that and maybe this and we just don’t know’s.

    • jlwile September 4, 2012 1:26 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Josh. I agree that atheistic evolution is full of holes. Even when I was an atheist, I saw several problems with evolution.

  23. Jacob September 4, 2012 3:49 pm

    In response to Mia’s second comment:

    Mia said: “And of course, if you agree with the majority of NT scholars that accept historical Jesus, then you should agree with the majority of biologists that accept evolution.”

    That’s a non sequitur, I believe. The logic does not follow.

  24. D. Perrine September 4, 2012 9:07 pm

    I do believe my favourite statement in the video is:

    “Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you do not believe in evolution.”

    Of course, implying that evolution simplifies science. I just remember back to a previous post about the Salt-Water Fresh Water Shuffle, as well as many other posts.

    • jlwile September 5, 2012 7:30 am

      Excellent point, D. Perrine! The Freshwater/Saltwater Shuffle is just one example of how complicated it is to force the data to fit evolution!

  25. Mia September 4, 2012 9:42 pm

    Would you say that the resurrection of Jesus is history – that it really happened? Do you think that many biblical scholars have very good evidence that it was not?

    Do you think the original version of Mark didn’t include an account of the resurrection?

    • jlwile September 5, 2012 8:02 am

      Mia, I don’t think there is any good evidence against the resurrection as a historical event. On the other hand, there is a lot of positive evidence to indicate that the resurrection really did happen.

      In answer to your second question, while it is true the earliest manuscripts we have of Mark’s Gospel end at Mark 16:8, that is not unusual. The earliest manuscripts are often fragmentary. In fact, there are several external evidences that Mark did originally have something after Mark 16:8. For example, Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies in about A.D. 185, and in that book, he says, “Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.'” That’s a quotation of Mark 16:19. Now his quote is more than 120 years before the earliest manuscripts that we have which seem to end abruptly at 16:8. Thus, it makes sense that the manuscripts we have are incomplete.

      But let’s suppose Mark’s gospel didn’t originally contain Mark 16:9-19. What does that indicate? Are you trying to claim that the resurrection was a later invention of the church? That doesn’t work, because the earliest account of the resurrection is given in 1 Cor 15:3-6, which has been dated as being written in the mid A.D. 50’s, which was probably before Mark’s gospel and within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses.

      Are you trying to claim that Mark didn’t think there was a resurrection? That can’t be, because other parts of Mark that are in the earliest manuscripts clearly indicate Mark did think there was a resurrection (Mark 8:31, Mark 9:30-31, and Mark 10:33-34). Given these three references to the resurrection, it is clear Mark is building towards it. Also, even the earliest manuscripts contain Mark 16:1-8. What does it report? It reports an empty tomb and a young man saying that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, even without Mark 16:9-19, there was clearly a resurrection account in Mark – it’s just not as complete as the ones in the other Gospels.

  26. Mia September 5, 2012 12:41 pm

    Thanks for your answers, I was just wondering. One more theology question, if Jesus appeared to 500 brothers, some of which were alive when Paul wrote this, why isn’t there any other mention of this mass appearance anywhere else, including the Gospels?

    On Bill Nye, here is a critique of two video responses to Nye by YECs.

    • jlwile September 5, 2012 1:31 pm

      Thanks for your reply, Mia. In answer to your question, you need to remember that every report has its intended purpose. Paul was writing about how he was the least of the Apostles. In order to emphasize this, he wanted to make it clear how many people the resurrected Christ had appeared to before appearing to him. As a result, he ticks through a list of post-resurrection appearances, with himself last. The Gospels don’t have that intent. Thus, they don’t go through every post-resurrection appearance.

      Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, most of its statements are horribly flawed:

      1. The author tries to make an excuse for Nye’s patently false statement in the beginning. He claims, “In this sense, the U. S. stands out: despite its technological level, it has a very low acceptance of evolution.” But that’s not what Nye said. Nye said that denial of evolution is unique to the United States. In fact, that is dead wrong. Even in technologically-advanced nations, there is denial of evolution. It might not be as large as it is in the U.S., but it is still there. Thus, denial of evolution is not unique to the U.S., even among technologically-advanced nations. Of course, it’s not surprising that the U.S. is ahead of the rest of the technologically-advanced nations when it comes to evolution. After all, the U.S. is always on the cutting edge of scientific advancements.

      2. He tries to make the claim that teaching creationism for balance would involve teaching scientific falsehoods. That is simply false. I teach creationism in all of my books, and I don’t use scientific falsehoods. Indeed, my creationist textbooks produce students who excel in their post-high-school studies of science, as pointed out in my article.

      3. He claims that genetic duplication with subsequent adaptive divergence produces new genetic information. Of course, direct observations show that this is false (see here and here, for example).

      4. The author claims that evolution is more than just random mutation and natural selection. Someone should tell evolutionists this, as that is exactly the phraseology they use (see here, here, and here, for example)

      5. The author says, “A lot of the pioneering work done in evolutionary biology is done in labs and the one of the best lines of evidence for evolution comes from comparison of DNA sequences from different organisms, which is something done almost entirely in a lab setting.” While he is right about the first point, he is dead wrong about the second. Comparison of DNA sequences from different organisms has produced some of the most definitive work against evolution (see here, here, and here, for example).

      7. The author claims that “it is not possible to provide a unified explanation in biology without reference to evolution.” However, that is completely false. Young-earth creationists have a unified explanation in biology without referencing evolution in the flagellate-to-philosopher sense at all. In my view, the young-earth creationist unified explanation is also much more in line with the evidence than is the evolutionary explanation.

      13. The author tries to claim that the uniformity of nature is not guaranteed by the existence of God. However, that is quite false. As most who have studied the development of science note, the proper concept of God was, in fact, absolutely necessary to the development of modern science. For example, as Morris Kline says:

      The thought that all the phenomena of motion should follow from one set of principles might seem grandiose and inordinate, but it occurred very naturally to the religious mathematicians of the 17th century. God had designed the universe, and it was to be expected that all phenomena of nature would follow one master plan. One mind designing a universe would almost surely have employed one set of basic principles to govern related phenomena.

      Or consider what Nobel-prize winner Dr. Melvin Calvin says about the first and strongest tenet of science:

      The fundamental conviction that the universe is ordered is the first and strongest tenet. As I try to discern the origin of that conviction, I seem to find it in a basic notion discovered 2000 or 3000 years ago, and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews: namely that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province according to his own laws. This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation of modern science.

      It is unfortunate that the author didn’t learn more about what he was discussing before writing such an uninformed piece!

  27. Mia September 5, 2012 11:10 pm

    500 people, presumably at once, is not just any old resurrection appearance (if there can be such a thing). And it’s not just the Gospels- in Acts for example, the resurrection appearance is very important, why doesn’t it mention the appearance to 500? Or any non-New Testament source, Josephus for instance. I don’t know if I can accept Paul at face value for this. I think he was at least exaggerating.

    • jlwile September 6, 2012 7:21 am

      Mia, I think it depends on what your goal is. Intimate resurrection appearances carry more weight in many people’s minds, because the individuals to whom he appeared could really scrutinize him. In addition, his close friends would be less likely to be fooled by an imposter, so reporting Christ’s intimate resurrection appearances to His close friends would be more important to the Gospel writers than reporting His appearance to a huge crowd, most of whom did not know Him.

      Josephus would have no reason to report such an appearance, since he gives very few details regarding Christ, and his goal was certainly not to promote the Christian faith. He was simply writing a history of the Jewish people for the Romans. To him, Christ was a sidelight, so he doesn’t go into detail about Him at all. He simply mentions the disciple’s claims about the resurrection, nothing more. Many even claim that his reference to the resurrection was added later by someone else. Thus, it’s not surprising that Josephus didn’t report the specific appearance about which you are concerned.

      Of course, you have every right to not accept Paul at face value on this. However, to deny that the resurrection took place at all requires you to ignore a lot of historical evidence. As a scientist, it is hard for me to do that.

  28. Mia September 6, 2012 10:22 pm

    On historical NT criteria, there is a conference coming up that isn’t too far from you, maybe you’re interested. Mentioned on this blog post:

    • jlwile September 7, 2012 6:08 am

      Thanks for the link, Mia. Unfortunately, I have a speaking engagement then.

  29. gracekalman September 7, 2012 9:56 am

    Mia, you are missing one very important point–Paul was not writing under his own power, but being directed by the Holy Ghost. Do you think God exaggerates? I don’t know exactly what religious viewpoint you are coming from, but I sense a distinct lack of faith.

  30. Mia September 10, 2012 9:05 am
    • jlwile September 10, 2012 4:11 pm

      Thanks for giving me the link. Mia. His response is riddled with errors. There are so many that I will need to address it as a separate blog post.

  31. Eric H. September 11, 2012 7:15 pm

    Hmmmm, I wonder why he didn’t post his reply on your blog?…, 😉