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Bill Nye slams creationism
August 27th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

Bill Nye slams creationism

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)–Famed TV scientist Bill Nye is slamming creationism in a new online video for Big Think titled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children."

"Denial of evolution is unique to the United States," Nye begins in a YouTube video posted on Thursday.  The video quickly picked up steam over the weekend and as of Monday morning had been viewed more than 1,100,000 times.

Nye a mechanical engineer and television personality best known for his program, "Bill Nye the Science Guy" said the United States has great capital in scientific knowledge and "when you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in it, it holds everyone back."

"Your world becomes fantastically complicated if you don't believe in evolution," Nye said in the Web video.

Creationists are a vast and varied group in the United States.  Most creationists believe in the account of the origins of the world as told in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

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In the creation account, God creates Adam and Eve, the world, and everything in it in six days.

For Christians who read the Genesis account literally, or authoritatively as they would say, the six days in the account are literal 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution.  Young Earth creationists use this construct and biblical genealogies to determine the age of the Earth, and typically come up with 6,000 to 10,000 years.

Your Take: 5 reactions to Bill Nye's creationism critique

The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for the past 30 years.  In June it released its latest findings, which showed 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.

During the 30 years Gallup has conducted the survey, creationism has remained far and away the most popular answer, with 40% to 47% of Americans surveyed saying they believed that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years.

Survey: Nearly half of Americans subscribe to creationist view of human origins

"The idea of deep time of billions of years explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your worldview becomes crazy, untenable, itself inconsistent," Nye said in the video.

"I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, that's completely inconsistent with the world we observe, 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 and solve problems," he said.

Creationists' beliefs about the origins of the Earth are often a narrow focus, based in large part on religious beliefs, and while they reject evolution as "just one theory," they often embrace other fields of science and technology.

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In "The Genesis Flood," the 1961 book that in many ways help launch the Young Earth creationism movement in the United States, the authors write: “Our conclusions must unavoidably be colored by our Biblical presuppositions, and this we plainly acknowledge."  Their goal for the book was to harmonize the scientific evidence with the accounts in Genesis of creation and the flood.

The idea of creationism has been scorned by the mainstream scientific community since shortly after Darwin introduced "The Origin of Species" in 1859.  By 1880, The American Naturalists, a science journal, reported nearly every major university in America was teaching evolution.

"In another couple centuries I'm sure that worldview won't even exist.  There's no evidence for it. So..." Nye ends his video.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Creationism • Science

soundoff (14,640 Responses)
  1. Colin

    Your analogy has a flaw. It would work if science claimed that man appeared spontaneously from non-living matter by chance, but it doesn't. If it did, I would reject the theory as far too implausible (Ironically, the Bible makes just such a claim!) Indeed, the chances of your late Iron Age creation myth being correct are about the same as a storm blowing through a junkyard and creating a 747.

    In reality, it took about 4 billion years of Earth history for human beings to evolve. The process is well understood. Starting with a "simple" organism (and I say "simple" because even the simplest of organisms are complex, but I’ll come back to that) all of the offspring of that organism will all be slightly different to their parent, and to each other. No boy is identical in EVERY respect to his father.

    Those organisms with the traits that best suit it to survive are more likely to pass on their genes (and that advantageous trait) to their own offspring. A slightly faster lion, taller giraffe or better sighted hawk is more likely than its slower, shorter or more myopic brethren to live long enough to breed and pass on the favorable genes that gave it the edge. No rocket science there.

    So far, easy, but here is the key and the thing creationists don't seem able (or, perhaps, willing) to grasp. The way in which any child will differ from its parents will generally be small (such as eye color, height etc.) but, given enough time and enough generations, and provided some external element is selectively favoring specific traits, such as acute eyesight, the differences will add up. Over thousands of generations, so much cu.mulative change builds up that the great-great-great etc. grandson will be so different from its great-great-great etc. grandfather as to amount to a new species.

    If, for example, a dog breeder only ever allows the fastest male dogs to breed with the fastest female dogs, after many years of such selective breeding the resultant dogs will differ so much in body shape, leg length and, perhaps, lung capacity from their ancestor as to be considered a separate breed. No one set of offspring will differ greatly from its parents, but it will differ a little more from its grandparents, and even a little more from its great-grandparents etc., until we go all the way back to the original dog, which will be quite different in appearance.

    We see this around us everywhere. Ever heard of greyhounds, the most obvious example of breeding for speed? Very different to bulldogs, aren’t they. All breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in either the Middle East or Manchuria some 10,000 years ago. In any event, every last one of them, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the cu.mulative result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

    Now, what are the chances of two wolves giving birth to a Chihuahua or Dalmatian? Virtually zero, but this ignores (like your 747 example does) all of the intermediate steps – the generations – the tint steps – required to get from a wolf to a Chihuahua. It took 10,000 years, about 5,000 generations – 5,000 baby steps. I could not jump from New York to San Francisco, but I could certainly walk there in little steps.

    Evolution is, in fact, a work in process, as dog breeders all over the world, along with horse breeders, wheat farmers, rose growers, cattle farmers and all other professions that depend on the traits of plants or animals to make their living, selectively breed for desired traits. Why do you think horse breeders pay thousands of dollars for the fastest stud horses to breed with their mares?

    Even the most cursory of research into any branch of horticulture or animal husbandry quickly reveals that the size, variety, health, longevity and resistance to disease of most of our domesticated plants and animals were the thing of dreams as recently as 100 years ago. Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the competi.tion if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs.

    You really think that people in the 1500s ate fruit and vegetables of the size, nutritional value and taste we do today? Hell, there are hundreds of types of apple today. They did not exist a few centuries ago. Why do diseases “build up” a resistance to antibiotics. Individual bacteria don’t, but antibiotics sometimes only kill 99% of the bacteria, leaving a few individuals to breed and pass on the trait that allowed them to survive the antibiotic to their offspring. Gradually, these survivors and their descendents will outnumber the original, weaker disease. A new, more resistant strain of the disease has just evolved. Or did your all loving god create the new, virulent strain in an effort to kill people?

    Now, to go back to the point I left open at the start of this post, what evolution does not explain (nor attempt to) is how the first complex living things arose. However, the more we understand biological processes, the more we are seeing that there is a natural tendency for non-living organic compounds to clump together into increasingly complex forms. Experiments show this all the time. While explaining this process would take a while in an already long post, suffice it to say that no step in the process of gradually increasing complexity of organic molecules into simple life seems to be too complex to have happened without divine intervention. It just took a long, long time – hundreds of millions of years, and a big, big "Petri dish" – the entire Earth-before it occurred, perhaps even more than once.

    Finally, even if we were to assume that [the Christian] god created the first living cell, where does that get us? We immediately bump into the question of what created that god? God was always there, right? But this is the same as saying he "just happened" and God is even less likely than a 747 or a simple cell is to have "just happened." In fact, why is “God” considered an explanation for anything. It isn’t. It’s a cop out, a shrug of the shoulders. When a person attributes something to God, it usually means they haven’t got a clue, so they invoke a magic act by some unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy. All we have done is put a halo on a question mark and walked away from the challenge.

    Frankly, would any believer, absent having been taught it from when they were too young to question it, possibly conclude the existence of a creator-god as a thinking adult, based on what we know in science today? Much less the one that is straight out of late Iron Age Palestinian mythology.

    PS: The sky-fairy analogy is not original. It is cited in Dawkins as being from an unnamed blogger.

    PPS: I did not distinguish between “breeds” and “species” but that is simply a matter of degree of exactly the same process. Accepting one but not the other is like accepting the existence of inches but denying the existence of miles.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • 2/8

      Why is it that people who want to sound as if they're more intelligent than anyone else constantly use quotes and ideas from others? So you've managed to explain EVERYTHING there is to know about religion, science, and reality on a CNN forum? Pretty impressive.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Bob the Janitor

      The critical problem with your conjecture is this: where did the single organism come from?

      August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • sbp

      Funny thing is, you've got Creationists willing to pick apart every highly detailed supposed inconsistency in the scientific evidence, but unless they are Deists, they have no problem NOT picking apart a supernatural being with magical powers who caused the Nile to turn to blood, caused it to rain frogs, etc....

      August 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Mike

      so this very long post and then you say the post is long so you won't address the actual "how life began" part of the argument, and use the old "suffice to say" cop out, really? you are really the PhD on the differences in dog legs and spend paragraphs on it, but you just do not have the space to explain the genesis of life; the "days" in the creation part of Genesis are delineations, please tell me where it says 24 hour periods

      August 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Colin too

      Agree completely. And as to the original life question? our species is young!! wait for the answer. by the time we ever acquire such knowledge our species will probably have altered due to the natural evolutionary processes that are ever present and under way (couch sitting may be the greatest threat our species has ever faced, blame that on deity devotion too :)

      August 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  2. JP0

    Creationism is just the beginning of the demise of the US as a leader in scientific research. The other factor is the failure of our schools to properly educate our children in science and math. The object of science is to understand how the universe works on all scales from small to large. The difference between science and religion is that science is willing to adjust the theory if research shows that observations warrant it. Religion, on the other hand, seeks to accept only those observations that fit their immutable theory. You cannot make scientific progress if your world view is based on fairy tales.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  3. Faithful Christian

    First of all the Earth is NOT 6,000 to 10,000 years old! This Earth we live on is between 4.4 and 4.7 billion years old. Science and the Book of Genesis both agree on this, if you know how to rightly divide God’s Word.

    Second point- God did NOT create the Earth in six days based upon a 24 hour period! See II Peter Chapter 3:8.
    By the way – Adam was NOT created on the sixth day! He was created on the eight day! See Genesis 2:7, this is where Adam and Eve where created. The rest of the races where created on the sixth day. See Genesis 1:26

    I do not understand what is so hard about God’s word!
    Unfortunately God’s word is not taught book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse like it should be. This explains way there is so much misunderstanding about God’s word today….

    August 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      .. and everything posted on the internet is true!! Your belief depends on where and when you were born, not based in truth. But I do love the circular "the bible is true because the bible says it's true" nonsense, always worth an lol.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Nat

      What is throwing people off is science and education. People are waking up to the facts that religion is based on myths and the religious texts of all kinds were written by man.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      You can't fix stupid, unfortunately, so you're going to be like this until you die.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Faithful Christian

      You have just demonstrated what non-believers have said often. That's that the bible is the Big Book of Multiple Choice, because bible you use, is the same that all the other denominations use that disagree with your interpretation. You can pull out verse after verse to justify your position, but there's usually other verses that would disagree with you.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • sam

      The problem is not that it's hard. It's that it's ridiculous.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Faithful Christian

      Just like I though, Kenites...............

      August 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Faithful

      Is that supposed to mean something?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

    Creationism and delusion are similar, and like any other mental disorder they can be treated.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  5. Walter

    Do you have a pet dog? Did you eat anything made from wheat or corn today? If the answer is 'yes' then you have interacted with something that is the product of evolution.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Colin

      As are the gr.apes they drink when they delude themselves into believing they are gulping down a dead Jew's blood.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  6. HeavenSent

    God gave us his only son to die for our sins and teach us the truth of Jesus' truth, God's truth. We owe Him our lives and love for his truth. If I step carefully over my dead cat skeletons I can reach the broken refrigerator for some moldy cheese to feed my starving dogs. Jesus told us to believe in word of the Bible because he knew the Bible would be written and be the truth.

    Amen.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • sbp

      And you know this because it says so in the Bible, and the Bible is the truth because it says so in the Bible.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • JPX

      Wow, just, wow. You just have no idea how stupid you sound, do you?

      August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      About those cat skeletons...

      August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @HeavenSent

      LOL ! :D

      Love me, this fake -HeavenSent !

      Keep it up !

      Peace...

      August 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • BJD0012

      the bible is not the word of God. it is at best, human interpretation of what God said and that is at best. It was firsst stories told by humans, then written down by humans, the translated into different languages, then coalesced into one book by humans, then translated some more by humans. Humanity has put its own issues and presuppositions into the bible. the bible contradicts itself. But in the end, even if it was written by God, is is still intrepreted by humans. Humaity reads and understands what it wants to, regardless of what side of teh aisle you come down on. The bible is nothing more than a cellection of exagerated stories about situations that happened or may have happened. People use to think the city of Troy was a myth, then archeologists found the remains of the city. Does that make the Homer's epics the truth. does that mean that Achiilles was invincible and could only be killed by a blow to his foot. No. Just because something may be based on actual events does not make it truth.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • fotocat

      Do whaaaat?

      August 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  7. charles

    I couldn't agree with him more.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • 2/8

      LoL, not surprising one or two other people think they know it all.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  8. Jason

    Keep religion to give people some sort of a moral guidance and comfort in knowing that there's something after death but don't try to explain the orders of the universe using religion cause its not based on any evidences, easily falsifiable, and doesn't promote people to think and explore.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Creed

    I always ask the Creationists whether or not Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptors, Pleurocoelus, Brachiosaurs, Anchiceratops and a thousand other dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden with Adam. So far, I have never been given any response other than a blank, confused stare followed by unintelligible stammering. We are arguing with folks so frighteningly uninformed that I have had creationists tell me that Boston Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds Great Danes and Poodles all lived in the Garden of Eden. It is an uphill battle to address such extreme ignorance and overwhelming prejudice.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Creed

      I understand your pain. I've often been asked to visit the "creation museum". 8O

      *sighs*

      Peace...

      August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  10. DumbXtiansLoL

    Only in America is there any debate on evolution. What scientists call a theory the rest of you idiots need to call a fact. It is as clear as anything could be. Christians need to be chemically castrated and prevented from procreating.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  11. Whammybar

    Did Noah do any fishing while they were on the Ark, what did he use for bait? He only had two worms!

    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • 2/8

      Heh....that was pretty good.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jason

      Forget about food and water for the animals, if the entire world really did get flooded, then Noah would have had to put a bunch terrestrial plants onto his arc as well to save the food web unless the shrubs back in those days can survive underwater for 30 days.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Whammybar,

      he cut up one of the unicorns into little strips.

      Plenty of bait to go around.

      They ate the other one.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  12. LK

    I think he is completely right.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  13. TheVocalAtheist

    I cannot believe the number of delusional people posting today. It's incredible the number of scientific Christians that are showing-up. Such a lively topic!

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  14. burnouttx

    Some of you religous peeps who keep a closed mind about this world might want to check out Neil deGrasse Tyson's speech at Beyond Belief 2006. He sights some good examples on how religion literally stupifies advancement of the human race.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • burnouttx

      and by stupify, I mean they stop searching for answers because "It's an act of God".

      Internet trolling may now continue...

      August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Buckeye Jim

    I learned science from ordained ministers of religion who believed it to be a worthy way to study the handiwork of God.
    God created the earth, if the earth says its 4.5 billion year old then it is 4.5 billion years old. God is not a liar.
    a
    The six day version is a re-telling of the Babylonian creation story and the significance is that in Gilgamesh man was created as a servant, in the Biblical version man is created in the image and likeness of our Creator.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      Well, at least your part of the way out, you admit the writings are versions of stories and therefore not the word of god.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  16. Joebob

    It's not that I dont believe in the possibility of a higher plane of existance – I just dont believe in the orgazinations who want to profit from selling their brand of belief.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  17. Anon

    From what I've heard, creationists think that Gravity is a plot by the J-ews to get people to drop spare change.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  18. J

    Not all Christians are idiots. Anyone can build-up a strawman using caricatures. Intelligent people have critically considered questions of God and concluded differently than Mr. Nye. Try listening to someone like John Lennox or Ravi Zacharias if you want to hear the Christian perspective from an intelligent, reasoned perspective.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Someone

      Other Recommendations I have is Os Guinness, CS Lewis and GK Chesterton. Books I recommend Mere Christianity and Between Heaven and Hell.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Terri

      I don't think he is calling all xtians idiots just those who honestly discount and rule out anything but creationism based solely on faith. There is no (zero) evidence to support creationism.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • J

      Terri, have you considered philosophical and logical evidence? Do not the laws of non-contradiction and cause and effect require a self-existent being? In other words, the idea that the world is self-created is logically absurd. The theory of evolution does not even begin to address this problem. Thus, I think Mr. Nye is a bit confused when he says evolution completely debunks creationism. Evolution is not a theory of why there is something rather than nothing.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      J – And how does your argument of self creation stack up with a supernatural being? We're supposed to believe that it's impossible for simple particles to have been created at the beginning of the universe, yet perfectly plausible that an unimaginably complex supernation being was created from nothing? And if you try and counter with the claim that god has always existed, then why couldn't extremely simple particles that make up the universe have always existed?

      August 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Terri

      So J are you insinuating creationism is logical? Are you saying it is logical that some invisible being has just always existed and this "perfect" being decided one day that it would make some stuff? Why would a perfect being bother with such chaos? I realize fully that any belief, including science, takes some measure of faith but believing due to scientific processes already shown to be truth that matter has indeed evolved to what we know today is much more logical than this mystical being. Either belief begins with "Well what was the origin of" whether it is "God" or "matter". The latter is much more logical.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • J

      It seems that we can agree that there must be something eternal and self-existent, right? It sounds like you agree that it is absurd to believe something can create itself. You accurately anticipated my response that I believe there is a self-existent being that created the universe (i.e., God was not created). You counter that perhaps matter itself is self-existent. Perhaps – that seems to be the only real alternative to a self-existent being. But these are the proper alternatives; evolution is a distraction and a red herring:

      The theory of evolution does not help make the case that all matter is eternal, which is the case you must make. Hence my point that I think Mr. Nye is a bit confused in concluding that evolution completely does away with creation. You would agree with that conclusion at least, right? I'm not saying that God is conclusively proved, I'm just saying Mr. Nye is drawing illogical conclusions from evolution.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  19. Colin

    So many Christians, so few lions......

    August 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  20. Someone

    I am a Christian with Asperger's Syndrome (google it, it means that I think on a different level than the rest of humanity.) and trust me intellect does equal belief in many cases. Also the 6,000 to 10,000 years is based on an estimate by a person report to be a bishop, a priest, a methodist revival speaker by atheist who cannot seem to recall exactly who he was much less what he said.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Observer

      Wrong. It's based on the "begot's" in the BIBLE. Read it sometime.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Someone

      Actually I do know what I am talking about Apologetics (the defense of an argument) is one of my specialties. The I spoke of is Joseph Lightfoot. (look him up please) Many Atheists cite him to prove that Christians believe in the 6000 year progression, but few know much about him and the fact that he said the time of the patriachs lasted 6000-10000 years.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      We're supposed to trust you because you have Asberger's Syndrome? And you are incorrect that it means you "think differently" than the rest of us; it's symptoms are a social impairment but not cogntive, it does not mean that you have a higher cognitive development.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      The 6,000 to 10,000 years would be some stupid estimate based off of piecing together some fictional writing anyways. I mean, it has absolutely nothing to do with the argument for or against a supernatural diety.

      August 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.