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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. therealpeace2all

    Reblogged this on peace2alldotme.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  2. sean50

    Yes...that 46% of Americans are definitely high!

    August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  3. Mark

    I've always believed in evolution and when I started going to church and reading the bible I didn't really see where they couldn't exist together. The bible is not literal and most likely isn't even perfect considering it was written so long ago and has had things taken from it over the years because different religions didn't want to believe it. The evidence is pretty obvious for age of earth and evolution. The people that refuse to acknowledge that really do have their head in the sand.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Other side

      Careful, guy. You're making too much sense here.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  4. Al Justice

    They both exist: the sacred I will always maintain holds hundreds of mysterious metaphors that become even more mysterious because somehow, we seem to know from where we came. With that said, and besides the fact that I believe the sacred exists in many world views, that life evolved as it has on earth, in my mind, is the most sacred of all.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  5. SDedalus

    This is a silly argument, a false dilemma. Science and faith have always been complementary, not competing. Only a miniscule number of very primitive people, are arguing for the simplistic creationism Mr. Nye refers to in this article. Nye's argument is a cheap attention getter used by people whose stars have faded or are fading. Stephen Jay Gould recognized that religious faith and sceince were wholly separate and complementary (i.e., one is what the other is not). Neil Armstrong was certainly no stranger to science yet, when he walked on the Temple steps in Jerusalem, he said, “I have to tell you, I am more excited stepping on these stones than when I was stepping on the moon.” Mr. Nye's straw-man diatribe against a creationism shich separates us from scinece cheapens both faith by interposing a false argument on it. Worse yet, by once again raising this hackneyed PT Barnum-style dichotomy of Science vs. Religinon, Mr. Nye cheapens all of science. The exclusivity and overlap of science and religion is a subtle topic best left to phiolsophers and theologians, like Father Coyne, a Catholic priest who has a Ph.D.in astronomy and ran the Vatican observatory and a believer in evolution.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Daniel

      theologians have no place in the scientific community,

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • James

      Mr. Nye isn't setting up a straw man here – there are bills making their way through state legislatures in several places RIGHT NOW, designed to eliminate or weaken the teaching of evolution, and this goes on year after year. This is a REAL problem.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • AGeek

      I'm sick of being politically correct. Having to worry about insulting creationists in the context of being politically correct is no more effective than pounding nails with a feather. The 40-44% of US residents who think the planet is < 10K years old are dumber than a box of #$(*&ing rocks. You're colossal idiots. What you're teaching your kids is utter bullsh%$. Flatly, you're KILLING THE US WITH YOUR INANE, WILLFUL STUPIDITY.

      #$(*& you all with a hot poker. Get your @$$es out of the voting booths if you insist on this crap. I don't want legislation that affects me and my children altered by your delusional insanity.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • SDedalus

      "Daniel," Thank you for underscoring my point. Anyone who would state that, "theologians have no place in the scientific community," is as much of a simpleton as someone who argues in favor of the mind-numbing creationism cited by Mr. Nye. To clarify this for others, being part of "the scientific community" means to participate in the dialogue of science through the peer-reviewed literature which, in general, requires a Ph.D. as demonstration that one has attained the education necessary to contribute meaningfully to this dialogue. Stephen Jay Gould had a Ph.D., as did Father Coyne.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Other side

      Oh, dear. You really must get out more often.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Other side

      @ AGeek

      I sure couldn't have said it any *&^%$# better than that. They are the group holding back stem cell research. That's a big deal.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  6. Michael C

    Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Daniel

      not this knee

      August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • AGeek

      Wrong. #$(*% you.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Marco

      Yea...I can look at two knees right now that aren't going to bend to Jesus.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Which God?

      Wanna bet, sh!tmeister?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Other side

      Daniel is right, although I'm not sure how knees are supposed to bow. It sounds painful.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  7. David

    How about we just have economically literate voters...

    Some of the greatest thinkers, inventors, and scientists the world has ever known believe in God, and they make Bill Nye look like the juvenile he is...

    August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • SDedalus

      David. Well said.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • ReasonableXX

      Name some please.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • pjwylie

      Spoken like a true (arrogant and hypocritical) pseudo-christian.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Which God?

      Preaching falsehoods there, smackeda$$

      August 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Other side

      @ ReasonableXX

      Newton ring a bell?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • And the higher up you go in the Church...

      ...the more likely you are to be an atheist.

      August 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  8. Clearly Abnormal

    I wonder about the reading comprehension of many people. The Bible doesn't say the earth was created in six days. It does say in Genesis 1:28 that man's assignment was to "replenish" the earth. You don't replenish something that was just created. Earth was created billions of years ago as science has discovered along with the lifeforms preserved in the fossil record. Some cataclysmic event destroyed life as it then was. God came back for a second go-around and the Bible records that when He arrived the earth was void (empty) and without form (lifeforms). It's so simple that it takes some work to misunderstand it......

    August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • SDedalus

      "Clearly Abnormal." Good point. I believe a lot of people were never educated in literary metaphor, or the symbolism used in early Hebraic literature, covering the period of time in which that portion of the bible was written. Just to clear up any similar misunderstanding among the illiterate whom are unfortunate products of our failed educational system, the bible does not mean that Jonah (Jonah 1: 2) literally spends 3 days in the belly of the fish (whale).

      August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Other side

      The reading comprehension question may be moot. I think you would be surprised how many literal, not literate, believers in the Bible have never read it. At least, they’ve never read it with the intent of understanding it. Most believe what they do, because they are told to believe a certain way. I know that sounds depressing, but I believe it to be true. That belief is based on my many conversations with fundamentalist Christians. They believe the way they do, because the preacher told them to do so. Very sad.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  9. hopelessinseattle

    Glenc,

    Not to mention that Darwin himself rejected evolution before he died. I believe that living things can change or evolve over time. However, I do not believe for an instant that given the complexity and diversity of living things on Earth that we all evolved from non-living matter to living tissue. One thing Bill (and the rest of the science community) has failed to demonstrate is how the living can be created from the non-living. If you believe that life came from non life then you demonstrate a greater degree of faith than I can ever muster.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Scholar

      Experiments have created the fundamental building blocks of what we call life – the ribonucleic acids.
      Given even a low non-zero probability of combining to create more complex molecules and sufficient time, success occurs.
      Research following matriarchal mitochondria across races and geographic areas shows that we can trace our ancestry to Africa. Not only that, but that Caucasians evolved from darker skinned people as lighter skin permitted them to better use the lesser amounts of sunlight as they migrated north out of Africa to Europe.
      That better use of sunlight, to create the needed Vitamin D to keep bones strong resulted in hunters better suited for the cooler climate in the north. Over time, people evolved.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • James

      Citation for your statement that Darwin gave up on evolution before he died?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Marco

      The burden of proof is not on the scientific community to prove something that has empirical data. The burden of proof lies on the creationists that make extraordinary claims with no data to back them up. That's how logic works, That's how science works.

      If you are so sure "God" created everything...PROVE IT. And just believing that it happened is not at all, whatsoever, in any way, shape or form proof.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Other side

      He did? That rascal! Darwin was the first to try to explain the mechanism of evolution. Admittedly, he got a few things wrong. Darwin might say, “Only the fittest survive.” Others might say, “Only the luckiest survive.” It’s the hubris of all modern people to think we have all the answers, and if we don’t, a higher being must be involved to fill in the gaps. Like space aliens, for instance. Just because we don’t have the answers you want today, that doesn’t mean we won’t have them tomorrow. You do understand that, given how long things have been around, we’re very new at the scientific stuff? Give it some time. The answers are there.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Jim

    I can't believe the number is so high for creationism. If people believe in that fiction, why don't they believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

    August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Scholar

      The Bible does not mention them.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  11. An Atheist's Perspective

    Reading these comments it appears that a lot of people aren't distinguishing between "Creationist" and "New Earth Creationist". One says God created the universe. The other says He did it in six days 6000 years ago. Scientists (generally) don't have an issue with the first one.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  12. than

    My favorite book of the bible is the one with the full table of periodic elements. My next favorite is the one detailing nature's law of thermodynamics.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Or the one that gave us germ theory so that we could come up with vaccines to prevent and cure diseases.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • pat

      I wanted to base my religion on gravity, because you can't see it but it exists everywhere. I was told you can't do that because EVERY ONE knows gravity exists, where does the faith come in?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • snowboarder

      pat – gravity is predictable, measurable and reproducible. it would make a fine basis for a religion.

      any human created gods are not.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • pat

      But snowboarder – "faith is the belief in that which you know is not true."

      August 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  13. ET

    Bill Nye has a right to his own opinion. I for one don't recall any evolution classes as a pre-requisite to be a Mechanical Engineering. Nor is the guy on Dirty Jobs a Sanitation Engineer. But Bill should probably stick to putting baking soda in vinegar and see what happens. That is the problem will actors and actresses, there job is to pretend to be someone else, but if you listen to most of them they have the education of a 4th grader.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam

      Idiot – go look him up and see what his background is.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Kevin

      Um, how about you do a little research on Bill Nye and check his background. He is more than qualified to speak on this topic, and if he is such a celebrity then where has he been for the last 8 years. He is not a celebrity, that's insulting, that's like saying you're a good commenter. Bill Nye is a scientist and he has the facts to back it up, you haven't even done your homework yet

      August 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Sagian

      "... there job is to pretend to be someone else, but if you listen to most of them they have the education of a 4th grader.."

      Um... it's "their job"

      August 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Jeff O

      Gee Bill... we had more people in the US believing in God 50 years ago and we had more innovation... we have less of both today hmmm... go back to the chalkboard , Bill.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • pat

      His "opinion?" Really? An opinion is that dress makes you look fat. Evolution is scientific fact, no opinion involved.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Jeff O

      His opinion is that believing in creationism stymies Science and innovation.. Looking back at History when we were a much more religious Country, the facts don't back his opinion.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • than

      @ Jeff O Less innovation today? Then why does every new electronic device I buy become obsolete in six months : )

      August 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jeff O

      Nye was talking about THIS Country...There is less innovation in this Country than 50 years ago.. that is a fact, not opinion.
      Nye is obviously an atheist, and is using religion to try explain away why we are losing the innovation battle.
      And as far as obsolescence, if you believe it's strictly due to innovation, and not to keep us hooked on the crack cocaine that is hi-tech, I have a bridge to sell you.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  14. I Just Saw Jesus!

    He repo'd my Harley.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  15. ahren

    Even Issac Newton was deeply religious.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • IslandAtheist

      He wouldn't be today.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Chris Mankey

      And he enjoyed watching hangings and believed in alchemy ,

      August 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  16. Tom

    Watch this movie: The Tree of Life
    There are something for both of you... evolution... and God...
    You will think differently after this movie... (or not)

    August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  17. Stupid

    How do you get something from nothing? Very slowly? Or very fast?

    August 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • what!!!

      There is a difference between the origin of life and evolution. They are two different things.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Stupid

      . . . yes, and how you speak to "origin of life" may then color your consideration of speciation.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Chris Mankey

      Nothing will post something on the internet.

      August 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Jeff O

    Bill Nye is a tool... 50-100 years ago this nation was even MORE immersed in creationism but yet we managed to harness the atom for good and bad,, and brought forth the computer age. The lack of kids interested in science has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with believing in evolution or creationism. It's our love affair with sports and entertainment, among other things... in other words, the same people that sign his paychecks..

    August 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Ola

      Thank you so much for this comment. People are just blindly supporting this guy because they are reflexly anti-religion. Even when the church tried to suppress Copernicus and Galileo, they found it impossible to do so. Science will keep flourishing in spite of religion and people will keep believing in God in spite(and maybe even because of) science.

      August 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  19. birch please

    No one has a soul, all that you are is in your brain... At this point what is greater than our universe is moot.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  20. Latenite

    I confess that I haven't watched the video yet, but from what I read, Nye merely sets up a strawman to knock down. No mention made of "old earth creationism" (that God made the universe which is currently billions of years old, and no distinction is made between macro- and micro-evolution (most Christians dispute the former, but accept the latter). Nye's rant amounts to just another Christophobic sound bite.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • DC1973

      Oh. You buy into that whole "war on Christianity" crap, don't you? And without even viewing the source material?

      People jumping to baseless conclusions without facts to back them up? The heck you say?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • sbp

      Macroevolution has been observed. Plenty of verified examples.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • ME II

      I think Nye is talking about science class and teaching kids. There is no evidence of those other concepts you speak of. There is plenty of evidence for evolution.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • shifter952

      The article mentions a poll: 32% believed in evolution guided by God - Is this what you mean?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Latenite

      @sbp: For instance?

      @ME II: http://www.amazon.com/Icons-Evolution-Science-Teach-About/dp/0895262002/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346099702&sr=1-1&keywords=icons+of+evolution
      There's lots of evidence to suggest life could only have been created intentionally if you search objectively. http://www.reasons.org/articles/probability-for-life-on-earth

      @shifter952: yes, that's one example. The article mentioned it, but I didn't get the sense that Nye addressed it. I don't personally subscribe to that method as my understanding of the Hebrew says God created each thing individually, but I'd admit my understanding may be flawed, and that God could have done it that way.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:37 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.