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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 • Faith Now • Science

soundoff (14,640 Responses)
  1. Bill's Brother

    "when you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in it, it holds everyone back."

    Nye has never been taken very seriously in mainstream scientific circles. He's behind the times. He continues to confuse evolutionary theory with naturalistic evolution. Anytime someone pulls the religion debate into it, it shows they don't really understand the argument, as Nye so aptly demonstrates.

    The question is "Just how is the United States being held back by it's "unique" perspective on evolution Mr. Nye?" We just landed an advanced machine on Mars. We lead the world in discovery, innovation, and practical application of scientific knowledge, so I fail to see your point.

    Get it straight Nye – the theory of evolution it just a theory. As far as the age of the earth debate, recent discoveries in the assumption of natural decay of the isotopes used for such measurements has come into question, so using that argument is weak at best. Stop telling "grown-ups" that your observations are consistent with what we see in the world, when they're not.

    Maybe you're using some of those outdated school textbooks? Or maybe your career has hit such a low level this seemed like a good way to hit the news again?

    August 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • donna

      He's actually right in with the times with current biological science regarding this issue.
      And evolution isn't a theory, it's an observable, factual process.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Sagian

      "... recent discoveries in the assumption of natural decay of the isotopes used for such measurements has come into question."

      Um... no. No, it has not.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Really Donna? So you've actually physically observed macroevolution? The creation of new species/transitionary figures?? Um No. You haven't. And neither has anyone else.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Atheose

      If you actually knew what a "theory" was in the context of the scientific method, you wouldn't call it "just" a theory.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Common Sense

      @ sagian: Really sagian..... Is carbon 14 at a constant in our atmosphere? I'll go ahead and answer it for you.... no it is not. That is the MAIN assumption in carbon dating. Carbon 14 is not yet at a constant level in our atmosphere, thus, you cannot make an accurate measurement of age using this dating system.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • John

      "Get it straight Nye – the theory of evolution it just a theory". The fact that you do not even know what the scientific method or a scientific theory is shows you are ignorant, uneducated and getting all your info from your pastor. Yet, you enjoy all the fruits of science....you hypocrite.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • donna

      Common sense, you couldn't be more wrong.

      Speciation is simply the result of what you would call "microevolutionary" processes that result in reproductive isolation. And yes, it has been directly observed many times- a simply search will tell you that. There is no mystery to speciation.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Sagian

      @Common Sense. There are calibration methods for correcting carbon dating. The average uncertainty ranges from 300 to 800 years – not millions or billions of years. When we're talking about something that's 25,000 years old, I'm perfectly satisfied with an 500-year margin of error. Other measurement methods can corroborate carbon dating. This method is nothing new to science.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • me109a

      Carbon 14 dating is not very accurate past 50,000 years or so, but many other long lived isotopes are out there you just need a volcanic deposit to get them.

      The evidence is overwheling for evolution, it not even a question anymore. We don't know what got the ball rolling yet but we know how it rolls.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  2. Patriot Awesome

    46% of Americans believe in creationism? That is a lot higher and scarier than I expected.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yep – that's a whole lot o' crazy – ~143 miillion* strong.

      (* estimated. The 46% refers to adults – my number includes children. It's a safe bet that the children of believers are told to believe.)

      August 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  3. Boing

    Let's say God has been around for eternity. Even if the earth is ten billion years old, that is an infinitesimally small period as compared to eternity. What has God been doing for all that time and if the rapture, apocalypse, or whatever is near, why did he create us for such a short period of time?

    August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • doktorOblivion

      Dude, I get it. You are very religious, that's okay. But one clarification, eternity has nothing to do with time... Eternity is the total lack of time where everthing ostensibly stands still. I think you want to use the term ever-lasting. But then again, not sure you can use that term with respect to God, since there is no way you can prove/disprove it's existence. I say it, because its a western tradition to put an anthropomorphic form on it. Good thinking, but not very rigorous.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Boing

      No sir, I am not religious in the least. Please feel free to look up the definition of eternity.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • zalryte

      Doktor Oblivion – I understand the topic can make one's blood boil, but take the time to re-read boing's post and I'm certain you will see that s/he is opposed to creationism.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Burnell

      hooo and a correlate, why so much space for only one species, billions and billions of light years, and all so God could create just us. Reminds me of Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy actually.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  4. All In Good Fun

    Come on! Why should we believe this educated person advocating a deep understanding of the physical world around us and how it came to be based on hundreds of years of observations and experiments when we have this wonderful oral tradition handed down for many centuries and finally put to text which was meant to explain where we came from to a mass of uneducated, illiterate shepherds and fisherman. If it was good enough for gread grandpayy Moab, it is certainly good enough for me! No thought required.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  5. sheri berk

    YEA!! YEA!!!

    August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  6. johndanger

    I've always wondered why and how some of he human "senses" evolved. Like our sense of humor. Or why are we awed by a beautiful sunset or why do we have a sense of rhythm? Or how 'bout our sense of irony. These "senses" have always seemed like "gifts" to me.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • All In Good Fun

      Why does a cat purr or a dog wag its tail? When not running for our lives, many animals can enjoy the more sensuous parts of existence.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  7. michiganhockey11

    In a debate William Lane Craig had with the evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala, Ayala was upfront about the term “evolution” and how it is an accordion style word. Ayala states that evolution can typically mean three different things:

    1. Present day organisms are descendents (with modifications) from organisms that lived earlier.

    2. Explanatory mechanisms that supposedly account for the specified complexity found in biological organisms.

    3. The reconstruction of the evolutionary tree of life that show all branches going back to one ancestor in the past.

    Ayala candidly admits that while the first is true, the second two are matters of tremendous dispute among all scientists (religious or non-religious), and there is much that is not known in these areas.

    When intellectually honest biologists say, “evolution is a fact,” they refer to the first point. And, in truth, I don’t have any Christian acquaintances that deny that either.

    But the second and third points are what intelligent design calls into question. DNA coming into existence from a purely natural, unguided, non-intelligent source?

    As to the third assertion, some studies show that humans and chimps have DNA similarities approaching 90-95%, and the similarities between humans and mice is 90%. Does this prove a common ancestor? Not at all. Instead, it points to possible common material composition and a common Designer, which is in keeping with the first chapter of Genesis.

    Let’s also not forget, that while philosophical naturalists act as reductionists and say humans are nothing more than their material composition, deep down we really know different. The imago dei (image of God) is there. Human beings were a distinctive creative act, again, as stated in Genesis 1.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • All In Good Fun

      Ever think that humans were placed here by another race of beings, and women came from a cloning experiment? Maybe the Scientologists have it right!

      August 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • zalryte

      Who designed the Designer? Whether you believe in evolution or creationism you must concede that at some point, something arose from nothing. The difference between science and religion is that science is not afraid to admit they do not know. Religion's answer to the question, however, is "stop asking so many questions".

      August 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  8. Pragmatist

    The percentage of Americans who understand the logic and massive evidence of evolution will ONLY shift upwards if and when the general IQ of the people in the US also move upwards through a newer generation of smarter Americans. Given the current climate of religious extremism in the US that could take a very long time to occur. By then, rest of the world might have moved on to more advanced thinking, leaving us behind yet again! If we wish to live totally isolated from rest of the world, it does not matter what we believe – we make our own reality – like Mormons!

    August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  9. Meade21

    Either way, it is a step of faith to believe in creationism or evolution

    August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @Meade21

      No it doesn't. Evolution is very easy to believe because it is proven.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • michiganhockey11

      @meade21-dead right

      Evolutionists are presupposed to believe that anything they don't consider empirical evidence is thrown off the table. At best they are both beliefs.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • mdh49

      Evolution has been "proven," eh? Not by a long shot.

      People tend to forget that science represents our ability to describe and explain our surroundings, and that many of our scientific "laws" are only theories based on currently available information.

      I believe in the biblical account of the creation, but am also a professional translator, and therefore understand the difficulties involved in translating a book, such as the Bible, between languages. Those people who claim that the "days" mentioned in the OT had to have been 24-hour periods are ignorant of the language changes that have taken place since the Bible was written. I believe these "days" were actually "periods" of time that could have spanned a great deal of time.

      Taken this way, you can completely reconcile the Biblical creation with currently-available scientific evidence cited by Bill Nye.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Well, except for the messy problem that there is no proof of creationism.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • religion&politics

      Agreed, at this point these are BOTH beliefs. We just don't have enough information on either "side" to know for sure.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • craig

      @Michigan Actually, the exact opposite is true. Every time something "new" is discovered, science has a brawl trying to see how it fits with existing theories. Sometimes they can make it fit, and other times they find themselves tossing the theory because it no longer describes what they've found. Creationists, on the other hand, simply shrug and say (blindly) "It's just part of God's plan." They conduct no rigorous evaluation and just march onward. Science takes new idea and discoveries and smashes them against the wall to see if they hold up. When was the last time you saw something published in a "religious journal" that included "Peer Reviews" and/or collaborative statements where others were able to duplicate the original claims?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • John

      No one believes in evolution....one accepts the 200 years of mountains of evidence so no belief is required. We understand the evolution of life on Earth more than we understand gravity but I never see you Christians taking issue with gravity. Why is that?

      August 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • zalryte

      If you understood the scientific method, you would know that people do not "believe" the theory of evolution, they accept it. If a better explanation comes along, they will accept that explanation. As I stated in reply to another post, when questions are raised about the theories proposed by religion, the answer from the religious communities is "Stop asking so many questions!!"

      August 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  10. larki

    I can just see this guy practicing satanism in his spare time.....doesn't he just look like a devil? I don't trust anyone that doesn't believe in God. Sorry! He had his say, I just had mine.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      There is no devil. It's just God when he's drunk. - Tom Waits.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Jeff

      I don't trust any adult who believes in magic. To believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived for 3 days in his stomach and survived is magic. To believe that a female human was created from the bone (rib) of a male human is magic. To believe that a bush can catch fire and burn without ever being consumed by said fire is magic. You might as well worship Harry Potter. It's the same thing and the story is a lot more interesting.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • All In Good Fun

      Since God allows satan to exist, and even has encouraged his actions (see Job), isn't he part of the Creation and therefore worthy of some recognition?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • drivennail

      In other countries, the true believers are the Taliban

      August 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • zalryte

      There is no such thing as "Satanism". If you are referring to the organization associated with Anton LaVey, that organization was formed to mock the ridiculous practices of conventional Christianity.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • John Hix

      Right on Brother. Never trust a non believer. Gods may differ but one has to believe in a stronger power outside of this world otherwise one has no future other than death everlasting.

      August 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Sean

      You really don't make things easier for us more moderate (and logical) christians do you?

      August 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  11. Justcause

    Well ..before I begin should I wear a bow tie to look smart and credible ...!!..
    First who said that creationism do not believe in evolution..weird I believe that God exist and I believe that things he has created evolves, evolution itself is God creation...now don't get me going about the Ape part because that is surely a flawed Darwinian theory...Darwin himself may have put it in a piece of paper for a joke and some us made of it a reality....

    This guy with the Bow tie need some desperate publicity, so , controversy is the best way to grab attention...Now what better controversial subjects are there!!!...

    Lets talk Science, when a life evolve, it evolves from an existing one, the Atheists can not explain where did the first frog, the first chromosome, the first atom, the first cell evolved from???? where did those first ingredients of life evolved from if the evolved at all...!!!? what irritates me is that some type of scientist do not press themselves to answer these fundamental questions before jumping into the existence of the most powerful being/God...

    How did the Universe laws came to be in order for the Universe to continue existing? How did the human body created its own rules and laws of survival coming helpless to this earth.? Instead of thinking earth position in the Universe created the perfect conditions for life, what can we consider the perfect conditions on earth were made for our existence, because we could not survive otherwise...!!???

    August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • ME II

      Bill Nye was talking about evolution, not the origin of life, nor the origin of the universe.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • ME II

      sorry, "biological evolution"

      August 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the acticle clearly states that he is speaking about those who take a literal view of the old testament.

      not those people who think evolution was caused by magic.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • snowboarder

      attributing the unknown to your or any other persons deity is just intellectually lazy. period.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Justcause

      Snowboarder*** "the unknown" hummm interesting word.... this is were most Atheist struggle with "the unknown" and when they can't explain it methodically/scientifically they like to leave it to beaver...I call that is LAZY..... have you heard the scientific study that concluded teh himan brain is actually limited to what it can comprehend? let me help you....have noticed that our sci-fi movies ans stories cannot imagine Alien (ET) without a head, legs, hands, eyes..in summary an ugly human being or your worst nightmare animal look alike...? that is because our brain does not comprehend a life form that can be intelligent but nothing that resembles anything we have seen..!! our brain re-process images, information collected during its life time and re-use it..therefore our creativity is very limited...another example..look at our human marvels, plane, bridges, roads....all taken from the earth landscape and what is living in it...we have the ability to put it together of course after error and trial...

      August 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Justcause

      ME II*** thanks. I tie everything together, if you believe in evolution in general then you have to answer all the questions tied to evolution and the same question remains whether it is genetic evolution or the Universe evolution.... what did the first substance evolved from...??? I know ..Scientists don't know and that is why we are still having this debate...but simply "unknown" as an answer is not god enough if you want to argue with creationism...

      August 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • MM

      Can you tell me where god came from?

      August 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • ME II

      @justcause,
      I disagree.
      How life first started has little or no bearing on what happens after it begins. Or, the mechanism of evolution, mainly natural selection, is independent of the mechanism that first created life.
      Evolution explains how species differentiate and change over successive generations. This explanation is valid whether life got started in a primordial soup (which seems unlikely currently), Aliens seeded this planet, or God spoke it into being.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  12. TheThinker1958

    if Genesis is 100% true, it means that the Earth and everything on it was perfect. Then Adam and Eve came. Then they did something wrong and God throw them away from their Paradise..... but not happy with doing that, God create unbalance in the whole planet, allowing for Earthquakes and Volcanic eruptions and floodings ... what kind of God will think about doing such a thing just to punish their only 2 inhabitants? Because this doesn't make sense to me, this is my proof that God doesn't exist.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Joe

      But it must be true!! It's in the freaking bible for crying out loud!!!!!! LOL

      August 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  13. Reality

    "Humanity follows two world-wide sects:

    One, man intelligent without religion,

    The second, religious without intellect. "

    Al-Ma'arri- Arab philosopher, ~1000 CE/AD

    August 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  14. DavidEnc

    Arguing with Creationists is pointless, as there can be no agreement on facts or evidence. Facts, to them, are what they believe to be true.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Sirhc

      I've given up on even trying to explain my beliefs to Creationists. They are short sighted, ignorant people, that refuse to have an open mind, or even respect other people's beliefs. This is however, a topic i love to bring up to drunk girls at the bar. Pure, unbridled entertainment. The arguments, already void of any proof, become downright hysterical.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  15. donna

    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
    Philip K. Dick

    August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Burnell

      That's actually quite nice, gravity follows from that.

      A smart believer might argue in this response, even though you need faith to believe in God, God does not need your faith to exist.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • donna

      Yes, the quote makes no reference to god or science, just reality. ; )

      August 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  16. fistface

    Eating Utensils. Where once considered tools of the Devil and outlawed by Organized Religion.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  17. KRHODES

    "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. " Nye

    Yeah it does not leave room for evolution...because evolution did not happen. There is nothing verifiable to lead one to believe all life originated from a single source into the diversity of life we observe in nature. How long have we been teaching evolution now? Why are we still falling behing in education? Maybe because we are teaching ignorance.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • No God

      Like teaching religion....stupid.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • relians

      so funny to listen to idiots

      August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • sbp

      False premise. No one said all life evolved from a single source. Could have been concurrent sources. In any event, there is plenty of proof, you simply choose to disbelieve it.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • John

      So, we should teach the talking snake, burning bush, woman made from man's rib theory? It's ignorant people like you who are taking us down and making us a laughing stock. How long before we bring back burning witches?

      August 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Chris Mankey

      "Yeah it does not leave room for evolution...because evolution did not happen. "

      Yep, did.

      August 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • krhodes

      "False premise. No one said all life evolved from a single source. Could have been concurrent sources. In any event, there is plenty of proof, you simply choose to disbelieve it."

      So you *believe* there were many sources that life evolved from? And no...the only proof is merely presupposition by someone who adheres to the dogma of darwinian evolution.. There is no reason to believe that macro evolution occurred and certainly no evidence that proves it conclusively...you simply want to believe it..

      August 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  18. basic123

    People believe what they like to believe, this is our human's weakness!

    August 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  19. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Only 15% of Americans believe in real science? That's really sad.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  20. bwelter

    As Mr. Nye states, creation IS fatastically complicated. I would think he more than many would appreciate it's intricacies. Most simply stated, scientific laws prove that everything dies, degrades, and/or decays. What is untenable and inconsistent is to ignore these laws by declaring that things somehow have or are evolving to a higher order. To further state that belief in a Creator and creation is unique to the United States ignores that almost every culture in man's history has pondered the stars in the sky, the moral nature of man, and the desire to worship. That, I believe, is the fingerprint of The Creator that is imprinted in our souls, regardless of how vigorously we may wish to deny it.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • relians

      based upon the latest scientific data, the only thing that was unnecessary at the time of creation was a creator.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:40 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.