Your Take: 5 reactions to Bill Nye's creationism critique
Commenters were fired up about Bill Nye, creationism and evolution.
August 28th, 2012
10:37 AM ET

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

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Bill Nye does not think that children should be taught to deny evolution, and a YouTube video of him explaining why has gone viral. The CNN Belief Blog's report on the video has generated around 10,000 comments and thousands of Facebook shares since Monday.

There were some broad themes in the comments, reflecting a debate that is largely unique to the United States.

While Christianity is booming in Africa, Asia and Latin America, creationism is not, Penn State University religious studies professor Philip Jenkins writes in his book "The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South."

Here are five schools of reaction that have emerged in comments:

1. Those using this controversy to bash religion

Atheists love the Internet, as we've chronicled on the Belief Blog. While they may be a small portion of the population, they seem to make up about half our commenters.  It was their chance to join with Nye and cheer him on:

midwest rail:
"If you're watching 'The Flintstones' as if it were a documentary, you're doing it wrong."

2. Those who say wait a minute, being a creationist isn’t necessarily being anti-evolution

Lots of folks from the theistic evolution camp came out to say that believing God was involved doesn't automatically make you anti-evolution.

"As someone who is a born again Christian, (senior) mechanical engineer in the technology industry, and a firsthand witness of the risen Christ, I just want to say that Bill Nye is on the right track. It is understandable that both sides seem to be entrenched in their own position, but did anyone ever think that both are correct, and that the truth lies somewhere in the middle?"

"I believe in God, I believe in creationism and evolution. I think that we all came from one man and one woman (God created), and I think that the human race has evolved from this paring. I am a Christian and I love science, learning about our world, and I appreciate the contribution that science has made. But my soul/spirit also need God's love."

"FYI, 'Science Guy': One can believe in evolution and creation at the same time. They are not incongruent.

3. Those who say that science is stupid and that young Earth creationism rules

Young Earth creationists, who believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old, appeared to be out in force in the comments.

"As a creationist, why would I want to debate an evolutionist? It (is) all a matter of FAITH. You either believe, and have faith in, what Christians call 'THE WORD OF GOD' or not. No debate. TRUTH IS TRUTH WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IT OR NOT.

The people who perished in the Great Flood, in the Bible, didn't believe it was going to rain until it was too late. Better start knocking on the door of the ark before it closes."

"Creationism isn't even taught in public schools. Evolution is. So if you want your children to have Christian beliefs, then you really need to home-school them or find a good Christian school. Unfortunately not the other way around!

"It seems to me that evolution requires just as much faith as creationism. You're just putting your faith in our human powers of observation and believe that what we have thought up based on those observations is correct. We've got a few hundred years at best, of scientific observation, that has now told us that one giant, explosive, random event started a chain reaction that, over billions of years resulted in humans, and flowers, and viruses, and dinosaurs. The belief that the unfathomable intricacies of every living thing on our Earth formed themselves completely at random seems just as fantastical to me as believing in a creator."

4. Those who say Nye should stick to his area of expertise

This tweet was the most polite remark we could find on this subject. Other comments and tweets, not so much.

"Thanks Bill ... but leave the teaching of my children to me. ..."

[tweet https://twitter.com/watsup1101/status/240168918109523968%5D

5. Those who say CNN is cooking up controversy where none exists

Lots of people suggested we were generating a story instead of covering one.

Tony Montana:

"Another example of CNN's mostly one-sided reporting. No wonder Fox is (No.) 1. Hopefully CNN will put on both sides in the future if for no other reason than their ratings. Parts of the Bible are dated and contains metaphors. ***SCIENCE IS SIMPLY AN OBSERVATION OF GOD'S CREATION.*** Humans did not make the solar system, billions of stars in billions of galaxies. 'ET' didn't make the universe either. Even if 'ET' did what made 'ET.' "

For the record, plenty of other news outlets covered this story, pointing out that Nye's video was posted on YouTube just before the Republican National Convention opened.  Turns out that Nye taped the segment awhile back and had no say in when it would be released.

Thanks for chiming in. The comments are open here, and you can always hit us up on Twitter @CNNBelief.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Creationism

soundoff (2,811 Responses)
  1. abigailjaffe

    Creationism and evolution need not contradict.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • darkstar

      There is overwhelming evidence for evolution and not one single shred of evidence that an invisible genocidal, schizophrenic sky-fairy named Yahweh played any part in the formation of the Universe, the beginning of life or the evolution of life. There are incompatable ways of thinking and only one involves wishful thinking and self-delusion. I'll give you one guess to which one it is. Simple belief in an aidea does not make it so.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Horus

      Please elaborate.....

      August 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Huebert

      Only young earth creationism contradicts evolution. If you can accept an old earth their should be no reason that you can't accept evolution.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • .o.

      I suppose they could both be falsehoods. Care to expand?

      August 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • DanW

      How about this: We all start out as scientists. We all run across things that we don't understand. Those of us who keep looking for answers that can be tested remain scientists. Those that choose to give up looking and say that God did it become creationists. If Jim gives up the search for answers and becomes a creationist because he could not find evidence of X, and then Bob finds evidence of X, what does that do to Jim's belief in creationism? Probably nothing.

      Science is a puzzle. Not all people are comfortable living in a world with unanswered questions, and a belief in a God that supplies the answers helps those people get through the day. Not necessarily a bad thing.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Joel

    Wow, CNN, way to miss the many, many people agreeing with Nye and not bashing the religious.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Ms

      CNN reporting at its finest.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • T-Max73

      I don't think anyone is for bashing the religious. Most non-supernaturalist are for bashing bad ideas that harm the critical faculties of young, innocent children.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  3. Lila

    6) No one is saying people can't be religious, Nye's point was is it should not be taught in school. There isn't any evidence of a creationism theory like evolution. Again it's a theory not a belief. if anything religion should be taught in history class because it has had such a large impact on human civilization.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  4. Old Earther who loves the Lord

    The book of Genesis teaches us Who and Why. Science teaches us What and How. Keeping them separate is key.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • darkstar

      There simply is no 'why' and there is no evidence for your self-chosen 'who'. It could just as easily be Zeus as your purported Yahweh. The meaning and why of life is only what you choose to give to it, and hopefully it is for more good than bad.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • George Washington

      The Bible tries to explain the why of things. Why are we here?
      Science tries to explain the how of things. How did we get here? How did this happen?

      Remember, science doesn't create it only discovers what is already there.
      Religion should do the same.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • T-Max73

      @Old Earther- I'm sorry but you're just trying to rationalize a way to keep believing irrelevant nonsense in the face of overwhelming evidence that it IS nonsense. You may be a smart person, but your comment is just ignorant and untrue. Peace.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • T-Max73

      @ George Washington- "science doesn't create"? Really? What do you call telephones, cars, meteorology, medical science and medical devices, space exploration, etc? Those are the efforts and discoveries of scientific inquiry and discovery. Religion is NOT a process of scientific inquiry, it is simply a statement of faith. And we ALL know that faith is the believing a proposition for which no evidence exists. If there were evidence, no one would even talk about having faith! Please, read a book huh?

      August 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Jerome Haltom

      You got the science part right. The religion teaching us who and why, however? There's no indication that religion has that correct, nor ever will. In fact, the how and what of religion shows us that it's invented by people.

      August 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  5. Open Eyed

    Bill Nye is simply right, and the video was made in response to a frightening regression in American popular thought concerning universally accepted scientific principles. I am deeply saddened by the fact that there is any argument at all.

    The only argument stems from people who have been deluded by a childlike fear of death and/or by an indifferent universe. Why adults voluntarily disregard reason for a belief in imaginary beings is beyond me. To tell children that the god of ancient religion(s) is a real being is tantamount to child abuse. We emerged through endless centuries of darkness to an understanding on the universe relatively recently in our species' history. These prehistoric god beliefs put that progress in serious jeopardy.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Crystal V.

      Excellent post!!

      August 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • fintastic

      Well put. Agree 100%.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      Nicely stated. Our understanding of the universe has evolved but our most basic fears remain to cloud reason.
      Religion feeds those fears.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • From South Africa

      Excellent comment.. Nails the actual problem down. Just to add. Most disbelief, stems from the absurdity in the scriptures , not the modern theories of evolution or "Big Bang"

      August 30, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  6. Beauty

    Live and let live. You will lead a happier life. Intead of arguing, concentrate on random acts of kindness, help others and satisfy your soul.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  7. Mike Payne

    I'll bet LOTS of you "secretly" believe the Real Truth that THE EARTH IS F L A T (IT'S TRUE) – but don't want to be laughed at.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  8. TheTraveler

    An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!", he said to himself.

    As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing.

    He ran even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

    At that instant the Atheist cried out "Oh my God!...."
    Time stopped.
    The bear froze.
    The forest was silent.
    Even the river stopped moving.

    As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don't exist; and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

    The atheist looked directly into the light "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?"

    "Very well," said the voice.
    The light went out.
    The river ran again.
    And the sounds of the forest resumed.
    And then the bear dropped his right paw ..... brought both paws together...bowed his head and spoke:

    "Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful...AMEN!"

    August 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • JerseyBob

      Join us in the 21st century – herein lies the problem with religion – you're stuck in the past and refuse to accept what's put in front of you – sometimes a saying (OMG) is simply that – just a saying – when I say holy *hit you don't think I'm really praying to fecal material do you? Silly wabbit

      August 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Ned Flanders

      nice cut and paste job you toolbox.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Jack

      So your counter argument to someone who doesn't believe in god is a completely fictional fairy tale off the top of your head highlighting the response an atheist might have to a hypothetical, yet completely improbable event? Not the strongest evidence I have seen today.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • TheTraveler

      Yes, it was a cut and paste job, and it saved me a bunch of typing. But isn't that what science and it's application are all about? Saving people drudgery? It's completely laughable how you laud science as the "be all, end all" but then call me a "toolbox" for using the technology science provides.

      Not to mention, it was simply a joke ...

      August 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Matt Green

      When you use an anology to confirm Christanity, why don't you leave the part our where god talks to people. If that were a universal truth, no one would deny his existence and this whole debate would be futile. And for those of you who believe god talks to you, try telling that to a large group of people of any belief or faith and see how far that gets you.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  9. Rick

    You can't argue with science. If you base your faith just on what the church teaches, then in the 1400's the earth was flat and the center of the solar system. Science rules,Peroid........

    August 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Hof

      Especially the science that fully explains what causes mitosis.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Funny, but every time science and the Bible disagree, and irreftuable evidence comes to light, the Bible has been proven right. Question: why is it that the fossil record shows every animal/fish/bird as suddenly appearing (no links between any 2 anything)? Another question: why is it that, more than a century and a half since Darwin's theory (and it's still taught world-wide as an unproven theory) has the evidence increasingly pointed away from him, not in support of him (Natural Selection is actually more accurate)?

      August 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • delmontyb

      But science can't rule on every aspect of life, it can only deal with the senses. It can't rule on reason, logic, spirit, emotion, etc. It can use reason and logic, it can look at chemistry of the brain, etc, but can't define conscience.

      Furthermore, it was the Church that invented the scientific method, and also teaches evolution, in regards to, that all credit goes to God. (Aka, that however he chose to do it, he used the natural world to do so). 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • OrangeG

      You can always argue with science. To a point. That's what's great about it and makes it useful. The problem here is that so many arguments are lacking in verifiable evidence, and that is the point where those arguments may be dismissed as not serious.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • OrangeG

      Check your facts at someplace other than a creationist web site or Sunday school. Your scientific assertions, "why is it that the fossil record shows every animal/fish/bird as suddenly appearing (no links between any 2 anything)? Another question: why is it that, more than a century and a half since Darwin's theory (and it's still taught world-wide as an unproven theory) has the evidence increasingly pointed away from him, not in support of him", is utterly and quite refutably wrong by an abundance of verifiable scientific evidence. Try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_fossil and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils , just to get your feet wet. While you're there (if you bother), check time scales and reconsider your use of the word "suddenly." What is this supposed evidence that points away from Darwin's ideas and the extensive field of evolution? What journals have you been consulting in the scientific literature? What is this irrefutable evidence that proves the Bible right in any dispute with science? Just two or three examples of verifiable, reproducible evidence not coming from the Bible itself would be enlightening. Why do creationists, who would seem to wish to follow the commandment 'thou shalt not lie', so consistently resort to spewing outright and easily refutable lies. Why do creationists always confuse or lie about the meaning of the colloquial use of 'theory' with the scientific use of the term. You are way, way out of your depth in terms of anything resembling scientific standards of evidence, or evaluation of that evidence. Please, do your homework and show up with something credible.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  10. JudgeDB

    Science is not faith or a religion. In order for a view or theory to be scientific, it needs to be testable. In some cases, these tests are simply extremely complicated models and mathematical formulas. People denounce evolution because it is a "theory". Gravity is also a "theory", so unless these people also believe that their deity is constantly holding them against the Earth so they don't fly off into space, then this argument is simply ignorant as well as invalid.

    Faith has no place in science. The argument that science is just as much faith-driven as religion comes up all the time in these debates, and it is laughable. As I said before, science is testable. Some things are obviously much more difficult to test given our current technology, like say creating an entire universe from an infinitely dense singularity, but there are always mathematical models to back up such theories. This is in no way equivocal to faith-based belief in a deity who created the universe and all existence. Why are they unequivocal? Because you can't prove there is a god, not in any sort of testable scientific way, especially when all of your questions are answered with "because god did it that way" or "thats how god wanted it".

    August 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  11. JerseyBob

    When god comes down and shakes my hand and splits the sea wide, I'll start believing – until then, science and FACT rules

    August 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Hof

      Is that the science that said cylcamates cause cancer (as long as you drink 48 cases of sodas a day for six months), or the science that said coelocanths were extinct?

      August 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  12. Joe

    I find it funny that creationism says someone had to start everything that nothing could have just been there. However, they say God was always there. So God can just be there but not the universe? Under their own rules someone had to make God, and someone whould have to make that God, and so on. Either way you have to accept that it was there just because. Its what happend after that is debated and all the evidence points to one theory, evoultion.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  13. Bryan

    The irony of this is that once again...CNN and the population as a whole...get it wrong. Creationism should not be taught in school because it is a religious belief. Is it a theory? Sure. Well then you might as well teach the theories of the creation in the Kuran, the Buddhist ideas, and heck why not throw in the Incans and Mayans as well. The fact is that science is not religious but fact based. It should not be altered by anyone's religious ideals because the facts speak for themselves. If you want to learn about creationism then go to Sunday School. Go to church and get confirmed. You learn about that stuff there. THAT is the correct place to learn it. Not in a school.

    Why can't CNN or the population as a whole understand that?

    August 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • DanW

      Bryan, I disagree that creationism is a theory in the scientific sense. In the popular sense, sure. People all the time use the word 'theory' to mean an idea that they came up with to explain something. There is nothing required to back up the theory other than the thoughts in the person's mind, and thus we get the phrase "that's just a theory". A scientific theory explains what we observe, predicts what we should observe, and will be subjected to close examination by others. There is always a chance that new observations will be made that require modifying the theory, perhaps radically, such as happened with Newton's theory of gravity.
      I don't see that creationism is predicting anything, and its premise that God created everything is 100% unsubstantiated except to those with the bumper sticker that says "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."

      August 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  14. ReasonableXX

    Bill Nye for President!

    August 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  15. Rufus T. Firefly

    Wha...? Isn't there another one – the original point – that creationism is incorrect and therefore shouldn't be taught in schools?!?!

    No bashing, no belittling, just the simple fact that we should teach children factual, evidence-based science in science classrooms.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  16. personabsurd

    I think we should clear up the notion that lots of people seem to have that Bill Nye somehow needs the publicity of this statement and that he's somehow not qualified to speak on this subject: Bill Nye is a noted astrophysicist who designed planes for Boeing, was a student and friend of Carl Sagan, and helped design parts of the Mars Rover. He's been an advocate for science education in public schools and an expert in making learning entertaining and valuable for children for decades.

    Also, his video doesn't "slam creationism." He clearly says that evolution is the foundation for all of life sciences, and helps us to understand our world and life as we know it, and that without a belief in evolution, it's almost impossible to make life science follow logically.

    And let's remember that evolution, while it's a theory, is a theory about the beginning and the transformation of life based on things we have observed, namely that cells change and mutate and that those mutations can produce cells that are unique and new, and that it would follow that it's possible for molecules to form into single-celled organisms which mutate and combine into multi-cellular organisms which mutate, adapt, and grow over time into new forms of life. We know that this is possible, thereby making evolution not only possible but a very likely explanation for many observable factors in nature.

    Creationism, meanwhile, is founded on a phenomenon we've never observed: The ability for a being to create matter from nothing and then give that matter life which then spawns the entire basis for life populating a planet. Even if you believe in a God-created evolution, you're still basing that belief on an idea that's never been even close to proven, observed, or otherwise experienced.

    This doesn't mean that idea is impossible. But it's much more likely, based on the evidence we have and continue to gather, that natural evolution is what brought us to life as we know it, and that without teaching that or teaching it saddled with another totally unprovable theory, our children will have no basis for understanding life sciences. They'll likely become confused by what's true and what isn't, they'll be disinterested in science as a subject, and our already declining test scores in math and science will decline further while we stand around bickering over whether our kids should learn the thing we can prove or the thing we can't prove but choose to believe in anyway.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Sarah

      personabsurd: great post and not at all absurd.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  17. Monotheism is one step away from No Theism

    So if god exists and is this ridiculously complicated super being who created him? I raise this question because the religious idea of a creator assumes that someone must have created everything and when you get down to one god where did he come from? Another creator? Makes your lazy religious brain hurt doesn't it?

    August 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Nissim Levy

      Monotheism is one step away from No Theism in the same way that boolean logic is one step away from no logic. I reject a literal interpretation of Genesis and I don't believe in god in the traditional sense but I have to object to this line that you copied from Richard Dawkins. Monotheism is definitely far from atheism.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  18. Nissim Levy

    why would the opinion of the general public even be relevant concerning the validity of Evolution? would you put any weight on the opinion of the general public on the validity of String Theory for example. Of course not. How is Evolution different?

    August 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  19. FajitaBob

    Bill Nye is proof of God. Or he is the most highly developed being in this world. I prefer to believe the former.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Huebert

      When you say "proof" what do you mean? Because I don't think you and I use the same definition for proof.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry FajitaBob. Your initial statement is unfounded. Perhaps I can help if I understand how you arrived at this falsehood.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Merlin

      Bill Nye is proof of God.

      Bill Nye is proof of sperm and egg.

      August 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Realist

    Religions are tools invented to control the mass. They are mind control schemes exist to control how one acts, and thinks. They are definitely conceived by men. It is very interesting to see so many people believing in myths they don't understand nor had the chance to decide whether to follow. Just believe? why?

    August 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
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About this blog

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.