Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bill Nye: A Modern Dualist

     Recently the well known and beloved TV personality, known as Bill Nye the Science Guy narrated a video that has now gone viral on YouTube (over 3 million views before I saw it).  In his video discussing biology, more specifically Creationism and Evolution, Bill Nye presented a short but revealing talk.  First, Mr. Nye assumed that all Creationists believe in a six/seven day literal creation (thus making the world 6 to 10 thousand years old). Second, Mr. Nye assumed that all people who hold a creationist perspective are "holding everyone else back" and that somehow by believing a divine being created everything we are actually halting the advancement of science in American culture.  And, third, Mr. Nye declared that a "creationist" view of the world would be gone in a few centuries.  Only history will be able to reveal whether or not this final claim will actually come to pass, but it sure seems arrogant to make such a prediction.  Only someone who has firmly placed their faith in science to answer all the questions ever asked (which science can't do by definition, because it is limited to the observable universe) would assume that science will one day erase the need for philosophy, epistemology, and various other arenas of question engagement.  His first two assumptions reveal that Mr. Nye has bought into the either/or mentality of modern dualism.  He is assuming that one cannot believe the world was created and that the Creator used evolution to bring about the forms of life we see today (which many believers in a creator believe today).  He is under the illusion that it must be either creation or evolution, there is no possible way for these views to coexist, or there is no possible third transcendent way.  One of the other assumptions he made was that those who hold a creationist perspective are "holding everyone else back" I would submit for 'evidence to the contrary' the history of Western scientific advancement that owes many of it's greatest breakthroughs to minds who were devout believers in not only a God, but in a creating God.  Isaac Newton, Galileo, and more recently Francis Collins, Alister McGrath and others.  There are brilliant scientists who have pushed the envelope, created innovation and discovered amazing truths about the world and universe and have done so with a belief that inspired them to inquire, to ask hard questions (the toughest ones) and to seek to discover.
     Before you go assuming, Mr. Nye, that all creationists believe the same way, think the same way, or address the theory of evolution the same way, maybe you ought to take more time to address the theological diversity of religious beliefs, before you assume you can neatly categorize people into your preconceived little boxes, based on caricatures and stereotypes.  It looks as if you have bought into the dualistic mindset that says every debate is an either/or with only two sides, when there is most assuredly a multitude of perspectives on this issue from people of science, people of faith and many faith-filled scientists.