Bill Nye: #NotMyScienceGuy

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 In conservative circles, Bill Nye’s credibility has been questioned quite a bit due to the controversial statements he makes on Netflix’s “Bill Nye Saves the World.” These criticisms aren’t anything new, but since it is a trending topic, I wanted to discuss it.

As a Catholic engineer, I find myself in a weird position because unlike other conservatives, I’m not ready to totally dismiss him as a scientist, but I do think it is valid that his credibility is questioned.

Bill Nye has a science background.

Bill Nye received a BS in mechanical engineering from Cornell. He also has several patents in his name. Though he might not actively be working in a field primarily focused on physical sciences, engineers are educated in the basics and implement knowledge from the physical sciences in their problem-solving. They may also utilize the scientific methods (or offshoots of it).

Maybe it’s my own career as an engineer that makes me want to point out that engineers use science, but I don’t think we can just say “Bill Nye just has a bachelor’s in engineering so he knows nothing about science.” We can, however, discuss his credibility in other areas.

Though Bill Nye could perhaps be considered a scientist, that doesn’t qualify him to speak on every topic related to science.

Bill Nye can be the best dang mechanical engineer to walk the earth, but that doesn’t make him qualified to discuss issues like when an individual human’s life begins* or gender.  “But Kate,” one of you who follows me on social media may say “I see you making scientific claims about when an individual human’s life begins.” The difference between Bill Nye and I in this situation is that what I am saying does not contradict the majority of experts who are qualified to speak on the topic.

Bill Nye is focusing on highly politicized issues.

On one hand, we could interpret this as the fact that he wants to focus on issues that are relevant in the culture. To me, however, it seems like he is bending science to support more liberal ideas. Don’t get me wrong: he does make some valid points. However, I am more inclined to believe that this show is a play on the nostalgia of millennials. While this is something incredibly common in the media, in fact, it’s necessary to be successful, cramming science into a certain position or presenting a limited view is problematic. To be fair, this is just one blogger’s opinion, and I’m happy to have a discussion on it, but I’ll wrap this up by saying it seems skeevy.

Bill Nye is a prime example of scientism. Click To Tweet

Bill Nye is a prime example of scientism.

As a Catholic, I believe that God is the source of Truth. Yes, I used a capital T because it is that big of a deal. However, as the author of all Truth, that means that all He created has truth, and that includes science.  God gave us rational minds to unravel some of the mysteries of the universe through scientific processes. That’s pretty awesome!

However, in our current American culture, the respect for science has been perverted into an unhealthy obsession and over-reliance. In simple terms, scientism is the belief that science is the most authoritative source (or the only source) of truth.

Should we use science? ABSOLUTELY! It is incredible. Science, however, does not have all the answers. I love and respect science, but if that was the only source of truth, we would have no history, no philosophy, no literature, and no religion.  

Science can’t tell us whether or not something is moral. It can’t tell us if something is beautiful. It can’t tell us why every one of us is incredibly valuable and full of dignity. It can’t tell us the meaning of life.

Science is incredible, and praise God it has helped us so much in our society, but it isn’t the only truth out there.

Science is incredible, and praise God it has helped us so much in our society. Click To Tweet

To be fair, I have not watched his show.

These judgments are based on clips or direct quotes that I watched or read. I tried watching the first episode, and honestly, it bored me. It was cheesy and overdramatic. While the demonstration was interesting, it was because science is awesome. I stopped shortly after the demonstration because though I do think we need to do something about climate change (that’s a whole other can of worms), it simply wasn’t engaging.

I’m not the only one critiquing Bill Nye.

There are some great posts out there talking about Bill Nye. Keep in mind that these are all opinions; if you want to make scientific claims, please look at reputable sources that are based on the research and evidence provided by experts in the appropriate field.

Philosophy

BISHOP BARRON ON BILL NYE AND PHILOSOPHY

Abortion

Dear Bill Nye: Where’s the science, guy?

Bill Nye the Unscientific Abortion Guy

Bill Nye: Embryology science denier

Paging Mr. Science Guy…embryology denialism in desperate need of debunking

“At some point, all of humankind seems like kin”: A pro-life review of Undeniable by Bill Nye

Gender and Sexuality

Bill Nye Unweaves the Rainbow – and Undersells Science
Bill Nye, Progressive Science, and the Threat of Nature: CONTENT WARNING: the author of the blog post quotes a line from Bill Nye’s show which uses the Lord’s name in vain

Bill Nye promotes transgenderism in the vilest way

Population Control

Bill Nye, Dimestore Eugenicist

Bill Nye used to teach kids about science, but now he wishes there weren’t so many ‘extras’

Bill Nye The Eugenics Guy: Maybe We Should Penalize People With “Extra Kids”

What do you think?

Are people being too hard on Bill Nye, or does he deserve the criticism?

Is Bill Nye addressing important issues?

What are your thoughts on his new show?

______

*For the sake of this post, I’m going to stick to strictly biological terms of when a human life begins. I will, however, acknowledge that there is also a philosophical side to this argument.

Comments 6

  • Interesting, I had no idea “the science guy” was tackling issues if gender and population control. I remember him from when I was a kid. This is an example of how scientists and experts can lead lay people astray with supposed scientific facts.

    • Absolutely. It’s frustrating because he is really distorting science, and I think it can have a two-fold effect. For those who are already opposed to Christian morality, they may blindly accept this as fact and use it to further justify their stance. For Christians who are uneasy about science (which isn’t too common, but still a concern) and/or don’t realize how compatible faith and reason are, this may drive them away from STEM fields which is one area we really need faithful Christians.

  • Oh dear! We need to pray for him. Hopefully, Bill Nye will come around full circle, as I eventually did in my own science career, and realize that science can’t explain everything, but Our Lord can. Once a scientist hits that dead-end wall of realizing you’ve studied “everything there is to know” about your scientific field of choice, but you’re still left hanging with the same unanswered questions (meaning of life-type questions), then there is knowwhere else to look but UP.

  • This was really well done! I’ve been avoiding reading the articles about Bill Nye because I feel like a lot of it is hype and drama. Thank you for balancing research and objectivity with the acknowledgement that your conclusions are your own personal opinion. And all those extra resources – WOW you did your research! Thank you so much <3

    • I wasn’t sure I wanted to write the post for the reasons you described, but I kept feeling a pull to do it. Thank you for your kind words!

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