Creationist Wisdom #272: Bill Nye’s Blind Eye

You’ve heard of Nebraska Man. Well, we may be on the brink of another discovery of even greater importance.

What we’ve found isn’t a letter-to-the-editor, but it’s quite similar. It’s a guest column appearing in the Statesman Journal located in Salem, Oregon. The column is titled By repeatedly turning a blind eye, science and faith proponents lose.

We usually omit the name and city of letter-writers because they’re private citizens, but this column is an exception — the author doesn’t seem to mind publicity. His name is Michael Duane Brown, and he’s a lawyer in Salem. Duane’s picture adorns his column, which we find remarkable because it displays the largest disproportion between head size and teeth size that we’ve ever seen in a human face. If a fossil like that were dug up somewhere it would generate all kinds of excitement.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s get to Duane’s column. Here are some excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font added for emphasis.

So Bill Nye, The Science Guy, turns a blind eye toward creationism. Many conservative Christians turn a blind eye toward evolutionary science. Both sides of that creation debate are wrong; each guilty of their own “blind eye” syndrome.

Ah yes, the old “both sides are wrong” approach to things. This should be fun! Duane’s column continues:

In the infamous Scopes trial (the basis for the 1955 movie “Inherit the Wind”), much sound and fury raged in a court of law in 1925 when the state of Tennessee tried to bar the teaching of evolution. Nye provides another verse of the same song as he seeks to bar the teaching of creationism.

Hey, Duane! A state law that imposes criminal sanctions for teaching science isn’t quite the equivalent of a private citizen’s recommending that parents should restrain themselves from imposing creationism on their children. Okay, Duane? Let’s read on:

Nye argues that creationism is wrong because it is based upon a “false premise” that God created the earth 10,000 years ago, give or take.

Look at Duane’s scare quotes around “false premise.” Hey, Duane: Young-earthism is every bit as false a premise as flat-earthism. As for the scientific age of the earth, that’s not a premise — it’s the evidence-based conclusion of geologists for more than 150 years, and it’s been cross-confirmed by astronomy, nuclear physics, and other sciences as well. Okay, on with the column:

Nye says that is contrary to science, which estimates the universe to be about 4.5 billion years old. He is correct that God did not create the earth 10,000 years ago, but his math is not biblical.

Whoa! Nye’s math isn’t biblical. All right, Duane, give us the biblical version:

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, states God created the heavens and the earth in “six days.” Nye and many Christians get hung up on their own definition of a “day,” being a calendar day, one revolution of the earth in the light of the sun. But that’s certainly not what Genesis states. It was not until the fourth “day” that the sun was even created.

We’ll skip the rest of that argument. If it intrigues you, click over to the Statesman Journal so you can read it for yourself. After Duane’s biblical calculations (or whatever they are) we come to this:

There was a time when I rejected the Bible as myth, like Nye. I thought science had all the answers. Cause and effect, that’s the ticket. Modern science gave us the ability to measure and control. But then I realized that science did not explain what I observed. Science did not provide the answers to Important Questions.

Duane was once as confused as Bill Nye, but he has managed to transcend science so he can answer the “Important Questions.” Okay, Duane, you’ve got our attention:

Here are Important Questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? What happens when I die?

We don’t know or care why Duane is here, but our recommendation is that when he dies, his remarkable skull and a bust of his head should be displayed in a museum, labeled “Homo Oregonus.” Here’s more:

A good “test” of your own world view is how well it answers those questions. Whether or not we all agree on the answers, can’t we agree those are really important questions?

No, Duane — we can’t even agree on that. And here’s the end of his column:

Let there be more light and less sound and fury on those areas of inquiry. Let’s not turn a blind eye on anything that sheds light on those questions.

Well, Duane, maybe Bill Nye will take your advice. But first you need to demonstrate that creationism sheds light on anything.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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30 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #272: Bill Nye’s Blind Eye

  1. Obtuse misleading arguments throughout the Oregonus letter writer’s text. Love the picture though.

  2. Hey, I can answer his sorry ass questions (Where did I come from? Why am I here? What happens when I die?) You came from Oregon. You are there because you haven’t moved to another place. When you die you are dead (nothing happens anymore, that is a natural consequence of being dead).

    If that was his only problem, problem solved! But his Christian answers? You came from God! God has a special plan for you and that is to wander around this earth for a while and then go live at his feet telling him how great he is.

    And these are preferable? Sheesh!

  3. Michael Duane Brown testifies:

    There was a time when I rejected the Bible as myth, like Nye…

    …but that subsequent elective lobotomy changed everything in a snip!

  4. I continue to be amazed at how strongly they are reacting to Bill Nye.

  5. Nye says that is contrary to science, which estimates the universe to be about 4.5 billion years old.

    I doubt Nye said that. The universe ten billion years older. Maybe it’s a typo.

    With respect to the “important questions”, if she is still alive, I suggest Mr. Brown ask his mom the first two. She was there for both his conception and birth. As to what happens when he dies, well, that depends on whether he chooses to be buried or cremated. Really, for “important questions”, the answers are much too trivial. Brown needs to come up with better questions if he wants to challenge science.

  6. Where did I come from? The scientific answer to that is provided by reproductive biology. But I don’t think that many people find that in conflict with their religious beliefs.

  7. First off, I would have created the sun before I got to the planets. God should have done that right after he created the firmament. Trust a guy to muck things up!

  8. TomS asserts:

    Where did I come from? The scientific answer to that is provided by reproductive biology. But I don’t think that many people find that in conflict with their religious beliefs.

    Disagree. If there was any pleasure experienced during that reproductive biology, there are plenty of folks who can manage to detect therein conflict with their religious beliefs. Particularly if any let or hinderance is applied to the ‘reproductive’ facility…

  9. Hey, Barbara!
    God’s a guy? Damn! All this time I thought we were made in his image which meant to me he was some kind of transgender cross dresser or something! And I never thought a guy would come up with something as soft and simple as evolution.

  10. BARBARA NECKER says: “First off, I would have created the sun before I got to the planets.”

    No, no, no! You need to create the Earth first, because that’s how you know where to put the sun.

  11. I came from my parents. Go back far enough my atoms came from a star. When I die the same thing will happen to me as every other living thing before me, decompose and get recycled. If you want to know what will happen to our souls or our ego or whatever you will have to find what it is made of or how the magic works.

    Why are we here? This question hits me as being hugely arrogant. I am here for the same reason why every other living thing is here. I exist for the same reasons a rock falls when it is dropped. No religion has answered this question in a manner that is not arrogant and egomaniacal. This is only an important question if you place yourself higher than the rest of the universe, of other life, of a basic understanding of anything. A more interesting question is to ask why can I see through my glass window but not my hand, then to continually ask why. It gets really exciting after the first few answers.

  12. Barbara Necker observes:

    Trust a guy to muck things up!

    I think you may have stumbled upon a compelling corollary to Dembski’s CSI theorem — and one with greater explanatory power than the original formulation of CSI.

    The Discoveroids are understandably coy about identifying the Intelligent Designer, but you make a good case about the probable gender of this hypothetical entity.

    Other corollaries may be proposed here, e.g., the material used by the ‘Intelligent Designer’ was supplied by IKEA, but with some parts missing and a faulty Allen key.

    In similar vein, I believe it was Lincoln who noted something along the lines of ‘God particularly loves ugly people, which is why he made so many of us.’

    And I cannot now recall to whom should be credited the observation that the huge number of species of beetle was an indication that this was a particularly divinely-favoured life form.

  13. Twiggy120–Hear, hear!

  14. Megalonyx the material used by the ‘Intelligent Designer’ was supplied by IKEA
    Was the material used by the ID intelligently designed?

  15. Anyone who can’t even decide what constitutes an Earth day, and thinks such a concept even has meaning without a sun, shouldn’t hazard an opinion in public about the age of the universe.

    I’d like to ask Mr Brown how long it takes his head to rotate on its axis, or what its molecular density is. Does it attract tiny orbiting bodies? Is it subject to climate change? Bill Nye would probably be interested, too.

  16. SC “Duane’s picture adorns his column, which we find remarkable because it displays the largest disproportion between head size and teeth size that we’ve ever seen in a human face.”

    When I saw his photo, I immediately thought of Jimmy Buffett’s line from “Fruitcakes”:

    “Religion is in the hands of some crazy-ass people
    Television preachers with bad hair and dimples”

    There’s a whole new career waiting for this guy if he ever gets tired of lawyering. But we shouldn’t concern ourselves with his appearance, even if it fits his message.

    And his message is off:
    Michael Duane Brown “Nye says that is contrary to science, which estimates the universe to be about 4.5 billion years old.”

    Wrong. Science does not estimate the universe to be 4.5 billion years old. Ed is correct — the best value we have now is 13.7 billion years.
    Duane was most likely confusing the age of the Earth for the age of the universe. There is much evidence supporting a figure for the Earth’s age as 4.6 billion years, along with the rest of the Solar System.

    The point is — those who say science is wrong should first learn what the science is before they criticize.

  17. In two thousand years people will be making pilgrimages to disney world. The pilgrims leaders will have created various sects to garner influence. The opposing sects will take up sides at the gates to disney world. On one side the signs will read “It’s so Mickey Mouse!” and the other side will be waving signs that read “It’s totally Goofy!”

  18. Ceteris Paribus

    Curm states re Barbara Necker:
    “No, no, no! You need to create the Earth first, because that’s how you know where to put the sun. ”

    But even then the sun doesn’t get to go next because the moon is much more important than the sun.

    The sun merely shines in the daytime when there is already plenty of light anyway, so the sun is of little utility.

    On the other hand, the moon shines at night when it is dark, and the light of the moon can come in handy sometimes.

  19. TomS ponders:

    Was the material used by the ID intelligently designed?

    Decidedly not.

    It may be that an infinite number of chimpanzees, each with a typewriter, would be required to produce a faithful copy of Hamlet, my guess is that no more than 3 drunken chimps could, given a modest supply of scrap lumber, cobble together a flat-pack self-assembly IKEA coffee table in something under 20 minutes.

    Once one embraces the freedom from empiricism on offer by the Creationists, one is free to spin no end of satisfying alternative explanations for ones perceptions.

    Particularly fruitful in this regard is the rich panoply of possibilities Dembski has on offer. So: we can suppose there was a flawless blueprint for the cosmos from the hand of the Intelligent Designer — but unfortunately, the actual construction was undertaken by an Idiot Subcontractor.

  20. Another arrgghhh….

    [And another Curmudgeonly intervention. All is well.]

  21. Michael Duane Brown, Esq said:

    their own definition of a “day,” being a calendar day, one revolution of the earth in the light of the sun.

    Actually, the Earth revolves around the Sun. The Earth rotates on its axis. Hence, a day is one rotation of the earth on its axis.
    MDB, Esq, Bloviator further said:

    Here are Important Questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? What happens when I die?

    Um, you have a hard time separating tasks, don’t you? Show me where anyone has said science has to answer these questions. Those questions are such a non-sequitor to the discussion of science and evolution that even bringing them up shows you are clueless.

  22. Gary states, “Actually, the Earth revolves around the Sun. The Earth rotates on its axis. Hence, a day is one rotation of the earth on its axis.”

    Nice catch, Boilermaker. Of course, they didn’t know any of this when the Bible was written.

  23. RSG said:

    Of course, they didn’t know any of this when the Bible was written.

    True. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about how long a day is. It just says that everything was created in six days. Regardless, Michael Duane Brown, Esq, should have known that if he was going to pontificate on science.
    And, yeah, don’t mess with those of us with degrees from West Laugh-a-lot!

  24. This link needs to be on one of these Nye discussions.

  25. Genesis 1:14-18 (KJV):  “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.”
    So, on the fourth day, God put the Sun in the firmament to divide the day from the night and to mark the passage of days. How, then, were there three days before that?

  26. TomS asks: “How, then, were there three days before that?”

    Dolt! He’s the watchmaker! He knows how to tell time.

  27. TomS asks: “How, then, were there three days before that?”

    OK, pay attention now:

    1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

    3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

    6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

    9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

    11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

    Granted, the Bible doesn’t explain how there was light without the sun, and it doesn’t say how much time elapsed from morning to evening. Maybe Ken Ham, in all his wisdom, can find the answers in Genesis.

  28. Michael Duane Brown here. As Eeyore, of Winnie The Pooh fame, would say, “Thanks for noticing.”

    You may be right about my photo. Maybe I have a face only Jesus could love. But, isn’t the important issue here the points I make within the Guest Opinion, not the file photo the newspaper printed?

    You’re correct that the Scopes trial prosecution is not exactly the same as Bill Nye’s free speech recommendations. My point is that in both situations each side was trying to prevent teaching the possibility of other point of view: Tennessee trying to prevent the teaching of evolution, and Nye trying to prevent the teaching of creationism. I’m for the free flow of information, and that’s why I think both sides in that debate are wrong. I’ll grant you the differences. Can you see the similarities?

    The “quotes” around “false premise” were from the Nye news article, not me.

    I agree with you that “young-earthism” and denying evolution does not make sense. My point is that the Bible does not require “young-earthism.” The days mentioned Genesis were not 24-hour days of the earth rotating in the light of the sun, because the sun had not even been created. And, even after the sun and the earth were created, who’s to say that earth was rotating every 24 hours 4 (or 14) billion years ago?

    It makes more sense to understand that the “days” were events not measured in 24-hr rotations of the earth, but events of unknown length. If we can both agree to flush “flat earth” and “young earth” ideas, then the order of the events in Genesis might be more important. We have earth formed, water, land, fish, birds, animals, and lastly man. Does that sound inconsistent with the evidence of evolution?

    You state that you do not agree that the three questions were important. But, you don’t state why… or what would be important questions.

    Where did I come from? Not just me, but everyone. Not just our mothers’ womb. We all come from there in one sense. But, what about mankind? Not just evolving from apes, or fish, or cells, but where did the first atoms, the first matter come from? If not from God, from where? It seems like an important question, even if you do not agree with my answer. You like evolution. But, evolution does not answer that question. It only goes back a few billion years, give or take, and it does not explain whether or where matter first came from… or energy.

    Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Is there any purpose? If you don’t think that’s an important question, then what is?

    What happens when I die? Do I spend eternity in Heaven/Hell… does something else happen? That seems important. You don’t address that question, and the reason I suspect is because we disagree about the answer. I’m OK with disagreeing about the answers. I have the impression that you don’t believe in Heaven or Hell. I get that. But, doesn’t it matter whether Heaven or Hell exists? Even if you think nothing matters, doesn’t it matter whether you are correct that nothing matters? Ouch! My big head is starting to hurt.

    Creationism answers those three questions. I was created by God (whether in one moment or billions of years of evolution). My purpose is to gratefully live in fellowship with my creator, taking care of his creation. When I die, I will go to heaven or hell… my choice. I choose…. Heaven.

    Everyone has a World View. I told you mine. In addition to telling me that I’m wrong, why don’t you tell me what’s the correct World View? Why don’t you answer those questions? If you believe in evolution, where did that start? From where did the first atoms come?

    What is your answer to whether there is any purpose to our existence?

    What is your explanation of where you spend eternity? From what evidence do you draw your conclusions? Is there any possibility that you are wrong, or is that just unthinkable? Are you able to explain your World View without any leaps of faith?

    I might be wrong. Shed some light on this.

    Michael Duane Brown, Homo Oregonus.

  29. Michael Duane Brown, Homo Oregonus, says: “You may be right about my photo.”

    I like your sense of humor, and it’s good of you to visit us. I want to be clear that I have no problem with your religion — or anyone’s religion. That is absolutely your right, and I never debate such things. This isn’t an atheist blog — but we have plenty of readers of that view. We don’t bother each other about that because our principal interest here is science. I think that’s Bill Nye’s interest also.

    The “days” in Genesis are the subject of furious debates by theologians. I’m not skilled in such things, and I don’t think it matters. Geology, astronomy, and cosmology are fact-based, and in my humble opinion, that’s all we really have to go on — if we care about evidence. If theology works better for you, that’s fine.

    As for your questions about where it all comes from, why we’re here, and what happens to us when we’re gone, science has some answers (based on the evidence we’ve got so far) about the origin and end of the universe, but those answers are tentative. There’s much more to be learned, of course. Science doesn’t discuss why we’re here; that’s not a scientific question. Every religion in the world has its own answers to your questions, but those answers aren’t based on evidence. So what shall we do? My choice is go to with the evidence, and to keep an open mind to any new evidence that may appear.

  30. techreseller

    To Megalonyx

    Re: And I cannot now recall to whom should be credited the observation that the huge number of species of beetle was an indication that this was a particularly divinely-favoured life form.

    E.O. Wilson is the source of that observation.