Bill Nye: A More Viable Theologian

bill nyeAnyone who watched the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate probably realized that this was a dialogue of the deaf. Many probably knew this without having to watch it. After seeing responses on Facebook, Twitter, or the blogosphere, some viewers felt that their candidate basically came out the other side victorious.

I personally felt like it was the Super Bowl all over again: not super exciting and one side looked kind of foolish. A few things I noticed:

  • *Ken Ham showed that he does not have a good grasp on ancient styles of writing and storytelling, making his Biblical interpretation pretty unfaithful to Scripture.
  • Nye and Ham spoke from two completely opposing worldviews, almost nullifying the debate. Only once did I hear “I learned something” during the debate.
  • An even deeper wedge may have been driven between science and Christianity for some people. Awesome.

The debate began with the question “Is Creationism a viable model of science?” Does it hold any weight in the world of science? Throughout the debate Ken Ham described a top-down model (everything coming from God above) of creation and science. Nye didn’t point this out until the last 20 minutes of the debate. He stated that Ham’s model was top-down, but the model of **Evolution is bottom-up – those people and things who make, it rise from the bottom.

This statement is why I wish Bill Nye was a more viable theologian. Several times throughout the debate Nye asserted “Now I’m no theologian, but…” and continued with his rebuttal. After his bottom-up assertion about evolution, I really wish he was. It’s a shame his bottom-up solution had to be pitted against Ham’s model.

It’s a shame because I feel like maybe the God I worship is more bottom-up than top-down…

Born from the bottom. From lowly means as an infant in a dirty stable. Not born as royalty from the top.

Came as a human. Lived as a human. Not a human shell. Not as a ghost pretending to be a human. A plain old, simple, poor human.

Hanging out with the lowest of society. 

Challenging the top-down order of the world. Saying things like “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” and “Blessed are the poor, the humble, those who mourn…”

Dying, in the most humiliating way possible.

Rising from the bottom.

 If I had to identify with a worldview that captures the image of the God of Creation, maybe Nye’s bottom-up model is a more viable option. If I had to identify one thing I took away from this debate – I’m glad I took anything away from it at all – it’s that I wish Bill Nye was a more viable theologian. Maybe, in a sense, he already is.

I do agree with Ken Ham that theology can – and must – interact and dialogue with science. But I’m inclined to think that Nye’s worldview has some deeper connections with theology, wonder, and the One who came to us from the bottom-up.

*A great post on reclaiming Scripture “not as textbook but as drama.” Remember, Scripture is an overarching story: Ken Ham and Bill Nye’s Dead-End Debate on Creationism and Evolution: Can We Please Change the Conversation?

**Evolution is much more nuanced than people coming from single-celled organisms. There’s a lot of in between and I’d highly recommend checking out BioLogos: an foundation placing faith and science in dialogue, as well as giving a lot of different perspectives on evolution…If there’s one place I would probably disagree with BOTH Nye and Ham it’s that the Theory of Evolution is black and white.

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2 thoughts on “Bill Nye: A More Viable Theologian

  1. That last line of the debate about bottom up theory is beautiful and may warrant a separate post 🙂 two great books that play off this, Down We Go by Kathy Escobar and Falling Upward by Richard Rohr. Great post Chris. Should have you guest post sometime.

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