Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Responding to a Video From Bill Nye, the Anti-Science Guy [Clinton Wilcox]

I've seen a video being shared on Facebook from a website called Big Think, in which Bill Nye (heralded as "The Science Guy" because he plays one on TV) condescendingly tells pro-lifers that we should not tell women what to do, and that the pro-life position is based on "outdated" science. That is, the science that Alan Guttmacher, in 1933 said is "so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn't part of the common knowledge" (see Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation). The science that every embryology textbook of the 20th and 21st centuries supports. This science is "outdated" to Bill Nye. Perhaps most egregiously he tries to pit science against religion in this video, which belies a severe ignorance of how science actually developed.

Let's take a look at Bill Nye's "scientific" claims against the pro-life position. He also tries to deny abstinence education works and a few other things, but they are not related to his scientific claims. So I will not address them here.

He starts off by saying that many more human eggs are fertilized than become humans. This is true. Many become choriocarcinomas, or hydatidiform moles, or other non-human entities. But this doesn't show that human beings are not human from fertilization, all it shows is that something can go awry in the fertilization process and create a non-human entity, or a human entity that won't survive very long due to a severe defect.

Next he says that the sperm fertilizing the egg is not all you need. You also need to attach to the uterine wall. However, Nye is incredibly vague here. What needs to attach to the uterine wall? The fertilized egg does. But fertilized egg is a misnomer. Once the egg is fertilized it becomes a zygote, an early embryo. It's the embryo that needs to attach to the uterine wall. What is the embryo? Nye doesn't even begin to talk about it. Once the embryo is fertilized, it is a new, genetically distinct, whole human organism. Attaching to the uterine wall is essential for the embryo to continue developing, but the embryo's life doesn't begin at implantation, anymore than the fetus' life ends at birth.

After that, Nye asks if we grant personhood rights to the unborn entity from fertilization, then whom are we going to imprison? It's actually a half-question. Is he insinuating that we should lock up women because not all of their embryos implant? Why on earth would we do that? The woman isn't responsible for that. We only lock people up if they are responsible, whether knowingly or if they should have known, for a crime. Nye says this results from a deep lack of scientific understanding, but as is evident from the video, Nye fits this description, not pro-life people.

That's all I'll really say on the video. Nye's other claims are just as bogus as his scientific ones in this video, but I wanted to focus specifically on the scientific claims, since Bill Nye is held up as a knowledgeable scientist and his claims are being shared around Facebook uncritically. We should always check the facts, no matter who it is that is doing the speaking. Pro-life people aren't out to tell women what to do with their bodies. We are only out to make the very modest claim that human beings are human from fertilization, and to kill them unjustly is immoral and should be illegal.


  1. "Nye asks if we grant personhood rights to the unborn entity from fertilization"

    Personhood is crucial, because we can't wait until the question of abortion comes to decide whether or not the unborn are people. Once the issue of abortion comes up, emotional issues run very high, and the likelyhood of rationalizing abortion is very high. It sounds radical, but I think we need to consider giving treating the unborn just like we would any other child. If we ask a pregnant mother who has a 3-year old and a 5-year old how many children she has, we want her to answer "three". The unborn should get names, be counted in the population, be declared on your taxes, and even be given social security numbers. If an unborn baby should die, he should get a death certificate. So before the issue of abortion comes up, we've established personhood. We'd be in a far easier position then to condemn abortion as murder.

  2. I watched the video some time ago, but as I recall he presented this argument: They (apparently all prolifers) argue from the Bible. The bible is wrong, since it says that all sex ends in pregnancy. Since it is wrong about this, it is wrong about the prolife position.

    I paraphrased this, but it struck me as so odd; I don't think he read about Hannah, or the many others who never conceived a child right away!


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