First, I want to express my gratitude to fellow skeptics for allowing me to post to the NTS site. At this point I will take advantage of that privilege to express some personal thoughts. These are mine and do not necessarily represent those of the NTS Board of Directors.
The North Texas Skeptics is organized as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit educational and public service corporation. We do not get involved in politics, and officially we do not engage in religious disputes. That philosophy is not, however, a surrender flag on our intellect. Skeptics have always been and should always be able to call out religious stupidity.
While skeptics may step around religious statements of faith, there are still issues painted over by religion that we can and must dispute. If somebody tells us his faith in Jesus is a comfort to his life, then we nod, not necessarily approvingly, but knowingly. However, when statements about the creation of the universe, the age of the Earth, the origin of the human race conflict with known facts, skeptics must step up to the challenge. We have done that before.
Thirteen years ago James Cunliffe presented a talk on biblical historicity. The sum of it was that the Bible lacks any amount of factual content. This should not be seen as an attack on religious faith. Faith does not rest on fact. That’s why it’s called faith. We will continue to confront areas where faith conflicts with reality. Notable topics are:
- Faith healing
- Biblical historicity
All the while, skeptics must take care to understand that people of faith are not the natural enemies of truth. Science, and rational skepticism, have many friends in the world of faith. One of the staunchest defenders of modern theories of biology is Professor Kenneth Miller, author of biology text books and a reliable defender of biological evolution. His testimony against creationist arguments has been invaluable.
All that said, the notable defenders of science in the face of religious objections have been prominent atheists. To name a few:
- Richard Feynman
- Carl Sagan
- Richard Dawkins
- Lawrence Krauss
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
- Bill Nye
Yes, Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Bill Nye, who turned 60 last month, graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His popular show Bill Nye the Science Guy ran from 1993 to 1998 and went a long way toward popularizing science for young people. More recently he has taken his honed TV personality on the road, giving lectures, delighting audiences, and at the same time continuing to educate the public on science.
Which brings us to today’s topic:
Waco Tribune did *not” pull its Bill Nye the Science Guy story
A Washington Post journalist sends this email:
I saw this posting today on Facebook — that the incident happened isn’t very surprising, but is it true that the Waco Tribune took down its story about it (mentioned at the bottom of this post)? I’d be interesting in knowing what really happened.
The emailer links to a ThinkAtheist.com piece from 2009 that’s apparently making the rounds on Facebook. It reports that Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) “managed to offend” a Waco audience “when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.”
The post adds that “this story originally appeared in the Waco Tribune, but the newspaper has mysteriously pulled its story from the online version, presumably to avoid further embarrassment.”
Wrong! says Waco Tribune editor Donnis Baggett. He tells Romenesko readers:
The story was published on April 6, 2006, and is still posted on our paid subscription website. Therefore, it’s available only to readers who pay for access.
Additionally, for arcane reasons connected to a change in site hosting two years ago, sometimes the story is erroneously labeled as having been removed. This has apparently led some to believe we pulled it because of
pressure, when in fact we have not.
I’ve copied the story from our site and am attaching it below for your reference.
Here is an excerpt from the Tribune-Herald article by Tim Woods:
The Science Guy is entertaining and provocative at MCC lecture
Author: Tim Woods Tribune-Herald staff writer
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald on April 6, 2006
Audience members who expected to see Bill Nye “The Science Guy” conduct experiments and wow their children received quite a surprise Wednesday when Nye spoke at McLennan Community College.
Nye instead addressed such topics as Mars exploration, global warming and energy consumption, particularly oil and gas. He even ruffled a few religious feathers along the way.
The problem came when Bill disputed the Genesis story of the creation of the sun and the moon as two great lights, one to do during the day time and the other to serve at night. Bill observed that the moon is not a light unto itself but serves only to reflect light from the sun. He could also have pointed out the moon shines during the day when its light is not needed, but that would have been superfluous.
Anyhow, some people objected to this as anti-religious and walked out. And the Tribune-Herald did not subsequently delete the story from their Web site. Like all their news, it eventually went behind their pay wall, as seen above.
And the Tribune-Herald did not pull the story in deference to the Science Guy. They could possibly have pulled it in deference to the fools who objected and walked out, but reputable news sources do not do this.
I have a separate blog that treats religious and political areas where the North Texas Skeptics must not venture. I do this so the NTS won’t have to. In the mean time there is no area of religious irrelevancy I will not avoid on behalf of the North Texas Skeptics, and these observations will continue to be posted here.
Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.