Bill Nye Boo'd In Texas For Saying The Moon Reflects The Sun

Bill Nye, the harmless children's edu-tainer known as "The Science Guy," managed to offend a select group of adults in Waco, Texas at a presentation, when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.

As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.

But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.

Nye was in town to participate in McLennan Community College's Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave two lectures on such unfunny and adult topics as global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption.

But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."

The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.

At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled "We believe in God!" and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they'd always suspected.

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.

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  • Shannon Barber

    Wow...they took fact as an attack on their god. Imagine that.

  • Lesa

    I don't care if you believe in God, you cannot change the basic facts of science.  How do you explain an eclipse, it's that just God winking at you? 

  • SteveInCO

    So let me see if I understand this now.

    Bill Nye was not booed for saying the moon reflects the sun's light?  He was instead booed for claiming that the Bible says the moon emits its own light?

  • Rob Klaers

    Steve.. it's the other way around. He said that the moon didn't generate it's own light, but reflected that of the sun. Thereby contradicting the Genesis 1:16 "God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."

  • SteveInCO


    I am afraid that doesn't answer my question.  What Bill Nye said is not in question, it's the crowd's precise motivation for booing him.

    It was suggested three pages back or so that the crowd was unhappy with him for saying Genesis says the moon shines by its own light when of course the moon doesn't--in other words, they perceived he was mischaracterizing Genesis.  (Much as we get annoyed when they accuse atheists of being mad at God, or of eating babies.)  And not for making the (true) claim that the moon shines by reflected light.  [One can argue about the interpretation of Genesis here.]

    Or to put it in other words, if someone had interviewed one of the booers afterwards, would they have said "It says here in the Bible that the moon shines by its own light so I booed Nye for trying to say otherwise" or would he have said, "The Bible doesn't say that the moon shines by its own light so I booed Nye for saying the Bible was stupid."  The second possibility implies more brain cells reside in their skulls than the first.

  • dataguy

    SteveinCO, I think you are partially correct in your assertion, but in the big picture the Science Guy was not saying the Bible was stupid, he was pointing out that people who base their opinions on the Bible often have to go back and re-assess what they say the Bible says, so it's not a good foundation for science.  This whole experience made his point well.

    The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Global Warming and there sure are a lot of Global Warming skeptics who believe their anecdotal evidence is more reliable than science.  It's likely that someday those Global Warming skeptics (if they are intellectually honest) will have to say that they were wrong.

    History is full of examples of how this has played out in the Bible.  Are people with darker skin inferior to those with lighter skin?  Are women inferior to men?  Is it good-parenting to beat a child?  Is it ok to own slaves?  Does the Sun revolve around the Earth?  Should heretics be put to death? Are women bad for menstruating?  All of these things were commonly held beliefs for centuries at a time because the Bible said it was so.  Some Christians still believe some of these things, but most will now say they are wrong.

    Bill Nye was pointing out this shell game is common when religion meets logic.

  • archaeopteryx

    Ian - RE: "America scares me"

    How do you think WE feel --?!

  • G. Michael Williams

    @Ian Beveridge, it's nothing to do with climate preservation, it's about bankrupting developed countries so everyone is equal in poverty, except the ruling elite of course.

  • KaraC

    This is disturbing at so many levels.

  • Chad Vieth

    Kind of scary having people who thinks that way, what is next burning people at the stake for being left handed?

  • Damon Ross

    I hope they nuke this town to quarantine and contain the stupidity...

  • Courtney Hammett

    This is the reason I couldn't be Christian anymore. People clearly wrote the Bible before we knew anything about the world.
    And by the boyfriend's 6-year-old brother knows the Moon reflects light. Geez. 

  • alex

    well no where in that blog did it say they didn't believe that the moon reflects light..they simply got angry coz he brought up religion and tried to mishap the bibles make god out to be an idiot to their children. the moon is a lessor light. its a mixture of the same light from the sun granted, also with star light and eartlight  but it is still correctly termed a lessor light to the suns.

  • Heather Spoonheim

    He did choose a very subtle point in encouraging them to think about their holy text in terms of scientific observation.  It's not like he pointed out that the bible has us living in an air bubble trapped under a convex disk - a disk with various windows through which the sun and moon can pass on their various trajectories throughout the season.  He also didn't mention the part about Yahweh thinking that bats were birds.  :D

  • archaeopteryx

    @Alex - RE: "to make god out to be an idiot"

    I don't believe anyone is trying to "make god out to be an idiot," that fault lies entirely with those who created him.

  • Ken Hughes

    Myths may have as much power and omniness as its creator(s) wants it to have, and people who base their lives on mythical gods and even the one they choose to capitalize, are the real, raving idiots.  They want to reshape the world and all humanity in their idiotic image.  They're just a crowd of sick puppies.

  • Brandy D

    Just what I would expect from Texas, considering the way many there want to edit important stuff out of textbooks.

  • archaeopteryx

    Oh, that's just the tip of the iceberg Brandy D! Follow this carefully: Texas buys more schoolbooks than any other state; textbook companies make a greater profit if they can save money. Therefore, whatever the State Board of Education decides for Texas, is what goes into all of the schoolbooks across the nation, that way, the publishing companies don't have to go to the expense of creating and publishing different textbooks for each state, thus saving money. Now a state can CHOOSE to opt out of receiving the Texas version, but to have their own printed will cost them FAR more money, and considering the financial positions of most school systems today, that's not possible - so far, only two states, California and one other, have chosen not to accept the Texas version, which this year, minimizes the role that atheist Thomas Jefferson played in the establishment of this country.

    Google the controversy - it'll turn your hair gray overnight to see what Texas is not only getting away with, but foisting onto other states as well - Texas gets to indoctrinate the little children of America! Give it a generation, and "Ooops!" will be the largest word in our vocabulary.

  • archaeopteryx

    And we'll all vote Republican and go to church every Sunday.

  • Karen Lollis

    Yep - it's appalling! Our boys' middle school world history book actually presented ancient Israel (and the OT bible stories) on equal footing with other ancient civilizations.

  • Brandy D

    Archaeopteryx - That is exactly what I meant; I just couldn't remember details and didn't want to bother looking them up because I have a bunch of stuff that I should be doing tonight [doing real well at getting it done too, seeing I am reading email and came back here. :-)]

  • archaeopteryx

    I believe I would complain to your individual State Board of Education, and spread the word and organize others to do so as well. See, that's how corrupt democracies work - it takes a handful of people to create a problem, and thousands to correct it. That's how they win, because it's next to impossible to get those thousands together.

    Coming together forced this country to extend civil rights to all races, and forced the country to leave Viet Nam, so we know it can be done.

  • archaeopteryx

    BrandyD - glad I could help, unlike you, I was just hangin' out, not doing much of anything, and decided, what the hey --!

  • archaeopteryx

    Bill Nye Strikes Back!

    Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka "The Science Guy," if grownups want to "deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them."

  • archaeopteryx

    Bill Nye Strikes Back!

    Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka "The Science Guy," if grownups want to "deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them."

  • archaeopteryx

    True, but irrelevant - the Bible, an inerrant book, the writing of which was overseen by an all-powerful god who created the universe, should be accurate in its scientific assertions. If the Bible implies that the moon makes its own light, then by god, it needs to make its own light. Unless maybe the Bible's wrong --?

  • Ken Hughes

    In any event it's all based on a book written long before science gave menkind a clear view of what's going on in the cosmos and is therefore mostly idiotic holy-man ramblings and speculation warped to suit some preconceptions to support a yth, so what difference does it make in the end.  Some peple will insist on being stupid and having their intellect dulled down to the lowest holy-roller concept; f * ^ $ 'em.

  • Heather Spoonheim

    The point, Stephen, is that the bible is factually wrong because it wasn't written/inspired by some all-knowing deity.  It has the sun being created after the earth, it has outer space being filled with water and the sky being a firm dome that separates the water above from the water below.  It has the rest of the cosmos being created as a mere afterthought - after the sun and the moon.  The greater/lesser light issue was just a Bill's way of politely pointing out that one cannot learn about the cosmos from a Bronze Age book of superstitious drivel.

    The reason the story is interesting to us is that Christians are generally incapable of dealing with factual claims and just act like children - storming out.  It's really a cute little tale about the intellectually repugnant state of destroying a human mind with cult indoctrination.  Ok?  Thank you.

  • Ken Hughes

    Well said Heather, well said indeed.  I've been an atheist for almost 30-years after being a skeptic from earliest memory and an agnostic up until I declared my non-belief after being dragged to an Assembly of doG for a year by my missus.  I now refer to myself as a "Card-carrying atheist" because I do precisely that.  My calling cards have the Greek atheos under my name and I am not hesitant to give them out even here in deepest, darkest Wise County Texas (the "Wise" name is an oxymoron for a Texas county.  A local friend and I have started the Wise Free Thinkers & Atheist MeetUp group and meet ever other Sunday @ 12:30 in the local Starbucks.  "Bill Ney the Science Guy" rules!!!!!

  • archaeopteryx

    It matters a great deal, Stephen, because it indicates that those who wrote the Bible had no clue as to how their universe worked, and if they were "inspired" by a creator who made everything, one must wonder why they were given bad information. One can only assume, a) their god fed them false facts, or b), they made them up on their own, without any "heavenly inspiration," which, by extension, implies that if one part of the Bible was not divinely inspired, then either none of it was, and is subject to the same flaws throughout, or that we must pick and choose which parts were divinely inspired, and which were invented by fertile, but inaccurate, imaginations of men. Which really leads us to question if in fact, ANY of the Bible was "inspired," or if it was, how incompetant a leader their god must have be, not to have done a more efficient job of informing his followers factually.

    Even your last statement is innacurate - have you honestly NEVER seen the moon out in the daytime? And completely absent from sight at night? How effective is an absentee ruler?

    You're young and naive - go read some science books COSMOS, by Carl Sagan leaps to mind, if you only have time for one - then come back and re-read the Bible. Maybe by then, you will have acquired some degree of wisdom.

  • archaeopteryx

    Food for thought, Stephen --

    "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

    "But," say Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

    "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that" and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic." --

    Douglas Adams
    "A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

    If it were only so easy --

  • archaeopteryx

    Stephen, your earlier comments were so simplistic and smacked of naivete, that I misinterpreted them. I retract any remarks that in hindsight might appear patronizing. Once you revealed what I can only hope is your true self, you strike me as someone who would fit right in. Welcome!

  • archaeopteryx

    More accurate to say, "The main, big picture, is that the sun's light, as reflected off the moon, often governs the night." Unless Gen 1:16 says something to that equivalent, it is incorrect.

    RE: "and im not a typical young idiot." - as your subsequent comments attest. I don't need to research your credentials to determine the quality of your comments, I have credentials of my own, but here, I rise or fall based on what I say, rather on what I did. I accept you at your word.

  • archaeopteryx

    Some of my  best friends are excellent chemists - their meth labs hardly ever explode --

  • Heather Spoonheim

    @Stephen Russell

    And what I said was Bill took a very softball approach to pointing out that the bible is dead wrong about the cosmos - he's much more diplomatic than I - yet the typical Christian cannot address facts and only become emotional when any aspect of their cult scripture is thrown into question.

    This thread was posted almost 4 years ago and the only people who keep bringing it back to life are Christians.  Read through the 33 pages of comments and you'll see the thread dies and then some Christian shows up here to tell us how we are all totally wrong about Bill, or Bill was out of line, or grammatically a case could be made for that verse based on the English translation - and that has been going on for 4 years.  It's not Atheists keeping this thread alive.

  • Heather Spoonheim

    Outer space is not filled with water - astronauts wear space suits, not scuba gear.  They sky is not a solid dome covering us like some sort of snow globe.  The earth did not come into existence before the sun.  On these matters the bible is dead wrong and I'm willing to bet my life on it.

    The story is #3 in google because Christians just won't stop coming here and beating a dead horse on the very issues I just mentioned.

  • Heather Spoonheim

    Christian 'scientists' do nothing but try to shoe-horn Bronze Age doctrines into our modern understanding of the universe - in spite of understanding how it works rather than to better understand how it works.

  • archaeopteryx

    Stephen - but if you said you beat me to the mail by flying, that, just as saying that the moon emits its own light, would not be true.

    RE: "if you find a full proof way of taking away what they believe, everything they stand for crumbles. Their whole life. There would be no purpose in them giving money, pastors would be useless, etc.  this applies to everyone. Muslims, atheist, Buddhists, etc. I mean imagine if you were wrong."

    WOW! Who mislead you? Most of us here were raised in a theist household, and when we rejected theism, having logically concluded that no gods exist, not only did the bottom NOT drop out for us, the whole world opened up!

    True, pastors would be useless, but then they've always been - maybe they would go out and get REAL jobs and actually contribute to the society they've been milking all these years.

  • archaeopteryx

    @Stephen - RE: "I only said the young idiot comment because you called me young and naive." - which I retracted, remember?

  • archaeopteryx

    @Stephen - once you have thoroughly explained to me why you don't believe in Zeus, then you will understand why I don't believe in Yahweh.

    I don't like religions because they prey (not pray) on Human insecurities and fears, in order to promote doctrines for the purpose of controlling the behavior of others. But as the world's population becomes more and more educated as to how the world REALLY works, religions will automatically recede further and further into oblivion.

  • archaeopteryx

    I wish I had a dollar for every theist who has come on this board over the past year, saying, "I am very interested in better understanding your viewpoint" --

    But only Morgan Matthew makes THAT kind of big bucks!

  • James Cox

    "I am just curious, but if you were to explain to me why you believe what you do, why you don't like Christianity, why you don't like other religions, why you don't believe in a God, what would you say? "

    1)  '..explain to me why you believe what you do..' As a person that has decided to move on after being only marginally theist, I think your question allows to once again revisit material that seems a waste of time. Being answerable 'to you' seems implay that you are here to bless or condemn one more time. Since I do not see you as a priest, father confessor, or grand inquisitor, it seems unclear if such a demand on my time is reasonable.

    2)   '..why you don't like Christianity? ' For me it seems to be unneeded. If you must indulge, knock yourself out.

    3)   '..why you don't like other religions?..' For me I do what I can to honor them when they atleast appear to do good works, respect civil rights, attempt to promote 'wisdom', consider kindness and compassion as high ideals. Else, like christianity I have moved on.

    4) '..why you don't believe in a God?..' The concept seems unneeded. As a working hypothesis for the hows and whys of existence, it seems to not be up to the task. It has opened up the process of human questioning, and stifled it also. Again, I feel as if I have moved on. If you must indulge, atleast have the common sense to consider other options before making a commitment.  

  • Heather Spoonheim

    I don't believe there are any gods because I've seen no evidence of there being any gods.  I've seen plenty of evidence against any concept of 'spirits' or an 'afterlife'.  The Christian concept of a god is self-refuting.  You've got a father who sacrificing his own son out of love for humans - but wait, the son IS the father, which sort of negates the father/son relationship and therefore the magnitude of the sacrifice - but wait, if Jesus is STILL ALIVE and going to return then there was no sacrifice - was there?  It never ends.

    The reason I don't like Christianity is it pumps people's heads full of such contradictory malarkey and then tells them that if they don't believe it then they will burn alive for all eternity.  This creates a bunch of brainwashed zombies who walk around smiling with glazed over eyes while many of their cohorts drive pregnant teens and teenage gays to suicide - and they all get together on Sunday and sing happy songs about their endeavors.

    The other religions aren't much better.

    I'm happy with my life but that has nothing to do with whether or not 4-sided triangles exist.  Christians often suggest that gods must be believed in because it's scary or sad to think there isn't one - but the appeal of any idea attests nothing to its veracity.

  • archaeopteryx

    @Stephen - RE: "I think some people use religion to control people aka Constantine and many more, but however i also think that people use religion out of the goodness of their heart."

    Yes, there's certainly Constantine, but to him, we must add all of the Popes, Priests, Bishops, Arch-Bishops, Cardinals, Rabbis, Mullahs, Imams and Preachers who ever lived, along with many of the world's governmental leaders, such as Napoleon:

    "How can you have order in a state without religion? For, when one man is dying of hunger near another who is ill of overeating, he cannot resign himself to this difference unless there is an authority which declares 'God wills it thus.' Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
    -- Napoleon Bonaparte --

    And the ever-popular Adolph Hitler:

    "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith ... We need believing people."
    -- Adolf Hitler --
    April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933

    As well as members of America's Religious Right:

    "I trust God speaks through me."
    -- George W. Bush --

    And really, Stephen, do you have so little faith in your fellow man, that you believe good people wouldn't do good things, with or without religion? That's like saying I wouldn't help a little girl get her kitten out of a tree, unless I believed an invisible god was watching me and keeping score --

  • archaeopteryx

    Looks like Stephen deleted all his comments and left with his tail between his legs --

  • Heather Spoonheim

    That's about the 10th one to do so since I've been on this site, lol!

  • James Cox

    Are we creating enemies, or people that are now stuck with doing their home work? Will they return after years of exploration, soul searching, and growing some version of an enlightened life, to find some solace among the rest of us, trying to find our way without a big daddy? Is he just one more brick from the wall, that hides reality from many, or will he submerge himself more deeply in fantasy?  Are 10, another window, or a bigger wall? I might be wearing out metaphor......  

  • Steven

    Hey guys this is Stephen, sorry i didn't leave. My profile got deleted. And apparently it took everything i had associated with my profile with it. I made a new one. Anyways, I am actually in finals right now at my school. I finish on Wednesday. I have a physiology final on monday, a bunch of drawings due, biochem final on wednsday and my senior research paper due too in chemistry. I can answer more of these questions if you want to hear more about me and what i believe after Wednesday. But most importantly, i joined this sight just to read and see why you are atheist. Not to fight and then run with my tail between my legs. haha. I joined out of curiosity not to debate. Anyways, you will here from me next week.

  • Steven

    But while I'm out, could you reply back and try to convince me why christianity is wrong. keep it to the point as much as possible. Ill read it later. I liked the Zeus comment. Never heard of that before. What are the best arguments that you could make against christianity or any other religion. I think ill make a discussion post on this just to read. 

  • archaeopteryx

    I'm so relieved! I was concerned you'd been raptured, which would mean that there was some sense to all the nonsense, but I had faith that there wasn't!

    RE: "What are the best arguments that you could make against christianity" - you'r going to have to be more specific - which christianity? There are SO many --

    I have an even better idea - when you get back, you can make your arguments FOR - providing your evidence of course, and we'll add our comments. Sound fair?

    'Cause see, the way it seems to be working so far, is you ask a question, then we spend a bunch of pages and a bunch of time and energy answering it, then you ask another one. What I've noticed, is that you rarely spend your time and energy answering ours. So it's your turn in the barrel (old Navy joke!) --