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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  • 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!) --

  • Pope Beanie


    Have you ever refuted, or felt the need to refute Islam, or Judaism?

    If NO, then our only difference is that I also don't need to refute Christianity. Nor do we need to laboriously refute unicorns, or flying spaghetti monsters, right?

    If YES, then hopefully you could simply copy/paste your success to here, and enlighten us, too?

  • Don

    The argument against Christianity, Steven, is one you have already heard but have not thought about carefully enough.  For hundreds of years, the Romans believed in and worshipped their many gods.  Likewise the Norse people and other early peoples.  Those gods (and all the beliefs attached to them) are now recognized as elements of poetic myth.  Like the Roman gods, the gods and stories of Christianity are also elements of myth.  There is no evidence for them whatsoever, and those people who suffer from the conviction that they are real are prevented from fully appreciating what truly is real in this the only life they will ever have.

  • Joan Denoo

    This is just simply outrageous! Deliberate ignorance and not even ashamed of yourselves. What is the matter with your religious leaders? Are they some hicks who couldn't make it in the real adult world and so took up religion to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads. Well, people, you had better grow up because the world doesn't need eternal children. Where are my dear relatives and friends who put their faith into beliefs and that will sit silently while such nonsense happens. Those who didn't know the moon was not a source of light should have to go back to school before they can sign any documents requiring an adult signature. I suppose you believe the Earth is only 6,000 year old, too. Good grief! Disgusting! Do you burn witches at the stake, press warlocks to death, put people on the rack and pull them apart? The Dark Ages continue in Waco, Texas? 

  • Robert Germanovich

    ok, who's the wiseguy that booked Nye at a community college in Texas? Whoever did that, can he book Pat Robertson to a visit to Mecca? smh

  • M.M.

    HA! You should try living here.

    If all goes according to plan I will depart Texas at the end of the year.

    Good Riddance!

  • Pope Beanie

    I hear Austin's not so bad.

  • brookelynn rainwater

    interesting fact : the word used for "greater" in that verse means the size- not power. But from the earths perspective the moon looks bigger bc its closer, so if that verse had been written by man alone, they wouldve called the moon greater (bigger) but it was written by God so it says the sun is bigger -because it is.

  • Ron Humphrey

    mcm, did you purposely choose to be obtuse.  YOu have missed the point of the article.

  • Lance Angus Miles

    because his proven true facts conflicted with their unproven magical fairy tales

  • Heather Spoonheim

    @Brookelynn - right, and you can work your way through the book changing the meaning of words all over to support your cult doctrines; but it doesn't change the fact that you have been brainwashed by a cult and are now infected with the god-virus.  I suggest you seek out psychological care - anti-psychotic medications may help.

  • archaeopteryx

    I respectfully disagree, Brookelynn, I believe it had to do with the brightness - the luminosity - not the size.

  • Kenneth Gallaher

    Homed skoolin'

  • Adam

    that's what happens when you stop funding education and people resort to homeschooling where the parents teach every type of nonsensical creationist science. 

  • Steven Harrison

    I'm sorry, mcm, do I really understand you correctly to say that because the term "ma'owr" can be interpreted to mean "giving off light," that therefore Genesis 1:16 is "factually correct"? That God therefore did in fact create the sun, moon and stars....because "ma'owr" means "reflect"?

  • JRinPV

    The truly frightening thing is that these people vote !

  • Don

    In fact, Brookelynn, from the our perspective, the moon and the sun appear to be the same size.  "Greater" unquestionably refers to luminosity, not to apparent size.

  • Kevin Harris

    I lived in the Waco area for a year found the students I taught and people in general to be well-informed and bright. But like anywhere else on the planet, one didn't have to go far to find people whose ignorant views and extreme sensibilities were easily offended. The  people who poke fun of this here on Think Atheist might as well critique fashion trends at Wal-Mart!

  • Heather Spoonheim

    I love critiquing fashion at WalMart:

  • SteveInCO

    (Brookelyn said)

    interesting fact : the word used for "greater" in that verse means the size- not power. But from the earths perspective the moon looks bigger bc its closer, so if that verse had been written by man alone, they wouldve called the moon greater (bigger) but it was written by God so it says the sun is bigger -because it is.

    (to which Don replied)

    In fact, Brookelynn, from the our perspective, the moon and the sun appear to be the same size.  "Greater" unquestionably refers to luminosity, not to apparent size.

    Technically the moon does appear every so slightly larger (usually).  If it looked exactly the same size solar eclipses would have totality phases lasting an instant and paths of totality would be a line rather than a 100 mile or so wide swath on the earth's surface.

    Though sometimes the moon appears smaller and when a solar eclipse occurs under these circumstances, you get an annular eclipse like happened last year (the path of annularity went through Albuquerque).  That was preceded half a month earlier by one of those overhyped "super moons" where the full moon was a bit larger than usual.  That's not a coincidence, if the moon appears large when it's full it's at or near perigee (closest to the earth), it's going to appears small half a month later as a new mone, at the other end of its orbit, when it's at apogee, further from the earth.  And of course the moon can't get any newer than it does during a solar eclipse.

  • brookelynn rainwater

    the Hebrew word used for "greater" was גָּדוֹל (gadol) meaning size, as in "the gadol wilderness" Duet 2:7, "a gadol feast" 2 kings 6:23 or "a gadol rock"1samuel 14:33 instead of words like khazak (חזק)powerful  Chozek, Otzmah, Koach, or Gevurah(חוזק, עוצמה, כוח, גבורה) strength  (ko-ach) כוחכחKoach power, dunamis-ability power  or  rav atsmah (רב עצמה) mighty

  • Albert Bakker

    Moot point. The moon is not a light.

    If the verse would be about appearances of sizes or luminosity, then the Moon appears about the same size as the Sun and is actually a bit bigger as StevelnCO correctly observed. If apparent luminosity is what is meant to be compared, then the text would be factually wrong. This appears to be completely out of context with the rest of the text. There is no qualitative distinction made between the Sun and the Moon, they are both "great lights." So that's a big fail. It goes on then to mention God making the stars,"setting them in the firmament of the heavens" for the purpose of "giving light on Earth" and to "divide light from darkness." All big fails too, but fitting nicely with the then generally accepted astronomical model.

    The distance between Moon and Earth aswel as the distance between Earth and the Sun increases with time. In the time since God created the Earth and the Universe according to Genesis about 6000 years ago, the Moon would now be about 750 feet further away from Earth, while the Earth has receded from the Sun in the meantime by about 3000 feet on average. So, without further calculations being necessary, given the enormous sizes and distances we're talking about here, we can safely ignore the differences in apparent (angular) sizes as a consequence of these minute alterations.

  • archaeopteryx

    RE: "'setting them in the firmament of the heavens' for the purpose of 'giving light on Earth' and to 'divide light from darkness.'" - Add to that, Albert, the fact that it would have taken four years for light from only the nearest star to reach earth, and over the period of many, many years, the others would have gradually filled in the night sky, but if earth is only 6000 years old, only stars from 6000 light years away could possibly be seen without a telescope. I'm not sure how much light that relative handful of stars could have shed on the earth.

  • Strega

    if earth is only 6000 years old, only stars from 6000 light years away could possibly be seen without a telescope

    That's a perfect repudiation!

  • Rio Santana

    sad, how close minded people are when their religion is questioned even in the smallest reference.

  • Robert Germanovich

    strega, your words are slightly out of form for something that i am sure i would agree with. the age of the earth itself has no bearing on the age of the stars out there emitting light. However, creationists contend the universe is the same age as the earth. If you rewrote that with "if the universe is only"... it would be both correct and a useable defense.

  • brookelynn rainwater

    God said let there be light, then He made the sun and moon. There was already light then its like He formed the sources and seperated them and put them in their place. Thats how i would do it

  • Strega

    Thanks, Robert Germanovich!  You are quite correct :) 

  • archaeopteryx

    @Strega, RE: "That's a perfect repudiation!" - are you SURE you've read all of my website?

        "Can we imagine all of the dancing, twinkling, sparkling confetti in the sky, bathing the new Earth in its starglow on that fourth day’s night? It would have been as dark as the deepest cavern with the lights turned off - as dark as the dark this god had to work in until he created light. The nearest star to Earth, Proxima Centuri, lies 4.3 light years from our sun. It would have taken light from that star, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, just over four and a quarter years before that lone, solitary pinpoint of light was ever visible in Earth’s night sky. By the time Methusula's joints began to ache, there may have been a few dozen, hardly enough to illuminate his way to the outhouse in the middle of the night."

  • brookelynn rainwater

    Willet, who wrote before the birth of Newton, and at a time when solar physics and spectrum analysis were things of the remote future. It m not unlike, says he, "but that this light (of the first day), after the creation of the celestial bodies, might be drawn upward and have his reflection upon the beame of the sunne and of other starres" And again, "Whereas the light created the first day is called or, but the starres (meaning the heavenly bodies) are called meoroth, as of the light, hence it may appear that these lightsome (i.e. luminous) bodies were made the receptacles of that light thou created, which was now increased and united to these lights" ('Hexapla,' vers. 3, 14, London, 1632)

  • archaeopteryx

    @Brookelynn - it also says that he separated the light from the darkness, and the light, he called, "day," and the darkness, he called, "night," which amply illustrates early Bronze-Age thinking. Now we know that no one creates darkness, it's simply the absence of light.

  • Robert Germanovich

    Arch, whoever says you cannot create darkness, has not dated any of my ex girlfriends.

  • archaeopteryx

    Actually, Robert, Genesis makes it clear that Earth and the Universe were created on the same day, "In the beginning, god created the heavens and the earth...." - if one assumes the "heavens" to be the universe. If "the heavens" are intended to mean an actual, "heaven," that leaves the universe to have been created at the time of the stars, on the fourth day, implying that earth was created four days earlier.

  • archaeopteryx

    Robert, I'll trade my ex-wife for any three of your darkest girlfriends --

  • Strega

    @Arch yes I'm sure.  But I liked the bite sized version you gave above, too