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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 :) 

  • 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)

  • Robert Germanovich

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

  • Strega

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

  • Albert Bakker

    And I thought it was such a big thing in Christian apologetics that cause precedes effect. But first making the light and after that a source from which that light emanated is perhaps more supernaturally elegant. Why not have it so that the Sun instead of radiating light is just sucking out the darkness from the Earth?

  • Joel Lee

    I don't think people were upset because they didn't know the moon reflects the sun's light.  I'm sure they were offended because Bill implied their religion is nonsense.  Of all the scriptures he could pick on, it was also an odd choice.  God created two lights in the sky, the bible says, but it doesn't mention that one of them is just reflecting light from the other.  So, should it mention that?  Is that important to the point being made?  They're both sources of light that God allegedly created.  It's kind of like he got up there and split hairs just for the sake of showing that the bible is flawed.  Was that even supposed to be his topic, or was it just an off the cuff remark?  Maybe he should put some material together so he can give a talk about how flawed the bible is or something.  All of this to say, I think this "reflects" poorly on all involved.  xD

  • SteveInCO

    The problem with this thread is we have to rely on someone's summary of what happened, not the original source.

    I believe it's entirely possible that what really happened here was that Bill Nye implied that "Christians" believed the moon did not shine by its own light and a bunch of people got bent out of shape at the implication that they'd believe such stupid things just because they are Xians.

    Many Xians are scientifically semi-literate (they won't go so far as to accept a completely naturalistic view though), even accepting an "old earth", and find the literalists an embarrassment.

  • Kilana Malakina

    Them there Texas people dan't like facts.

  • Dan

    Both parties are incorrect with the context involved in the interpretation...that's all. Why is everyone all mad? The Waco people are just ignorant on the interpretation as is Mr. Nye. Mr. Nye is correct in his scientific answer, but the bible isn't talking about the moon and the sun here. In fact the verse has nothing to do with electromagnetic radiation, it is symbolic.

    Here is Scofield's commentary, and be sure to check surrounding verses:

    "The "greater light" is a type of Christ, the "Sun of righteousness" Malachi 4:2 . He will take this character at His second advent. Morally the world is now in the state between ; Genesis 1:3-16 ; Ephesians 6:12 ; Acts 26:18 ; 1 Peter 2:9 . The sun is not seen, but there is light. Christ is that light John 1:4 John 1:5 John 1:9 but "shineth in darkness," comprehended only by faith. As "Son of righteousness" He will dispel all darkness. Dispensationally the Church is in place as the "lesser light," the moon, reflecting the light of the unseen sun. The stars Genesis 1:16 are individual believers who are "lights" ; Philippians 2:15 Philippians 2:16 ; John 1:5 "

  • Strega

    Seriously Chris, calling people names only serves to make your post seem infantile.  If you think that "we all" should be considerate in our dealings with others, don't you think that calling "we all" 'Hypocritical libtards' is a poor example of how to behave, according to your perspective?  If you actually have a point, it might be more effective if you attempted to make it in a less provocative and more coherent manner.

  • kOrsan

    Sorry Chris, all the anger in the world is not gonna change the fact that your book is full of scientifically unsupportable quackery and bullshit.

  • Reg The Fronkey Farmer

    She was pissed because she believes the Bible is the word of her God and cannot be wrong. She cannot allow her delusion to be shattered by the obvious cognitive dissonance her brain endures from believing such nonsense. So she throws a tantrum and storms out. She is followed by other sheep that must show support or be branded libtards by the pious and the sanctimonious that fill the pews around her each week.

    @Chris: Which of  “our books” are hypocritical on the subject or are you just throwing a little tantrum yourself? Are you just making  a sweeping statement or do you have an actual argument worth debating?

  • JRinPV

    Chris is a typical Christian, dumber than a doorknob, and I'm not a liberal or political in anyway, I'm not even American :)

  • Cito Dagreat

    I just wonder how proud that mom felt pulling those kids out of that lecture and 20 years down the road what that will mean?

  • Tigger Wolfinger

    Being raised by a creation science believing, homeschooling parent...I am in no way offended by his comment. He was right, and the "offended persons"....are idiots.
  • Gallifreyan Spitz Jones

    If moonlight is reflected Sunlight, then Why dont Vampires burn? 8)

  • James Cox

    Because Vampires use a special PF 30 moon screan. Ever notice how 'white' they are? DUH!

  • Reg The Fronkey Farmer

    ....and we know Jesus existed or why else would Vampires be afraid of crosses??

  • David Conrad

    I'm an atheist, antipathetic to religion, and am completely in favor of Bill Nye's approach to the issue.  However, I am completely opposed to the misleading headline of this story.  Atheists should proudly report the facts and remain as objective as possible, and this headline is nothing but bad spin.

  • Kristi Fenstermacher

    People don't like it when you fuck with their reality, and it's so delusional and fragile, you don't really have a choice at this point.  (Also - Of course she's already tripled her genes - because we need more bat shit.)

  • Amanda Dallas

    Hello to all, i'm glad to be here.

  • Winston Cracks

    Not gonna defend anyone who still believes that the moon is its own light, but Bill Nye is quite an elitist.  Saw the video from him about how parents shouldn't pass on their relationship with Christ/God because it defied the truth of science.  That's BS by the way.  The more we hang around, the more what the Bible ACTUALLY says about science and archeology is being proven.  But it doesn't fit into what they're taught or support their theories so they mock it.  I know Bill is proven himself quite an arrogant punk lording his 'superior' knowledge over all of us peons.  I like what MCM had to say above.  Nye didn't quote the Bible to do anything else than to mock Christians.  There's no education here.  Just mockery.  I have no time or patience for this man.

  • JRinPV

    But it's so easy to 'mock' fools :)

  • Winston Cracks

    Yeah, I understand.  Just have a little respect.  He didn't have to bring that scripture out like that and use the wrong way just to get his comeuppance.   Last time I looked, America still gave a lot of leeway to fools.  Just look at Washington.  And the Bible says that the man who mocks God is a fool.  So, he proved himself a fool too. 

  • Don

    Please, what does the Bible "actually" say about about science and archeology and just how is it "being proven"? 

    Nye advises parents not to indoctrinate their innocent and impressionable children by presenting mythology as truth and by encouraging them to believe in supernatural entities.  Such practices only promote science denialism, such as the stubborn and foolish rejection of the fundamental fact of evolution.

  • JRinPV

    I have zero 'respect' for foolish people, why on earth would I ?

  • Kristi Fenstermacher

    Winston - no.  First of all - the buybull doesn't prove anything.  Why should we have respect for people who are slowly losing touch with reality because they can't handle the truth?  Because we've been programed to treat questioning religion like it's taboo, and these people have had their curiosity smothered by a security blanket they don't know is obscuring their view.  Now that their failures to accept reality are seriously threatening actually reality - I appreciate his attempt to plant seeds of doubt and snatch that security blanket away and force people to grow up.  Even if his action were inappropriate - her reaction to new information was inhumane.  We got here by understanding reality better than everything else.  If we lose our grip - we will be replaced.  

  • Rod Granda

  • Calpurnpiso

    Well he deserves to be Booed, for he, like other SANE aka Atheist Scientist, does NOT put the ChristPsychosis infected imbecile in their place pointing out, they, as ALL HUMANS, were created by the PENIS of their DADS ( Coitus) initiating a zygote that after 9 months emerged from the Cave of Creation of their moms with a BLANK BRAIN, iow with NO  IFOFIB (Imaginary Friends or Foes Irrational beliefs) aka God et al..

    Neurology proves, Religion, which is based on the ACCEPTANCE as TRUE FACT, IFOFIB is a form of one of the Schizophrenias. (There are many) where IFOFIB are also accepted as true.

    If I had been Bill Nye I would have suggested these ChristPsychosis infected imbeciles in Texas to ingesting Mertazapine with Atropa Belladonna Tea and see how their perception of reality go. Also saying I would give $10,000 dollars ( A la Randy but not a million) to anyone that
    after getting their frontal lobe executive operated on. will still believe in a Zombie Jesus that resurrected and saves with blood.
    Atheist Scientists WAKE UP, get some balls, Churches are responsible for keeping Americans stuck in the Middle Ages fomenting:
    Intellectual stagnation, racism, pedophilia, sadomasochism, Sexual dysfunction, deluded ignorance, Killing Animals for PLEASURE, Child Abuse, BLOOD genital mutilation…etc etc etc..

    Wake UP, get your brilliant brain out of the ass. Really. Tell it like it is, like A do, CRUSH the Christ Psychosis infected imbeciles ( i,e Tea Party, SCALIA, all religious Universities, schools) in positions of power with FACTS.
    This Brain disease WILL make our species extinct if AMERICAN sane aka Atheist SCIENTISTS do not address it.

  • Pope Beanie

    Damn. Somehow I screwed up my stage timing. Deleted & saved for another day.

  • Pope Beanie

    Rod just gave me an idea:

  • Tania Colgan

    "You can rule ignorance; you can manipulate the illiterate; you can do whatever you want when a people are uneducated, so that goes in line with corrupt business and corrupt politics."

    When I talk to people, smart people, about anthropogenic (people caused) climate change, and I get the response "We might have had something to do with it", I realize that I have my work cut out for me. The misinformation that is out there, propelled by poor media coverage, outright lies and willful ignorance is pretty depressing to me. But it makes entire sense. If the climate changes, and you know where the crops will still grow, and you have a flock of people who will blindly follow anything, you have yourself a kingdom. The future of Texas projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests if we go on like 'business as usual', suggests Texas will become more desert and most of the bible belt is in for some intense terrible storms. So, it would make sense that their political leaders and church leaders would be pressuring people not to think. It makes perfect sense to me anyway. I'm just worried that there is going to be a civil war sprung from all of this when shit really hits the fan...