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Bill Nye the Junk Science Guy

Wesley J. Smith

There has been much deconstruction of Bill Nye’s sophistry in defense of abortion, including here in an article by Robert P. George and Patrick Lee, effectively dismantling his ridiculous assertion (in a video for Big Think) that because many embryos don’t implant, somehow that means a human embryo is not really a human life. That’s a pretty bizarre argument for somebody who claims the mantle of “science guy.”

In reality, SCIENCE! cannot tell us whether abortion is right, wrong, or morally indifferent. All science can do is tell us the biological nature of that which is destroyed in an abortion.

And there is no doubt that embryology — that’s science — clearly teaches that a new human organism comes into being upon the completion of the fertilization process. (See here for more details including from embryology textbooks.)

This is science: I am the same organism as I was when I was a one-celled embryo. Bill Nye is too.

This is morality: Gestating human life does or does not have moral value.

But really, the defense of abortion based on Nye’s arguments about the supposed lack of humanity for very early embryos is entirely ridiculous. That is not the stage of human life impacted by abortion.

  • Surgical and medical abortions take place after implantation, the apparent time when Nye implies a human life has commenced.

  • Most surgical abortions take place after the nascent human being’s heartbeat has started (at about 18-21 days).

  • Most surgical abortions take place after the fetus has detectable brain waves (at about 6 weeks).

  • Most surgical abortions take place when the gestating human’s cells have differentiated into distinct tissue types, rudimentary organs have appeared, and the fetus has reflex responses.

The science says that these lives are “human” lives since they are gestating individuals of our species. Bill Nye pretending otherwise — claiming that he is being “fact-based,” conflating his own moral beliefs with scientific “facts” — is not only absurd. It constitutes a profound disservice to, and breeds distrust of, science.

Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.