Bill Nye and the Goodness of Children

Bill Nye has some instructions for you: stop procreating. Enough with the kids.

He introduced this age-worn idea in his new Netflix show, “Bill Nye Saves the World.” I think the title is meant to be cheeky, but Bill reveals something of a savior-complex in his series. The thirteenth episode of the show, for example, is entitled “Earth’s People Problem,” and seeks to nudge us all to stop having children because the earth is overcrowded. Included in the panel discussion he leads: Dr. Rachel Snow, chief of population development at the United Nations Population Fund, Dr. Travis Rieder, an ethicist at the Berman Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and finally Dr. Nerys Benfield, director of Family Planning Montefiore Medical Center (and an abortionist).

Nye makes this view explicit, posing this little chestnut of a question: “Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?” As reported by The Federalist, this draws a positive response:

Rieder says we should “at least consider” a form of punishment for people who have these Extra Kids (TM). Nye impatiently responds that “consider means do it.”

Rieder premises his take on the statistic that children in first-world countries consume “160 times more resources than children in the developing world.” The problem, in other words, has one face, and one name: kids.

So there you have it. This is “intersectionality,” science edition. Mix climate change with overpopulation and feminism and abortion and messiah-like government and you have the worldview Bill Nye is promoting. Nye believes it’s better for women to be in the workplace, for example, because then they have fewer kids. He wants the state to enforce child-limitation policies, meaning that the American government would regulate family size in the manner of modern China.

There’s a lot to sort out in this worldview wreckage. We’ll take a quick stab.

First, Nye is retreading old ground, soil already plowed by Thomas Malthus in 1798. Malthus foresaw a civilizational crisis because of population growth and predicted that the crowds would outstrip the crops. He was wrong, spectacularly wrong, and his theory is just as wrong in the 21st century as it is in the 18th. Public-service announcement to politicians and important people of every kind: do not make policy—or a woeful Netflix series—based on Malthus.

Second, despite what folks like Nye tell us, climate change is not accepted as a man-caused, catastrophic phenomenon by many scientists. There is a good deal more thought-diversity than Nye reports—here’s one helpful take on the “97% consensus” line we sometimes hear. I do not deny that a good number of scientists believe that global warming is human-caused, nor do I deny that human activity could be a part of global warming. But anyone who has followed this debate closely knows that the “hockey stick graph” fiasco shows us just how politicized these matters get.

Third, abortion and big-government policies are not the answer to any issues we genuinely may face in 2017. Abortion is murder, straight up. We await the day when Roe v. Wade is struck from the books and this monstrous destroyer of the human race is eclipsed. So we cannot agree with Nye and his panelists about “family planning,” one of the most ominous terms in the English language.

It is beyond stunning that anyone is arguing in public for government to control family size. This shows us how warped Nye’s thinking is. The abhorrent legacy of the Chinese government’s “one child” policy needs no lengthy unpacking. Estimates come in at around 330 million babies aborted, many of them little girls targeted for destruction because of their sex. You literally cannot get less “progressive” and woman-friendly than such a policy. This is what happens when either couples or the state play God with fertility: disaster. Death. Ruination. Sin, in untold amounts.

We cannot miss that what Bill Nye and his panel see as a cancer the Scripture sees as a blessing. Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 139). We do not start from a position of anxious extremism when we think about the world. Christians start from a posture of trust in God and thankfulness for the world he has made. We see that in his common grace he has given us a world overflowing with resources (see Hans Rosling’s stirring data for the proof). We are not anti-science as believers; we love science. We love creation. But we do have a duty to resist fearmongering, anti-child thinking, the scourge of abortion, and the encroachment of Caesar.

Our culture so commonly calls what is evil good (abortion), and what is good evil (a large family). Christians must practice the ministry of commonsensical resistance regularly in our world. We have a responsibility to love our neighbor (Matthew 22), and this often means graciously refusing to buy his lies, his apocalyptic worldview, and showing him the truth instead.

Editor's Note: This originally published at The Center for Public Theology.