Undeniable is an anti-creationism book with a soft touch. When Bill Nye was “The Science Guy,” science had a friendly face. That basic civility is everywhere in this book. You don’t convert a true believer through anger or scorn. Undeniable makes its case for evolution without rancour. Nye isn’t interested in starting an argument; rather, he presents one.
Nye weaves back and forth through the many topics associated with evolution, dipping in here and there to highlight an easily-comprehended and unambiguous piece of evidence. In chapters with titles like “What Good Is Half a Wing?” and “Medicine and You–Evolution at the Doctor’s Office,” Nye builds his solid explanation of the details–the unavoidable reality–of evolution.Perhaps the most powerful part of the book is its motivation. Nye is eloquent about why he cares not so much about what you believe but about what you teach your children or allow them to learn in school.
Frankly, my concern is not so much for the deniers of evolution as it is for their kids. We cannot address the problems facing humankind today without science—both the body of scientific knowledge and, more important, the process. Science is the way in which we know nature and our place within it.
Nye argues that we can’t intelligently answer the “big questions” in areas like agriculture and medicine without understanding and applying evolutionary theory: “Should we genetically modify more of our foods? Should we pursue cloning and genetic engineering to improve human health? There is no way to make sense of these issues outside of an evolutionary context.” Recalling his debate with anti-evolutionist preacher Ken Ham, Nye isolates the core difference between science and belief:
The essence of the evening was captured by a question from the audience. Someone asked: “What would it take to change your worldview?” My answer was simple: Any single piece of evidence. Mr. Ham responded that nothing would change his mind. He has a book that he believes provides all the answers to any natural science question that could ever be posed.
As cosmologist and fellow science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson made clear in Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandries, “I have yet to see a successful prediction about the physical world that was inferred or extrapolated from the content of any religious document. Indeed, I can make an even stronger statement. Whenever people have tried to make accurate predictions about the physical world using religious documents they have been famously wrong.”
Nye asks a key question:
What would the deniers have us do? Ignore all the scientific discoveries that make our technologically driven world possible, things like the ability to rotate crops, pump water, generate electricity, and broadcast baseball?
Undeniable is accessible, readable, entertaining, enlightening — and, we can only hope, convincing.