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Bill Nye the Terrible Suicide Hotline Guy

In the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus wrote: "There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide." Sisyphus.pngSisyphus was doomed to push a boulder up a hill, watch it roll back down, roll it back up, watch it roll back down, so on and so forth to no end. Such is the lot of man, reasoned Camus.

What to do? Embrace the meaningless. Bravely defy it by knowingly, voluntarily persisting in the face of it. Push that boulder simply because you can. Vive la r�sistance!

Camus was French, painfully French. (Cognac in one hand, Gitanes in the other.) So this I get, considering the source.Camus.png But for Bill Nye the Science Guy, science evangelist to America's youth who made a splash last summer by slamming those who "deny" evolution, the question of suicide is not deep or philosophical or thorny at all.

Feeling nihilistic? Inching toward the abyss? Well, pop science doesn't have the conceptual resources or vocabulary to help with that. The latter day saints of Darwin really just want to know one thing: after you take the black capsule, which you should totally do, can they have your stuff?

Think I'm kidding? Watch for yourself. At about three minutes into the clip, a viewer -- shaken by "science's" grim prognosis for the world -- Tweeted the following challenge:

Nothing Matters.png To which Bill Nye the Terrible Suicide Hotline Guy replied:

"Well, why get up in the morning? Apparently we are driven to live. Everybody works pretty hard for the last breath ... If this person ... has this nihilistic approach ... I say donate your car to charity, donate all your stuff to charity, and take the black capsule. And let the rest of us get on with it."
Now, Bill Nye runs a charity, a nonprofit focused on science evangelism. So this is not exactly disinterested advice. Also, we're apparently not all "driven to live." Even if we were, that would be a statement of fact, not a reason to persist, which is what the Tweeter was looking for.

(Darwinists really don't read people or text very well, as David Klinghoffer recently mused. It's like they all have Asperger's: A train was involved in an accident? Is the train OK?)

Maybe Bill was trying to be funny. Even so, there's an element of truth in most jokes. If this was a joke, the truth in it is that today's science evangelists can talk you into despair, but can't talk you back out. Once you're there, the only thing left for them to do is to remind you that you're taking up space and resources.

Reflecting on the recent interfaith consolation service for Boston, David wondered what would that service look like in a world in which the Darwinian story prevailed, an anemic world stripped of its clergy and theological language. He wrote:

Put in [the place of clergy] some midget of a Darwinian -- what would you call him? Not a minister. I don't know. Sort of a social worker I guess -- I mean no disrespect to MSWs, my mother is one, but that is about the best you could expect in a world where Darwinian materialism was triumphant. A tragedy occurs and this Darwinian social worker gets up to advise and conciliate an anguished city and a grieving country. What in the world does he say?
We know what was said. The President's Boston sermon commenced, fittingly, with these words from the book of Hebrews:
"Scripture tells us to 'run with endurance the race that is set before us.' Run with endurance the race that is set before us."
But what would Nye, Dawkins, Sagan or some other mouth-of-science have said, had there been a request?
"Darwin says 'run with endurance so you don't get eaten.' But if you don't care about that, or if you're too sick or injured to run, can we have your stuff?"
OK, so what if a Darwinian world would be an ugly one? That doesn't mean this world is not a Darwinian world, does it? Ugliness doesn't make Darwinism false, right? Well, no, not in the sense of false by mathematical proof or as a matter of empirical probability. But to insist on that is to see the matter in a very stunted way. Leave it, instead, to a poet to put the matter in the right light:
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," -- that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Something like this, I think, is what NYU philosopher Thomas Nagel was getting at when he criticized Darwinism in Mind and Cosmos for being counterintuitive and contrary to common sense. "Darwin's midgets" won't (and didn't) get this, but he who has an ear, let him hear.

Because Albert Camus gives braver advice than Bill Nye and his clan, I hope this world never becomes one in which a Darwinian mouthpiece is asked to say a few words to the grieving or despondent. And I'm definitely not going to show my kids any Bill Nye the Science Guy reruns.