Can God exist out there in space-time? Do the laws of nature support the idea of a divine creator, or do they rule it out? At the moment, the existence of a god is a deep question for theologists and philosophers: it won’t become a scientific question until there is evidence of God. With so much uncertainty, the question Bill Nye likes to focus on instead is: how would that knowledge change your life? Is who you are, with and without religion, two different versions of your self? The reality is that you don’t need evidence of any god to live a good life. For Nye personally, he goes by the moral framework of “be responsible for my own actions, and leave the world better than I found it.” That’s probably the surest way to protect the life of the people and the earth that we have, whether or not it was made by higher power.
Bill Nye’s most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
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EMEERA: Hi Bill Nye. My name is E, I’m 16 years old and this is my question: is the mainstream concept or definition of God self-defeating? And if it isn’t, is it possible for a god to exist within space and time without disregarding the laws of nature?
BILL NYE: Emeera. If I understood your question, is the idea of God self-defeating? I don’t think so. A lot of people around the world believe in God and they seem to conduct affairs pretty okay. Can a god exist in space time? Well according to all my friends who are deeply religious, yes. And that would be—the trouble with it is, if I understand your question, it’s hard to provide evidence for that.
It’s hard to provide evidence for a god that you can’t see or detect and then to draw conclusions about what that god, he or she, did based on phenomena that people on my side of it can explain without this supernatural influence. That’s where I think your question arises. You’re asking a deep philosophical question. I don’t know the answer. Is there a god or not that exists in space-time? But what I always ask myself and others is: what would you do differently? How would it change the way you live your life if you knew that there was no God or if you knew that there was—what would you do differently?
Would you start committing crimes? Would you stop committing crimes? Would you quit your regular job and help people everywhere as hard as you could, living a very modest life? Or would you try to accumulate as much wealth as possible without regard to others?
Like, what would you do differently if you knew the answer to your question?
For me, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I just try to lead a good life, be responsible for my own actions, and leave the world better than I found it. Those are my goals. You can decide whether or not I’ve been successful. Great question, Emeera. That’s cool.