Having Extra Kids

I’ve never actually had the privilege of seeing “Bill Nye the Science Guy” on TV. I’m told it was very popular with the kiddies, and aired from 1993 to 1998. It was billed as “Mr. Wizard meets Pee Wee Herman.” Having been a big fan of both Mr. Wizard and Pee Wee, I’m sorry I missed it (but not enough to watch YouTube reruns).

Mr. Nye is more famous in recent years for his debate with Ken Hamm over Creation Science. He’s also been doing a show for Netflix entitled “Bill Nye Saves the World.” I wish him luck on that endeavor (not for the show as much as for saving the world). It was on this show that he sparked a lively, new controversy.

In a panel discussion, Nye asked the question, “Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?” Asking questions is what scientists do. It is at the very heart of their work. Asking this particular question, however, caused a bit of a stir.

Bill Nye the Hitler Guy?

The question (and the conversation that ensued) drew immediate attention from all kinds of people. There were some rather quick retorts that attempted to make it clear that Nye was stepping across a line somewhere. He was referred to as “Bill Nye the Eugenics Guy” and “Bill Nye the Hitler Guy.”

Interestingly enough, Bill Nye is not really a science guy (unless we call mechanical engineers science guys). He does have several inventions to his credit as well as a keen interest in science education. On top of that, he has been awarded several honorary doctorates from various institutions of higher education. He seems to receive all this recognition as much for his ability to entertain as for his knowledge of science itself.

All in all, he’s quite accomplished. Skeptics, liberals, and children seem to love him, and he has parlayed all that into a substantial living. Now he’s saving the world.

I’m in good stead…I think…

I’m not sure if the Science Guy thinks we should actually penalize first world parents for having too many kids. To me, however, the most curious word in his question is “extra.” My initial reaction was to think he meant “more than two.” Scientists and sociologists have often put forth the number two as the optimal maximum children per family.

This would put me in good stead since I’ve only been responsible for bringing two biological children into this world. Plus, I am the eldest of two siblings in my own family. After thinking about it, though, the “extra” child might be the second one (or even the first). It all depends on who is doing the deciding.

Another option might be one in which the authorities (whoever they may be) would decide who the extras are. In that case, the Science Guy might be deemed an “extra” himself. Maybe he should reconsider the extra thing. I’m sure I would. I don’t think he wants to be known as Bill Nye the Next Guy.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]


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