Scientists and spiritual leaders don't always agree on life's big questions. But Bill Nye, aka the "Science Guy," recently found himself agreeing with televangelist Pat Robertson over the age of the Earth, which scientists estimate to be about 4.5 billion years.
In remarks that surprised some in the creationist community, Robertson on Nov. 27 told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club" program that scientific evidence proves the Earth is far older than 6,000 years (an idea often credited to 17th Century Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher).
Robertson told viewers:
Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop Ussher wasn't inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years. It just didn't. You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.
They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible.
Robertson went on to tell his viewers not to "fight science" on the issue.
But not everyone was eager to play along. The Creation Museum's Ken Ham slammed Robertson for giving "more fodder to the secularists. We don't need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church," he told the Christian Post. "[Robertson will] have a lot to answer to the Lord for one day," he added, in a Facebook post.
But Nye hailed Robertson's remarks.
"If Mr. Robertson's followers follow him ... it could change the world," Nye told The Huffington Post in an email. "If the Earth's most technologically innovative nation changes the way it educates many of its kids, and they in turn embrace science and the process of understanding nature, it could lead to a progressive approach to all kinds of social and technical challenges."
"Mr. Robertson has great influence," he added. "I am very hopeful that he'll emphasize science quite a bit more in the coming weeks."
In September, Nye told the Associated Press that the continuing popularity of creationist theories on the age of the Earth were harming the American education system.
"If we raise a generation of students who don't believe in the process of science, who think everything that we've come to know about nature and the universe can be dismissed by a few sentences translated into English from some ancient text, you're not going to continue to innovate," Nye said, according to the Associated Press.
Robertson's comments are surprising because of his apparent support of creationist ideas in the past.
In 2005, Robertson warned residents of Dover, Pa. that disaster might strike them because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design, reported Fox.
"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."
And as Raw Story points out, Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network promoted the Creation Museum in a 2007 report.
A June Gallup poll found that 46 percent of Americans believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago.