Bill Nye probably knew he was stepping into a hornet’s nest almost three years ago, when he took to YouTube to declare that parents who teach their kids to deny evolution are doing their kids great harm. That video went severely viral; at last count, it had almost 6.7 million views. Well, “The Science Guy” hasn’t backed down one inch since then.
Earlier this year, he debated creationist maven Ken Ham at Ham’s Creationist Museum–and by nearly every objective account, he won. Last week, Nye ventured to another right-wing forum, Newsmax TV to continue his crusade against evolution denial. As he sees it, he’s turning the hot lights on people who he thinks are threatening our future by keeping their kids from thinking critically.
Nye appeared on Newsmax’ afternoon show, “MidPoint,” to promote his new book, “Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.” Watch the full interview below.
Nye?said that he accepted Ham’s challenge for a debate in order to shine the light on what he calls “this extraordinary world view in the world’s most technologically advanced society.” He believes Ham’s organization, Answers in Genesis, is one of several outfits that are raising “a generation of young people that can’t think,” because it puts out supposedly scientific material built around the premise that Earth is only 6,000 years old.
When host Ed Berliner wondered if it was possible for evolution and creation to coexist, Nye pointed out–rightly–that the idea of a 6,000-year-0ld Earth is “inconsistent with everything you see in nature.” Nye is dumbfounded at the number of parents who don’t want to hear about evolution, considering that it is “the fundamental idea” of biology and life science. The problem, as he sees it, is the number of people who want to use the Bible as “a substitute for a science textbook”–and too many of them are trying to get on school boards and introduce doubt about evolution.
Berliner seemed to get it, asking if Nye thought those who oppose the teaching of evolution are keeping kids from being “smarter than they could be.” Nye agreed, saying that kids who don’t learn about evolution “will not be able to participate in the future” in the same way as kids who do learn about it. If you keep evolution out of science classes, Nye said, you prevent kids from learning how to question things and use “skeptical thought.” Instead, kids would be forced to twist what they see every day to fit their parents’ worldview. They’ll be uncomfortable using the scientific method–and to Nye’s mind, that will make it difficult for this country to stay competitive. Nye thinks it’s going to be awfully hard to come up with new ideas if you have too many kids who understand physics, chemistry, and biology.
Nye isn’t just speaking in the abstract. A significant number of creationist leaders have moved away from challenging evolution on its merits, instead claiming that you have to reject evolution out of hand because it undermines Christianity.
Ham, for instance, argues that if you believe in evolution, you believe that man is “accountable to no-one.“?He further argues that unless Christians accept without question that the Earth was created in six literal 24-hour days, they “undermine the Word of God itself.”
Apparently this sort of talk began at least as early as my college days; while researching a paper on the creation-evolution debate, I discovered that a popular creationist Website argued that evolution “makes atheists out of people and lowers morality.” Just recently, a potential presidential candidate, Ben Carson, declared that he didn’t believe in evolution because it takes God out of the picture.
Wondering just how limited science would be if Ham and friends got their way? Look at what Answers in Genesis itself says. Its statement of faith says that:
“No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.”
So no matter what evidence you have, if it doesn’t jibe with the Bible, you can’t even consider it? That, folks, is not science. Last I checked, the very foundation of science is testing and questioning how things work.
Lately, I’ve had people ask me how I, as a charismatic Christian, can believe in evolution. It’s because I know what science is and what science isn’t. By claiming that evolution isn’t valid because it negates God and morality, Ham and his colleagues are tacitly admitting that by definition, creation science is not science. And in so doing, they’re proving Nye’s argument–that denying evolution does more harm than good.
Darrell Lucus, also known as Christian Dem in NC on Daily Kos, is a radical-lefty Jesus-lover who has been blogging for change for a decade. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook.