Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” the techno-geek turned actor who turned kids on to science through an innovative weekly show that aired on PBS during the 1990s, has lately become a secular evangelist, preaching to parents about the dangers of allowing their children to be sucked into believing that someone bigger than man created the earth.
In an online video (see at bottom) entitled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children,” produced by Big Think, a secularist “online knowledge forum,” Nye claims that the “denial of evolution is unique to the United States,” and insists that “your world becomes fantastically complicated if you don't believe in evolution.”
In the video, which has garnered nearly three million views on YouTube thus far, Nye says that while America is the world leader in science and technology, “when you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe” in the theory of evolution, but hold faithfully to creationism, “it holds everybody back.”
Declaring that evolution is “the fundamental idea in all of life science,” Nye says that without embracing it religiously “you're just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.” Likening his own embrace of evolution to a love affair, Nye insists that the world “just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution.”
Condescending to address the “grownups” who believe that God was behind the world's creation, the Science Guy challenges that “if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that is completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine. But don't make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.”
Waxing reflective, Nye complains that it is a “hard thing” to tolerate people with such imbecilic notions as a God who intelligently designed our living space. “You know, in another couple centuries that worldview, I'm sure, just won't exist,” he predicts hopefully. “There's no evidence for it.”
Apparently, there are a lot of Neanderthals in America who are not reaching Nye's intellectual standard. A recent Gallup poll found that 46 percent of Americans believe in “the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” The same poll showed that 32 percent believe in evolution in which God played a role, while only 15 percent believe in atheistic evolution.
A few days after the release of Nye's video, the folks at Answers in Genesis, a creationist organization based in Kentucky, offered a reasoned response in their own YouTube video (see at bottom).
Refuting Nye's claim that devotion to creationism is confined largely to the United States, Dr. David Menton, who holds a a Ph.D. in biology from Brown University, notes that evolution is also rejected by Muslims, who make up a significant portion of many countries in Africa and Asia. Likewise, “creationism is certainly taught in South Africa, India, South Korea, and Brazil,” and smaller factions of creationists “are found in Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.”
Another creationist scientist on the video, Dr. Georgia Purdom, who has a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Ohio State University, says that while Nye implies that parents and other adults are doing a great disservice to children by encouraging their belief in creationism, she, along with other faith-minded parents, teach their children the theories of both evolution and creation. “Children should be exposed to both ideas concerning our past,” Purdom recommends. “Being a good scientist and a mom, I want my daughter to be educated about evolution, so that she can see the inherent problems with it.” She cites, for example, evolution theory's “complete lack of a genetic mechanism that allows organisms to gain genetic information to go from simple to complex over time.”
Addressing Nye's claim that the world becomes “fantastically complicated” for those who embrace the creationist view, Menton argues instead that the world becomes complicated for those lacking the belief that a higher power was behind earth's creation. “You see,” he says, “in evolution you have to look at that hummingbird feeding at your feeder, and assume that all of its parts have somehow come together by random, purposeless change combined with natural selection.”
Purdom points out that in his effort to promote evolution, Nye confuses observational science with historical science. Observational science, what Purdom calls “here-and-now-science,” is responsible for the world's many modern technological advances, “like computers and vaccines,” she says. “We can observe it, test it, and repeat it.”
By contrast, historical science, the category into which both creation and evolution theories fall, deals with the past. “We cannot test, observe, or repeat them,” she explains. While things such as fossils and distant stars definitely do exist, the theory of how they got here depends upon one's worldview, she said. “Do we start with man's ideas about the past, who wasn't here during this supposed billions of years of earth history?” she asks. “Or do we start with the Bible, the written revelation of the eyewitness account of the eternal God who created it all” — voicing the view of many creationists that Scripture is the inerrant record of the creation process. “Rather than being inconsistent, as Bill Nye states,” Purdom argues, “observational science confirms the literal history in Genesis.”
In a blog post that accompanies the Answers in Genesis video, the organization's president, Dr. Ken Ham, noted that a “recent tactic by evolutionists in their battle against creationists, one that is especially used by Richard Dawkins, is to employ an ad hominem argument — that creationists are committing a form of 'child abuse' when they teach creation to children.” That, he added, is the driving force behind Nye's video.
Ham explained that at Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, “we teach children and adults the truth concerning who they are in the Creator’s eyes — and where they came from. We tell people that they do have purpose and meaning in life and that they were created for a purpose.”
He added that, in contrast to Nye's futile worldview, the Creator of the universe actually loves humanity, even in its sinful and unbelieving condition. “Christ paid the penalty for our sin and offers a free gift of salvation. No, we are not just evolved animals as Nye believes; we are all made in the image of God.”
Photo of Bill Nye at top: AP Images