In a recent Big Think video titled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children” the beloved “Science Guy” strictly denounces creationism and its dangers to children and society as a whole. Nye states:
I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s 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. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.
In Nick Clairmont’s article, he compares the more hostile reactions to this video to another “instance in which Nye was booed and walked out on by the audience at a lecture in Waco, Texas for stating (I kid you not) that the moon reflects the light of the sun and produces no light of its own.”
It is unfair, however, to compare creationists to those who believe that the moon produces its own light without defining which type of creationist Nye is addressing. A quick Google search for “creationism” reveals a myriad of definitions. Which kind is Nye talking about?
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states: “At a broad level, a Creationist is someone who believes in a god who is absolute creator of heaven and earth, out of nothing, by an act of free will…Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all Creationists in this sense.”
The Encyclopedia also offers, “a narrower sense of Creationism” which it sites as “the sense that one usually finds in popular writings (especially in America today).”
Here, Creationism means the taking of the Bible, particularly the early chapters of Genesis, as literally true guides to the history of the universe and to the history of life, including us humans, down here on earth (Numbers 1992).
“Creationists,” in this sense, “are strongly opposed to to a world brought on by evolution, particularly to a world as described by Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species.”
As he makes no mention of God in this video, it seems that Nye is speaking of creationism in the second sense, as a rejection of evolution. I would feel personally offended by the beloved “Science Guy” of my childhood if he were telling me that my belief in a Creator God (a belief that also allows for him to have chosen evolution as a means by which to create) was “not appropriate for children.” As it stands, however, I think Nye brings up a good point.
As Nye points out, evolution is fundamental to our understanding of the known universe. So sure, everyone has a right to believe whatever they want. However, if you reject science, you won’t succeed, and we as a society won’t succeed to the fullest extent.
If half of American society champions science as a god and the other half rejects scientific facts outright, we will be lost.