Bill Nye gets it right
William Sanford “Bill” Nye, — best known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, — recently made headlines for a video posted to YouTube entitled, “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children.”
The video, which advocates the teaching of evolution by natural selection, received mostly positive feedback from the YouTube community, but still caused quite a stir for Fundamentalist Christians.
This is no surprise. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 46 percent of the U.S. population believes God created humans some time in the last 10,000 years.
So what did Bill Nye say that was so provocative?
His argument can be summed up as this: If America is going to continue to be an intellectual safe haven for scientific and technological innovation, then children deserve a proper scientific education.
However, in recent years, state legislatures have passed academic freedom bills that promote teaching creationism or Intelligent Design as “credible” alternative theories to evolution.
But as Nye explains in his video, trying to understand biology without evolution is “very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates.
You are just not gonna get the right answer.”
And indeed, children are not getting the right answer when teachers are encouraged to usurp 150 years of research and replace it with religious pseudoscience.
There is a problem with the rationale behind Academic Freedom bills, a problem that is both fallacious and goes unnoticed. These bills regard alternatives, such as Intelligent Design, as accepted ideas that warrant equal weight with evolution.
But this is a false equivalency. ID is not a scientific theory and does not belong on the same platform as evolution.
Another fact that creationists and ID proponents fail to recognize is that science is a self-correcting process involving constant experimentation and analysis.
Despite this, politicians, school boards, and even think tanks will try to sneak creationism or ID into the classroom by urging schools to “teach the controversy” of evolution when, in fact, there is no controversy.
Among renowned scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences or the Royal Society, and among the vast majority of scientists around the world, there is no doubt that evolution by natural selection is real; not to mention that the age of the Earth is actually closer to 4.5 billion years old. But let us take this “teach the controversy” phenomena even further.
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins compared this dilemma to a hypothetical scenario in which parents and politicians disparaged and boycotted history teachers for not teaching European history to their liking.
They do not believe the Holocaust really happened and they want Holocaust denial taught to school children.
Should states then encourage teaching Holocaust denial as an alternative to the Holocaust? No.
But the point is this: If we are to always teach both sides of anything, no matter how ridiculous, then Holocaust denial should be taught in school.
Of course, the Holocaust did occur and to suggest otherwise is disgraceful and offensive.
At the expense of sounding crass, the same can be said for teaching creationism or Intelligent Design alongside the theory of evolution; it is an intellectual embarassment.
At the end of the day, Bill Nye is trying to bring evidence, reason and wonder back into the classroom.
Creationism and ID are not scientific theories; they are religious excuses.
And as such, public school teachers cannot, and should not, preach the dogmatic tenets of a religion to impressionable children who lack the cognitive capacity for critical thinking.
Parents, especially the ones who disagree with my secular view, can deny scientific facts and teach their children whatever they want.
But to force teachers to substitute modern science with Iron Age mythology is morally reprehensible and robs children of an honest education.