The Importance of Bill Nye’s Statement

Creationism Retards Societal Growth

By now, many of you have probably heard about or seen the video put out by Big Think featuring Bill Nye.  The video is titled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children”.  The video is phenomenal, I highly recommend watching it if you have not already done so.

Nye highlights some extremely important aspects of this conversation.  He reminds us, that the U.S. is one of the leading technological and scientific innovators in the world.  He also reminds us that creationism is more or less unique to the U.S.  These two facts are in direct conflict with each other.

Nye points out that when we have so many people rejecting the theory of evolution and upholding creationism (46% of Americans, according to a May Gallup poll), it only serves to hold everyone back.  Roughly half of our society will support destroying the future scientific* (*correction added after OP) education of today’s children.  That should terrify you.

Nye points out that parents can believe whatever they wish,  but need to encourage their children to learn about evolution.  It is the key to all life sciences and one of the keys to moving society forward. Nye is concerned that we will produce scientifically illiterate voters and policy makers in the future.  He is correct to worry.

The importance of Nye’s statement, at least to me, is not the substance of what he said.  Many of us are already beating the same drum.  To me, the most important part of this story is that he spoke out.  It appears as though many scientists are slow to criticize creationism and uphold evolution in public.  This cannot continue.  Some of you may have read Christopher Hitchens last piece for Free Inquiry magazine (published in January I think).  In that piece, titled, “In Defense of Richard Dawkins”, he urged other scientists to join the fight against the scientifically absurd claims coming from religion.  I feel that this is exactly what is needed.

There are a few reasons why I feel this way.  46% of my fellow citizens may hold creationism as true, but I do not believe that they are unintelligent.  I believe that they are uninformed.  I also feel that the vast majority of Americans do not reject scientific findings.  The vast majority of us certainly do not reject modern medicine, which is, in in large part, rooted in our understanding the body, which is in large part, rooted in evolution.  With a proper understanding of what evolution is and how it affects us daily that tide will change.  I believe the same will happen for climate change.  I do not feel that many climate change deniers are “stupid”, but rather are uniformed.

There is also the problem with the word “theory”.  Most Americans do not understand that when science uses the word “theory” they are not using it in the same that we find in a mystery novel.  In science, according to Wikipedia, a theory is  “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed  through observation and experiment”.  It is used to explain a wide diversity of phenomena, is falsifiable, and get stronger as more and more experiments validate the theory.  From Wikipedia, “Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge. This is significantly different from the word “theory” in common usage, which implies that something is unproven or speculative”.  When it comes to evolution, this is a lay up.  There is no other theory of human knowledge that is as much a “sure bet” as evolution.  Yet, we have people rejecting it because it is just a “theory”.  This shows a profound lack of scientific literacy.

The other side of this coin is that the deniers of much of modern science are the only ones speaking out.  There is a concerted effort to spread the ideas of things like creationism and climate change denial.  They heavily promote ideas that are pure nonsense as “real science”.  This cannot be allowed to stand if we are to progress as a society in this country.  The current generation of Americans is already lagging far behind the rest of the developed world in scientific education.  Where will the rejection of scientific facts like evolution and climate change leave them?  The answer is the unemployment line.  The world is rapidly shrinking.  Corporations will hire the best and brightest, wherever they live.  The world is going to advance, the question is, will our children advance with them or not?  Will our children compete with those of other developed nations for those jobs or not?  This is what is at stake.  This will have implications worldwide.  Like it or not, the U.S. is one of the world’s leaders in science and technology.  If we falter, the implications could be far reaching indeed.

Where is the effort from the scientific community?  Where are other scientists, like Nye?  I strongly feel that Hitchens was correct.  They need to get in the game before it is too late.  My hat is off to Bill Nye, where are the rest of you?

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-RB

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13 thoughts on “The Importance of Bill Nye’s Statement

  1. Loren Miller from Princeville, HI, United States

    The fact is that there really aren't a lot of scientific spokespersons out there to promote and defend the view of the scientific community. The only other such person I can think of would be Neil deGrasse Tyson. Certainly, Neil has the gravitas to garner both attention and respect, but even with him and Bill together, that isn't much of a public presence.

    The further problem is that those who will insist that the bible is IT will neither acknowledge nor much listen to either Nye or Tyson. I recall a post somewhere which described the reaction to a speaker talking about how the moon was only a light reflector and not a true light source to an audience in Texas and caught flak for his statement. "We believe in the bible here!" was one comment, and I have to wonder how common that sentiment was.

    I think it's time to recognize the level of conflict here, and it is a serious conflict. It's as though some people think there can be more than one answer to the problem "1 + 1 = ?" when there is NOT. Rationality recognizes no other answer than the one which makes sense, is testable, repeatable and usable; irrationality insists on its dogma and will not be moved. The only way through this problem may be to demonstrate – REPEATEDLY – the utility of the former style of thinking and the utter lack of utility of the latter, and even that may not be persuasive for the hard core true believer.

    Irresistible force meets immovable object. Something's gotta give.

    Reply
    1. @blamer from Palo Alto, CA, United States

      I think I'm in agreement about what the problem is with Creationism vs Evolution.

      The uniqueness of the US situation seems to be that 46%. It looks like a tipping point because religio-politics is always polarizing and it's currently popular to be anti-science. (Acadamia is elitist and liberal, don't you know. How sinister!)

      Exhibit A: Texas GOP's 2012 platform is "student’s fixed beliefs" and "parental authority" – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/

      The trend of christian leaders –not just the Religious Right in the US– demonising professorial opinion is worrying because christendom (and its successor academia) isn't confined by state borders. Their rhetoric is evidently poisoning our well.

      I'd suggest we might need an additional approach to watering down biblical strictness to with good "one size fits all" scientific education.

      Today's teachers –at all levels– present new information without the intention of dislodging the powerful metaphors absorbed by the "god versus evil" holymen. What we're lacking are "devangelists" — not merely myth-busters but moral crusaders AGAINST strictness.

      What I have in mind is a waterfall approach; whereby the non-christians use emotional rhetoric (not facts and logic) to persuade liberal christians to rally against the evil of those stricter religio-political groups — not against infidels and godless institutions like those devilish fundamentalists who're insisting it is good to coerce free US citizens towards a monoculture that obeys their unelected king, lord, and master.

      Reply
  2. 5ecular4umanist from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, United Kingdom

    The main thing holding back acceptance of science is religious fundamentalism. People are brainwashed from birth to believe without question the stories of their particular religion. Anything that threatens that belief is simply WRONG.. Fingers in the ears, La La La, I can't hear you.

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

      Haha….you are referring to Stan the Straw Man…he is one of the most dishonest bloggers I have come across. He is a complete pushover, selects only the information that he wants to argue against, then misrepresents that. I also believe that he was never an atheist, as he knows nothing about the atheism he is trying to analyze. Lastly, I did read the post you linked. Two things, Stan, it appears as though Stan does not have the first clue about science or biology (normal for him), and could apply his own argument to himself, he probably should never have stepped out of fundie land and into the realm of real science….it was embarrassing to read. Other than, I am done with Stan. He is the lowest of the low in my opinion, a compete fraud and charlatan who uses complex philosophical terms and semantics in an attempt to confound people…as always, that sometimes works.

      No doubt, if Stan sees the above comment he would call me out for not offering proof for my statements. He would be correct, I did not, I don't really care either, he is not worth any more time than this.

      Reply
      1. Loren Miller from Princeville, HI, United States

        Oooo, don't send that one to the Centers for Disease Control, PLEASE!!! You'd disrupt work there for at least a week … 'cuz the staff would be doubled over from that one comment!

        Reply

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