Bill Nye speaks the truth about creationism, gets slammed

Bill Nye posts a video about evolution to the Big Think and controversy erupts. Yeah, it really shouldn’t have, but it did.

He says this:

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka “the science guy,” if grownups want to “deny evolution and live 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.”

Then, everything just went screwball in the press.

Source: Scientific American

Here is the video:

There is little that is mistaken about what Bill Nye says. His point of view is valid. However it rubs some people the wrong way. [It shouldn't.]

He upset the creationists.

He had to backpedal and say he isn’t attacking religion.

A communication expert comments:

Bill Nye’s “Don’t Teach Creationism…” Video Dissected by Business Communication Expert:

Instead of pushing people towards the sides [of the issue], I would try to pull them into the conversation. I might ask some rhetorical questions to get them to think about why they feel the way they do. Instead Bill is pushing out information, for example “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.”

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy on this topic, here.

Yeah, he did sort of said some things oddly but the bottom line is, he passionately endorses science and he is right, we NEED more science. The fact that he was criticized is a signal that we have an inordinate amount of influence from religious leaders in our science program and too many people utterly fail to understand the importance of science to society.

  8 comments for “Bill Nye speaks the truth about creationism, gets slammed

  1. Kristen
    September 3, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Of course it upset those who feel their world view is valid. He suggested they are holding their kids back by filling their heads with false information. I loved it. If I ever had the honor to meet him in person, I would give him a hug and thank him for saying so eloquently what I have been thinking.

    Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum in Denver, and while I was enjoying a display on prehistoric man, I heard a teenage boy explaining to his credulous girlfriend that this was all made up by liars, because none of it was in the bible. I had to think, what kind of future is ahead for these kids? We really deserve to give them a better start. Silencing real education so as not to offend people’s religeous views is a disservice. Besides, what we have discovered about our world and our past, and how we have discovered it is the true ‘greatest story ever told’. It’s a shame that it is considered controversial to bring it up.

    • Richard Cornford
      September 3, 2012 at 4:31 AM

      “all made up by liars”

      From what I have seen this seems an understatement. More like; all made up as part of a satanic/demonic plot intended to condemn all human souls to an eternity of torment in hell. So not a position where attempts to “pull them into the conversation” are likely to be useful (they could not be expected compromise with, or make concessions to, Satan). But also not a position where appealing to them to abandon their children to an eternity of torment in hell is likely to be successful (regardless of future national interests).

      If there is a conversation to be had it will have to be among all the non-creationists. Unfortunately the ‘liberal’ religious aren’t going to like the suggestion that the most humane way forward is going to be to publicly ridicule the creationists as a matter of course; for everyone else to just point an laugh.

      • Kristen
        September 3, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        I don’t understand why religion has gotten so crazy. I grew up in a religious family – southern Baptist, my husband even more so. My family did not attend church regularly, but his family did, he was even a Sunday school teacher. But still, both families were fascinated by nature and science and technology and we were encouraged to explore and learn all we could. Now it seems like everyone I know is SO over the top religeous. What the hell happened to everyone that being faithful means you have to reject science? Why was it ok in the 70s, but now is some sort of wedge issue? We’re both happy humanists now, but we see our friends getting more and more extreme in their views. It’s kind of scary.

        • spookyparadigm
          September 3, 2012 at 3:35 PM

          Anthropologist Anthony Wallace created a model for revitalization movements.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revitalization_movement

          His argument is that when cultures came under intense stress (often from outside), to the point that their traditional worldview didn’t fit the facts anymore, in this crumbling situation, you would get revitalization movements. These are very predictable, involving a visionary (as in actual visions) leader with prophecies of apocalypse (and usually a subsequent victory in that apocalypse), that then blends elements of the older culture with new ideas, often times taken from the very outside sources causing the stress.

          In the American case, I think an argument could be made that a series of stresses led to a transformation in the early 1970s of American evangelicism into something far more radical and political. The atomic age and the Cold War provided the ability to imagine a scientific near-term apocalypse, and provided a “Satanic” infiltration force leading to Armageddon(coming from both the realities of the Cold War, and the right-wing fears of communism). Within approximately 15 years, there were a series of rapid social changes in both attitudes and law regarding the treatment of women and non-whites, something that we know has a dramatic impact on secular politics (see Nixon’s Southern Strategy and the re-alignment of the political parties). Also at this time, there is a loosening of laws and concerns regarding non-Christian religions, both new religions, but mostly the importation of religions from Asia.

          I think all of these together sufficiently challenged a traditional white rural protestant worldview, found particularly but not exclusively in the American southeast, that what we see is a tremendous backlash, one completely entangled with the rise of what is called “movement conservatism.”

          And the visionary prophecy? This.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Late,_Great_Planet_Earth

          While American evangelical apocalypticism was nothing particularly new, this idea took on much greater power at this time. Particularly, it took on a more literal bent like that in the book, equating specific forces and people with the End Times, rather than using the notion of the Judgment Day in an abstract sense.

          Ironically, I think that some of the same stresses are also what leads to the success of von Daniken’s books at this same time (ancient alien stuff seems to largely appeal to those with a religious bent even if they aren’t mainstream, and you will routinely see the two meshed together).

          That’s why I have a hard time calling this stuff, such as the Creation Museum and the politicians that support teaching creationism, conservative. They’re not. At best they are reactionary counter-revolutionaries, if you want to frame the post-New Deal mid-20th century consensus on American society as revolutionary (I would not). They’re better viewed as theocratic revolutionaries that want to change the society that existed, into one more like their beliefs.

        • One Eyed Jack
          September 4, 2012 at 4:45 PM

          People aren’t becoming more religious. There is just a very active and very vocal segment of the religious community that supports the YEC view.

          Recent poles show more people than ever in the US responding as no religious affiliation or identifying as agnostic/atheist. We just have to keep the trend moving in the right direction.

  2. September 3, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    It can be more than just a denial of evolution. We know people who firmly believe, as an article of faith, that there was a solid dome above the earth before Noah’s flood & that’s why it didn’t rain. But the Bible never says there was no rain – that’s just something they have made up because the Bible does not positively state that there was rain.

    I feel sorry for these people. If they ever decide that evolution is right, their whole theology crumbles.

  3. One Eyed Jack
    September 4, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    I applaud Bill Nye. He should make no apologies for his statement. It was the truth and needs to be heard. It wasn’t even that confrontational. The religious generally categorize any dissenting view as a personal attack.

    We would never ask a preacher to apologize or speak more kindly when they ignorantly rant about the “evils” of evolution. It’s a double standard that needs to go.

  4. Lara Jones
    January 24, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    I have the utmost admiration for Bill Nye, he genuinely cares for our future generations. I will be fortunate enough to hear him speak next week at a local campus. I look forward to his talk and hope to thank him in person.

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