Honestly, I was surprised to hear that Bill Nye’s short video on the denial of evolution has gone viral, generating close to four million views—though I suspect the title, “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children,” is partly responsible both for inspiring secularists and irking creationists.
As is typical, the title is more simplistic and flashy than the actual video, which gave Answers in Genesis (AiG)—a silly but earnest creationist outfit that’s unpopular even with many creationists—the opportunity to get even more simplistic and flashy by connecting it to one of Richard Dawkins’ reductive rants in which he contends that religion is a form of child abuse.
You might be surprised to learn that what Nye actually said was sincere, gentle, and far more practical than either the title, or any association with Dawkins, might lead you to believe:
And I say to the grownups if you wana deny evolution and live in your… world that’s entirely 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 engineers that can build stuff, solve problems. It’s just really a hard thing, a really hard thing.
A fine, if slightly prosaic message—and one that the U.S. Navy sought last year in its efforts to make America competitive again through science and technology education. Of course, if it weren’t Bill Nye but the person two seats down at the dinner party, you’d hardly look up from your small talk and salad if you heard…
AiG fired back with a video of its own attempting to address Nye’s points, though frankly it’s embarrassing.
Nye then clarified his point on CNN, noting that in the original Big Think video above he was “talking about the use of tax dollars for science education”; that it’s fine to teach your kids whatever you want, so long as you don’t call it science and you don’t use tax dollars to do it. Great! True! But it’s hard to shake the thought that this is probably the best thing that’s happened to AiG’s fundraising in maybe six to ten thousand years.