Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bill Nye: The Earth is Really, Really Not 6,000 Years Old

Bill Nye (The Science Guy) comments on a previous Big Think video in which he denounces the teaching of creationism to America's students. Bill Nye is the author of Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.


Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science. So if we raise a generation of science students who don’t understand the main idea in biology they’re going to be incompletely educated students and this is going to be trouble for the United States because the United States keeps in the game economically by innovating – having new ideas, new products, new ways of doing things. That’s what the United States produces and brings to the world. And if we raise a significant fraction of our students who don’t understand science we’re not going to have the engineers and scientists to continue this tradition. So for me it’s troubling objectively or subjectively as one can be and as a citizen of the U.S.

I believe, I think here on Big Think that the problem is the same thing that allows us to recognize patterns to imagine shapes and things and routes and ways to get things done before we actually start doing those things that that ability also enables us to understand that despite our best efforts we’re all going to die. And I think that makes all of us a little nutty. We all find it a little troubling. And so because it seems incredible that all this stuff that we store in our brain, all the memories we have, all the mental images that we are able to keep, all the algebra that we learn, that all that goes away when we die is really hard for all of us to accept. And along with this is that we are not nature’s last word. We are not the final answer that nature came up with. That we are not what some entity created as his or her very best work. We’re just one more step on the evolutionary timeline. And for many people that’s so troubling they can’t accept it at all. For me, of course, it’s empowering and amazing and it makes me want to live every moment of every day in the best way possible. But for a lot of people it’s literally unimaginable.

Our journey begins when I was in New York. I’m living in New York nowadays but a year and a half ago I came here on an airplane and I had to be someplace for a television interview at – I had to get up around 5:00 a.m. Eastern time which was 2:00 a.m. Pacific time. And by the time I got to Big Think I was worn out. I was a little worn out. And you guys asked me a fabulous question about creationism. I’m not sure why you chose to ask that question and I spoke from the heart how troubling I find it for the United States science educational system, for our science students in the U.S. to be excluded or not be enlightened and not be enabled by the fundamental idea in all of biology which is descent by natural selection, evolution. So you guys posted that and people went a little crazy on the electric Internet, the computer machine that the kids use. And I just remind everybody when people take the time to write and they take the time to hate me that much, these are not people you’re not going to reason with. These are not people that you’re going to sit down and have a conversation with and a discussion and achieve a new conclusion. We each have pretty much made up our minds and so you can’t worry about that stuff too much.

My concern is not for the grownups who take the time to write these inflammatory things and react to your fabulous website and so on. My concern is for the people who are still in school, the people who are the future of the U.S., the future of the U.S. economy. And larger the future of the world’s economy. I mean the United States is so influential. It’s the third most populous nation in the world and it’s the nation that sent people to the moon. I mean it’s still a big influence. You can make very strong arguments for South Korea, Japan – huge economies doing amazing – Brazil doing amazing things. But still the United States is the leader in this stuff and so when we exclude a generation of science students we’re headed for trouble. [TRANSCRIPT TRUNCATED]

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton



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