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Modern education undermined by creationism

Modern education undermined by creationism (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor) Modern education undermined by creationism (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor)
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The rumors of educational television host Bill Nye’s death have spread quickly. But no, the Science Guy who made many of our childhoods better is still alive and kicking. Suspiciously, such rumors of his untimely demise began several days after a Big Think video featuring Nye was released online.

In this video, Nye expresses his concern that parents are forcing their children to learn unsound or scientifically dubious things such as creationism, which, as an educator, concerns him greatly.

Nye implores viewers to make sure kids develop the critical thinking skills necessary for not just STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, but also for a generally better-informed populace. These wishes were met with derision from the creationist community, with multiple response videos appearing right around the same time as the death rumors.

Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, replied with perhaps the most aggressive attack, claiming that Nye was an engineer who shouldn’t be commenting on an area outside of his expertise. Ham made a distinction between “historical” and “observational” science, a distinction that I personally have never heard of.

Ham uses this distinction to reconcile the undeniable fact of natural selection with his beliefs in a 6,000-year-old earth and the implications therein.

Ham ultimately shows his own character by attacking Nye’s; Ham repeatedly refers to Nye not by his popular moniker, but as a “humanist guy.”

Now, as a humanist, I would find being called that not an insult, but rather a statement of fact. In Ham’s worldview, though, it is definitely bad. It represents someone who denies everything Ham affirms and affirms everything he denies.

The exchange between Ham and Nye is ongoing, with the creationist side challenging Nye to a formal debate. Most on the side of the skeptics seem to agree that such an endeavor would be fruitless, but we’ll see if Nye accepts the challenge. This incident speaks to a broader issue, though: namely that creationism seems to be in its death throes. When a beloved children’s educator and entertainer is no longer above attacks, one can tell there’s not much left for creationists.

Creationism is a self-destructive and self-defeating worldview because it tries to force a Bronze Age understanding of the world onto our modern understanding.

It attempts to reconcile irreconcilable differences to legitimize itself, but after this incident, it is clear to me that there is no way I can think of creationist theories as legitimate in any sense. I’ve observed that delusion of this level exists not only in the U.S. in fundamentalist Christianity, but also in religious fundamentalist sects throughout the world.

One can hope that as progress becomes ever-more inescapable and as modernity continues to wash away prejudices and preconceived notions, we as humans will be able to look back.

We will look back and realize that adopting the system with built-in self-correcting measures is always a safer bet than trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. I am confident that our generation will be the one that finally embraces science and secularism over tribalism and tradition.