46% – let's hear it for dumb.

I gotta hand it to Bill Nye: the man has a gift for pissing off an inordinate amount of people by politely stating the obvious.  In 2006 people walked out of a lecture of his because he pointed out that the moon does not produce light as Genesis 1:16 suggests.

Now he’s doing it again.  He was the sole voice in a video recently uploaded to Big Think in which he once again tells the unadulterated truth, counting on people to adopt the minimum standard for basic competence: valuing evidence.

It’s beautifully eloquent and spot on.

“People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science,” Nye said in the clip. “When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.

“Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place,” he added.

Nye made a three-stop tour through New Hampshire earlier this summer to tout President Obama’s education policies while making a push for science and engineering programs. He has endorsed Obama’s reelection bid.

In the clip, Nye said that one’s “world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution.”

“Here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they’re at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent,” he said.

Nye then goes on to urge adults not to deny the teaching of evolution to young people.

“And I say to the grownups, 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 because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can – we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

“It’s just really a hard thing, it’s really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I’m sure, will be, it just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.”

And oh, do the creationists not like it.  Glenn Beck’s The Blaze weighed in.  From the very first line we’re not getting anything to do with defending creationism, but instead we’re getting little snipes at Nye.

Bill Nye was once beloved for being America’s brightest and most energetic “science guy.”

Once beloved?  The guy’s still beloved.  Bill Nye is frakking awesome.  And “science guy” in quotes?  Really?  The dude’s a scientist.

But, politics isn’t his only area of interest these days. Last week, the famed scientist lashed out against champions of creationism.

The word “champions” in this sense, is likely used to evoke an image like this.

Picture of a badass woman in armor, complete with shield and sword.

I am a champion. I eagerly engage the most admirable of foes.  Spare me the weak, give me the most capable opponents and let us decide which is truly greater.  Since I believe my position is true, I trust that honesty will always be my ally, therefore I battle always with honor.

When in reality the “champions” of creationism (the ones without a single paper in peer review, who are consistently caught lying, and who repeatedly get annihilated in court, like at Dover, assuming they even bother to show up to defend their position), in terms of how they stack up to actual scientists, can at best be captured by this image.

Angry kid with a sword

Grrrrrr…I’m not going to tussle with real scientists, but I’ll sure try and convince waiters and plumbers and businessmen…pretty much anybody who doesn’t know a lot of science. That’s how the scientific process works, right?  Scientific truth is determined by popular vote by people who didn’t study science for twelve years rather than a consensus of scientists!  Grrrrrrr, I am mighty!

The truth of the matter here, the most worrisome thing to me, is that Christianity necessarily closes people off to knowledge and evidence that contradicts their religious beliefs.  It must in order to survive.  Otherwise people would read about someone rising from the dead, and the piles of other ludicrously untrue things in the bible, and immediately write them off in favor of, y’know, evidence.  This necessarily makes people more ignorant than they otherwise would be, and that’s a liability for our species (not to mention an embarrassment to the individual).

Religion, particularly Christianity, is the enemy of science, and therefore the enemy of humankind.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • ACN

    A lot has been said about the virtue of having no heroes…

    But man, I’m comfortable having and calling Bill Nye a hero for science education! :)

  • anteprepro

    I don’t believe I have ever seen it put quite like Bill Nye put it. And it’s nice to hear that he is rallying for liberalism. Love it.

    And “science guy” in quotes? Really? The dude’s a scientist.

    Obviously a reference to “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and not, in itself, an attempt to demean.

    As for champions of creationism: lol.
    Guess that’s like “King of Shit Mountain” in terms of titles, I suppose.

  • hotshoe

    Even my 80-year-old mom has noticed and commented on christianity closing off people to evidence. Mom’s actually more anti-religious than I am, but she’s also completely uninterested in modern science except for whether it makes her medicine work better, so I’m surprised she noticed.

    I think it’s wonderful that public persons like Bill Nye are refusing to kowtow to religiously-based ignorance. The more people like him speak the truth, the better off we’ll all be.

    The truth is, fundamentalist religion (flavors of chrisitianity, mormonism, islam, etc) is incompatible with the basic rational thought processes we need for a modern society. Knowledge and evidence, pfft, what’re they worth? For fundamentalists, it comes down to “He said it, I believe it, that settles it”. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Raising a child in that kind of religious ignorance is child abuse.

  • MikeMa

    A double plus. Bill Nye for evolution and science and progress and Glen Bek against all that. It just doesn’t get any better. I can’t watch Bek anymore – did he cry?

    • Loqi

      I’m sure he cried. Then he used the tears to clean the chalkboard.

  • Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I gotta stop doing that! There is no reason to go look at the comment on the Blaze. The stupid, it burns!

  • http://www.facebook.com/allen.hall.3152 allenhall

    I like how often YouTube videos about science and atheism get the “And I’m a Mormon” ads…

  • Isabel

    Religion, particularly Christianity, is the enemy of science, and therefore the enemy of humankind.”

    You need to be more specific here. The best schools I’ve personally observed as far as teaching evolution have been Catholic schools. Probably better on average than public schools in this country. One Catholic school I am familiar with was teaching deep time to kindergarteners and human evolution by eighth grade.

    All the discussions about the space program lately have served as a reminder that our “Christian nation” had no trouble pushing science education only few decades ago. So sad for the kids brought up in ignorance today.

    Bill Nye is awesome.

    • Corvus illustris

      The best schools I’ve personally observed as far as teaching evolution have been Catholic schools.

      My observation is that this was true even before Vatican 2. Two obvious factors: the RCs make the church the arbiter of what the bible means, so no literalism problem (St Augustine famously pointed out that the Genesis narrative couldn’t be right), and they had a bloody nose from the Galileo incident (followed by handing off progress to the Protestants for at least a century).

      … our “Christian nation” had no trouble pushing science education only few decades ago.

      Those were precisely the decades during which, in my little northern-US home town, the mainstream-Protestant churches shrank or closed and the bible-thumpers took over.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani J. Sharmin

    It’s really upsetting that so many people don’t accept evolution. Making the situation even more difficult is that this is not something that is due to a lack of opportunity (which could be remedied by increasing access to education) but is due to people intentionally ignoring science, trying to make the education to which their kids have access worse.

    I remember a couple times in school, we watched videos of Bill Nye the Science Guy and it was lots of fun. Once, in middle school, it was one of those days when there wasn’t much to do (I forget why, exactly, but it was probably one of those days right before a holiday when most people don’t come to class) and we watched Bill Nye. It was kind of funny, because I remembered it from when I was younger, but it was still fun and educational.

    In 2006 people walked out of a lecture of his because he pointed out that the moon does not produce light as Genesis 1:16 suggests.

    I wonder if they walked out because he said that the moon does not produce light or because he mentioned it does not match what the Bible says. My guess is the later. There are people who accept the scientific discoveries themselves (and something like “the moon does not produce light” is something I’d hope most people accept) but who maintain that the Bible doesn’t contradict those scientific discoveries. While they’re not equivalent to the creationists who don’t accept science, the view that everything has to conform to the Bible is frustrating.

  • James Boyle

    FYI: the picture you have posted to represent the “champion” is artwork owned by Paizo Publishing (www.paizo.com). I would like to suggest that you contact them at customer.service@paizo.com or 425-250-0800 to receive permission to use this material.