Why Denial of Evolution is Something Unique to the United States

October 27th 2014

Lindsay Haskell

Bill Nye explains why denial of evolution isn't just about religion - it's about the foundation of any science education that a child needs.

People's denial of evolution, Nye notes, "holds everybody back, really. Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology."

Thus, by denying evolution, these people are not just denying that one concept - but the research that has been based on evolution for the past 140 years. Although evolution is technically a "theory," saying it is just a theory is misleading. As the National Center for Science Education explains, "A scientific theory is a framework that guides research, not an idle speculation or a "hunch." These theories are systemic, well-tested explanations that account for a broad range of observations."

Thus, the empirical evidence needed for a scientific theory is accounted for in evolution, unlike creationism.

So when people say they don't believe in evolution, it's hard not to say why not? As Nye states, "Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution. I mean, 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 life cycle. 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."

Despite this, the United States lags behind many other countries when it comes to evolution. Data from 2006 public surveys showed that at that time, only 40 percent of Americans accepted evolution, with 39 percent overtly rejecting it. It is genuinely mind-boggling that so many people in a country known partly for its innovation and technological, as well as scientific, advances, can be so behind in general scientific knowledge and acceptance.

Bill Nye, however, has no problem with adults who choose to believe creationism -  instead, he worries about their children, who could be deprived the opportunity to learn about this essential component of science education. This doesn't just hurt the kids, but the future of this country, as Nye explains, "We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future ...We need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."

Thus, like those who deny climate change, evolution deniers are not only hampering their own education, but also putting the future of this country at risk. 

To watch Bill Nye explain why you don't need to be a scientist to shut down climate change deniers, click here