Bill Nye: Teaching creationism is holding children back

Bill Nye says children will lose valuable critical thinking skills unless they are taught about evolution.Wikimedia

Leading scientist and TV personality Bill Nye has criticised evangelical Christians for teaching creationism to children.

In an interview with Newsmax, Nye – popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy – said that evolution is "the fact of life" and teaching children otherwise "hold[s] back".

"The Earth is, by the latest reckoning, 4.54 billion years old," Nye said. "The problem is we have adults who have very strong conservative views that are reluctant to let kids learn about evolution."

Nye criticised evangelical Christians who "cling to this book written 5,000 years ago...and want to use that as a substitute for a science textbook."

"Religion is one thing. People get tremendous comfort and community with their religions. But whatever you believe, whatever deity or higher power you might believe in, the Earth is not 6,000 years old," he said.

Children who are not given the opportunity to learn about evolution in school "will not have this fundamental idea that you can question things," Nye added. He argued that it impedes their ability to "think critically [and] use sceptical thought to learn about nature."

"These children have to suppress everything that they can see in nature to try to get a world view that's compatible with the adults in who they trust and rely on for sustenance," he said.

Nye, who's latest book is entitled 'Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation', took part in a live debate with Christian author and Creationist Ken Ham earlier this year.

Nye argued that it is not possible for life as we know it to have come about in less than 6,000 years, labelling Ham's views unreasonable and "magical". He also noted that the US is a "world leader" in the field of technology, and if creationism is promoted "we are not going to move forward".

Nye's comments follow a speech made by Pope Francis in October, in which the Pontiff backed science against creationism and intelligent design theories.

God is "not a magician with a magic wand," Francis said. "The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."