Creationism and the misunderstanding of science

Lucy, AustalopithecusIn the wake of Bill Nye’s “Evolution vs Creation” debate with whats-his-name, Buzzfeed published a photo essay, 22 photos of creationists sending hand-written responses to Bill Nye. A few express philosophical or religious objection (“Where do you derive meaning,” for instance) a number are based on a frightening lack of education or understanding of science. A few examples:

“How did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?

“The only [in-between] found has been Lucy” / “Why have we only found one Lucy?”

“If evolution is a theory (like Creationism or the Bible) why [is it] taught as fact?”

“Does metamorphosis support evolution?”

I find this, frankly, upsetting. I feel bad for these individuals. Personally, I have nothing against people choosing to subscribe to Creationism, or any other religious or philosophical position. As I’ve said before, when one accepts as premise the existence of an omnipotent creator-deity, most religious beliefs make total sense as conclusion. That’s not a dig; it’s sound logic based on premises that are different from mine.

What upsets me is not the positions these people arrive at, but the lack of good information that goes into their thought process. To me these photos are evidence of nothing more clearly than the failure of the American education system.

To believe that Lucy is the only primitive human science has uncovered, or that there is no explanation for the origins of metamorphosis or single-celled life reflects an understanding of scientific knowledge that is decades, if not centuries, behind our present understanding. To think that Creationism or the Bible meet even the loosest definition of a scientific theory demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of science as a discipline.

And, of course, these individuals are too closed-minded at this point to expand their understanding. Any attempt to explain where their understanding of science is off will be received as an attempt to disprove their religion, met with contempt and debunked instead of digested and understood.

I think I know why Bill Nye agreed to his controversial debate, and this is it: He sees how many people who argue for creationism don’t really have the most basic understanding of what evolution is, or why science accepts it so completely. He’s attempting to provide people with good information, not to make up their minds for them. He is, in my mind, heroic–but also tragic, because the audience he’s putting himself in front of isn’t receptive. It’s entirely made up of people who either already believe in creationism and hate evolution, or already accept evolution and hate creationism.

For all his good intentions, Bill Nye was doing the greatest service to society teaching children, who are by nature inquisitive and open-minded, and haven’t already fixed their minds to a philosophical / religious / social foundation from which they cannot be moved.

Of course, all the folks holding those signs were children once. To be as dedicated as they are to creation, and as misinformed about science, they were likely educated by adults contemptuous toward science, who kept vital information from them in the interest of controlling their minds. Many of them have likely grown to become those same types of adults; see the message in the first photo, “Are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?

The phrasing of that, “influencing the minds of children,” is creepy in itself. Bill Nye is educating children, and allowing them to make up their own minds. What are these people doing?


  1. Yeah there is a lot of misinformedness going around.
    But you are not helping by not proving ANY links yourself…. that way it still looks unfounded.

    BTW first single cell living organism is a mystery… has never been falsified…just supposition

    • Fair point, Eric. Most of this post is my opinion, which needs no evidence, but I’ve gone back and added links to the factual assertions I make in the fourth (full) paragraph. As to the first single-celled organism, it strikes me as somewhat impossible to falsify without a time machine. Even if we can trigger the event ourselves in a lab environment, we can’t say that was how it happened then, with any more certainty than we can say that our present theory is accurate. And the point is that the thinking informing these beliefs is that there is no explanation–in fact there is an explanation that fits with our present scientific understanding and evolutionary theory.

      Thanks for the comment!


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