The teaching of creationism over evolution could create a generation of youngsters who "can't think" and "will not be able to participate in the future," says Billy Nye, the "Science Guy."
Appearing on a Newsmax discussion posted to YouTube, Nye put the blame on a generation of evangelicals who out of their "very strong conservative views" are "reluctant to let kids learn about evolution.
"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," says Nye, the author of a new book, "Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation."
Adults who hold fundamentalist views often end up on school boards debating acceptable textbooks and curriculum and pushing for the teaching of creationism over evolution, which is "holding the kids back," Nye says, calling it a uniquely America problem and troubling because it's taking place "in the world's most technologically advanced society."
Nye recently engaged in a public debate with controversial creationist Ken Ham, after which he was criticized by some scientists who thought the confrontation was an embarrassment to science.
"Pointless and counterproductive," was how University of Chicago professor of evolution Jerry A. Coyne characterized the debate.
Nye, however, stood by his decision to take part in the debate, explaining that he chose to step "into the lion's den" to make his point that children are being denied academic opportunities when they are exposed to creationism.
"They will not have this fundamental idea that you can question things, that you can think critically, that you can use skeptical thought to learn about nature," Nye said in the Newsmax YouTube video.
The creationist point of view, when it enters the classroom, means 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.
That means that when they leave school they will not be able to "participate in the future in the same way" as children who learn about evolution, he said.
At the core of the problem, he says, are evangelical Christians who "cling to this book written 5,000 years ago ... and want to use that as a substitute for a science textbook."