In a recent YouTube video that went viral, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, said that the theory of creationism is inappropriate for children, creating a bit of a stir in the religious community.
He is both right and wrong, but mostly right.
Nye is right because science comprises empirical data -- earthbound measurements tentatively analyzed through human logic and tentatively agreed upon by experts in a given field.
Of course, science doesn't explain everything, but what it does explain can be defended by rationality. Experiments can be conducted and repeated.
He is also wrong because science does not explain everything, and any good scientist must keep an open mind toward new information. Religion offers answers to questions that today's science is unable to explain, and may never explain.
Unfortunately, it doesn't offer any data or experiments.
And so we reach the central point: If all it takes to be labeled a scientist is an open mind, proponents of creationism would have a point. But science requires more. Speculation is not science. Wishful thinking is not science. Hope is not science. Faith is not science.
Science is data and logic. It is physical discipline. Therefore, creationism (or intelligent design) is philosophy, not science.
If you substitute philosophy for measurement in teaching science to children, you're simply not going to get the answers that deliver technological progress.
Our children are our future scientists and engineers. We want them to solve practical problems, not just meditate about grand questions of the supernatural.
Nye may be wrong that creationism has zero evidence and that it will disappear in a few centuries. But he would be right to say that it has no technological value. It just makes some people feel better.
In answering ultimate questions, religion may actually be better than small science. But science is not so much about ultimate questions as it is about practical, step-by-step technological increments that make life better in a measurable way.
If you want a refrigerator to keep your ice cream frozen for the birthday party, you better turn to science. Religion isn't going to do the job.
I'm not knocking religion: It can give you comfort about getting older by giving you something to shoot for in the next life. But it's not going to produce new micro-surgery techniques, or understanding of sub-atomic particles, or aerodynamics, or microbiology, or metallurgy, or anything else that is science.
Bill Nye the Science Guy is right: let the children learn critical thinking in school that will result in earthbound innovations here and now. Leave the bigger questions for church.
(Read more by Daily Herald editor Randy Wright at latecopy.com.)