You see, Mr. Nye, I am a Christian. I have no desire to debate evolution with you, don’t bother. And yes, I watched the Ken Ham debate. It was painful on both sides. Thought-provoking, at times, but a huge disappointment overall. I was disappointed in both you and Mr. Ham. With Mr. Ham, because-- when I was a high school student in a Christian school, I learned how to defend what I believe. And even I know that you cannot submit evidence unless your opponent believes your sources. The Bible is not valid scientific evidence. It was never meant to be.
This, however, does not mean that I do not believe in the Bible. And it does not mean that the Bible is irrelevant for science or those who lead their lives as scientists.
In fact, it is on this point that I am most disappointed with you.
I am writing to challenge your position on the role of evolution in science education. Not that it shouldn’t be taught, or that creation should take its place in the science classroom… that’s not my position at all.
My concern is in regard to your statements that you are “worried” about children and their “ability to compete and innovate in the future” (not a direct quote; quote taken from Sarah Gray’s article). My concern is about labelling Christianity as an “anti-science worldview” (again, not a direct quote, but part of the tagline from the article). My concern is about you saying that kids who grow up being taught Creationism “will be academically disabled” (and that is a direct quote).
Mr. Nye, I grew up in a tiny Christian school. Kindergarten through eleventh grade. They taught evolution. No, they did not teach it as fact. But they taught it as a scientific theory that we needed to know for our state exams. I then went to an online Christian school for twelfth grade. I graduated. Got an incredible scholarship to a local private university (much thanks to my SAT scores). Gave up said scholarship when I decided I didn’t like what I was doing. I took some time off, took classes online, enrolled in an amazing public university with a fairly prestigious reputation in the sciences. I graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, etc. I am now a PhD student who studies the human brain. Last year I received an honorable mention for the NSF’s GRF program. I am a scientist. I am going to be a professor. I still believe in Creation. There is nothing “academically disabled” about me.
Do I believe in a “young Earth”? More or less. But this is neither important to my theology, nor my scientific work. And, I’d argue, in many of the STEM areas, it is not that important either.
Do I believe in natural selection? Yes, to a degree, absolutely. (Note: even Ken Ham conceded this point-- that species have and do differentiate and that there are more species on the Earth today than at the point of Creation/the Flood.) Do I believe in mutations and genetics? Sure. Do I believe that species need to adapt to their environments? Sure. Do I believe that human beings descended from great apes, much less from a single-celled organism emerging from the “primordial soup”? No, I do not. I make no apology.
It does not matter to my work whether a brain area is homologous or analogous to an animal model. They are the same to me. It means, actually, very little.
I am concerned about you conflating Christians with Republicans, or Conservatives, or, more generally, stubborn, uneducated people. I am concerned about the lack of an in-between. I know Christians with beliefs regarding an older Earth. I know Christians who believe in God-initiated evolution. I know Christians who believe in a variety of versions of Creation. (Make no mistake, this is debated within Christianity as well-- and, again, it matters very little. So long as a person believes in God, that people mess up, that Jesus came as God’s Son to fix what we've messed up… all else matters significantly less. And the sooner both believers and nonbelievers begin to understand what matters vs. what doesn't-matter-as-much, the better off we’ll all be.)
I am concerned about the children, Mr. Nye. I am concerned about you telling children what they can’t be, based on what they believe. I am concerned that your influence will not serve to change the minds of these children’s parents or state representatives-- but will serve to limit their dreams.
I am concerned about who we are not inviting to the table.
I am under the impression that science is a search for truth, and that means checking our assumptions at the door. It’s an impossible task, which is why we need people with different backgrounds, different assumptions, different ideas. We need all kinds of people if we want to discover truth. If evolution is true, Mr. Nye, then let the Christians come. Let’s teach the kids how to be scientists. Let’s teach the kids how to challenge ideas. Even yours.