Scientific findings prove that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. The long-held account of the church is that God created the Earth in six days, no more than several thousand years ago at the absolute most.
This view is known as creationism. Charles Darwin complicated the debate over the origins of the planet and life on it in 1859, with the publication of 20 years of his work, research and conclusions in a text titled On the Origin of Species. This particular text has since become a scientific standard.
Recently, a new player has joined the debate in a major way. Millions of American children are familiar with Bill Nye, whose show Bill Nye the Science Guy ran in the 1990s and was a very popular teaching aid in schools around the country.
Nye recently spoke out in a video for Big Think Edge, an online learning platform, about how creationism is not something that is appropriate for children to learn.
“The idea of deep time of billions of years explains so much of the world around us,” Nye stated. “If you try to ignore that, your worldview becomes crazy, untenable, itself inconsistent.”
He is commenting on the viewpoint of a group of creationists, the Young Earth Creationists, who interpret the Book of Genesis as literally as possible, tracing genealogy to come up with Earth’s age at no more than ten thousand years.
A national poll, called the Gallup Poll, has been tracking Americans’ views on this particular subject for the past 30 years.
Much to Nye’s chagrin, nearly half of Americans subscribe to views of creationism. Between 40 percent and 47 percent of those surveyed over the years have consistently said that they believed God created modern humans within the last ten thousand years.
Thirty-two percent believe in some form of religiously-led evolution, and only 15 percent believe in atheistic, or Darwinistic, evolution.
Responses to Nye’s video have brought out some interesting viewpoints. The video went viral quickly; Bill Nye is a very well-respected and well-liked figure, especially among those who watched his program as children.
Many commenters in the online debates have adopted the viewpoint that there can be a compromise between the two positions.
Science and faith have historically been in two different camps, but some believe that all the answers, and the truth about the history of the Earth and of humanity, may actually lie somewhere in the middle of the two.
Bill Nye the Science Guy is not so optimistic.
He says to adults, “If you want to deny evolution and live in your world, that’s completely inconsistent with the world we observe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it. Because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems.”