We’ve all heard the numbers — so often that it sometimes feels numbing: The United States ranked 25th in math and 17th in science in a ranking of 31 countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. led the world in high school and college graduation rates 25 years ago; today, the U.S. ranks 20th and 16th, respectively. At this point, it’s no longer about leading the global rankings; it’s about not slipping further behind.
So along comes Bill Nye, known to legions of children as “Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” and he makes a calm, reasonable, common-sense case for teaching children about science and reason, pointing out the challenges our country faces — and the advantages of having a scientifically literate populace to respond to those challenges.
We need the next generation of scientists! We need the next group of people who are going to put a robot on Mars with a frakkin’ sky crane! Will the scientists of tomorrow be landing a robot on Europa or Titan to greet new neighbors crawling from a sub-ice ocean? We need people to launch new and improved satellites, make better cars and airplanes. Heck, we’ll need people to repair all the stuff that already exists. We do not need more presidential candidates who claim abortion caused Hurricane Katrina and that God told him that terrorists would destroy America in 2007. (I’m looking a you, Pat Robertson, you false prophet!)
And, finally, Bill makes a very functional plea: Parents, if you’re content being a creationist, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids follow the same path. Don’t force them to cling to a pre-Dark Ages explanation for the world. Let them learn about evolution and get a good job. Later, after they’re grown, they can weigh the mountains of evidence that supports evolution against the absolute lack of any evidence supporting creationism, and decide if they want to believe. (And, parents, let them investigate the creation stories of many different religions, because the Judeo-Christian tale really is among the most boring.)
I pray people will pay attention to Bill’s plea.