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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

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Today's Big Idea: War on Science/War on Religion

The Big Idea for Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It was not all that surprising that Bill Nye's Big Think video on evolution versus creationism went viral on Youtube this week. After all, the video contained many of the elements of viral content: it tapped into controversy, it was an authentic statement, and yeah, sure, it didn't hurt that some people thought the science guy was dead. (Reports of Nye's death turned out to be greatly exaggerated, thanks to Twitter and a fictitious report in The Onion.)

There is, however, a bigger idea at work here than Nye's takedown of the creationist rejection of evolution: if you reject science, there is a cost. If you refuse to allow your children to learn about evolution, they will not succeed in the 21st century knowledge economy. Moreover, there is a cost to society as well: you are holding the rest of us back, as we desperately need a scientifically literate population. 

Then there is a second, countervailing idea as well. Is science compatible with religion? Can either discipline "bend" to the other? In he meantime, here's the problem for science: large majorities of Americans don't believe that humans are the product of evolution alone. In other words, science is losing the argument. 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Bill Nye Isn't Dead, He's Gone Viral
    Nicholas Clairmont Think Tank
  2. 2 Evolution Created Free Will
    Daniel Dennett
  3. 3 Why Many Americans Don’t Believe in Evolution
    Richard Wrangham
  4. 4 Steven Pinker on Human Evolution
    Steven Pinker
 

Today's Big Idea: War on Sc...

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