Bill Nye fears the consequences of producing a generation fraught with evolution deniers. Outside of the fact that ignorance is frustrating, Nye’s concerns lie with America’s ability to keep up with the rest of world in science and innovation. “Evolution,” says the Science Guy, “ is the fundamental idea in all of life science.” To deny evolution is to deny biology, which is therefore a denial of the foundation beneath medicine, anatomy, neuroscience, etc.
“United States keeps in the game economically by innovating – having new ideas, new products, new ways of doing things. That’s what the United States produces and brings to the world. And if we raise a significant fraction of our students who don’t understand science we’re not going to have the engineers and scientists to continue this tradition. So for me it’s troubling objectively or subjectively as one can be and as a citizen of the U.S.”
In the above clip, Nye attempts to pinpoint the reasoning behind evolution denial. He argues that creationists and the like choose to deny factual evidence of evolution because of a memento mori fear of death:
"It seems incredible that all this stuff that we store in our brain, all the memories we have, all the mental images that we are able to keep, all the algebra that we learn, that all that goes away when we die is really hard for all of us to accept. And along with this is that we are not nature’s last word. We are not the final answer that nature came up with. That we are not what some entity created as his or her very best work. We’re just one more step on the evolutionary timeline. And for many people that’s so troubling they can’t accept it at all."
Nye knows that there's little he can do to sway the opinion of adults in groups like Answers in Genesis, but the influence of those adults on their children and students can have broad consequences for the nation. The more young people they indoctrinate with shoddy, porous interpretations of world history (such as the world being 4,000 years old), the harder it will be for the country to make necessary strides in the advancement of science.
For more on the subject, check out Nye's new book: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.