Many of you may remember watching Mr. Wizard while growing up. The cheerful grandpa figure spent years showing us how learning about science could be fun, using clever experiments and demonstrations that could keep a child mesmerized for a half-hour (the length of his typical television program). As Mr. Wizard retired from the business we were introduced to a new, bow-tied individual who had an unsurpassed interest in science and shared the same ability to present the wonders of this fabulous subject to children of all ages. His name was Bill Nye and, if you will forgive the pun, represented the evolution of science programming for children. Bill Nye the Science Guy aired from 1993-1998 and solidified Nye as a scientist who could take complex ideas and break them down so that they could be understood by laymen of all ages. It was this ability, attached with a contagiously enthusiastic personality, which ultimately launched Nye into the general public at large.
This book stems from his foray into the masses and his near evangelistic tone regarding the dangers of climate change and other scientific causes that often receive little attention. While leading his crusade for the need to improve scientific literacy, especially among young people, he found that some schools were teaching creationism as science, which it is undoubtedly not. The fear that the most basic concept of our natural sciences, evolution, was not being taught, or taught in tandem with non-scientific dogma, made Nye very concerned about the state of science education as a whole. He decided to take this issue head on and eventually found himself at the Creation Museum for a heavily publicized debate with its curator, Ken Ham. While Ham and his followers built the event as science versus religion, which was never the point, Nye was there to speak to scientific fact, while Ham relied on religious dogma. Since Ham has a literalist view of The Holy Bible this was ultimately his one and only source to disprove evolution. Ham unfortunately brought a knife to a gun fight, or more accurately, he brought an ancient relic of stories that were never meant to be used as literal fact to a debate regarding how the world actually works. Nye spent the night explaining why the literal interpretations of many of the stories in The Bible were not scientifically possible (a six-thousand year old earth, an ark carrying two of every species during a worldwide flood, etc.) and providing evidence for why the science of evolution delivers a more accurate picture of earth’s creations.
The book chronicles pieces of the debate but its overarching theme revolves around the dangers of teaching dogma and/or non-scientific research in a science setting. Nye doesn’t spend his time bashing religion or belittling people of faith, he simply provides large quantities of information on why evolution is the genesis (yes, another pun) for much of our scientific thought. Ultimately, the same science that has provided all of the wonderful innovations that are allowing you to view this post, at this moment, is the same science that brings us evolution. People of faith and non-believers alike can both accept scientific theories like evolution, gravity, and relativity. Bill Nye is not asking you to leave your faith, he is simply asking you to believe in science.