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A Trope in the Evolution Debate: The Oh, So Sad Plight of the Poor Creationist Child

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.jpg

Bill Nye’s new book is out this week, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, and while we haven’t seen a copy yet, it’s interesting to read an interview with Nye by New York Times writer Jeffery DelViscio. Mr. Nye and Mr. DelViscio invoke what has become a familiar trope in the evolution debate: the plight of the poor, sad creationist child.

Nye says that after his debate with genuine creationist Ken Ham back in February, he dropped everything and turned his attention (and that of the book’s co-author/editor Corey S. Powell) to rebutting "creationism," in which term (if the Amazon reviews so far are to be believed) he includes intelligent design.

DelViscio: [D]o you imagine a child in a creationist-friendly household managing to get his hands on the book and stealing away with it?

Nye: A man can dream! It would be great if the book is that influential. My biggest concern about creationist kids is that they’re compelled to suppress their common sense, to suppress their critical thinking skills at a time in human history when we need them more than ever.

What a laugh. I don’t know about actual creationists, but with advocates of academic freedom such as ourselves, who would give teachers the permission and intellectual tools to acquaint students with mainstream scientific debates on Darwinian theory, it’s certainly the foes of such freedom who would "compel" students to "suppress their common sense, to suppress their critical thinking skills."

Bruce Chapman has written about some of Nye’s misinformation on attempts to reform science education ("Bill Nye and Science Lies").

Speaking of "creationist" children, I find myself in the slightly odd position of having my own parenting skills rated by none other than Nye’s debating partner Ken Ham along with a writer for the American Atheist.

Ham picked up a copy of that journal and found an article that, among other things, accuses me of "intellectual child abuse." For what? Because as I mentioned in a post here at ENV, I decided to skip watching a particularly egregious episode of Cosmos with my 12-year-old son.

The atheist writer, Dan Arel, hisses at Mr. Ham:

[Y]ou and Klinghoffer are a danger to a child education and shielding ones child from an education is intellectual child abuse. You should both be ashamed.

It’s good to be able to report that Ken Ham comes to my defense:

We applaud the approach David Klinghoffer has taken in using material like Cosmos as a tool to teach both biblical and scientific discernment. He did not simply abandon his child to be taught by the television and Tyson but rather guided him through the maze of observational science and evolutionary claims that are so interwoven in most Cosmos episodes.

Actually what I wrote was just that the procedure of pausing to explain to my son every time Neil Tyson deviated from talking about real science, and swerved into baiting religion and pumping for materialism, made watching the episode too cumbersome. You get to the end of a day and you just don’t have the energy for that kind of an exercise. So I decided to give it a pass.

But for an atheist of a certain stripe, if a parent’s actions result in his child’s missing even one episode of Cosmos, it’s tantamount to child abuse! My goodness, these people take the cake. They really do.

Oh, and don’t forget to see Casey Luskin’s analysis of the material in that particular episode of Cosmos, "The Immortals," in our recently released book The Unofficial Guide to Cosmos.

I’m on Twitter. Find me @d_klinghoffer.