That’s Science: Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ Defends Evolution

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To many American 20-somethings, Bill Nye the Science Guy is an television legend. But he’s also an outspoken defender of scientific principles.

In a two-and-a-half minute video posted on YouTube last Thursday, Bill Nye, who starred in the popular educational show Bill Nye the Science Guy, expressed his very serious views over the debate between creationism and evolution. In the short clip professionally produced by Big Think, he defends evolutionary theory, arguing that the United States is unique in its denial of the concept.

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“When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in [evolution], it holds everybody back.,” he said in the video. “It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates.”

Nye continued on to emphasize the importance of teaching young children evolution theory in an effort to build young minds and scientific innovation. “Here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they’re at a different point in their life cycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.”

Nye was the main face of Bill Nye the Science Guy, which aired on PBS from 1993 to 1998. Since then, Nye, a Cornell-educated mechanical engineer who started his career at Boeing, has remained heavily involved in science education. According to ABC News, Nye also toured through New Hampshire earlier this year to support and endorse Obama’s education policies, for science programs nationwide. “[The] world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution,” Nye added.

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However, Nye is in the minority of Americans that believe exclusively in evolution. A Gallup poll released in June showed that only 15 percent of people say that humans evolved without divine intervention. An overwhelming majority, 46 percent of those surveyed, said “God created humans in their present form,” with the other 32 percent believing in a hybrid “theistic evolution” process.

And it seems, though, that his comments may not have sat well with some on the Internet. On Sunday, just three days after the video was posted to YouTube and began to go viral, “R.I.P. Bill Nye The Science Guy” was noticed as a trending term on Twitter. While no one has claimed responsibility for the death hoax, Nye was very much alive Tuesday as he clarified his position to CBS, explaining that the point of his video wasn’t to attack religion, but to highlight the scientific proof behind evolution.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.