An outspoken theoretical physicist in Arizona has made a strongly worded claim about teaching children creationism instead of evolution.
Lawrence Krauss, a professor at Arizona State University, said teaching creationism is akin to a mild form of child abuse and that it mirrors the tactics of the Taliban.
Krauss made the comments Tuesday on an episode of "The David Pakman Show."
Host Pakman brought up the subject, asking Krauss to clarify his earlier comments, in which he indicated teaching creationism -- which states, among other things, that the age of the Earth is about 6,000 years old, not 4.55 billion years old -- is a form of child abuse.
“If you think about that, somehow saying that, well, anything goes, we shouldn’t offend religious beliefs by requiring kids to know – to understand reality; that’s child abuse,” Krauss said in a video published by Big Think earlier in February. “And if you think about it, teaching kids – or allowing the notion that the earth is 6,000 years old to be promulgated in schools is like teaching kids that the distance across the United States is 17 feet. That’s how big an error it is.”
At Pakman's prompting, Krauss explained that he's sticking by his earlier comments, despite their potential for controversy.
“Sure, it is mild child abuse, but it is [child abuse],” Krauss said. “We need to encourage our children to question freely and try to think for themselves. Anything we do that counters that is unfair to them.”
The scientist went on to draw a connection between teaching creationism in school.
“If you’re introducing it as reality, if you’re telling your kids the world is 6,000 years old, and they shouldn’t believe scientists because there is no way humans are related to other animals, and don’t believe any of that stuff you learned in school, or take you kids of out of school because they are learning something, then it is like the Taliban at some level, which is an extreme form of child abuse,” Krauss said. “The Taliban doesn’t want girls to be educated or people to be educated because if they do they’ll understand the myths that they are learning are crap.”
Recently, some scientists, including Bill Nye, have been ramping up their criticisms of creationism.
In September, Nye told the Associated Press: "The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old. It's not. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, I strongly feel you should question your beliefs."
Nye was later joined by an unexpected ally in the creationism debate: Pat Robertson, a prominent American evangelical. In November, Robertson said Christians should not try to "cover up" evidence that proves the age of the Earth is not a several thousand years old.
"If you fight science," Robertson said, "you're going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was."
Meanwhile, as Discovery News notes, four states have considered legislation that would potentially open up science classrooms to other theories besides evolution.