November 16, 2004

Devolution

This story makes my head a-splode.

A long-running American cultural clash has flared yet again, with a trial in suburban Atlanta this month over teaching evolution in public schools. Several Georgia parents are challenging a local school board’s decision to require biology textbooks to include a prominently placed label stating that evolution is ”not a fact.”

Look, people. I don’t want to get into a whole long diatribe here. So I’ll put it plainly. In a science class, you teach accepted science. Evolution is accepted science. No matter what your religion might say, it’s miles away from controversial or cutting edge. It’s boring, established, well-supported, peer-reviewed science, as much fact as everything else in your science textbook. There is no scientific reason to put any sort of a sticker differentiating evolution from other parts of the science textbook.

There may be a religious reason, but science class is not the place for that.

Your public school science class is a place to teach established science. Not nonscience (so-called Intelligent Design). Not pseudo science. School is not an appropriate battleground for new science (never mind ideologically-driven fringe ideas). The evolution science taught there is not new, nor is is it at all controversial in the scientific community. The place for these battles to be fought is among the scientists doing the research and writing the journal articles.

You want to teach about creation in a religion class? Knock yourself out. I think that’s great. But I don’t want mixed messages sent in science class any more than I would want a religion class interrupted by an explanation that turning water into wine is physically impossible, or a sticker on the Bible warning that the events in the Old Testament are not fact.

Putting the ideological cart before the scientific horse leads to ignorance and absurdity. As Voltaire warned, those who can make you believe absurdities can cause you to commit atrocities.

Posted by James at November 16, 2004 11:31 AM
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Comments

Excellent article -- one of the best I've seen on the subject in a "mainstream" paper.

You know how I feel about the issue.

Posted by: Bob T at November 17, 2004 6:42 AM

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