Inherit the Wind

I remember thinking a few years ago while watching the movie starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March that the age when science could be thrown out the window and replaced by religious dogma was forever behind us, a relic of past bigotry and superstition that we had passed through never to see again, like the Inquisition or the persecution of witches.

I was wrong. It isn’t over after all, it seems. Junior’s fundamentalist religious convictions allow him to claim, inaccurately and inappropriately, in the SOTU that abstinence is he “only” protection from AIDs, ignoring condoms as if they didn’t exist, and now the State of Georgia has wiped the word “evolution” from its science curriculum, according to the AJC.

Georgia students could graduate from high school without learning much about evolution, and may never even hear the word uttered in class.New middle and high school science standards proposed by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox strike references to “evolution” and replace them with the term “biological changes over time,” a revision critics say will further weaken learning in a critical subject.

The curriculum revision which had begun as “an attempt to strengthen the performance of students by requiring greater depth”, was simply hijacked by Republican State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox and State Dept of Education’s Stephen Pruitt, who ordered the “committee of science teachers, college professors and curriculum experts…involved in reviewing the proposal” to delete both the word “evolution” and most of the curriculum recommended by the American Association for the Advancement of Science that covers “the origin of living things”.

Cox, in what has come to be the standard Republican “say one thing in the election, do another in office” bait-and-switch tactic, was asked about the teaching of evolution in a public debate during her campaign.

Cox, a Republican elected to the state’s top public school position in 2002, addressed the issue briefly in a public debate during the campaign. The candidates were asked about a school dispute in Cobb County over evolution and Bible-based teachings on creation.Cox responded: “It was a good thing for parents and the community to stand up and say we want our children exposed to this [creationism] idea as well. . . . I’d leave the state out of it and I would make sure teachers were well prepared to deal with competing theories.

Once elected, however, she instantly injected the state into the controversy. Of course. Voters who were paying attention would have known she was going to do that from her radcon equation of the scientific theory of evolution with the the religious dogma of creationism. That was a dead give-away. They are not “competing theories”. Labeling creationism a “theory” is like calling the Holy Ghost a “distinct personality type”.

Fortunately, Georgian educators do not, as a rule, live in the Middle Ages, and church control of science is still frowned upon. More than 600 of them have signed an online petition “challeging the curriculum as misguided.” Whether or not that will stop this latest radcon attempt to force science to obey religion remains to be seen.

Where is our Clarence Darrow?

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