1. The Word Is Back, Now What About The Science?
Cox’s decision yesterday to return the word “evolution” to the GA science curriculum and the curriculum itself back to the Science Advisory Panel whose recommendation that “evolution be taught thoroughly” Cox originally rejected has resulted in a state-wide sigh of relief. Even Repub Gov Sonny Perdue (through a spokesman) is now saying, “She did the right thing.” The press and the pressure had a small victory but concern is building on her silence regarding the actual curriculum, a concern that course deletions will stand.
Portions of the national standards that were deleted in Cox’s proposal include a detailed explanation of natural selection — how organisms with inherited advantages are more likely to survive and reproduce.Other deleted statements included: “Life on Earth is thought to have begun as simple, one-celled organisms about 4 billion years ago. During the first 2 billion years, only single-cell microorganisms existed, but once cells with nuclei developed about a billion years ago, increasingly complex multicellular organisms evolved.”
James Rutherford, the former director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s benchmark program, worked for the state advisory board as a consultant. Rutherford said Cox needs to follow her decision to restore evolution with also returning to the national standards, which scientists recommend so that students will understand the concept of evolution. “It gets us on the track, but it’s not sufficient,” Rutherford said of Cox’s reversal on use of the word “evolution.”
But Cox has been silent on the deletions and Perdue made a statement that left the door wide open to teaching creationism side-by-side with evolution:
On Saturday, Perdue said he wanted balanced evolution instruction. “What concerns me is that many times you’ll have teachers in the classroom with impressionable students who go beyond that and teach it as a proven fact, and then go beyond that and ridicule students who would believe anything other than the theory of evolution,” Perdue said. “I think we need to have academic freedom, but we need academic balance as well.
That statement makes it obvious that radcon theocrats aren’t giving up–they’ve simply backed down off the word and moved to the next step: insisting that a religious belief in creationism is equivalent to a scientific theory and that therefore both deserve equal time in the classroom.
What we need to remember as this develops is that, although their disagreement with the evolutionary theory is genuine, the attempt by fundamentalist Christian theocrats to inject it into school curriculums is really a Trojan Horse. Their actual goal is to get religion back into public schools one way or another. Their first assault on the separation of church and state was the School Prayer Movement when heavily-funded, conservative fundamentalist groups sued dozens of schools around the country for the right to have prayer included as part of the classes and prayer groups allowed to hold their meetings on school grounds using school resources on the basis of the argument that prayer meetings were equivalent to meetings of, say, the Chess Club. There’s nothing new about this latest anti-separation scam except the excuse to push it–creationism instead of prayer.
If you doubt this, ponder the next item.
2. Even GA’s Christian Schools Teach Evolution
Cox’s decision to remove evolution from the state curriculum was a response to a controversy that began when a fundamentalist Christian parents’ group in Cobb County objected vehemently to the teaching of evolution in Cobb County Public Schools. When Cox said that she “made the decision to remove the word ‘evolution’ from the draft of the proposed biology curriculum in an effort to avoid controversy,” that was the controversy she was talking about.
And yet a report in today’s AJC says that many Christian schools in GA teach evolution without a peep of protest from parent groups, fundamentalist Christian groups, or anyone else.
While Georgia educators, parents and politicians debate how evolution should be taught in public schools, many Christian schools are teaching the theory without controversy, saying their students’ success in science depends on it.Michael Drake, head of the Georgia Independent School Association, said evolution is a nonissue among association members, because the theory’s importance in the study of biology is universally recognized. Although evolution may conflict with some families’ religious beliefs, the decision on how to reconcile that is best left to those families, he said.
Amen. Yet that same sentiment was roundly attacked in Cobb County when the schools said it in response to parents’ demands that they stop teaching evolution. The parents argued then, as Larry Taylor did (scroll down to “The Other Side”), that “[s]tudents should be exposed to all of the scientific evidence on evolution, both for and against, so that they can come to logical, informed, scientific conclusions.”
The Darwinists are always quick to label someone like me a religious extremist who just wants to interject my own personal faith into the science classroom. Yet it is they who seek, through the power of the state, to insulate their own beliefs about life’s origins from critical examination, to propagate those beliefs on an unwitting student population, and who defend their beliefs with the fervency of the most radical fundamentalist.Georgians should ask themselves why they are so adamantly opposed to an honest, open and critical examination of evolutionary theory in our classrooms. Could it be that their sacred cow is less than convincing when exposed to the light of truth?
Apparently they have no such problem with Christian schools that do not teach creationism in their science classrooms. Even though you would think that a Christian school would be a more logical (and friendly) place for Christian parents–including Larry Taylor–to raise the issue, on the contrary Christian schools have not been criticized at all by anyone for “propagat[ing] those beliefs on an unwitting student population.” Why not?
Very simple: the real motivation of the creationist movement is to get religion into the schools and Christian schools already teach religion. The true target isn’t evolution but the Constitutional separation of church and state that allows, even demands, that public schools teach real, non-Christian science.
Before we let this go any further, we need to call it what it is: an assault on the Constitution, not on a scientific theory.