Creationism is the perverse idea that some all-powerful, all-knowing, all loving, albeit malevolent [should the mood strike], deity is responsible for everything in the universe, discounting completely the overwhelming scientific evidence that speaks to evolution as being the reason for life.
Just what is creationism? Well here it is in summary: All of 6,000 years ago a man-made from dirt, and a woman made from a rib, are fooled by a talking snake into eating a cursed apple. That’s it. The core of creationism, and millions of people in the United States believe it.
Unfortunately, in America, where Christians make up about 88% of the population, the number of fanatics is reaching epidemic proportions, and many of these fanatics have found their way into the legislatures and governments of the 50 States and even, at least under the feckless George Bush administration, into the federal government itself.
At present, four states are actually considering new legislation directed at teaching science disguised as creationism in school curriculum’s that critics say would set up a backdoor way of questioning evolution and allowing pupils to be taught religious, not scientific, versions of how life on earth really developed.
New legislation designed to sidestep evolution science is introduced in Colorado, Missouri and Montana. In Oklahoma, there are two bills before the state legislature that include potentially creationist language
A watchdog group, the National Center for Science Education, said that the proposed laws are framed around the concept of “academic freedom”. It argues that religious motives are disguised by the language of encouraging more open debate in school classrooms. However, the areas of the curriculum highlighted in the bills tend to center on the teaching of evolution or other areas of science that clash with traditionally religious interpretations of the world.
“Taking it at face value they sound innocuous and lovely: critical thinking, debate and analysis. It seems so innocent, so pure. But they chose to question only areas that religious conservatives are uncomfortable with. There is a religious agenda here,” said Josh Rosenau, an NCSE program and policy director.
In deeply conservative, Jesus driven Oklahoma, one of two bills has already been filed with the state senate and another with the state house. The senate bill would oblige the state to help teachers “find more effective ways to represent the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies”. The house bill specifically mentions “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning” as areas that “some teachers are unsure” about teaching. Clearly this is more religious nonsense driven by the Christian fanatics that populate the state.
In Montana a bill put forward by local social conservative state congressman, Clayton Fiscus, also lists things like “random mutation, natural selection, DNA and fossil discoveries” as controversial topics that need more critical teaching. Meanwhile in Missouri a bill introduced in mid-January lists “biological and chemical evolution” as topics that teachers should debate over including looking at the “scientific weaknesses” of the long-established theories.
In Colorado, which rarely sees a push towards teaching creationism, a less than transparent bill is initiated in the state house that would oblige science teachers to “respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to biological and chemical evolution”. Observers say the move is the first piece of creationist-linked legislation put forward in the state since 1972. It is not a move directed at offering extra science, but an effort to push the creationist myth under the guise of improving science instruction.
The moves in such a range of states have angered advocates of secularism in American official life. “This is just another attempt to bring creationism in through the back door. The only academic freedom they really want to encourage is the freedom to be ignorant,” said Rob Boston, senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Over the past few years only Tennessee and Louisiana, no surprise there, have managed to pass so-called “academic freedom” laws of the kind being considered in the four states. Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and close observer of the creationism movement, said that the successes in those two states meant that the religious lobby, as powerful as the National Rifle Association, was always looking for more opportunities to poison the minds of the young with religious claptrap.
She said that using arguments over academic freedom was a shift in tactic after attempts to specifically get “intelligent design” taught in schools was defeated in a landmark court case in 2005. Intelligent design, which a local school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, had sought to get accepted as legitimate science, asserts that modern life is too complex to have evolved by chance alone. “Creationists never give up. They never do. The language of these bills may be highly sanitized but it is creationist code,” she said.
The laws can have a direct impact on a state. In Louisiana some 78 Nobel laureate scientists have endorsed the repeal of the creationist education law there. The Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology has even launched a boycott of Louisiana and cancelled a scheduled convention in New Orleans. Louisiana native and prominent anti-creationist campaigner in the state Zack Kopplin said that those pushing such bills in other states were risking similar economic damage to their local economies. “It will hurt economic development,” Kopplin said.
Most importantly the impact on students taught controversies in subjects where the overwhelming majority of scientists have long ago reached consensus agreement really hurts them, says Kopplin. It can be downright embarrassing to be from a state which has become a laughing-stock in the area of science in schools. Others experts agreed, arguing that it could even hurt future job prospects for students graduating from those states’ public high schools. “The jobs of the future are high-tech and science-orientated. These lawmakers are making it harder for some of these kids to get those jobs,” said Boston.
Unfortunately for the children of these states, the religious crazies care nothing about the future of the children if their mythical deity doesn’t play a significant part in kids’ lives. These people are no different from the fanatics of Islam, with respect to pushing their agenda. In point of fact they just force their ludicrous ideas on an unsuspecting public in a quiet, insidious manner. It’s rocks and firebombs disguised as science.
In conclusion, as long as religious fanatics are allowed to dictate nonsense doctrine to our children, we will always be behind the eight-ball when it comes to learning. If our children are taught mythology instead of science, they will not become scientists. Instead they will become theological robots, directed by the insanity of religion and it’s careless faithful. I can’t believe that’s what America wants. Do you?
Thanks to The Guardian for their contributions to this article.