The state of Tennessee has introduced HB 0368/0893 protecting “a teacher from discipline for teaching scientific subjects in an objective manner.” This sound good, right?
As the late Paul Harvey would say, “Now, the rest of the story.”
Joseph Campbell wrote that religion is not keeping up with science, wanting to hold on the old and comfortable, and not move forward. In other words, a denial of science.
One of the tactics that the pro-creationists have in their ever growing, though illogical, arsenal is argument. Not just the “there is no proof for evolution” argument or the “compound-eye” argument. No. Students are now taught to question everything about the science of evolution.
The Institute for Creation Research’s “Introducing Creationism into Public Schools,” by ICR’s president Henry Morris, Ph.D., provides a long and well-written column on what schools, parents, teachers, pastors, and, yes, students need to do to start the creationism versus evolution discussion by asking questions concerning Creationism or any of the offshoots.
Yes, the arguments are not scientific based and are only justified through an individual’s interpretation of biblical passages, but they are arguments just the same. And arguments that challenge the authority of a teacher or of the teacher’s knowledge of the topic, cause untold disruptions in a classroom.
Teenagers love when one of their own challenges authority and appears to win. Even if one does not fully agree with their peer’s position, the fact that one person is willing to “stick it to the man” elevates that individual to a position of hero. If the school’s newest hero says that God is right and science is wrong, even when undisputable evidence is introduced that science and Darwin are right, peer pressure is such that questioning real facts will begin.
This becomes even stronger when a person of authority, in many cases a minister, priest or parent, says that is questioning temporal authority (but never question God) in the creation versus evolution discussion is a good thing and the individual will be rewarded in an afterlife.
Morris does warn students that graciousness under fire when “witnessing to their faith” is a key to change the teaching of science. He writes,
In any kind of effective Christian witnessing, the witness must know what he is talking about, be winsome and tactful, kind and patient, and especially where someone of higher authority is involved, respectful and courteous.
Morris warns that in some cases, even being a good kid will not win over a teacher’s position.
In those few cases where the teacher seems intolerably and rigidly bigoted, insisting that the student not only know the arguments for evolution but also believe them himself, it may be necessary for the student to ask his parents or pastor for help in the situation.
I enjoy the use of “intolerably and rigidly bigoted.” It is here that Morris’ argument devolves to name-calling and informing the student, though a bit indirectly, that most teachers will usually comply with the initial request.
As any teacher of persuasion and argument will tell you, once the opposition moves to name-calling, the opposition has essentially lost the discussion. Why? The argument has turned from the issue to attacking the individual.
This is not an argument of whether the United States is or is not a Christian nation. Numbers from the United States Census tells us that 75 percent of Americans identify themselves as “Christian” and that Christianity has grown by 10-percent between 2001 and 2008. But that does not make creationism invariably right or science invariably wrong.
From 1999 to 2010, Gallup reports that those believing that God created Man in his/her present form (and in His image) has dropped from 47-percent to 40-percent. However, those who believe that God had no part in evolution rose from 9-percent to sixteen-percent in the same period. Both significant numbers.
1) Allow the discussion of the biblical rendition of the creation of the universe, but in a class of contemporary religion or philosophy. To be fair and honest, it should also be pointed out that there are two prominent creation stories in the Jewish scriptures and at least one, John 1, in the Christian Bible, as well as creation stories in every other modern religion that differ greatly;
2) Require the teaching of the scientific method as well as critical thinking and listening. The confusion of the scientific theory versus the genetic “theory” is an important tool for the pro-creationists;
3) Teach American civics and the Constitution, with one emphasis on the absence of religion in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation of States, and the Constitution.
Additional emphasis should also be made on the two prohibitions in the Constitution. First, use religion as a qualifier for public office and, second, the interference of government in personal religion. On the latter, it must also be noted that the same provision prevents religion from interfering with government;
4) Attend school board meetings when the question of creationism versus science is scheduled in any of its forms and voice your opinion that creationism is not science. That books like Scientific Creationism by the Institute for Creation Research are not scientifically based, and;
5) Vote out those who are in denial of science, who want to bring the United States back to the Dark Ages when, as Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institution wrote, “fear of knowledge and science led to an impoverishment of civilization that had lasting effects for centuries.”
For whatever reason, we fear math and science almost as much as a public speaking course in 6-12 and post-secondary education. Parents teach their children to be fearful of new ideas – except when Apple products are released.
Why fear of science? If science prevails, the need for God no longer exists. The iPad-3 does not threaten God’s existence. Biology does. The myths can no longer be “true” and the comfort zone those myths provided need to be scraped.
It is time for an honest conversation with those who sit on school boards, in state departments of education and with our legislators to say, “Enough is enough. If American is to win back her world superiority in math and science, then mythology needs to be put where it belongs; as philosophy of religion not as science.
David Rosman’s newest book, A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs is now available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook versions.
You can invite David to speak to your group or organization. For more information, please contact him at Speaker@InkandVoice.com