Writing for the “Communities” section of the Washington Times, one Frank Kacer asks, Why are public schools terrified of examining evolution & creation?
If evolution is true, there’s a simple way for public schools to destroy any student’s belief in creation. Simply test each theory objectively in science classes using the scientific method. Instead, irrational lawsuits, court orders and fears of anything hinting of Christianity have become the weapons of choice to prevent use of objective science.
So, what are public schools really afraid of?
One wonders exactly who Mr Kacer believes the public schools are suing. If he stopped for a moment and remembered that the public schools are the ones being sued for First Amendment violations, he’d know that it’s only the creationists in public schools who are afraid right now. And if they’re not, then the school district is going to get taken to court and ordered to obey the law.
But despite his garbled grasp of the relevant facts, I think he has the germ of a good idea. Creationism has benefited a great deal from its special, protected status as a religious account of origins. I think we should teach the controversy and let public schools teach kids exactly why Genesis is a myth. If Mr Kacer and other creationists really want a head-to-head confrontation over the scientific study of origins, let’s take them up on it.
I know the argument against addressing creationism in the science classroom. There’s not enough time to go over all the material you need to cover to meet the curriculum. Whatever time you spend on creationism is time you could spend teaching, you know, actual science.
But consider this: the true and proper goal of a good science education is not to “cover the material” and get kids to memorize a list of facts they could just look up on Google. The true and proper goal of science education is to teach kids how to think scientifically, and in particular how to distinguish between scientific thinking and superstitious thinking.
Intelligent design creationism is a perfect opportunity to do this. It claims to be science, but it gives no chain of causal reasoning, no measurable or verifiable connection between its hypothesized causes and its claimed effects. It is superstition, pure and simple. It arbitrarily associates real-world phenomena with invisible, magical, supernatural causes, without any means of verifying any connection between the two, or even any rational description of what this connection would consist of if you could look for it.
If a kid graduates from high school, and loses the ability to sketch out a scientifically accurate diagram of the Krebs cycle, that’s not going to have a huge impact on their life unless they choose to specialize in a fairly narrow field of research. If they ever need to know it, it’s trivial to look up. But if they graduate from high school, and cannot tell the difference between scientific fact and superstitious hogwash, they’re ripe to be exploited by just about anyone unscrupulous enough to manipulate them. In a democracy, that’s a disaster. For a relatively few kids who will some day be our great scientists, we need a good, solid science education that will equip them to discover the wonders of science on their own. But the primary, the primary goal of science education, from pre-school through graduation, must be to teach kids what superstition is, and why it is not scientific fact.