and so we keep on going…
As much as I’d like to stop writing about creationists for a while, it seems that they’re just not willing to stop dominating science headlines. And it’s kind of understandable to a certain degree. After all, they’re battling against the evil forces of atheism which will slowly turn their kids into monsters with no morals or regard for life unless they keep trying to turn science into an exercise in politics rather than an investigation of facts. The current battle is taking place in Texas where is seems that sub-par biology teachers could turn into qualified cosmologists and half the school board thinks that science is just too restrictive.
Initially there were some sighs of relief as an amendment which would make playing lose and fast semantics with evolution curriculums an official practice was defeated on a preliminary 7–7 vote. But just as Phil Plait points out on his blog, this means that the Texas Board of Education wasn’t trying to stand up for the teaching of sound facts in classrooms. It was deadlocked. Half the board thought it would be perfectly ok to turn biology class into a tool for proselytizing and one person wasn’t able to make up his mind. Trying to teach evolution the same way Ken Ham would do it lost by a hair and another vote in the future could make it standard procedure to tell Texan students that rather than referring to textbooks, they should just read the Bible or a fiery screed by some Discovery Institute hack with a hatred of Darwin.
But why are creationists so riled up and insistent? The creationist worldview is based solely on religion. Their personal beliefs and opinions are their truth. When we teach evolution, we’re not following their belief system and that sends them into a rage. Since to them, faith is everything, they automatically assume that any and all conflicting information is also just a personal belief and if a belief is to be taught, they want to make sure that it’s theirs and theirs only. This mindset is the driving engine behind the Discovery Institute’s guidebook, the Wedge Document. It has nothing to do with science or questioning today’s theories. Scientists question and test every theory out there in their line of work. They don’t need an angry mob to help them do it. Instead, the Wedge Document is a child of paranoia and a fervent conviction that if people study certain kinds of science, they’ll turn into monsters unable to value human life.
Creationism at its core is a hysterical fear of change and a stunning exercise in hypocrisy. The very same people who complain that their views are being repressed try to silence 150 years of scientific study and evidence to the contrary. Rather than “strengthening science education” as Texas SBOE member Barbara Cargill claims, they’re trying to undermine good education which just so happens to contain a theory they demonstrably don’t understand, yet fear as if it landed on this planet with a species of vicious alien invaders. Without realizing that you can’t just vote on facts and pick the ones you like and the ones you don’t like, they try to market a petition by a supposed 700+ scientists as proof that evolution is some incredibly controversial idea which hasn’t yet passed muster to be taught as fact. Of course the reality that this “petition” is a sham by the Discovery Institute and is signed primarily by random geophysicists, oceanographers, chemists or mathematicians who have nothing to do with biology, gets promptly overlooked.
And speaking of Barbara Cargill, she was once a biology teacher but has decided to expand her expertise to cosmology and propose an amendment to tell students that there are some variations in the estimates of our universe’s age. Well yes there are, but they vary by just 1%. Why does this technicality need to be highlighted by a special amendment? And why exactly is a so-called biology teacher who espouses creationism all of a sudden an authority on the cosmos? Did the SBOE lack an astronomy teacher who doubts gravity on the school board and Cargill had to do it herself out of necessity? Regardless, her vaguely worded canard passed 11–3 and opens the door for teachers as ignorant in their fields as she is to spout off whatever they feel like with an approving nod from politicos and ideologues above. I suppose as long as you’re legislating the preaching of religious dogmas in science class and fail once, might as well take a crack at some other aspect of science that fills you with fear and loathing…
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Creationism is not science. It’s not testable, repeatable or based on anything other than personal ideology. It’s the institutionalization of using willful ignorance as a weapon against fact and dogmas against the scientific method. To truly believe that creationism is a science or that is has any sort of scientific merit is somewhat like saying that Hogwarts School of Wizardry is an accredited academic institution. In a science classroom where children need to be taught facts, creationism has no place and it never will.