Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Conservative Christians come from Monkeys?

This morning there was a news article about the increasing number of places in which political groups are gearing up for a fight against teaching evolution. I guess that they’re not actually fighting against teaching evolution so much as they’re fighting for the inclusion of other possibilities in the development of mankind. “Intelligent Design” is what they’re calling for. That sounds pretty fair to me. “Here’s how scientists think we happened, and here’s what Christians think.” Well, that seems fair except for the whole “separation of church and state” part of our history. How about the other religions? How about if we take a few weeks out of the science curriculum and do a big unit on everyone’s view of how the world started?

According to an article by Peter Slevin of The Washington Post that appeared on Yahoo! News this morning, “They are acting now because they feel emboldened by the country's conservative currents and by President Bush, who angered many scientists and teachers by declaring that the jury is still out on evolution.” Our president’s religious streak is inspiring various conservative groups to pressure state governments to enact legislation that will affect the science curriculum of our state and federally supported schools. Why aren’t these groups using their money to build schools so they can teach their kids whatever they want?

Better yet, why aren’t these groups teaching the “intelligent design” lessons in their churches and leaving the schools alone? The money these groups have and the money that these groups are spending on this, according to the Slevin article, is significant. They can give that money to the communities, to the homeless, in short, they could do some good with it. Schools get enough stuff dumped on them by politicians, they don’t need to become a battleground for conservative Christians who can’t mind their own business.

Baptist Minister Terry Fox was quoted in the Slevin’s article as favoring legislation requiring teaching more than evolution because "most people in Kansas don't think we came from monkeys." I don’t know Mr. Fox, so he may well have been joking, but it’s exactly that kind of slip-shod half-informed joking foolishness that gets in the way of education. (This author hopes, for the sake of that congregation, that Mr. Fox was joking).

If I were a teacher asked to teach evolution, I could easily see using the internet to get the kids using technology, research skills and critical thinking by making them find up to date information on the fossil record. Just last week, archaeologists uncovered what they think might be an important batch of early hominid specimens in Ethiopia. There’s also the fossil discovery of the ‘hobbit” people in Indonesia to study in class these days. Or, instead of interesting contemporary finds, we can take a week or two out of an already overloaded curriculum to teach stuff that a few well-organized religious people want the teachers to teach. Yeah, makes sense.

Are these the same pinheads that complain about our students not being as good at Math and Science as the kids in Asia?

Works Cited:
Slevin, Peter. Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens. 14 Mar.2005. Yahoo! News. 15 Mar. 2005.

No comments: