January 30, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Georgia to Teach Evolution, but Avoid the E Word

It’s not “evolution,” it’s “biological changes over time,”  asserts Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.  But sometimes good intentions can make both sides of a dispute upset, reports MSNBC News.  Pro-evolutionists think the state is trying to water down the teaching of evolution, and anti-evolutionists think changing the word does not change the meaning.  Cox explained that the suggestion does not alter textbooks or forbid teachers from using the E word.
    No one seems to like the idea, however.  Former President Jimmy Carter was incensed: “As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox’s attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia’s students.”  A Democratic Congressman thought the move was throwing a bone to the conservatives, but a Republican reacted negatively for different reasons: “It’s stupid.  It’s like teaching gravity without using the word gravity.”
  The suggestion appeared in a draft of a revised science curriculum, to be debated in public hearings and voted on by the Georgia school board in May.

In the cartoon strip Hagar the Horrible, the Viking marauder once warned his shipboard cook, the milktoast born loser Lucky Eddie, that the crew was so sick of fish balls for breakfast, lunch and dinner, that if he didn’t come up with a new recipe he would be tossed overboard.  Later, with a look of triumph, he lifted the cover on his latest concoction.  “What’s that?” the curious crew members inquired disdainfully.  Lucky Eddie proudly announced, “fish cubes!”  (Last frame deleted due to violence.)
    The problem with evolution is not the E word itself.  It’s the content associated with the word.  When Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, the word evolution was not even in vogue; most called it “transformism” or common descent.  The issue is, do we want students to be taught a philosophy (naturalism) as science?  Do we want them hearing one side of a very controversial idea, that humans evolved from bacteria, an idea not only lacking proof but contrary to the best established scientific laws?  Then teach the controversy about the concept of evolution rather than try to remove controversy through euphemism and appeasement.
    The only thing dumber in this story than Cox’s proposal is President Carter’s reaction to it.  If he really were embarrassed by the censorship and distortion going on in Georgia public schools, he would advocate the overthrow of the Darwin Party’s totalitarian regime that forbids debate over evolution.  And if he were a true Christian or scientist or both, he would be incensed at science falsely so called.

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