April 9, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Federal Judge Rules Evolution Must Be Taught As Fact, Not Theory

It sounds like open-mindedness is illegal in Georgia, on the face of it.  Federal judge Clarence Cooper is allowing a lawsuit against the Cobb County school district to go to trial.  Their crime has been to insert warning labels in biology textbooks that state, simply,

This textbook contains material on evolution.  Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things.  This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

Six parents sued the school board over these stickers, which they claim advance a religious agenda.  The judge agreed with their claim that the labels did not have “a secular purpose” and therefore were an unconstitutional violation of separation of church and state.  According to the Associated Press story published on MSNBC News, “he noted that while the disclaimer has no biblical reference, it encourages students to consider alternatives other than evolution.”  He thought, therefore, that the labels could have the effect of “advancing or inhibiting religion.”
    Presumably, alternatives probably would have included creationism, and while “The theory of evolution, accepted by most scientists, says evidence shows current species of life evolved over time from earlier forms and that natural selection determines which species survive,” the presumed alternative of “Creationism credits the origin of species to God.”  If so, the article claims, “In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled creationism was a religious belief that could not be taught in public schools along with evolution.”
    On a related subject, John West of the Discovery Institute rebuked a recent CNN story for distorting the truth.  According to World Net Daily, CNN claimed nine states were considering punishing teachers who failed to consider alternatives to evolution.  The shoe is on the other foot, West responded: “This sort of shoddy journalism is inexcusable.  CNN manufactured a controversy that doesn’t in fact exist.  There is no movement in America to fire teachers who won’t teach ‘alternatives to evolution.’  The teachers who are really facing threats to their academic freedom today are those who want to present scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory.”

How false and dumb do news stories have to get before people can’t take it any more and make their voices heard?  As seen in the Associated Press story about the textbook warning labels, the usual lies and misrepresentations from the Darwin Party have now been superseded by actual mind control.  Students must not develop critical thinking skills.  Open minds must be closed.  The thought police will now tell them what they must believe.  But CNN has the audacity to assert that opening the door to alternatives to evolution restricts teachers’ rights.
    Judge Cooper based his decision not on the facts, nor on what the label actually said, but on (1) the assumed motive of the school board, and (2) the assumed effect on students.  As for (1), the judge felt he could read between the lines and discern the motives of the school board: “Aha!  I know what you’re trying to do.  You say you want students to keep an open mind, but what you really want to do is push the Biblical teaching of creationism!  Well, we’re not content to keep you off first base; we’re going to bend the rules so you can’t have a turn at bat!”  The danger of this legal approach should be self-evident.  If the thought police can now arrest you for what they think you might do, instead of for what you have done, then the Bill of Rights is out the window.
    Some will retort that school board members are elected representatives of the state and speak for the government.  So what?  Does that trump their rights?  Does that make them slaves to the Darwin Party?  Government is of the people and by the people.  Are not school board members allowed to think, debate issues and make decisions?  If the voters don’t like their decisions, they can vote them out of office.  Why does the Darwin Party use the end run tactic of going to the courts to get their way?  One would think that scientists were interested in debating evidence, if “most scientists” believe “evidence shows” bacteria evolved into humans.  OK, may we talk about that evidence?  “No!  We’re going to find a judge who will outlaw criticism of our view!”
    As for (2) the presumed effect on students – the fear that they might actually develop critical thinking skills and consider alternatives instead of swallowing the dogma that evolution is a fact – it is inconceivable that any science teacher worth his or her salt should fear open-mindedness.  Most science teachers want students to think and not just parrot answers.  Most science teachers would love it if their students actually understood something, and could discuss it intelligently, instead of just believing the textbook or the teacher’s word.  Even pro-evolution teachers should realize that discussion and debate about evolution is healthy.  The warning labels could be a great teachable moment for both sides.  What is there to fear?  That a student might think for a change?  Come on, Darwin Party apologists; you are making yourselves look like thought police.  If the only way you can get students to believe your view is to prevent students from even knowing there might be alternatives, then your view is not worth learning.
    The Associated Press repeated a common lie about the 1987 Supreme Court decision, that creationism could not be taught along with evolution.  The decision only outlawed state laws that mandate equal time.  It specifically allowed for any scientific theory of origins to be taught in the science classroom, including creation or intelligent design, as long as it was not required to be given equal time.
    It is a strange thing, yet all too common, to see the very people who preach free thought oppose it, and the ones who want to question everything shut off debate.  Then they rant and rave over rumors, which turn out to be false, that their opponents might restrict free thought.  There’s a word for this: hypocrisy.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Education

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