Creationism Canard: The Last Thing Fundamentalists Want Is Open Inquiry In The Classroom
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:33:54 AM EST

Many things drive me crazy about creationists but a major one is how they pretend to be great advocates of scientific inquiry and learning when in reality, those are the farthest things from their minds.

Consider Sen. Dennis Kruse of the Indiana legislature, who last year proposed a bill that would have mandated the teaching of "creation science" alongside evolution in public schools. Kruse's bill passed the state Senate but faltered in the House of Representatives after some lawmakers, in a rare bout with lucidity, pointed out that it was blatantly unconstitutional and would get the state sued back into the Stone Age. (That probably didn't bother creationists, since they don't believe there was a Stone Age.)

Kruse is back with a new proposal, a bill that he says will promote critical inquiry in the classroom. The Indianapolis Star reported that Kruse described the bill like this: "If a student thinks something isn't true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true."

At first glance, that sounds harmless. After all, we want to encourage youngsters to be inquisitive in the classroom. But Micah Clark, executive director of American Family Association of Indiana, blew the lid off what's really going on here, telling the Star that he interprets the bill as a form of protection for teachers who want to discuss creationism and intelligent design.

Bills like this have popped up in other states recently. They are designed to give legal protection to public school science teachers - and unfortunately there are some of them out there - who want to elevate biblical fundamentalism over science in the classroom. Additionally, these measures are a vehicle for students to disrupt classroom instruction about evolution and instill doubt about the validity of that concept.

A quick-witted science teacher would know how to handle a challenge like this in the classroom. (Handing a dissenting student a copy of On The Origin of Species would be a good start.) But Kruse's law doesn't seek to help good teachers. It is designed to create the impression that evolution is somehow controversial or in doubt, and thus special laws are needed so that it can be challenged. The idea is to encourage teachers to water down such instruction or not offer it at all.

Unfortunately, the creationists have been pretty successful with these gambits. Their attempts to mandate instruction in creationism alongside evolution have failed, but they have managed to create a climate of intimidation and fear in many classrooms. In a country where public education is decentralized and often subject to local control, it can be difficult to get an accurate national snapshot, but we know from experience that some public schools do a lousy job teaching evolution.

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, put it well: "It's fine for a child to have religion; it's fine for a child to believe whatever he or she wants to believe," he said. "But within the science classroom, if we're going to produce the strong workforce we need for this country, we have to stick to science and we have to stick to the evidence behind science."

Wheeler is exactly right. Kruse's proposal is a distraction from real education. It deserves to be rejected.

Thankfully, the bill may face tough sledding in the Indiana legislature. Rep. Bob Behning, (R-Indianapolis) chairs the House Education Committee and says he's not inclined to bring it up.

 "I don't want to do something that's going to burden schools to the point where they're going to spend their lives trying to validate what is assumed to be true," Behning said.

That's good to know. But it's also possible that the situation may change, so Americans United intends to remain on the alert. We have to watch the creationists constantly. Their strategies are, ironically, always evolving.

P.S. Americans United's Legislative Department is expecting a raft of dangerous legislation in the states next year, touching on issues like religion in public schools, private school vouchers, government endorsement of religious symbols and others. Stay alert and keep informed.  




Display:
I know.

Have the teacher teach the failures of creationism in the class.  It's a legitimate inquiry, and based on science.  We can scientifically disprove creationism.

We did that in our "Fantastic Archaeology" class (one of the choices of an exit course for the university), and while it sets the fundies off in rages, they're powerless and helpless (and they almost always embarrass themselves).  Whenever religion makes scientific claims (such  as the creationists do), they set themselves up for scientific examination and criticism.

That way they REALLY don't want open inquiry in the class.  Unlike their attempts to force their form of "Christianity" (I think it's the inverse of Christianity), this would be true inquiry and based on the scientific method.

If done right, it also sometimes opens their eyes.  Disproving creationism is not supporting (or "proving") atheism.  It's neutral towards religion, as science should be.  One thing that has been emphasized is that just because creation didn't happen the way the Bible said, does not "disprove" Christianity, and that one can be Christian and accept evolution as reality.

Every semester I helped teach the class, I had many students come to me to thank me for explaining that.  They'd been taught that it was binary - either they were Christian, or they had to be atheist.  That's bad logic and false.  (For one thing, it leaves all other religions out of the picture!)

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:54:09 AM EST


Here they are, our religious-right conservatives, digging deeper and deeper as they attempt to bury our educational system in a pit of ignorance.

by coralsea on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:17:20 PM EST

I see nothing wrong with Kruse's proposal.  It simply expects teachers to support their statements with evidence.  This is in line with Gerry Wheeler's comment that "....we have to stick to the evidence behind science."  Why shouldn't we demand teachers validate their teachings with evidence?  

The truth is simple, evolutionists don't want their model to be exposed to critical analysis.  They want it to simply be accepted by faith.  They have no intention of showing how bears evolved into whales, or how non-living material gave birth to the first living organism.   Their position has nothing to do with science....it's all about preserving their faith in a naturalistic worldview.  

Observed science doesn't contradict creation.  However, the interpretations of unobserved events of the past do.  But, those interpretations are not testable, repeatable, nor observable.  

I recommend teaching both models requiring teachers to provide evidence for and agaisnt each one.  Otherwise, don't teach it either one.

by Free market place of ideas on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:57:34 AM EST



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