Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Creationism at the Founding

Many of the Founders of our nation were probably creationists by today's standards.

Yes, creationism was a staple of education for many, many years before evolution by natural selection was proposed to the Linnaean Society in 1858 by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin, who would publish On The Origin of Species the following year. Then it took several more years before the majority of biologists would accept the theory as one valid working model among several and another few decades before it became accepted as the best working scientific theory by biologists.

It is absurd to think that the founders of our nation would have been able to take into account scientific developments that would not happen for 80 years or more. So no, they did not forbid the teaching of what was to them the working model of biological understanding. We no longer have that excuse as the theory of evolution by natural selection has been accepted biological science for many decades.

So in deciding what can be taught legally in science classrooms in publicly funded schools, we can't look to the Founders to teach us science but we can follow their strict rule against government endorsement of religion. Which is what getting creationism out of science classrooms is about. Creationism is not an alternative scientific theory, not even in the eyes of the law, let alone among the overwhelming majority of biologists.

See the decision of the Federal court from the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial: "In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."

The Bible has been and remains a profoundly important book. Christianity has been and is a profoundly important influence on our culture. It would be foolish to ignore those facts and raise children in this country to be ignorant of them. So I'm actually in favor of teaching the Bible as literature or as an important influence on history or in a comparative religion class. This is literature or social studies though, not science.

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