The liberal group People For the American Way, the organization that released a poll last month (see our Poll by Liberal Group Reveals: Americans Want Creation in Public Schools! previous article) that revealed that 79% of Americans favored the teaching of creation in public schools (either in science or nonscience classes), has issued an anti-creationist report called “Sabotaging Science: Creationist Strategy in the ‘90s.”
While PFAW is a group that promotes itself as “open-minded” and as proponents of freedom of expression (note the words “American Way” in the name), its report advocates the censorship of an opposing view (i.e., creation) in the classrooms of America’s public schools. Interestingly, the report mentions AiG several times, yet AiG has not been involved in any of the legislative or judicial efforts to force public schools to change their science curriculum. (AiG, however, lends its advice to those who are involved in grassroots efforts to minimize the teaching of evolution as fact.)
The very first line of the “Sabotaging Science” report contains a gross error with this statement: “… the Kansas Board of Education’s recent decision to remove evolution from the state science standards … .” This is absolutely wrong. The word “evolution” can be found in many sections of the standards approved last August. In reality, the Kansas board’s decision was just a mild attempt to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution as fact in its schools.
The bulk of the 20-page PFAW paper is devoted to alerting humanists of the “increasingly sophisticated strategies that creationists use” to influence science curricula in public schools. In doing so, they create a number of “straw men.” For example, they lament that science education in Kansas has been greatly undermined by the August vote and that “science education [will now become] a rote exercise in memorizing unconnected facts.” Actually, what the citizens in Kansas were trying to see done in science classes was to help develop the “critical thinking” skills of the students. They argue that students should be allowed to make more informed decisions on whether or not to believe evolution as fact, decide for themselves whether or not the theory of evolution is true, and to be given the opportunity to examine for themselves the grave scientific problems with macro-evolution.
The PFAW notes that AiG and other creationist organizations are aggressively distributing anti-evolutionary materials, but PFAW even acknowledges that many of those texts do not push particular religious doctrine. AiG, for example, sells the suitable-for-public-school book Of Pandas and People, which contains no biblical content. The PFAW says that because the book teaches the idea of “intelligent design” (i.e., that the incredible complexity of the world around us suggests a Designer), it promotes Christianity—even if it does not directly teach Christian doctrine. (By the way, although AiG does not divorce our biblical beliefs from the scientific aspects of the origins question, we do distribute the book Of Pandas and People—it has been shown to be helpful, especially since it was written to comply with court rulings on the teaching of origins in public schools.)
The People for the American Way attacked AiG for being dogmatic (although they dogmatically insist that our views are wrong, and should not be heard—a case of the pot calling the kettle black) because we declare that you can’t be a consistent Christian and be an evolutionist at the same time. They point out that many scientists are religious, and yet “see no conflict between their faith and evolutionary theory.” Of course, AiG will not judge the Christian commitment of those scientists or others who choose to take a compromise position, but surely it is appropriate to point out the inconsistency between evolution and what the Bible teaches? Even many atheists have done exactly this; Richard Bozarth, for instance:
“Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer that died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.”
In addition, we would ask them: why would the omnipotent Creator of the universe use such a wasteful (and cruel) process of survival of the fittest (meaning that animals have been ripping each other up over millions of years) to bring about the higher forms of life? This view of “theistic evolution” goes against God’s very nature—and logic itself. Ultimately, the issue is not one of being “religious” or not, but concerns the authority of God’s Word, the Bible.
The report also takes creationists to task for misusing the word “theory.” As an example, PFAW likens evolution to the theories of gravity, plate tectonics, relativity, etc. This is “apples and oranges.” Phenomena like gravity can be repeatably tested today, whereas the question of origins is ultimately outside the domain of testable and experimental science.
The PFAW report misrepresents AiG’s views on how evolution relates to social issues. It claims that AiG blames social issues like abortion, homosexual behavior, and lawlessness on evolution. Actually, AiG blames the rejection of God’s authority as Creator, so that evolution is not the direct cause, but is the excuse increasingly used by people to justify sin. AiG would say there’s not a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but that many of the “hot button” issues of the day have evolutionary overtones. For example, if a person wants to have an abortion or engage in an illicit relationship, he or she can use evolutionary thinking to justify their decision (i.e., “I can do whatever I want” since there is no absolute authority/Creator). Therefore these issues have increased dramatically in the whole Western world simultaneous with the push to accept evolution as fact.
Lastly, the PFAW report creates the ultimate “straw man.” It cites the example of some students in Texas who (wrongly) believe that Genesis teaches that “men have one less rib than women, and that the science textbooks are inaccurate in their portrayals of human skeletons.” This of course, is a dig at the historicity of Eve’s creation from Adam’s side. But the Bible does not teach that men have one less rib, and no creation scientist believes this “one-less-rib” legend anyway. If someone loses a leg, their children are not born legless (interestingly, a recent Creation magazine article pointed out that when ribs are removed surgically with their covering membrane left behind, they will usually regenerate completely, anyhow). This silliness on the part of PFAW merely reveals the levels to which it will stoop to misrepresent and caricature the creationist position of Christians who believe the Bible.