An article that appeared in Education Week (8 March 2000)—the newspaper of record for America’s secular education community—offers the bizarre observation that the results of various political races in America this year will be decided on a candidate’s belief or non-belief in evolution.
The article, however, is highly inaccurate in this comment and others. It begs the question: Is Education Week sloppy in its research, or is “EW”’s misreporting quite intentional, given its well-known antagonism toward biblical Christianity?
First, the article (entitled “State capitals stirred by evolution”) totally misrepresented the decision by the Kansas board of education last August to mildly de-emphasize the teaching of evolution in its public schools. The state board did not “eliminate” Darwin’s theories from the Kansas science standards, as claimed by Education Week.
The article then implied that because Kansas was successful in “eliminating” (sic) evolutionary standards, other states have jumped on the bandwagon, “keeping the debate over how to teach the origins of life raging as it did throughout much of the past century.” We’re told that what is occurring in states across America is comparable to the controversy back in 1925 when John Scopes was tried for breaking a Tennessee law—a law that forbade the teaching of evolution. The irony is that the lesson of the Scopes trial is lost on the editors of Education Week: namely, that a controversial alternative view of origins, which can at least be coherently argued on the basis of the evidence, should not be censored from the classroom.
State board members are not lawmakers—they are policy makers.Education Week reported that creationist activism has been especially intense this year, because it is the first opportunity for lawmakers to propose measures inspired by the Kansas board’s action last summer. Increased activism by elected officials (or their challengers in upcoming elections) in favor of creation in schools is growing, alleges Education Week. However, this is a wild exaggeration, one designed to scare readers. The efforts (and there have not been that many) to diminish evolution or promote creation have been almost exclusively conducted at the state boards of education, not in the legislature. State board members are not lawmakers—they are policy makers. There is a huge difference.
The article alleges that the Kansas vote “created momentum for introducing bills” which would water down evolutionary indoctrination. This allegation is hyperbole. We are only aware of two states—New Mexico and Kentucky—where such a bill has been introduced in the past few months. (If web readers know of any other proposed legislation in support of either de-emphasizing evolution or promoting the teaching of creation outright, please inform our office; we are aware that an Ohio legislator may submit a bill in the state legislature next session that would require teachers to expose students to the evidence against evolution if they were also taught the evidence for it.) Also, readers are told by Education Week that the theory of evolution is “overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community” as more than hypothesis. The implication, of course, is that evolution must be accepted as fact. There is no mention of the thousands of practicing scientists in the United States who reject macro-evolution and accept Genesis creation instead.
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the anti-creationist National Center for Science Education, is quoted by Education Week as saying, "When election years hit, we get hit with state-level problems." She grossly overstates the situation. It is rare when we hear of a politician—or even a state board candidate—taking a stand on the creation/evolution issue as a part of his or her platform.
Seventy-five years after the Scopes trial, the “creation vs. evolution” controversy continues in America’s education community, and to a lesser extent in the political arena. As organizations which uphold the authority of the Bible (like Answers in Genesis) continue to be effective in exposing the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of evolutionary humanism, the origins debate in public education will not go away any time soon.