There is a lot of discussion going on about evolution and its place in public education. Unfortunately, much of the information provided by liberals is either ill-informed or deliberately misleading.
- There are three areas where misinformation has been particularly acute. The role of theory. Some liberals hold the theory of evolution out as a fact. Those who do so are either lying or ignorant of the nature of post-enlightenment scientific inquiry.
- Who is censoring whom. The censorship and anti-intellectualism that exists in the debate comes predominately from liberals.
- The importance of evolutionary theory to all areas of the life sciences. Liberals themselves are more then willing to dump any aspect of evolutionary theory that disagrees with their own political agenda.
Let’s take these points in order.
The most disconcerting aspect of this debate is the authoritarianism and unwarranted elitism of evolutionary theory’s proponents.Theories are neither true nor false. Theories can be quantitative and qualitative. They can be simple or complex, micro or macro. Theories range from the mystical theory of magnetic monopoles proposed by physicists to the bong-smoke variety that seem to inform Clintonian policy. They can serve as guidelines and organizing structures for empirical research, as Jack Davidson, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Kansas and current Lawrence school board member, pointed out when asked about this issue. But they are not facts.
However, the most disconcerting aspect of this debate is the authoritarianism and unwarranted elitism of evolutionary theory’s proponents.
Star reporter, Kate Beem, quotes creation science proponent Celtie Johnson of Prarie Village as wanting both theories investigated. “Let the chips fall where they may,” said Johnson. Compare her attitude to that presented by the National Center for Science Education in the same article.
The Center’s concerns hardly indicate an interest in scientific curiosity. Instead they are concerned that libraries in suburban Detroit have “books that raise questions about the validity of evolutionary theory.”
They are worried that a book offering an alternative theory called “intelligent design” has grown in popularity.
And horror of horrors, the Alabama Board of Education suggested disclaimers for their science texts carrying the epistemologically correct statement that the theory of evolution is indeed a theory and should be considered as such.
Perhaps more damaging to the liberal indoctrination program, the same disclaimer urges students to “Study hard and keep an open mind.”
However, people of faith are not the only critics of evolution. Mathematicians, biologists and even feminists have either critiqued or issued theoretical statements which place them in conflict with essential components of evolutionary theory, bringing us to my third point.
Although scientists suggest that evolutionary theory provides a common thread that cuts across the life sciences, they ignore the fact that it was once a dominant theme in the social sciences.
During the 19th century, the work of Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sumner and others created a school of thought known as social Darwinism. So dominant was Spencer’s work that some suggested that it would be more appropriate to call Darwin’s work biological Spencerism.
Social Darwinism not only dominated the social sciences, but, at a time when people actually read and understood science, Spencer’s work was serialized in newspapers, preached from the pulpits of mainline churches and touted by industrialists.
Spencer denounced public education and wrote scathing critiques of bureaucratic do-gooders and their clients. In the end, academicians overwhelmingly rejected social Darwinism, perhaps more for its conflict with changing societal values than its scientific flaws.
Evolutionists who suggest indoctrination over education place themselves in the same company as those who tried to outlaw the teaching of evolutionary theory over 70 years ago during the Scopes trial. And while teaching more than one theory might require a little more effort than ridiculing the beliefs of others, it might just make for a more intelligent discussion.
Used By Permission. See John’s last guest column on our website from January 5, 2000.
NOTE: Since last August’s decision by the state board of education in Kansas to mildly de-emphasize the teaching of evolution in public schools, Answers in Genesis has been bombarded by media requests for interviews. Not only was AiG asked for its reaction to the Kansas decision by such papers as the Washington Post, there were major feature stories written in December about the national influence of AiG that appeared in the New York Times and even the London Times. Most of the major media outlets completely misreported what happened in Kansas, incorrectly declaring that evolution had been eliminated from the state’s curriculum (TIME magazine, for example, continues to do so even after being contacted by AiG three times to correct them). A commentary by John Altevogt in the Kansas City Star, where he writes as a regular columnist, exposes the inaccurate and highly biased reporting of the mainstream press.