Well here we go again. Christians are once more seeking to worm their doctrine into our public schools. This time it’s in Arkansas. State Representatives Mary Bentley (R) and Gary Stubblefield (R) have sponsored a bill (HB 1701) to allow teachers the option of teaching Creationism to K-12 students as a theory. It’s passed in the State House on a strict party line vote and as of this writing is awaiting a vote in the State Senate.
Yeah you read that right. Once again the anti-science, pro-ignorance far right is seeking to dumb down our youth. Why? Because the less someone knows about how nature actually works, the easier it is to feed them mindless Christian dogma. These people are (finally) losing the fight, and their desperation is starting to show. Let’s look at the short text of the bill, and then we’ll examine the particulars of this whole mess.
First off, section “a” of the bill states that they want to “teach creationism as a theory.” So right in the beginning their ignorance begins to show. Here’s a clue: Creationism is not a theory. It’s not even a hypothesis. The word “theory” as it applies to science has a different meaning than in the vernacular:
“The way that scientists use the word ‘theory’ is a little different than how it is commonly used in the lay public. Most people use the word ‘theory’ to mean an idea or hunch that someone has, but in science the word ‘theory’ refers to the way that we interpret facts.”
Jaime Tanner, Professor of Biology at Marlboro College.
[A theory is] “…a broad, natural explanation for a wide range of phenomena. Theories are concise, coherent, systematic, predictive, and broadly applicable, often integrating and generalizing many hypotheses.”
The University of California, Berkley
Simply put a theory represents the best explanation, based upon the evidence at hand, of a known fact. For Creationism to qualify as a scientific theory, Creationists would have to provide testable, falsifiable evidence to support it. They have never done so because such evidence has never been discovered. They have tried to twist the facts to fit their narrative (lied, in other words) but their subterfuge is always exposed by proper science.
As a result of their failures, proponents of Creationism resort to claims of the “authority” of the Bible. In short, the Bible says it, they believe it, and that settles it. But there’s a huge problem with that – you cannot subscribe to such an authoritarian belief and call it science. Science by its nature is self-correcting. New answers to old questions often lead to brand-new questions. It’s part of the learning process. But such is not the case with those who strictly subscribe to Creationism. Consider the following statements of faith from some well-known and respected (by Creationists) institutions:
All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1–2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus, all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false. All things that now exist are sustained and ordered by God’s providential care.
From “Principles of Scientific Creationism” at the Institute For Creation Research
Or how about this little gem…
No apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field of study, including science, history, and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture obtained by historical-grammatical interpretation. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information (Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30; Isaiah 46:9–10, 55:9; Romans 3:4; 2 Timothy 3:16).
From “Statement of Faith” at Answers In Genesis
We believe that the physical universe, the realm of nature, is the visible creation of God. It declares God’s existence and gives a trustworthy revelation of God’s character and purpose. In Scripture, God declares that through His creation all humanity recognizes His existence, power, glory, and wisdom. An honest study of nature – its physical, biological, and social aspects – can prove useful in a person’s search for truth. Properly understood, God’s Word (Scripture) and God’s world (nature), as two revelations (one verbal, one physical) from the same God, will never contradict each other.
From “Our Mission & Beliefs” at Reasons To Believe
OK just one more…
The Bible is the written Word of God, and because it is inspired throughout, all its assertions are historically and scientifically true in the original autographs. To the student of nature this means that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths.
From “Statement Of Belief” at Creation Research Society
Most of these organizations attempt to pass Creationism off as science. And they fail absolutely. And if it isn’t science, you don’t teach it as science in our school system. Well OK, private religious schools unfortunately have the right to muddle and befuddle their students with any dogma they choose. Public schools are held to a higher standard where science is concerned.
OK let’s get back to this Arkansas bill. As I’m sure you know already, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has ruled against teaching “Intelligent Design” in public schools (Kitzmiller v. Dover). But this new bill doesn’t call it Intelligent Design. It refers to “Creationism.” It’s the same damn thing, folks. It’s the idea that some supernatural sugar daddy poofed everything into existence a few thousand years ago.
Does Ms Bentley think that the courts won’t recognize this as yet another attempt to violate the laws of church – state separation? And trust me, if this bill gets signed into law it will end up in the courts. It’s a good bet that various pro-science and pro-constitution groups are already gearing up for the fight.
And this isn’t the first time Arkansas has tried this. In 1981 Arkansas passed Act 590 which, unlike this current legislation, required that Creationism be taught alongside evolution in blatant violation of the Constitution. Reverend William McLean, a United Methodist minister and others filed a lawsuit that became known as “McLean vs Arkansas.” The law was defeated in the courts a year after being passed. And this was just a few years after the US Supreme Court ruled against teaching
religious bullshit Creationism in Edwards v. Aguillard. Other states have tried to sneak Creationism into public schools as well. It’s a constant fight, but one we can win eventually.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Young people should not be exposed to religion except to expose religion for what it is: Fairy tales written by primitive people thousands of years ago in a vain attempt to explain things they did not understand. Science, not religion, is the way forward for humanity. People like Bentley and Stubblefield who sponsored this bill, and every single politician who voted for it, seek to keep the yoke of religion around the necks of Americans. How unfortunate it is that so many voters share their ignorance and keep putting them back in office.
And that’s one of the main reasons why a proper education is so important. Young people must be allowed to learn without clouding their minds with religious pseudoscience. An informed and well-educated populace is the blood enemy of religious dogma and those who try to force it on others. America is slowly turning the corner and starting to catch up with other western nations in this regard. And it’s high time we do so. Our youth are the future of our nation. It is to their (and our) benefit that they be provided with the opportunity for a well-rounded secular education. But there are 72 Republicans in the Arkansas House who disagree. Sometimes it is the Republicans, not the Democrats who are the real jackasses in American politics.
Sources And Related Reading
- Creationism bill passed in Arkansas House, headed to Senate
- Arkansas House Bill 1701 (pdf)
- Why Creationism Isn’t Science
- What Is A Scientific Theory?
- Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
- Edwards vs Aguillard
- McLean vs Arkansas
- Arkansas Act 590 of 1981
- Representative Mary Bentley
- Representative Garry Stubblefield
- Answers In Genesis Statement of Faith
- Principles of Scientific Creationism
- Reasons To Believe Mission Statement
- Creation Research Society Statement of Belief