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Evolution as Reality

Posted by Anthony on December 8, 2008

By Anthony J. Aschettino

It has been eighty-three years since the landmark “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee brought a legal challenge to that state’s Butler Act which effectively banned the teaching of evolution in public schools. Although John Scopes, the teacher and defendant in the trial, lost, it set in motion a long process that culminated in 1968 with the Supreme Court ruling in Epperson v. Arkansas that such laws as the Butler Act violated the Establishment Clause. While that should have been the end of the story, those who oppose the teaching of evolution have never really stopped trying to undermine the Constitution in their efforts to reintroduce the teaching of Biblical Creationism in the classrooms of America’s schools. Their latest efforts focus on nebulous ideas such as “intelligent design” and seemingly democratic ideals in phrases like “teach the controversy”. They have mostly faced setbacks, but they have had their victories as well and it remains to be seen if they will succeed in their labors to roll back the clock on science education in this country.

Evolution, while called a “theory”, is a fact for reasons that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of science will understand. Not only does it have an extremely solid track record but there has never been any legitimate challenge to it that has stood up to scrutiny. Naturally this has not deterred those who seek to replace it with the bible, for these people do not rely on any sort of scientific method but rather on blind faith that what their holy book preaches is true despite any and all evidence to the contrary. These are the same people who believe that a man called Noah gathered pairs of every creature on earth in his boat to save them from a massive global flood, again something for which there is no geological evidence whatsoever. They claim that they want to give students “both sides of the story” and allow them to decide which one is right. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this sort of thinking: academic freedom and independent thought are the cornerstones of a system that has produced great advances in scientific knowledge. Yet in this case it is disingenuous: their method is designed to confuse students who are just learning biology to ignore evidence in favor of a thought process that teaches one to form a conclusion based upon unverifiable evidence and to eschew anything which goes against it. It is a backdoor method of placing a very specific religious belief squarely in the classroom. In a modern society, there is no place for such ignorance.

The consequences of this are as far reaching as they are dangerous. If implemented, it will serve to choke off any genuine scientific inquiry in those it affects: science becomes subjugated to the precepts set forth in the bible. It would be an absolute disaster for our future as an advanced civilization if we chose to fall back upon the antiquated writings of people who had no knowledge whatsoever about science in fields as varied as genetics and astronomy. Furthermore, these people open the door to a veritable Pandora’s Box of scholastic reinterpretation about the fundamentals of scientific belief: in a society where real evidence is ignored in favor of predetermined beliefs there is literally no end of potential charlatans preaching their own versions of “the controversy.” Why not, for example, teach students about the “four humors” that the ancient Greeks believed in rather than germ theory? Why not teach alchemy instead of traditional chemistry? Yet it goes even deeper than this, for there are numerous theories of “creation” out for the discerning teachers to impart to their eager students. Why only teach the biblical version when one can also teach Hindu creationism or Aztec creationism? The origin myths of the Romans, Sumerians, Chinese, and Native Americans may well demand their equal treatment in the classroom. One can easily see how ludicrous this entire enterprise could become when teachers are permitted to essentially allow any belief system no matter how unscientific into the classroom.

Religion is, at best, kept within the sphere of private domain: if parents wish to teach their children that women are the result of a god taking Adam’s rib from him, they are free to do so. Likewise, adults in this country are free to believe whatever they want about who they are and where they came from. Students, however, are entitled to learn reality that is backed by solid evidence and legitimate science, and the state has an obligation to ensure that they provide such learning for them. There is nothing even remotely scientific about the religious texts that such people wish to force upon the youth of America and their efforts to do so should be roundly condemned not only by the scientific community (which they are) but also by the overwhelming majority of Americans who want their children to understand reality as it exists in this world and not the fantastical myths of some fairytale whose time as being accepted as viable against science has long passed us by.

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One Response to “Evolution as Reality”

  1. […] Evolution Is A Fact Not Theory Jump to Comments By Anthony J. Aschettino […]

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