Almost a century after the Scopes monkey trial, in which Tennessee high school science teacher John Scopes was found guilty of violating the state’s law against teaching evolution in public schools, the state recently demonstrated that it hasn’t learned a damn thing since the 1925 episode.
One state senator, who opposed the bill, said the measure “simply dredges up the problems of our past with this bill that will affect our future.”
Yielding to Christian fundamentalists wanting to impose their extremist religious beliefs on others, Volunteer State lawmakers passed a measure to allow creationism, which upholds the six-day explanation of the creation in the Old Testament, to be discussed in science classes as a concept to counter the theory of evolution.
Critics, including the ACLU and the state’s teachers union, said that contesting evolution “is miseducation and good teachers know that.”
The law, which passed late in March by a 3-1 margin, protects public school teachers who choose to teach creationism along with evolution. However, the ruling opens a Pandora’s Box that might embrace the denial of other conventions, such as climate change, despite the vast number of facts supporting it by an overwhelming majority of experts around the globe.
Governor Bill Haslam’s signature was not required for the legislation to be enacted, so he sat idly by as it became law last week.
Two years ago, a conservative Christian drive was successful in targeting “left-wing, academia-influenced” social studies textbooks in Texas. Following the campaign, the state’s 15-member Board of Education — comprised of five Democrats and ten Republicans, seven who were considered social conservatives — approved changes that not only cast doubt on evolution, but suggested the Founding Fathers wanted this nation to be guided by Christian principles, not the separation of church and state that became an essential component of the Bill of Rights.
There are some defensible Judeo-Christian principles, such as do unto others as you would have others do unto you, that are the basis for laws relating to moral behavior, but in a diverse America, religious values, for the most part, should not impact public education.
Centuries before Darwin, Galileo put science and religion in the proper perspective when he said: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use.”
As the president emphasized in his State of the Union speech in January, this nation lags terribly in college graduates with degrees in science and technology. Consequently, this campaign by an agenda-directed pressure group, at a time when the American economy and global competition to a great extent depends upon those two fields, is irresponsible because, rather than improving science education and giving our children the most up-to-date science available, it focuses on abandoned ancient beliefs.
Let’s just hope — and pray if you think it would help — that this endeavor doesn’t flourish and inhibit educational advancement in other states or, worse, give conservative Christian blocs the zeal to attempt to reverse other sound theories with which they disagree.
Charles Darwin, whose findings in the 19th century sparked this debate; Clarence Darrow, who defended the Tennessee teacher, and John Scopes, must be turning over in their graves.
Creationism is a religious tenet with reasoning substantiated only by the biblical account. It should not be subject matter in public school science classes. Such a measure wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of ever becoming law in New York or most states. However, religious fundamentalists may have the clout to sway elected and school officials in other Bible Belt states, but, for the most part, the topic should be confined to Sunday morning sermons.
The blind faith of conservative Christians casts aside the theory of evolution and other established scientific evidence, but they have no business monkeying around trying to shove religious principles into public education curricula.
If they continue to challenge established principles of science, they just might find themselves charting a course to sail off the ends of the Earth.