Monday, April 30, 2012

Creationism/Intelligent Design and The Tennessee Monkey Bill

One of the many things I missed commenting on during my latest hiatus from the web, was the passage of the so-called "Monkey Bill" in Tennessee. This bill grants teachers in the state the right to teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories like, climate change, human cloning, and evolution, with little fear of repercussion. The idea of allowing individual teachers to promote their own personal agenda under the guise of teaching any subject is so obviously flawed a concept, it seems utterly insane that anyone would even suggest it. That is, of course, unless personal agendas, not academic freedom or even truth,  are what you actually care about, as is the case with the supporters of this bills, and others like it. Then it starts making sense.

The "strength and weaknesses" argument, or the idea that teachers should be allowed to "teach the controversy" of certain scientific theories -specifically, evolution- is a tired, but growingly successful tactic employed by religious creationists. The group adopted the strategy as part of a pseudo-scientific makeover the organization underwent, following their defeat at the hands of a1987 supreme court ruling, which rightly deemed the teaching of their religiously based fiction in public schools to be a violation of church and state. In response to this defeat, Creationists manufactured a completely non-existent scientific controversy (more on that in a minute), relabeled their efforts a struggle for academic freedom, adopted the, extra sciency-sounding moniker: "Intelligent Design", and went back to lobbying for their cause: Undermining the teaching of science and circumventing the separation of church and state, in order to infect public education with religion.

But just for fun, let's pretend the creationist agenda really is about education (which it isn't) and not about promoting a religious agenda through pseudo-science (which it is). So what about the scientific controversy surrounding the validity of Darwinian Evolution? I mean, if science isn't even sure evolution is real, isn't that something children should know about?

It certainly would be, if it were true. But it isn't.

There is NO scientific controversy as to weather or not evolution is true, NONE.  To science, evolution is as much a fact of reality, as gravity; which is also absolutely true, and also "just a theory". Yes, there's an ongoing effort to fully understand the specific mechanisms which drive the phenomena of evolution, and to complete the paths it has taken to drive all species on the planet to their current states; because that's how science works. But there is NO question as to weather or not evolution has taken place, or that it continues to take place today.

As for Creationism/Intelligent Design, on the other hand. The lack of scientific evidence supporting the handful of quantifiable claims they're willing to make, is equally definitive. IN other words, there isn't any. Which is the problem with trying to label your religious fantasy a testable, provable science; people will try and test it, and then end up disproving it.

The simple fact is, the "theory" that we live in a universe that's 6,000 to 12,000 years old; that all the organisms on the planet were either designed as they exist today, or, after escaping extinction by taking refuge from a world-wide flood on the deck of mythical boat, underwent some ridiculous, made up, hyperactive version of evolution in order to diverge into all of the species on the planet today- simply does not fit with reality.  Evolution on the other hand, like climate change (sorry, it's real too. But we'll deal with that another day), does. And the only place any controversy about evolution exits, is in the mind of creationists.


Learn more about creationism and what you can do to help keep this, and other fantasies, out of the science classroom! Go to: ( The National Center for Science Education)


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