The winter has apparently been too long. The brains of education officials in Ohio have frozen solid. It amazes me that educated people could adopt policies advocating the teaching of creationism as science. But then Kansas tried this same thing not so very long ago. That ill-conceived plan was overturned, and hopefully this one will be as well.
My thesis is bifurcated. And yes, “Bifurcated Thesis” would make a good name for a rock band. Branch one has to do with the apparent contradiction in a country which is constitutionally opposed to mixing matters of state and religion, but has few qualms about mixing religion and science. At least government and religion are both institutions vying for behavioral control of a group of people. Science and religion don’t even play in the same intellectual space. It’s the educational equivalent of mixing vinegar and motor oil. Not only don’t they blend, but it’s a pointless combination. But I covered this in the Kansas article above, so I won’t reiterate here.
The second branch of the thesis has to do with the logical extrapolation of the idea of “intelligent design”. The Discovery Institute would have teachers explain that evolution cannot completely account for all the complexity in the universe, and that the universe could be the result of intelligent deign. That is, it was created by some intelligence with incomprehensible power. (Although I doubt that when asked what “intelligent design” is, most teachers would be so vague about identifying the Christian god.) This idea has been around forever. At it’s root, this is basically the assertion that anything beyond our understanding must be the work of a god. Our ancestors believed eclipses, diseases, and countless other natural events were the work of the supernatural. Over time, the miracles and plagues attributed to gods have given way to mundane understandings brought about by science. If we had always accepted that rain was the whim of the gods, we would have never conceived the Weather Channel. Absolute belief in “intelligent design” requires that we not question, and not learn. Do we really want to teach this to our kids in school? And if we do, why stop with evolution? I know people who would contend that trigonometry is complex enough to look like magic. Why not deem higher math the work of the gods? No one on the planet can predict or control all the variables for things like the economy or the weather. The work of the gods?
I completely support the use of religion for teaching philosophical, moral, behavioral, cultural, and lifestyle choices. It adds immeasurable value to many people’s lives. But the use of religious mythology as abject truth for the teaching of history or science is disingenuous at best and pedagogically detrimental at worst.
The fact that these policy pasture pies keep showing up on the educational prairie is perhaps the evidentiary acme that problems with our current educational systems do not start with students, parents, and teachers, but with the “enlightened” in-duh-viduals establishing curricula and policies.