Like a tenacious superbug that resists all efforts to eradicate it, the attempts of the religious right to fill the minds of our children with superstitious, pseudo-scientific “alternatives” to the long-established Theory of Darwinian Evolution persist. Returning to the hallowed halls of our state capitol, term after term, is usually some attack on reason, science and education. Last year it was the infamous Academic Freedom Bill. “Academic Freedom.” Republicans are such masters of obfuscation!
Let our state and the nation fall into economic chaos, let the tragically disadvantaged go unserved, and let the health and safety of their constituents and their environment remain at risk—some of our duly elected legislators seem more interested in pursuing the educational implications of how a Biblical God is a more valid authority in certain matters than hard science. This latest assault on reason, House Bill 1227—The Missouri Standard Science Act looks to die the obscure death it deserves. It would propose to mandate the teaching of an “alternative” theory of biology and creation, or Intelligent Design. If you are going to teach Evolution in the public schools of Missouri, the bill states, you have to teach Intelligent Design. The science textbooks must reflect this directive as well. Tennessee and Louisiana have similar laws on the books in their states. It makes just as much sense to teach Holocaust-denial in history classes and Flat-Earth Theory in geography.
There is no need to rehash the history of this long debate of science v. fundamentalist Christianity from Scopes through Kitzmiller v Dover. (The tiny Dover School Board’s attempt to teach what Judge John E. Jones called “inane absurdities” cost them over a million dollars in legal fees, damages and court costs.) Evolution has successfully met nearly all legal and academic attacks by religious zealots no matter how cleverly they try to disguise their bizarre contentions.
There are many real challenges educators face today attempting to provide the future citizens of our state with the tools of intelligence, insight, creativity and values. We do not need the precious few hours devoted to science cluttered with the demonstrably false and confusing claims of Intelligent Design. Fundamentalist Christian children receive quite enough in the way of false historical and scientific ideas and dubious values in their homes and churches as it is. Forcing reasonable people to bow to the beliefs of a small, ignorant religious cult in matters as important as science education is truly unintelligent.