Field of Science

Dad decides science bad in science class

The Scopes trial took place 85 years ago in Tennessee. Scopes lost, he violated the Butler Act, which...prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State... Clearly, this law was enacted because religious members of society could not allow their small ideas about the world to be impacted by reality (or a closer approximation of reality). This was clearly religion versus science, which I hear all the time is compatible and get along famously.

After Scopes, things eventually changed a bit, although it took several decades and Supreme Court decisions. Religion held sway over a good part of the 20th century in many parts of the country and science took a back seat. Although science eventually took the lead, on paper, it has been embattled at every turn. Google Don McLeroy or Louisiana evolution in public schools for examples.

Well, we're back in Tennessee (did we ever leave) and the religion versus science divide continues (again despite all the claims that these two world-views are wholly compatible). This time Kurt Zimmerman does not like certain claims in the science textbook regarding what his religion says is the way the world and life came to be.

The specific phrasing that led to the issue is "...creationism, the biblical myth that the universe was created by the 'Judeo-Christian God in 7 days.'" At issue is the word "MYTH." See Mr. Zimmerman thinks the term is offensive, and he is a Christian. Using his profound skills in logic, Mr. Zimmerman then concludes that the term is offensive to all Christians. Actually, I expect he believes this, like most, if not all, fundamentalists what he thinks is correct and everyone else is wrong. Any Christians ok with the creation story as myth meme is not a true Christian™ I'm sure.

So is the 7 day creation story a problem? Well, in this country it sure as hell is. Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution, the fact of evolution, the big bang theory, the physics of radioactive decay, the speed of light, plate techtonics, etc. And the reason they don't is because some small minded tool stood at a pulpit and said these things were wrong when they were kids. (I know there are exceptions, but this is why it's so important to get kids into the church early. Once the mantra in instilled, it's much easier to keep them as adults). So Kurt Zimmerman has an interpretation of a few passages from the Bible, one which is not close to universally shared (even within the Bible itself), one which is not shared by most of the members of the religion that ostensibly wrote the passages, but we better stop the planet and stroke the arrogance of this guy.

Now Ill note that every other religious story of creation is a myth and none of these stories are described as a myth in the textbook. So clearly this is just more oppression of fundamentalist Christianity right? Wrong. I do not hear about children being told the most of the major ideas of science are wrong because of the Hindu mythos or Inuit stories. Even in states that have solid public science education standards, ~25% of kids are exposed to creationist teaching at some point and many do not hear about evolution at all because teachers are fearful of parental repercussions. So, one thing this statement does in the textbook is provide a counter-point to "Liars for Jesus."

Of course Faux News is all over this. Mr. Zimmerman notes that he is a Sunday school teacher. I expect he has a real job, but this demonstrates it's clearly a religion versus science issue for him. As bleach blond notes, the problem isn't taking religion out of school, but being offensive to religion (of course we mean fundamentalist christianity here). See education must never interfere with religious belief or indoctrination, maybe we should go back to teaching the earth is the center of the universe or at least solar system, maybe we should stop teaching the germ theory of disease (that is offensive to several religions, which argue that disease is caused by sin or being not-right with god). We better stop teaching about π, since that's offensive to those who believe that π=3 based on some bible verse or other.

See that offensive passage! "Creationism: the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days." What the hell fundies, grow a pair. A definition is offensive? Its only offensive if you deny several centuries of information and understanding that has developed on the planet. If you are happy with the understanding of stone age sheepherders, fine. But please don't ask the rest of us to be content with that. The kids that are continuously referred to probably have heard of creationism, like maybe from their Sunday school teachers, so when these kids are getting real information that fundamentally disagrees with what their Sunday school teacher says (including the admittedly ignorant one being interviewed) it seems reasonable to me to have some discussion therein.

Finally, what the hell is bleach blonde going on about how much work it's taking to get the school to change textbooks and by definition the curriculum for? Does she have any idea how much work it takes to write a textbook? get it approved to be in a school? write a curriculum? teach a class? You know Im all for parental involvement, but that does not mean every Tom Dick and Harriet gets to have an immediate and unilateral say in everything done in a school. If that is how you feel, take your kids out of the school and teach them yourself, then you won't have to worry that your kids might think something different than you do or even worse get a great education and become that horror of horrors, an elitist!!11!!


Parabola said...

Haha good stuff. I laughed, I cried, I punched a baby.

The Lorax said...

Damn, I was going for 2 out of 3 of your responses. Sorry about the crying, Ill try to do better next time.