Thursday, August 04, 2005

Superstition Ain't the Way

I'm envious of people who live in countries that are not governed by a man who believes, and publicly states, that religious beliefs about the origins of life on earth should be taught in public schools as a "theory" alongside the Darwinian theory of evolution. I'm embarrassed that the highest public office in the most powerful country in the world is held by someone who believes that the complexity of biological life is evidence that a supernatural being is responsible for it. How is it that a man who got through Harvard and Yale isn't able to grasp the concept that science uses objective evidence that can be seen, quantified, and tested? And that complexity is not objective evidence? "The universe is so complex that it must have been created by God" is not science. It's religion.

But Bush believes religious doctrine should be taught in public schools. When he was governor of Texas, he said that creationism -- which holds that God created the world and all biological life in seven days, and that life on earth goes back only thousands of years, not millions -- should be taught to schoolchildren alongside history, math, science, reading, and writing. The biblical account of creation in Genesis is, according to our president, part of the body of fact, skills, and knowledge that children must learn in order to be educated and capable of functioning and competing in the world.

"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

It's funny how a guy who is so terrified of an unscripted question that he cancels a town hall meeting in Germany can suddenly become such an advocate for being exposed to differing points of view.

So if all ideas have equal educational and scientific value, why not expose schoolchildren to more of the differing views out there? For example, children learn in school that at one time people in Europe believed that the earth was flat. But why leave children with the impression that those long-ago Europeans were wrong, and that we now know that the earth is round? There are different schools of thought on that, you know. Why not present flat-earth theory in the classroom alongside round-earth theory? Why not teach children that the sun revolves around the earth? Copernicus and Galileo represent only one side of that debate.

Then again, perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.

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