Monday, December 1, 2008

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design/Creationism In Texas


Or alternate title, let's teach our children by showing them "Land of the Lost"


Or second alternate title, what if I believe that part of our intelligent design involves Galactus?

I am proud to be a Texan.  But seriously, some folks make it hard.  In Austin Governor Perry and his religious right supporters are trying to push intelligent design/creationism through the State Board of Education and have it part of every child's public school curriculum.  Where should we start?

First, what is scary is that Perry put Don McLeroy in charge of the state education board. McLeroy believes in a literal reading of the bible which is, from a public policy perspective, dangerous and scary for numerous reasons. Most bible literalists are (1) anti-gay and (2) believe the earth is about 6 thousand years old. Why is it dangerous to have a bible literalist in a public policy decision-making position besides those two above reasons?  Because if a person is really a bible literalist they should believe the following too: (1) that slavery is OK because it was in the bible and (2) that people's lifespans have decreased dramatically since people around the time of Moses lived hundreds of years.  Bible literalists forget that their English language bible was translated from other languages and that at least some of it, if not all of it, are stories, allegories, arguably not to be taken literally.  They also forget that men, not a deity, decided what went in the bible and what should be left out at a little meeting called the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, not a lot of the guys at that meeting spoke the Queen's English.  

Let's take bible literalism to its logical conclusion.  If the earth is, according to a bible literalist, about 6,000 years old and most literalists believe that people lived and walked among dinosaurs, then, why don't we just show the kiddos re-runs of "Land of the Lost".  "Land of the Lost" can be termed a re-creation of our ancestors walking among dinosaurs.  I'm being facetious, kind of.  If you begin teaching this stuff there are questions kids are going to ask and the logical answer to those questions leads to talks about religion and a deity or deities.  

For example, no matter what anyone says, we have some semblance of separation between church and state.  We do not teach that there is a great designer/creator to or behind our existence for a reason.  If we did then the next question to be asked is who or what that designer/creator is.  The religious right will tell you that it's their version of their deity.  Well, that's great for them.  What if someone wants to teach their kid about their own version of a deity. Oh wait, that's why we have freedom of and from religion and we all get to choose which church we go to or if we go to church at all.  If the religious right wants to teach about intelligent design/creationism they are free to do so, at their church, not in a public school. 

The answer to who or what designed/created (if anything did) everything is a theological one and really a matter of faith (if you believe in a God)/guesswork (if you don't) that differs from person to person, church to church, faith to faith etc.  And what if a person believes that Galactus is part of intelligent design and is going to someday come and eat our planet, can we teach that?  Or the father and son deities a person believes in are Odin and Thor?  Or that the "Force" is an energy field created by all living things that surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the galaxy together?  Can we teach all those too?  No, because it's dangerous to teach myth or theology side by side with science.  In doing so you are endorsing one type of theology instead of another.  You can't teach about all the different types of deities otherwise you would have to teach about Odin & Thor, amongst others, and that's silly.  Very simply, if the state teaches creationism/intelligent design it's endorsing that there is/was a creator/intelligent designer.  That, in and of itself, is endorsing a deity, and it really doesn't matter which deity it is.  The state has no business, constitutionally, endorsing any deity.  Period, end of story.

Do we have to go over the whole "Scopes Monkey Trial" with these people?  If Perry and his religious right cronies get their way and try to have creationism taught here in Texas there will be a lawsuit to stop it.  We'll be forced to have another "Scopes"-esque trial or series of hearings here in Texas, then the case will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Of course maybe the Texas Supreme Court could rule against Perry's would-be creationism cirriculum but, I doubt it.  By the way, the Scopes Monkey Trial occurred in 1925.  Are we regressing?  What millennium are we in?  When we should be looking forward to 2025 we're being forced to look back to 1925 for lessons.  Hopefully, the whole, "learn from history or doomed to repeat it," will come into play and we will demonstrate they we have learned from history.  I hope.