Despite the fact that the Scopes Monkey Trial took place over 80 years ago, the teaching of evolution in public schools is still a controversial topic these days. And the outlook for sound science is not all that great. In Mississippi, a state legislator introduced a bill that would require a disclaimer be placed in school textbooks about evolution. The warning reads in part:
This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered a theory.
The disclaimer concludes: “Study hard and keep an open mind.”
This is pretty sad – this public official has so little understanding of how science works that thinks that scientists can only make conclusions based events they personally witnessed. Think of the implications! If it snows today in Chicago, and I fly to Chicago tomorrow, I can’t conclude that it snowed in Chicago the day before because I wasn’t there to see the snow fall. If we take this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, no one was present when God created the universe, so any statement in the book of Genesis “should be considered a theory.”
Mississippi could become the second state to print a textbook disclaimer on evolution – I suppose they want to “keep up with the Joneses” over in Alabama.
Fortunately, in nearby Texas science scored a victory this week. There the State Board of Education voted to abandon a longtime state requirement that high school science teachers cover the “weaknesses of evolution.” One socially conservative board member opposed the effort, arguing that teaching the weaknesses of evolution doesn’t mean “you’re supposed to teach creationism or intelligent design.” Oh sure, then why else would you attempt to undermine evolution? Just for kicks? While we’re at it, let’s try to confuse impressionable students by telling them that 2+2 = 5.
It’s not true…but hey, keep an open mind!