Debate Forum Topic, 8/16/11

Creationism vs. science vs. Ohio public schools

By Clay Bennett

After two members of the Springboro Community City School District requested school officials explore ways to integrate creationism into the schools’ curriculum, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) quickly addressed the issue in a letter to the school board. In that letter, the ACLU reminded the board that passing any policy promoting the teaching of creationism in the Springboro Community City Schools would leave the board legally liable for the costs of the lawsuit the ACLU would be forced to bring. The ACLU suggested that over the past several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have consistently found that teaching creationism, intelligent design or other religious-based ideologies unfairly promote one belief system over others in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Initially, board member Kelly Kohls and one other board member raised the idea of adding creationism alongside evolution as part of the science curriculum. Kohls’ position was that since evolution was at this point still only a scientific “theory,” that other theories of how man arrived on Earth should also be considered, including creationism and intelligent design. After a week of strong public reaction, including letters both in support and strongly against the Kohls’ proposition as well as the threat of legal action by the ACLU, Kohls has revised her position.

Kohls is now asking the district’s curriculum director to find a way to provide opportunities to students who want to study creationism away from the school, possibly using a “voucher-like” system. Parents who want their children to study intelligent design could use the vouchers to send their children to private schools where alternative theories are taught alongside evolution.

Opponents to teaching any alternative to evolution such as intelligent design, even if taught away from the public schools, compare teaching intelligent design to teaching “flat earthism.” They believe the doctrine of evolution is so well settled and accepted that teaching intelligent design is a form of child abuse. The ACLU has made it clear they also would oppose a voucher program, as it still would involve state tax dollars.

Forum Question of the Week:
Given the recent actions of the Springboro Community City School District, should creationism be taught in Ohio’s public schools?


One Response to “Debate Forum Topic, 8/16/11” Subscribe

  1. Lee Bowman August 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    “It is with this brief historical background that I ask you to contemplate how the Springboro School Board might require the teaching of creationism in their classrooms. Two of the school board’s members are already on board with the idea and if it is approved by the full board, it will most certainly face a court challenge.”

    There is no doubt that we are a secular nation, and rightly so, granting us immunity from the throws of theocracy. How fortunate for us that this countries founders had such foresight!

    But it raises a valid question. Does that insularity from theocracy protect us in other areas as well? The realm of science has no real boundaries, except transcending reality, perhaps. Who in Newton’s or Galileo’s day would have considered black holes, multiverses or quantum physics, where particles have demonstrated apparent conscious awareness as valid science? Or so it seems. The efficacy of these observations will stand or fall under the constraints of scrutiny, nothing more.

    But now we are faced with a dilemma. We depend heavily upon Courts and the Judicial System to protect our rights as citizens, and rightly so. But this bulwark has in recent years been extended to now include science, and what is allowed within scientific scrutiny, a prime example being the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case, where a disclaimer was to be read to biology students which questioned aspects of Darwin’s Theory. The Court subsequently disallowed the reading of that disclaimer. But it didn’t stop there.

    Judge Jones went one step further, and decided, based of his brief introduction to evolutionary theory, that he was now qualified to adjudicate, and was justified in so doing, the efficacy and validity of the hypothesis of teleology within science. From his decision:

    “We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.”

    Refutation of the above is quite simple. (1) Supernaturality, a nebulous term, was NOT defended by the defense, although one could easily attribute the Big Bang (a scientific theory) to that. (2) Irreducible complexity is a valid hypothesis to address the concept of ‘non-evolvability’ of certain biological features, and (3) questioning aspects of a scientific theory does NOT constitute “negative attacks”, nor have those aspects been “refuted by the scientific community”, which in this case would refer to science book publisher Kenneth Miller’s ‘just-so’ testimonial dictates.

    Now let’s jump to the 2007 Atheist Alliance International Convention, where Eugenie Scott states at [4:10] “We won, and we really won big. We didn’t just win in the sense that intelligent design policy is religious and so you can’t teach it, we won because a judge decided that intelligent design was crappy science.”

    And by ‘we’ was Scott referring to the American people, or to the NCSE and ACLU, with their political agendas? Although technically affecting Dover County only, it [part two] has been highly influential in court decisions outside of that jurisdiction. Adjudicating science is not the way that science is done, and part two of the ruling plainly violates the ground rules of jurisprudence. If this ruling is allowed to stand, without reversal by a higher court, then not only science, but freedom of mind will be on the political chopping block in times to come.

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