The right wing push to subvert the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution has been put on hold in Indiana. According to the Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s creation science bill is dead . This is good news. Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican, moved the bill to the rules committee, a procedural step that all but assures it will not make it to a vote this year. According to Bosma, “I didn’t disagree with the concept of the bill, but I hesitate to micromanage local curricula. Secondarily, I didn’t think it was prudent to buy a lawsuit the state could ill afford at this point.” A pragmatic Republican is rare these days, since it really should be up to the school district to teach science in the best way possible (which is completely ignoring the religion of creationism). And there will be lawsuits which the state would lose.
As was discussed previously, Democrats in the Indiana Senate, lead by State Senator Vi Simpson (not related), had amended the Senate bill into being a ridiculous document by adding that the school districts must teach all creation myths, including Islamic, Jewish, Scientology, and others. In effect, no school district would want to promote all those weird creation stories along with their beloved Christian versions. Evolution, the only scientific theory, wins.
[pullquote]when so few Americans become literate in even the rudiments of science, it’s unlikely they’ll gain the skills to distinguish it from pseudoscience[/pullquote]
[pullquote]Teach creationism in the churches. Teach science in the schools. And remember that creationism is a construct of belief and faith, not of science.[/pullquote]
The Senate bill has been widely criticized by the press in Indiana, but the most pointed was written in an editorial in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Keep religion out of science class. There is little doubt the target of the bill is evolution, whose staunchest political and religious opponents display little interest in the teaching of good science, which should be a disinterested, peer-reviewed, religion-neutral process.
What many of them do have an interest in is peddling anti-evolutionary religious dogma. And as long as some fail to see the conflict between the methods of science and the goals of religion, the topic will not soon disappear. At the same time, many enlightened religious denominations accept biological evolution as a natural process of God and consider it compatible with their faith.
Another concern is that poll data aren’t comforting that evolution is now being well taught. In 2011, the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers discovered that less than 30 percent of a sample of public school instructors made students aware of the evidence for evolution. The reasons for this may be manifold, but when so few Americans become literate in even the rudiments of science, it’s unlikely they’ll gain the skills to distinguish it from pseudoscience.
Ours is a separation-of-church-and-state heritage, flowing from the First Amendment which forbids a theocracy — “an establishment of religion,” in the amendment’s words that seek to protect both the free practice of religion and the forced adoption of a religion. And from that follows this summary: Teach creationism in the churches. Teach science in the schools. And remember that creationism is a construct of belief and faith, not of science.
Scientific skills are not just necessary for understanding evolution, but also everything from medicine to electronics to engineering. These right wing Republicans whine about being patriots, yet they are doing everything to weaken research in areas where the US leads.