Missouri's conservative legislators have recently introduced two
bills to force the state's schools to teach Creationism.The first
is House Bill 1227
, hilariously called the Missouri Standard Science Act, which would require Creationism to be taught in grade school, high school, and even college
science courses. That's the head-on attack.From the side
, however, comes House Bill 1276
, a sneak attack on the scientific theory of evolution. In weasel language that pretends to be about encouraging critical thinking, the bill actually enables Creationists to intentionally derail class time to "review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses
of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution." [Emphasis mine.]
What's so bad about that, you ask?
Your child is sitting in science class, learning about science things. The next chapter in the textbook is evolution...
Under HB1227, by law that textbook must "give equal treatment
[ditto] to biological evolution and biological intelligent design." Intelligent design is, by law, not required to "address the time or sequence of life's appearance on earth, time or formation of the fossil record, and time or method of species extinction." In other words, it is not required to be backed up with any sort of facts or evidence. It is presented solely as the belief-based conviction that it's impossible for life to have developed without a behind-the-scenes intelligence directing it.But
the bill "does not require the identity of intelligence responsible for earth's biology but requires any proposed identity of that intelligence to be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation." No theories about alien colonization. No masturbating Egyptian sun gods wanking the world into existence. No Hindu spontaneous and conscious-less creation. The 'present-day observation' of a supernatural watchmaker is implicitly assumed to be the Judeo-Christian god.
Best of all? "If a scientific theory or hypothesis proven to be false is taught for historical, illustrative, or other reasons, the theory or hypothesis shall be identified as false when taught orally or in writing." That's a sly way of allowing Creationists to toss out evolutionary theory completely, as they frequently (and erroneously) claim to have debunked it, largely based on willful misinterpretation of the word 'theory', which has a specific meaning in scientific parlance.
So, even if you don't want others teaching your child their
religion, even if you want to raise your child in your
faith and on your terms, or without faith entirely, it doesn't matter: the state will teach your child religion, specifically the evangelical Christian's religion-based argument against science that they don't like.
Again, that's the overt attack. Let's go back to the classroom, where your child is about to turn the page to the chapter on evolution...
Under HB1226, your child's classmate can bring the class to a halt: her mother told her this is all lies, and has given her a pamphlet with discussion points. The teacher cannot say, "That's what some religions say, but that's a discussion for church--back to science!" The teacher has to stop and seriously address, in a science classroom, a religious argument
. This is a license for students to evangelize in the classroom. Worse, it's a license to continually interrupt and disrupt science lessons in order to do so, to force teachers to stop and discuss religion instead of teaching science.*
Now imagine it's the teacher doing the disrupting.
Your child is sitting in science class, and the teacher you trust to instruct the class in science
has been given a license to denounce it--to put forward not evolutionary theory, but the Creationists' (again, erroneous) claim that they've debunked it. Without regard for your
religion and your
beliefs, without regard for your child's right to an education in accepted science, without regard for their future in the educational system, the state has given evangelical Christians a pass to force your
child to study their
I honestly do not understand the evangelical point of view on this. They don't trust the state, the schools and the teachers to teach their children about science or sex, but they want to mandate the state, the schools and the teachers to give their children religious
instruction? It seems to me that's the one subject you'd definitely want to cover at home.
* Yes, this happens. A friend and former fundie heard about folks doing it; I witnessed a variant of it in a course on Judaism that a Southern Baptist attempted to derail. (The rabbi reduced him to tears, but still.)