February 6, 2002
How the subject of evolution is treated in the classroom has
emerged again as a source of controversy, this time in the Ohio State
Board of Education. Until now, Ohio public schools have not mandated
any direct teaching about the subject.
"Standards" is the new fad sweeping across schools today, and the
Ohio legislature has ordered that the Ohio Department of Education
write standards that guide how all subjects are taught in public school
classrooms. The standards for math and English were accepted rather
easily, but the science standards suddenly became very controversial.
The conference report for the "No Child Left Behind" bill signed by President Bush on Jan. 8
includes a science requirement that focuses on "the data and testable
theories of science." This new federal law specifies that "where
topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological
evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full
range of scientific views that exist."
When the Ohio writing team presented its first draft, it failed to
help students understand "the full range of scientific views" and
instead tried to mandate Darwinian evolution as the only acceptable
teaching. Ohio's curriculum standards committee questioned why the
draft included no ideological diversity, and the media immediately
rushed in to fan the flames of old prejudices and activate the liberals
who want to raise phony issues about separation of church and state.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorialized that public school
instructors should limit their teaching to "the most widely accepted
scientific theory" and teachers should not "stray from it." The Plain
Dealer, plainly, is dealing the censorship card to stifle scientific
debate and dissent.
The notion that such a closed-mind, unscientific approach could be
advocated in a major newspaper in our current era, when the generally
lauded icons are diversity, academic freedom, free speech, critical
thinking, multiculturalism, and opposition to censorship, is truly
remarkable. The truth and accuracy of science should be determined by
scientific evidence and open debate, not silencing dissent.
But censorship about evolution is common. After Lehigh University
biochemistry professor Michael Behe argued that irreducible complexity
in nature disproves Darwinian evolution, some high schools have
censored his book in response to pressure from the evolutionists.
If a scientific theory is true, there is no need to censor
criticism. By definition, if a theory is scientific, it should be
demonstrated by evidence and replicable experiments, and testable
against alternate hypotheses.
Any committee presuming to write school science standards should
honestly face up to the fact that current science textbooks usually
include demonstrable errors. Some of these errors were exposed years
or decades ago but remain in textbooks, often even with illustrations.
Many science textbooks show diagrams or illustrations to reinforce
the claim that all modern animals as well as man diverged from a common
ancestor. Most textbooks ignore the evidence from the Cambrian
explosion, in which major groups of animals suddenly appeared in the
fossil record without any evidence of common ancestry.
The picture of the peppered moths is a favorite in science
textbooks to try to demonstrate natural selection in the wild. We now
know that the picture is a fake (moths were glued on tree trunks for a
The 19th century drawings of vertebrate embryos showing humans
evolved from a fish-like ancestor have also been shown to have been
faked. This was even admitted by the New York Times.
In the face of such dishonesty (now becoming widely known because
of the internet), the Darwinian-only majority of academics has been
steadily retreating. Because Darwin's theory has not stood the test of
time (it pre-dates the Civil War), respectable scientists have been
developing alternate theories of life's origins by presenting evidence
of what is called intelligent design.
Darwin himself relied on the expected discovery of transitional
fossils, but Dr. Colin Patterson, former senior paleontologist at the
British Museum of Natural History, admitted that there are none.
Professor Louis Bounoure, former director of research at the French
National Center of Scientific Research, concluded, "Evolutionism is a
fairy tale for grownups."
Are we going to teach our young people to develop an inquiring
mind and to be open to new discoveries, or are we going to teach them
that science is static, that everything about the origins of life has
already been determined and there are no possible deviations from what
the establishment has dictated?
Science standards and textbooks should not mandate the dogmas of
the past when they are beset with increasing evidences of error and
fraud, and when new discoveries can and do occur. Science should be
about facing and evaluating new evidence as it emerges.