Monday, September 08, 2008

Sarah Palin, Creationism and AIG

Answers in Genesis wants to know if Sarah Palin is a creationist. In a recent article, they address this question and conclude with a resounding "maybe."

In 2006, then-candidate Palin indicated in a TV debate that creation should be taught alongside evolution in the state’s public schools, declaring that schools should “teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.”3 Now, in stating this, she may have been advocating the teaching of scientific creationism, as opposed to biblical creationism4 (the latter having been deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 19875), but we don’t really know.

They also note that she backpedaled on this the following day by stating that she:

...meant to say that a discussion of alternative views should be allowed but not forced on students, adding: “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.

They then make the following (correct) observation about politicians:

Most politicians, when asked about their origins beliefs, try to answer somewhere between the two bookends, settling into a comfortable place in between so as not to alienate those who believe in a Creator (the overwhelming majority of Americans) while protecting themselves from allegations that they reject mainstream science. We recall that in 2007, Republican candidate for president Gov. Mike Huckabee put up his hand during a debate to show that he did not believe in evolution. Some creationists quickly rejoiced, concluding that Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, must believe in a literal, straightforward reading of Genesis. Later, however, he made it clear that he did not necessarily want to be identified with young-earth creationism, saying that he was not sure about a six-day creation.

That's as true as it goes but they then go on to say something somewhat startling:

Gov. Palin’s clarification of her views on the teaching of origins in public schools mirrors AiG’s general view: biblical creation should not be forced into classrooms, specifically because science teachers with a strong belief in evolution would teach creation poorly, so it would ultimately be counterproductive for the students. The better tactic would be to follow through on the Supreme Court’s ruling that teachers are “free to teach any and all facets” of all the scientific theories concerning the origins of humankind (p. 9 of the ruling).

I suspect they are taking liberties with the "teaching creation poorly" part, since we have no idea why she doesn't want to force creationism on the public schools. Although this tact will open up creationist teaching to a level of scrutiny it has not, as of yet, had, this somewhat subtler approach dovetails directly into the recent spate of "academic freedom" bills that have been passed.

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