Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christine O'Donnell and Teaching Creationism

Delaware Online has a story about the Christine O’Donnell/Chris Coons debate that has gotten the blogosphere so riled up on both sides of the aisle. Common consensus is that the law students treated her abysmally and that she was correct in some assertions. I will deal with one of them in which she was not.
The discussion about the separation of church and state started when Coons asked O'Donnell whether she believes in evolution, a question she repeatedly skirted during two debates last week.

"What I think about the theory is irrelevant," O'Donnell said.
Coons went on to say that schools should not be permitted to teach creationism. O'Donnell replied that his view violated the Constitution and imposed his beliefs on local school districts.

"You have just stated that you will impose your will over the local school district and that is a blatant violation of our Constitution," O'Donnell said.

Not in this case. The freedom to teach creationism would only stand if creationism was accepted science. It is not. O'Donnell is correct in that the "separation of church and state" is not in constitution. The problem is that what the constitution does say is that congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. That means not promoting state-sanctioned religion. Creationism is patently religiously based and, as such, is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This has been shown in numerous court cases dating back thirty years.

A further problem is this notion that one’s beliefs are being imposed upon by the teaching of accepted science. One only takes this perspective if they are completely ignorant of mainstream science and view it adversarially. This is not confidence-inspiring. We will see on Tuesday.

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  1. I agree Jim,

    Neither creationism nor intelligent design can be considered science by any reasonable definition of the term. It is not so much a church/state issue as it is one of appropriateness.

    You wouldn't teach alchemy in our children's chemistry class, or astrology alongside astronomy. I certainly hope that you wouldn't let teachers accept "speaking in tongues" as fulfilling a foreign language requirement right along with Spanish, French, German and Latin, would you?

    If you want to teach creationism in public schools then do so in a sociology, religions of the world or mythology class where it belongs. Our children need to learn good science, not be confused with religious ideologies parading as scientific opinion.

    Why creationism isn't science:

    To teach creationism in science class is to do a disservice to our children and our future. Please don't let it happen.

  2. Karl, thanks for your comments. If it okay with you, I would like to link to your 9th installment, transitional fossils. This is the ongoing canard that creationists adhere to. Even the DI has a blind spot in this area.

  3. Of course, be my guest. Since you enjoy debate, maybe almost as much as I do :) .. I have some friends who run a very well mannered, Cristian based discussion blog you might enjoy...