Buell's Forgetful Syndrome

Last week, Reed Cartwright posted a news item here about Jon Buell, director of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE), who testified that FTE was not a religious organization and that an early draft of the FTE supplemental textbook, Of Pandas and People, that used the word “creationism” still did not imply religious entanglement:

Buell said the word creationism was a “placeholder term.” The definition of creationism changed to include a religious context after the draft was written, so the writers changed the word, he said.

Buell is apparently referring to the 1987 SCOTUS decision in Edwards v. Aguillard as the event that tagged “creationism” as religious. So what are we to make of Buell’s own words in a 1983 publication from FTE that links “creation” and “theism”?

Molly Ivins had a memorable phrase for all those folks who worked in the Reagan Administration and testified before Congress in the Iran-Contra affair. As witness after witness repeatedly told the Congress that they had no memory of what they were being asked to testify about, Ivins deftly termed them victims of “Republican Forgetful Syndrome”.

So here are Charles Thaxton and Jon Beull telling us in 1983 all about creation and how it is theism’s answer to evolution.

How does all of this relate to the teaching of biology in the public schools today? Evolution has served as the vanguard of this larger system of ideas-naturalism-and has been the critical way that it has been promoted in the schools. It is doubtful that naturalism could have gotten anywhere in the school systems had it been introduced through its position on morality. But it found a back-door acceptance by its association with evolution, especially since evolution is taught almost exclusively. Creation is theism’s counterpart to evolution, and if taught alongside evolution, it would be an effective antidote to the indoctrination of a particular world view.


That’s why Christians - in fact all theists - must insist that whenever origins are discussed, public schools allow the teaching of the evidence for creation alongside instruction in the naturalistic concept of evolution. If the scientific rationale for both creation and evolution were taught, there would be an equality demanded by the symmetry of the two metaphysical views, theism and naturalism. If both are not taught, it is not just the subject of origins that is affected. The whole of naturalistic thought is given privileged status by the state, with the de facto result that young minds are prepared to reject theistic approaches to morality and religion. At the same time, they are prepared to receive both moral relativism and the various naturalistic religions, such as Unity, Buddhism, Scientology and Religious Humanism.

In summary, we discern the primary conflict in the public schools to be in the realm of metaphysics, between theism and naturalism. The concern about origins and moral values should not lose sight of this. The exclusive teaching of evolution is a major force of modern naturalism which, if not checked, will remove every trace of theistic thought from the public sector. Therefore, we should recognize that even if we are not individually interested in the origins question, the creation issue touches us all. The exclusive teaching of evolution ushers in moral relativism and inclines young minds toward naturalistic religions. But a call for censorship is not appropriate. Instead, the emphasis in our efforts to counter the naturalistic indoctrination in the public schools and public sector should be to restore balance in the free expression of ideas. Let us remember that Jesus also told us to be “wise as serpents but innocent as doves.”

Charles Thaxton & Jon Buell. Excerpted from The Foundation Rationale, Vol.1, No.1, 1983, published by the “Foundation for Thought and Ethics, P O Box 721, Richardson, TX 75080.

(Hat tip to Pim Van Meurs for the cited article.)

It would be consistent with past performance that Buell will either take refuge in a “Forgetful Syndrome” of his own, or, more likely, blame the above text entirely on Thaxton, perhaps going so far as to claim that it was published without his knowledge or consent, despite his co-author status and the inconvenient fact that his own foundation distributed it. While Thaxton and Buell quote Jesus above, if Buell does take either of those options, he would be taking his lead from Ananias instead.