Questioning Evolution: The Push to Change Science Class

Retro Report

We just learned today of a Retro Report, Questioning Evolution: The Push to Change Science Class, by Clyde Haberman, in The New York Times. The report was posted with an accompanying video, “Raising Doubts about Evolution … in Science Class.” The video features Zack Kopplin, whose T-shirt you may see in the photograph. Ken Miller also makes a number of appearances, as do, alas, three representatives of the Discovery Institute and also Georgia Purdom of Answers in Genesis.

Mr. Haberman presents a good, brief history of how creationism morphed into intelligent-design creationism, which he calls its “stepchild”. When intelligent-design creationism was found lacking, the “anti-Darwinists” evolved and ultimately engendered the Louisiana Science Education Act, which

permits public schoolteachers to use materials critical of established scientific thought, with “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning” singled out as targets. No blatant advocacy of creationism or intelligent design is authorized. But those concepts make their way into classrooms all the same, as a means of fostering “critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories.”

Oddly, the only subjects that are to be considered critically are “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.” I guess that history and literature do not deserve the same kind of scrutiny.

The law has not been challenged in court, perhaps because, as Ken Miller says, “the First Amendment … doesn’t protect you against the introduction of stupid ideas.” Other states, according to Mr. Haberman and the video, have either passed or introduced similar laws. Professor Miller is concerned that a new generation is learning that “the scientific method and the scientific community [are] not to be trusted.” A very serious concern indeed, and the kind of thing that leads also to climate-change denial, vaccination denial, and even AIDS denial.

Mr. Haberman writes that the anti-evolution movement thinks it has the wind at its back, but it is worse than that: the anti-science movement may well have the wind at its back.