Defending Darwin: Six States Endangering US Science Education

[Originally published at Divided Under God on February 12, 2013]

Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution and natural selection Just over 200 years ago today, a man was born whose scientific findings would be the subject of fierce debates and turn creationism folklore on its head. Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution and natural selection suggested that all organisms on earth descended from a common ancestor. This contradicted schools of thought related to Lamarck’s transmutation theory and religious teachings that suggested all species were created at relatively the same time. 

More than 150 years after the publishing of On the Origin of Species, the foundations of evolutionary theory are still very much in debate, but not by the scientific community. Some politicians and religious leaders contend that Darwin’s findings are “just a theory” and should not be taught in schools. One Congressman (who sits on the House Committee on Science, mind you) went so far as to call evolutionary theory “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Stances like this are fueled by ignorance — ignorance about the meaning of scientific theory and ignorance about what the removal of this fundamental cornerstone of science can do to the quality of US education. I won’t dwell on that here, since we’ve covered it previously on DividedUnderGod, when lawmakers attacked evolution in Tennessee

But the ignorance is spreading. Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Indiana all have active bills to either remove evolution from science education, or accompany it with creationism and/or intelligent design. The suggestion that religion should be taught in science class undermines what science is based on: proof and the method to obtain said proof. To put it kindly, religion is based on legend and faith, not proof. The efforts to insert religious dogma into public education is a transparent gesture that the religious are using to tighten the stranglehold they have on the youth of America, which begins with childhood indoctrination. They view anything outside their bubble as a threat to their success and control. 

Darwin’s birthday should remind us all to be vigilant. Look at your children’s textbooks. Get involved in their education. Be aware of proposed legislation in your state or local government that affects their education and future. When people put so much effort toward trying to keep information away from the masses, there is never a good and just reason for it. It always comes down to protection of self-interest and fear, and promotes the proliferation of ignorance.

About Kevin Davis:
Despite his Catholic upbringing and experience as a "saved" Christian in his early college years, Kevin came out as an atheist in the mid-1990s. A US Constitution enthusiast, he now focuses on defending the separation of church and state through his blog, Kevin keeps us aware of current legislative and judiciary efforts that aim to weaken the Wall of Separation that is so important to our success as a nation free from religious influence and oppression.

You can find Kevin on Twitter (@DividedUnderGod), Facebook, and in Chris Johnson's upcoming book A Better Life -- 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.