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January 13, 2005

Evolution & Liberal Censorship

No wonder religious folks hate liberals. Is this really an establishment of religion?:

"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
This is a sticker that Cobb County Georgia ordered be put on all its biology texts.

Is it that horrific that students are told to keep an "open mind"?

The liberal struggle to include information about evolution in text books is a worthy one, but the reality is that many citizens have a deeply felt conviction that it's false and an affront to their religious beliefs. A sticker that de facto reminds students of the existence of those deeply held beliefs and requests that they approach the material carefully is not an establishment of any one religion, or even religion over non-religion.

Frankly-- and I'll be writing more about this -- I think progressives should stop fighting so hard against the teaching of "intelligent design" in schools. I think it's horsecrap science but I don't think the courts are the venue for debating the nature of scientific truth. As long as students receive competing information about evolution, it may not be such a bad thing for them to be engaged in comparative analysis of the merits of evolutionary theory versus church doctrine. The controversy itself might actually enliven biology classes and make students sit up and pay attention, rather than leaving some students resentful and alientated that "their" beliefs have been eliminated from the classroom.

Update: Some reactions to this repost at Daily Kos.

The comments still all beg the question of who decides, such as the one stating: "Intelligent design is not horsecrap science, it's not science. And as such, has no place in science education." Are courts now truth squads, evaluating what is and is not science? The left protests whenever a left thinker is censored, however speculative their beliefs. Even if intelligent design is bad science, is it really for courts to decide that?

And here's the political point. Why piss off socially conservative working class parents over something marginal like a sticker? Liberal evolutionists LOST the political fight for control of Cobb County, quite obviously. Using the courts to win that battle is just undemocratic and invites backlash.

My belief in the persuasiveness of evolutionary theory is not so weak that I think that adding the sticker will somehow make students find Darwin to be less credible.

A followup post is here.

Posted by Nathan at January 13, 2005 06:18 PM