In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in public schools is unconstitutional, but that hasn’t stopped religious conservatives across the country from their crusade to present “intelligent design” as an alternative theory to evolution.
Case in point: Republican lawmakers in Arkansas who recently put forth House Bill 2050, which seeks to “allow public school teachers to teach creationism and intelligent design as theories alongside the teaching of the origins of the earth and the theory of evolution.”
The wording in this bill and others like it is very important. The goal is to make it sound like they’re simply presenting a viable alternative to a scientific theory that is inherently flawed. But that’s false — it’s a blatant attempt to promote bible-literal Christianity in America’s public school systems while undermining established science. A good question for the bill’s sponsor, GOP Rep. Mary Bentley, would be if she also wants to teach astrology alongside astronomy or alchemy alongside chemistry.
As Slate‘s Chris Kirk reported in 2014, creationism in public schools is already an established reality.
…the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs.
The notion that religious conservatives simply want creationism taught on equal footing with established science is a lie. Creationism, by definition, cannot exist without the presumption that the theory of evolution is false. Christians encroaching on the public sphere want to pull a cloak over the eyes of children, shielding them from the wide array of knowledge that proves the theory of evolution to be an expanding science that’s based in fact.
During an impassioned speech on the House floor in 2002, then-congressman Mike Pence regurgitated the ignorant ‘evolution is only a theory’ theme, and declared that “intelligent design” should be taught to children as a scientific alternative with equal weight.
“I believe that God created the known universe, the earth and everything in it, including man,” Pence said. “And I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”
With all the policy disasters that came in the recent election, the fact that our newly-minted Vice President promotes this agenda is an unfortunate harbinger of things to come.