Tags: Evolution | vs. | Creation | Filibuster | Compromise

Evolution vs. Creation, Filibuster Compromise

Tuesday, 24 May 2005 12:00 AM

"The state science standards in Kansas are up for revision this year, and a committee of scientists and educators has proposed standards that enshrine evolution as a central concept of modern biology. The ruckus comes about because a committee minority, led by intelligent-design proponents, has issued its own proposals calling for more emphasis on the limitations of evolution theory and the evidence supposedly contradicting it. The minority even seeks to change the definition of science in a way that appears to leave room for supernatural explanations of the origin and evolution of life, not just natural explanations, the usual domain of science."

The Times drew the following conclusion:

"The fact that all this is wildly inappropriate for a public school curriculum does not in any way suggest that teachers are being forced to take sides against those who feel that the evolution of humanity, in one way or another, was the work of an all-powerful deity. Many empirical scientists believe just that, but also understand that theories about how God interacts with the world are beyond the scope of their discipline."

I disagree with The Times' conclusion. Why is it unacceptable for teachers to even mention the theory of intelligent design: God? I am not proposing parity. The fear of some that the possibility of God's existence might be mentioned in the public school classroom is mind-boggling. It is the flip side of what the Tennessee Legislature sought to do in 1925.

I am not intensely religious, but I do believe in God. I also believe in evolution. I am one of millions of Americans, including Roman Catholics, who believe that God initiated the "Big Bang" that created the universe in the range of 13-20 billion years ago. That is another way of saying that He created the world.

There are fundamentalists who believe that the Jewish and Christian Bible texts are the word of God. Therefore, they believe in the literal meaning of every statement in those texts including the references to the creation of the world in seven days, and Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden. I do not.

In the movie "Inherit the Wind," which was based on the Scopes trial, the Clarence Darrow character, played by Spencer Tracy, makes a powerful point by asking how long those seven days lasted. If God wished it, couldn't the seven days have lasted millions and millions of years? If so, then evolution would have had plenty of time to bring about changes in living creatures.

The ending of "Inherit the Wind" shows Spencer Tracy holding both the Bible and a copy of Darwin's "The Origin of Species." In other words, we are not forced to choose. We can read the two books and accept them both.

Many Americans believe that we began to lose our competitive edge in engineering, math and science over the last century. We attained supremacy in those fields largely as a result of the influx of well-educated immigrants from Europe and developing countries like India who are now often denied entry into the U.S.

We have to encourage American children to enter the fields of engineering, math and science in larger numbers. The U.S. government should open regional high schools throughout the nation specializing in those subjects. Entry to such schools would be based solely on merit. Students would receive full scholarships and room and board, as well as stipends.

The Times recently reported on a national study of expulsions from pre-kindergarten programs. According to The Times, the upshot of the study was as follows:

"Although preschool expulsion rates varied widely by state and type of setting, the study found that on average, boys were expelled at 4.5 times the rate of girls, African-Americans at twice the rate of Latinos and Caucasians, and 4-year-olds at 1.5 times the rate of 3-year-olds. Expulsion rates were lowest in preschool classrooms in public schools and Head Start, and highest in faith-affiliated centers, for-profit child care and other community-based child-care settings."

What about the now vaunted concept of "no child left behind"? The Congress should enact a law barring such expulsions in both private and public schools. Schools should be required to accommodate behaviorally challenged children unless a qualified physician determines that medical supervision is required. The physicians authorized to determine this status should be designated by the city or state in consultation with appropriate professional medical organizations.

Republicans must be happy with the compromise reached in the U.S. Senate on President Bush's proposed judicial appointments. At worst, the compromise simply defers the filibuster issue for another day while Republicans get three of their most controversial candidates approved. At best, it means that filibusters may be used in the future only under "extraordinary circumstances."

Future judicial candidates would have to be even more radical and out of the mainstream, as the Democrats have described them, than the three now exempted from a filibuster. For Democrats the compromise is a face saver; for the Republicans it is a win.


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"The state science standards in Kansas are up for revision this year, and a committee of scientists and educators has proposed standards that enshrine evolution as a central concept of modern biology.The ruckus comes about because a committee minority, led by...
Tuesday, 24 May 2005 12:00 AM
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