There’s an interesting story in today’s Washington Times (go here) on Louisiana’s new science policy (shortly to be signed into law by Governor Jindal) advocating that both strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory be taught in the public school science curriculum.
The other side (ACLU, NCSE, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, etc.) are claiming that such a “strengths and weaknesses” or “teach the controversy” approach to teaching evolution is a thinly veiled attempt to bring religion into the classroom. After all, so they claim, there is no legitimate controversy over evolutionary theory (it’s as well established as gravity!), so those who would question it can only do so because they are creationists wanting to inject religion into the public schools. I expect we will soon see a court case in which “teaching the controversy” over evolution will be charged with violating the First Amendment.
What are the practical outworkings of such “teach the controversy” legislation? Eugenie Scott is worried, for instance, that Texas (which looks soon to be following suit with Louisiana) will require science standards (which are just one-sentence statements of desired learning outcomes) such as the following: “a student will be expected to explain why the Cambrian explosion is a serious problem for evolution” (this is a direct quote from Eugenie).
Let me suggest a different approach to such science standards: since there is no controversy over evolution (so we are told), let students explain why evolutionary theory is one of the few areas in science where no such controversy exists. Thus we might have science standards such as the following:
- Students can explain in detail how evolutionary theory explains the Cambrian Explosion.
- Students can describe the changes in genes and embryological development by which complex biological structures such as the human eye evolved.
- Students can delineate the lines of evidence by which evolutionary theory has decisively refuted intelligent design. etc.
Frankly, I’d be delighted with such science standards. If students actually met them, they would know that evolutionary theory is bankrupt and that ID is a live scientific option. But of course, don’t expect the other side to adopt such standards. To maintain their monopoly over science education, they need to suppress anything that might suggest there’s another game in town.