In 2002, the school board of Cobb County, located in suburban Atlanta, made a controversial decision requiring that science textbooks which taught evolution have a sticker affixed to them stating: “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.”
Some media stories (like this one on CNN.com) I’ve seen only quote the phrase “Evolution is a theory, not a fact,” in the opening sentences of a story without including the rest of the wording from the sticker, thereby making it sound much less balanced a position than it actually is. To see the rest of it you have to read a ways down. As an aside, note the labels used in coverage – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story uses the terms “creationists,” “anti-evolutionists.”
Those opposed to the sticker believe, predictably, that that the sticker was a thinly veiled attempt to shove religion down the throats of impressionable high school students and, furthermore, stunts their education and understanding of science altogether. So, and again this was entirely predictable, the ACLU and others filed suit and found a federal judge who felt the same way. That judge, Clarence Cooper, said the stickers violated both the US and Georgia Constitution. Judge Cooper concluded that the stickers send “a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists.”
Perhaps more than anything I found it unsettling to hear that kind of branding coming from the federal bench. Perhaps I should not be surprised to hear a judge sneer at “fundamentalists and creationists,” nonetheless I was. I was not, however, surprised to read that an evolutionist activist told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the decision was “a tremendous victory for science, and it’s a big defeat for the new creationist strategy.”
You see, evolutionary naturalism is apprently the only viable science for such people, and any threat to it is ruled untenable by definitional fiat. If you don’t buy into evolution, then you are necessarily a “creationist,” which means you are a “fundamentalist,” which means by implication you are an unthinking neanderthal trying to shove your stupid beliefs down the throats of your more sophisticated neighbors.
Such a strategy is employed in order to avoid a real debate on the scientific issues at hand because, frankly, evolutionists cannot deal with the thought that their belief is not true.
Now, if that sounds something akin to religous faith, then you might agree with me (and others) that that is exactly what evolutionary naturalism – a “secular religion.” The spirit of science is that you simply explore the evidence and see where it leads. When first-rate university scientists like Michael Behe, William Dembski, and others discuss evolution on the merits of evidence, proof, and even its own claims, they are dismissed as quacks, and their work is dismissed as deceptive propaganda, what the activist above describes as “the new creationist strategy.”
Apparently Judge Cooper agrees with those who blindly adhere to the religious beliefs of the secualar humanists and naturalists. Read the wording of the statement again (in blue above). The sticker does not remove evolution from schools, but only advises students that it is, in fact, a theory of origins that should be studied and weighed carefully, just as we would advise students of science to approach any other theory. It errs, to the secularist, in that it does not blindly endorse the theory and allows for alternatives. I urge you, wherever you stand on the issue in Cobb, take an open-minded look at the issues raised by Intelligent Design – look at them scientifically.
Another issue at stake here is the right of parents and taxpayers to have a voice in the education of their children. The Cobb School Board, elected by the citizens of Cobb County, voted unanimously in favor of the stickers. The people of Cobb County have now been overruled by a federally appointed judge who apparently knows better than they do what their children should be taught in tax-payer funded schools.