Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sticker Shock

One of the great things about debating an issue with someone who disagrees is it really helps me contemplate and clarify my own thoughts. This is what blogging should be about, but unfortunately we all tend to stay in our own little echo chambers which tends to lead to sloppy thinking and unjust criticism of those that disagree.

"Man, those liberals are idiots!" "Yea, and they have no moral grounding!"

"I sure wish rapture would come and take all those damn fundamentalists away so we didn't have to deal with this crap!"

Not good.

So here is the question: was the court correct when it ordered a Georgia school district to remove stickers challenging the theory of evolution from its textbooks on the grounds that they violated the U.S. Constitution. The sticker states thus:
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 an interesting question because the sticker is in and of itself a factual statement. However, it is a statement that applies to all of science, not just evolution. But the fundamentalists don't have a problem with thermodynamics, they have a problem with evolution.

I actually would be in favor of a chapter that discussed the religious controversy over evolution and provided a dialog of the debate. I think that would be very appropriate for the high school or even junior high level. (I'm not so sure about grade school, though.)

But we have to be careful here. The sticker doesn't suggest there are religious concerns with evolution, it suggests there are scientific concerns, implying these concerns are above and beyond those found in all the rest of science. But the reason the sticker is being put on the book is purely religious.

There is nothing wrong with teaching about religion in the public schools. We should do it more. I'd love to see high school classes comparing religions, religions of various nations discussed in sixth grade, etc.

But you can't teach religion itself in a public school. There is no getting around the fact the some people are trying to insert church doctrine into a science book in a public school. That's is what is unconstitutional and that is why I agree with the court.