Looking back on October of 1999 (and continuing through January of 2002, when, thankfully, the Supreme Court denied his appeal), we find the curious case of Rodney LeVake, fundamentalist creationist science teacher (i.e., a walking oxymoron) suing a school district for assigning him to a class that does not involve biology, where he has, in effect, no forum to dispute the theory of evolution.
He's quite right. He should not have been given such an assignment.
He should have been fired outright.
Teaching so-called "creation science" (another oxymoron) in a public school is a direct violation of the separation of Church and State. It takes control of the religious upbringing of children away from their parents, and allows a teacher to, on government time, at government expense, indoctrinate those children with anti-scientific fundamentalist rhetoric that was specifically engineered to create a vacuum into which fundamentalist creation dogma could then flow unimpeded by anything like, say, critical thinking.
LeVake speaks of his religious freedom being violated. I wonder how he would feel if his children (if any) came home one day, announcing that they were being taught to prostrate themselves on small rugs, facing toward Mecca, at specified times of the day. Or to chant baruchas in Hebrew. Yet Islamic and Jewish parents (not to mention Atheist ones) are constantly having to deal with their kids bringing home some unwanted piece of Christianity, despite everything that has been done to protect public school students against being proselytized.
He also challenges an evolutionist to "look [him] in the eye and tell [him] one thing about evolution that is true." All right, Mr. LeVake, I'd be delighted to look you in the eye, and tell you this: When boiled down to their essentials, creation and evolution are not contradictory, but complementary. This is not something that fundamentalists would like people to know, nor is it something Atheists would like people to know, but it's quite true. Creation, when boiled down to its essentials, is simply the assertion that all life (and indeed, all matter, and all energy) came into existence through the actions of a supreme being. Or beings. As such, it comes under the heading not of biology, but of a comparative religion unit in a world history class. Creation, at its core, deals not with the mechanics of how things happened, but at the reasons why it happened. Conversely, evolution, when boiled down to its essentials, simply asserts that all life forms presently in existence were derived from other life forms, in a process so long and so slow that no human being (and indeed, no human society) could live long enough to see one species give birth to another. Or more precisely, we probably see that phenomenon in progress every day of our lives, but aren't around long enough to perceive it (which answers one especially whiny criticism of the "creation science" crowd).
And I'll be equally happy to say something true about "creation science" while looking LeVake straight in the eye: "Creation science" is neither. It is not science, because it doesn't attempt to explain anything, only to refute widely accepted explanations. No true scientist simply declares a theory wrong, without at least attempting to come up with a better one. While Einstein once reacted to quantum mechanics by declaring "God does not play dice with the universe," he didn't simply advance a groundless dispute of the theory, out of inability to accept it. He attempted to find an alternate theory that would fit the observed facts better. Yet "creation science" does exactly that: it disputes a widely accepted theory without suggesting, or even seeking out, a better one. Instead, it proposes a theory that is nothing more than fundamentalist creation dogma, cleansed of its theological references.
Neither is "creation science" creation. It may seem that way, because of the way it's based on the creation mechanics proposed by Book of Genesis, but it's not creation, because it omits the most central concept of creationism: the existence of a Creator (or creators). It simply attacks evolution, and proposes a supernatural mechanism for the origins of life, attempting to avoid being seen for the fundamentalist dogma it is, by conveniently omitting any reference to a Creator. In short, it isn't a theory at all, but an "anti-theory," designed specifically to create a vacuum in people's minds.
(July, 2011) And of course, as a catch-phrase, "Creation Science" is now as dead as "Scientific Creationism" before it. Now, they call it "Intelligent Design." And as a theory, there's nothing "intelligent" about it: if they were actually looking for the Hand of God, there are far better places to look. Then again, all they're looking for is a pretext for denying science.
Back Home James H. H. Lampert Copyright © James H. H. Lampert, 2000, 2011
Revised Monday, November 16, 2015, from an original dated January 16, 2000
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