Monday, October 10, 2005
Columbus Taught the Controversy and No One Came
Intelligent design activists are able to stir a lot of people up by claiming that their "theory" is being banned, but the fact is, there really is very little interest when the class is actually offered.
Intelligent design and other alternative theories became part of a high school social studies class in Columbus, Ind., after 1,300 residents petitioned the school board in 2002 to give creationism equal time with evolution.
Greg Lewis, social studies department chairman at Columbus East High School, developed a Human Origins class as an elective. Aside from a few media calls, he hasn't received inquires, he said.
The class isn't being offered this year due to low enrollment, but it will always remain a part of the curriculum, he said.
There is widespread agreement -- by the National Center for Science Education, the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the parents who are suing the Dover school board, Red State Rabble, and others -- that it is completely appropriate to teach different creation stories in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and social studies classes.
The problem for ID "theorists" and creation "scientists" is that these classes would include intelligent design and Genesis, alongside the creation stories of other cultures and religions.
That would lead to critical scrutiny. Students would see the similarities and differences between the various creation stories. They would learn that the biblical story has precursors in other cultures. The sort of knowledge that comes out of this kind of critical thinking is way too dangerous for the "teach the controversy" crowd.
Ignorance is preferable to the clerics who endorse the sort of hothouse thinking that creationism and ID represents. That is why they will posture about "teach the controversy" but they will run like hell from the places -- like Columbus -- where it is actually taught.
Creationism and intelligent design have flourished primarily in private religious schools and in home schooling situations where there is no real competition with real science. The failure of ID proponents and creationists to publish any scientific papers supporting their ideas demonstrates that when there is a genuine, open, and honest debate, they are -- in a memorable turn of phrase favored by one of RSR's less politically correct friends -- like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest.
That's why biblical literalists and ID activists will fight to the death for inclusion of their beliefs in the one place it is inappropriate -- science classes -- and avoid like the plague the inclusion of their ideas in all the classes where it would be utterly acceptable to the rest of us.
That would be way too controversial for them.