Three years ago the Kentucky legislature approved a measure to make the state’s high-school standards appropriate to those tested by the countrywide ACT (American College Testing) exams. I guess they didn’t realize that the ACTs, which are used to measure students’ proficiency in four areas and also are used as a criterion for college admission, require knowing evolution in the science section. OMG! That has Kentucky legislators—the Republicans, of course—up in arms. As usual, they utter their barrage of moronic statements. As HuffPo reports:
. . . state Republicans are now recoiling at their decision. They claim it doesn’t give the theory of creationism a fair shake and places undue emphasis on the teaching of evolution, which they maintain exists only as a “theory.”
“I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution,” state Sen. David Givens (R) said in an interview with the Herald-Leader. “We’re simply saying to the ACT people we don’t want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students’ ability to do critical thinking.”
Teaching creationism in the school classroom is, of course, unconstitutional in America.
And what kind of amazing ignorance is displayed by this statement:
“The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science — Darwin made it up,” state Sen. Ben Waide (R) said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.”
Darwin “made it up”? Yeah, just like Einstein “made up” the theory of relativity and Pasteur and others “made up” the germ theory of disease, and Newton “made up” the theory of gravity. Does Waide know nothing about evolution? Is he aware of the thousands of observations, just in the fossil record alone, that show that the theory does indeed “stand up to the scientific method”? I feel like sending him a copy of my book, except that I doubt he’d read it.
State Sen. Mike Wilson (R) said he thinks the system could allow students to be “indoctrinated” by the study of evolution.
Yep, just like we indoctrinate students with the theory of gravity. What they’re afraid of, of course, is that the scientific facts may turn students away from religion. Pity, that, for evolution is indeed a central concept of biology that must be required in any decent education in science.
Sadly, even the state commissioner of education is showing some cowardice here. Although he avers that creationism can’t be taught in public schools, he shows that his pedal extremities are getting cold:
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday responded to the lawmakers’ inquiry, telling them that the test is “based on evolution as a theory, not as fact.”
Do these people know what a scientific theory is? Apparently, to Holliday it’s equivalent to a guess or a wild speculation, for he’s reassuring parents here that the theory isn’t really all that true.
Well, at least my colleagues at the University of Kentucky are standing up for scientific truth:
While the debate has been rehashed countless times, Vincent Cassone, chairman of the University of Kentucky biology department and a member of the committee that helped developed ACT’s testing curriculum, told the Herald-Leader that the Republicans’ rejection of evolution was incomprehensible.
“The theory of evolution is the fundamental backbone of all biological research,” he said. “There is more evidence for evolution than there is for the theory of gravity, than the idea that things are made up of atoms, or Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is the finest scientific theory ever devised.”
That may be a bit of an exaggeration, since every time something falls on Earth (or we look at the Moon or the planets) we get evidence for gravity, but Cassone gets kudos for emphasizing the importance of evolution. It is, after all, the true story of our origins, and therefore the greatest of all human tales. It’s something that everyone needs to know.
Someone in Kentucky send Waide a copy of my book; I’ll reimburse you! (Self-promotion: Amazon has the hardback of WEIT on sale as a “bargain book” for only $11.18, only a few cents more than the paperback.)