Yes, it’s South Carolina, and yes, it’s a Republican. That spells death for evolution on Darwin Day. As the Charleston Journal and Courier reports, the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee has removed from the state science standards, at the behest of REPUBLICAN state senator Mike Fair, any mention of natural selection as a fact. His approach, one the benighted Committee apparently approves, is to “teach both sides and let the kids sort it out.” That, of course, is a tactic of creationists who can’t get their views taught any other way. As the paper notes:
“Natural selection is a direct reference to Darwinism,” Fair said after the meeting. “And the implication of Darwinism. is that it is start to finish.”
Fair argued South Carolina’s students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is for the schools to teach the controversy.
“To teach that natural selection is the answer to origins is wrong,” Fair said. “I don’t have a problem with teaching theories. I don’t think it should be taught as fact.”
Ultimately, the committee approved all measures except that clause, which now gets sent back to the committee level for review. State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said after the meeting he was not surprised by the debate that took place.
“This has been going on here in South Carolina for a long a time,” Zais said. “We ought to teach both sides and let students draw their own conclusions.”
Indeed. And while they’re at it, why not teach homeopathy and spiritual healing in health class, and astrology and ESP in psychology class. Let the students draw their own conclusions.
Curiously, one of the people fighting this bill is Robert Dillon from the College of Charleston, the same man who reproved me rudely in public for saying that science and religion are incompatible after a debate he had set up on that very topic (my emphasis below):
Meanwhile, a debate taken up by an advocacy group against the use of the word “critically” when it comes to the standards of natural selection and climate change was largely ignored. College of Charleston biology professor Robert Dillon said in a previous interview the use of “critically” on two pages of the entire packet means more than it appears.
“They’re trying to make evolution appear controversial, they’re trying to make it somehow different,” said Dillon previously. “Well, it is controversial, but the controversy is political or religious, it’s not scientific. It’s this richly symbolic situation.”
I approve Dillon’s battle, but he really should recognize now that the controversy is religious (played out, of course through politics), and that means that, for many of his fellow South Carolinians, evolution and religion are indeed at odds!