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Opening Arguments

Truth Squad

Boy, does this ever sound like a nightmare in the making:

The chairman of the State Senate Education Committee says he will not try again to have creationism be taught in Indiana's public schools during the upcoming legislative session.

Instead, Republican Senator Dennis Kruse says he will push a bill that would allow students to question teachers and force them to prove the veracity of matters that they teach.  "Another way to say it is it might proof-text you. If you're teaching something, then a student could question that and say how do you know that is true? So the teacher would have to come up with different sources to say why this is true," said Kruse.

[. . .]

Kruse says this bill will spell out situations in which students will be able to essentially force teachers to use multiple sources to prove that what they are teaching is true if the student has doubts.  "It won't mention creation. It won't mention religion. It won't mention what they have to teach. It'll just be more of a general statement in the area of what I would call truth in education."

OK, the bill won't mention "creationism," but who's he kidding? The whole purpose is to give little Johnny or Sally the state's imprimatur when they want to question something that Mom and Dad don't like for religious reasons. Granted that skpetical inquiry is essential to critical thinking, which is the kind of thing schools should encourage, but as a general principle, not as a weapon to wage religious war on teachers. The idea that state legislators are looking over education as some kind of Truth Squad monitors is, to put it bluntly, just plain silly.

We published a guest column  a couple of weeks ago from a high school sophomore who spoke in favor of teaching creationism. That brough a letter of rebuttal that I thought made a very good point (fourth letter):

She thus concludes, “The theory of creationism being entwined with religion does not at all lessen its scientific value, and it should therefore be available for the enhancement of students’ ability to make their own informed, logical choices.”

Following this logic, however, there is no obvious reason why we should limit ourselves to any particular theory of creation, whether it is the secular evolutionary or the presumably Judeo-Christian approach. I did a cursory Internet search of creation theories, and found that Wikipedia, for example, lists 91 of the better-known ones, and this is probably the bare minimum.

If you teach all the creation theories, or even a minimum number of the "better-known" ones, the class will be all but meaningless. If you don't -- if you stick to what those pushing this really want, which is to get the Genesis story of creation into the classroom -- then you're unconstitutionally mixing church and state.


Harl Delos
Wed, 12/05/2012 - 9:30am

Teacher, if the world is 25000 miles around, and we rotate every 24 hours, that's better than 1000 miles a hour.  We know what 100 mph winds will do, so how come the earth isn't as bald as a billiard ball?  Prove it! And when you're done. explain why the spin doesn't sprpel us all into space, and prove THAT!

Teacher, it saysthis is Ted and Sally's mother.  Prove that she didn't snatch  the kids from the hospital!

Teacher. prove that "there" isn't spelled "there" or "they're".

If the kids figure out how to game the system, they'll never get past page 10 in the book all year long, and those pop quizzes will disappear.