Creationists suing the state of Kansas over science standards.

In debates, such as my debate with Peter Payne, I’m often assured that Christianity and science are 100% compatible.  Of course, I’m never told how people rising from the dead jibes with biology or how someone walking on water jibes with physics, but I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation (the laws of nature totally stopped working, dude!).

But then I see what mobs of Christians actually say and do, and it couldn’t be more obvious that science (read: reality) is a threat to their beliefs.  Look at what’s happening here in Kansas.

An anti-evolution group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block Kansas from using new, multistate science standards in its public schools, arguing the guidelines promote atheism and violate students’ and parents’ religious freedom.

The group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, had criticized the standards developed by Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council for treating both evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Teaching science in public schools does not violate your religious freedom.  You have the right to shield your child from reality (unfortunately) by keeping them away from public school, but you don’t have a right to have all other kids receive a lesser education just so you can pretend that scientists don’t think evolution is an established fact.

The nonprofit organization based in the small community of Peck, south of Wichita, was joined in its lawsuit by 15 parents from across the state with a total of 18 children — most of them in public schools — and two taxpayers from the Kansas City-area community of Lake Quivira. The parents say they’re Christians who want to instill a belief in their children that “life is a creation made for a purpose.”

So do that.  But the scientific experts are not bound by what you want to teach your kids.  If you’re teaching your kids that 2+2=apple and that the left foot is what pumps blood throughout your body, you don’t get to dictate that a public school help maintain those beliefs.  Kids in public school get taught the conclusions of the experts, not the fantasies of parents.

And life is not bereft of purpose just because we evolved.  We all have multiple reasons for living.  One of mine is to dissect crummy arguments on a blog – it simply gives me fulfillment, and it requires no appeal to god.

“The state’s job is simply to say to students, ‘How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it,’” said John Calvert, a Lake Quivira attorney involved in the lawsuit.

This is why your kids need an education on evolution: because you clearly don’t understand it.  Evolution has zero to do with the origin of life.  Evolution explains the diversity of life.  You people are like toddlers who know they hate broccoli and that broccoli is bad for them even though they’ve never tried broccoli and don’t know squat about its nutritional value.

And yes, the origin of life (i.e. the first self-replicating molecules) continues to be a mystery, but not because we’re just stumbling around with no idea.  We have multiple models compliant with known science that could explain the origin of life.  The mystery is which one was responsible.  We have no need to tell kids “We have several models that don’t require the suspension of natural order, but some people also think it could’ve been magic”.  You know what science doesn’t deal in?  Magic.

So yes, there are multiple competing ideas.  Kids are taught that.  Creationism is not one of the competing ideas.

Calvert was a key figure in past Kansas evolution debates as a founder of the Intelligent Design Network, contending that life is too complex to have developed through unguided evolution. Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director for the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Science Education, said Calvert has been making such an argument for years and “no one in the legal community has put much stock in it.”

“They’re trying to say anything that’s not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion,” Rosenau said, dismissing the argument as “silly.”

One can only wonder, if Calvert has a good argument for why life is too complex to be the result of evolution, why he’s trying to make the case in court instead of submitting his hypothesis to peer review.  If he’s right, it would then become part of the scientific body of knowledge and any lawsuits would be irrelevant as the scientific community would be eager to teach it.

But he’s not doing that, and it’s obvious why: his position is scientifically untenable.  He has no hope of pulling the wool over the eyes of people who actually understand the relevant science.  But Christians in a mob?  Oh, they’re all for it.

The lawsuit argues that the new standards will cause Kansas public schools to promote a “non-theistic religious worldview” by allowing only “materialistic” or “atheistic” explanations to scientific questions, particularly about the origins of life and the universe. The suit further argues that state would be “indoctrinating” impressionable students in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s protections for religious freedom.

Nope!  Just because a fact is at odds with your religion doesn’t mean it’s atheistic.  A liberal Christian who believes god used evolution (i.e. millions of years of pain and suffering to create adaptation) would not be put off at all by the new science standards.  And nowhere does the theory of evolution require the non-existence of god in order to work.

Of course, it does mean that the diversity of life came about through natural means, so it certainly doesn’t require a god – which I assume is what really has rattled the creationists.

Calvert said the new standards are particularly troubling because students would start learning evolutionary concepts in kindergarten.

Who but a creationist could be upset that children will start learning science in kindergarten?

“By the time you get into the third grade, you learn all the essential elements of Darwinian evolution,” Calvert said. “By the time you’re in middle school, you’re a Darwinist.”

Yes, if only these children could remain ignorant of evolution all the way into adulthood, just like their parents, instead of learning scientific concepts early on.

By middle school you’re also an algebraist, a George Washingtonist, a atomist, and all sorts of other facts you must learn in order to not fail your tests.  Evolution is not a religion, which is what calling it “Darwinism” is supposed to imply.  It’s a fact about the world just like everything else your kids learn.

Thankfully, educators are calling this bullshit for what it actually is:

Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas’ science education center, said previous court rulings suggest that the new lawsuit “won’t hold up.”

“This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get,” Case said.

Ayup.

The people filing this lawsuit are victims of religion, as are their children through them.  I pity them.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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