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.

  • Loqi

    I don’t believe in 4. I’d like to sue the state for using math to force their pro-4 beliefs on us. When will the state stop squashing religious freedom?

    • Rob

      You are obviously not a true devotee, you mentioned the number before 5.

    • Goose

      How shocking that you admit to being anti-semi-eight?

  • Nox

    If someone tells you christianity and science are compatible, one of the first two questions you should ask them is how they are defining science.

    In most cases what they mean has nothing to do with the data or methods of real science. They are saying that science is the exploration and logging of the world god has created which he has already told us about in the bible. If the book were written by the guy who actually made all this stuff you wouldn’t expect science to ever find anything which contradicts it.

    Of course science does frequently turn up data that contradicts the bible’s description of nature. Maintaining a biblical worldview is much easier if you don’t know that. This is dealt with in a variety of ways, from creatively interpreting the bible to the burning or banning of competing books.

    Those who assure you science and christianity are compatible and those who try to prevent the teaching of science because they consider it to be a threat to their christian faith may say seemingly incompatible things. But they are acting under similar motives. That motive being the desire to believe whatever they want without ever looking foolish for believing foolish things.

    The problem they’re concerned with isn’t that the tenets of christianity are foolish. In both cases their concern is that the tenets of christianity are so widely seen as foolish, and they will be seen as fools for believing in them.

    • Spuddie

      They think of science only to the point where they have toasters or cell phones. Everything else is not important to them.

      Fundamentalism is ultimately parasitic because it will never contribute to the advancement of knowledge but they have no problem reaping the benefits of people who do.

  • Len

    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.

    They don’t seem concerned about the religious freedom of their children being violated by the parents indoctrinating those children.


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