Thursday, March 10, 2005

America's New Export

The US used to dominate the world in exporting manufactured good, food and high technology. Not any more. But at least the Bush administration can proudly claim that America now has an export that won't likely be outsourced to China or India: creationism!

The pressure from US religious groups to unseat the teaching of evolution as the sole construct in public schools shows no sign of slowing. In Georgia, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, as well as other states, individual school districts and state governments are grappling with suggestions that creationism be taught along with evolution. And the movement appears to be a new US export.

Across the Atlantic, those in charge of Britain's education system have been facing their own version of the God versus Darwin debate, albeit on a much smaller scale. For the past three years, a small group of schools in northeast England have been at the center of the controversy about teaching creationism. The schools, established under a government scheme that allows private benefactors to operate state schools, are run by the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, which is backed by the millionaire car dealer Peter Vardy.

For its part, the foundation says on its Web site that it "encourages an academic and inquisitive approach to spiritual matters including, amongst others, creation and the origins of life on earth." In 2002, Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Parliament he was happy about creationism being taught alongside evolution in state schools. Others, such as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, are not so happy. Dawkins, eight other leading scientists, and six top clergy wrote to Blair in 2002, pointing out that "Evolution is not, as spokesmen for the college maintain, a 'faith position' in the same category as the biblical account of creation.... It is a scientific theory of great explanatory power, able to account for a wide range of phenomena in a number of disciplines."

When the Junior Education Minister was questioned in parliament about allowing the teaching of creationism in British science classes, he responded that children should be allowed to "consider different ideas and beliefs."

[Dick Taverne, of the Liberal Democrat party] shot back: "Since the Government is in favor of allowing choice between sense and nonsense, will it also allow children to be taught that the earth is flat and that the sun goes around the earth? Since there is a crisis in math teaching in schools, and some university chemistry departments are closing down, will the Government also offer as an alternative the teaching of astrology and alchemy?"

"It is extraordinary," Taverne went on, "that a Government and a Prime Minister who say they are in favor of science have allowed the introduction into our schools of the worst features of American fundamentalist, antiscience, pseudoscience nonsense."

As China and India race to improve scientific literacy amongst their populations in preparation for the high-technology competition of the 21st century, the US is removing evolution from school curriculums and helping infect other with this nonsense.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home