The state of Georgia, via it's public school superintendent, recently announced its intention to strike evolution, Charles Darwin, and many other scientific facts and theories from the biology curriculum for high school students. Could there be a more religiously pedantic attack on science and truth?
It's lunacy to think that removing Charles Darwin, evolution, actual fossil evidence, and even the emergence of single-celled microorganisms from a truthful study of biology is anything more than an attempted religious coup of public education. When Superintendent Kathy Cox, a Republican of questionable mental ability, announced the changes, I convinced myself that I was suffering from a mental break and could no longer trust my own senses.
To ensure that the theological offensive on science would be complete, the new curriculum also eliminated other details about the origin of life, including Gregor Mendel's identification of genes, the appearance of primitive life forms 4 billion years ago, and the long-term dynamics of evolution. In its place is a statement listing five "historical scientific models of change" that includes the sole mention of Darwin. The word "evolution" disappears entirely and is replaced by the phrase "l;change over time."
Heralded as a way to take pressure off of teachers "on the front lines" and to promote consideration of the new curriculum, this attempt to push public education back into the Dark Ages is truly the most offensive religious invasion of public education that I have ever seen. If teachers do not wish to face the controversy inherent in education (especially science), they should find a different career and leave teaching to those who will face the discussion with an eye toward the free flow of ideas rather than with fear.
Teachers who support the move, such as Susan McKinney, who teaches biology to high school students in Crisp County, say they never believed earth could have come into existence without a divine hand. McKinney went on to say she believed in natural selection, but when her course touched on the fossil record and single-celled organisms believed to be among the first life forms on earth — information she considers a "tentative hypothesis" — she skims over it, recommending that students study the material independently if they wish.
Since when are teachers allowed to modify facts and figures to fit within their own narrow, incomplete idea of what children should be learning? When this is allowed, the truth in education is lost to the spin of politics and religion.
Sharing in my own acute embarrassment that such a move could take place in today's society, John Avise, a genetics professor at the University of Georgia, responded to the announcement by saying, "I hope we don't have to change the word 'chemistry' to 'the movement of molecules across space' next. I'll have to rewrite a lot of my texts."
It seems to me that excluding scientific facts and theories in order to promote a single religious agenda to students who look to the education system to provide a balanced and honest learning experience is reprehensible at best. It's unnecessary to teach children that the world is once again flat and is indeed the center of the universe since we learned long ago that these ideas were not correct. In fact, when we stifle the free flow of ideas to our children, we cripple future generations from continuing to learn and grow and expand our scientific knowledge.
The advancement of humans as a whole is endangered by such selfish attacks on truth.
This decision, if it stands, will mean that Georgia will have taken a very large step backward in science. Students of such an education system must be considered under par and inadequate for the real world. With a crippled and incomplete — if not entirely inaccurate — picture of the universe around them, these children are clearly being betrayed by those entrusted with ensuring their education.
I can only hope that this decision is reversed, either by the educational system or the courts, before much damage is done to the unsuspecting next generation from Georgia.