Eugenie Scott's picture

Proudly Creationist

So I’m skimming through the latest issue of the Institute for Creation Research’s monthly publication, Acts & Facts, chuckling over the convoluted treatment of ice ages (short story: they’re real, only the advances and contractions of the four Northern Hemispheric glaciers were really zippy, taking only a few hundred years) and other scientific zaniness, when a commentary caught my eye.

The son of Henry Morris IV reported that his public school teacher presented the normal curricular material on prehistoric humans, and then “boldly told her students that these were only assumptions. She proceeded to give the biblical account of the origin of man–Adam through Noah, the dispersion at Babel, and the ‘filling of the earth’ that resulted as people groups [sic] spread out over a few thousand years. She ended her lesson by stating that she believed in the biblical account and encouraged her students to think critically–especially in relation to evolutionary assumptions they will hear in the future.”

Morris senior rapidly corresponded with the teacher, complimenting her on her stance, and encouraging her to continue. She got a stack of ICR books and other resources to help her on her way.

No, NCSE isn’t going to try to find out which school in the Dallas area Mr. Morris’s kid goes to, and then send in the storm troopers. Contrary to what creationists think, we help people at the grassroots to solve problems like this–we don’t swoop down in our black helicopters.

But wouldn’t it be nice if this teacher could be made aware of why she shouldn’t be doing this? If a teacher who held to tenets of Krishna Consciousness were teaching a lesson on the solar system, she would tell the kids that even if the scientists “believed” that the Sun is farther from Earth than the Moon, the Hindu Vedas tell us the truth: the Moon is millions of miles farther from the Earth than is the Sun. Would this creationist teacher (or the principal) give this teacher a pass because, after all, she was just expressing her religious opinions on science?

Ideally, the teacher could be shown how flat out scientifically wrong creationism is, and ideally students shouldn’t be mis-educated like this.

Perhaps when kids in that class came home and said, “Guess what we learned in school today, Mom?”, some parents reacted with enthusiasm, like the Morris family. But I’ll bet that some rolled their eyes and told their kid “just ignore that part of the lesson, dear. Learn the REAL science”.

What we need are parents in the latter category to step up and tell the teacher that she is wrong to both mis-educate students and promote her sectarian religious view. And if she doesn’t promise to stop, to take the matter up with the principal. Then, if the behavior doesn’t stop, they need to be willing to take stronger measures (which we can advise you on).  No, we’re not the storm troopers we are sometimes portrayed as, but teaching creationism in public schools is illegal and is a disservice to students, who need to know the essential science to help them make informed decisions in their lives.

What we also need are teachers who know of colleagues who are stepping over the line in this way to counsel their colleagues on how they are jeopardizing the district by violating classroom neutrality required by the first amendment. If one-on-one counseling won’t work, then the principal needs to be informed that one of the teachers is putting the district at risk for an expensive lawsuit that it will surely lose.

Because you know what? Young Mr. Morris’s class isn’t the only one where this sort of thing goes on. Usually it is hidden out of sight, rather than boasted about.