Monday, April 2, 2007

How Cowardice by the Secular Helps the Religious Right

From the National Committee on Science Education:

   A creationist measure in the Tennessee state senate is raising eyebrows…
  
Senate Resolution 17, introduced in the Tennessee state senate on February 21, 2007, by Raymond Finney (R-District 8), would, if enacted, "request the commissioner of education to provide answers to questions concerning creationism and public school curriculums in Tennessee," beginning with;

"Is the Universe and all that is within it, including human beings, created through purposeful, intelligent design by a Supreme Being, that is a Creator?"

If the answer is yes, then SJR 17 poses the further question;

"Since the Universe, including human beings, is created by a Supreme Being (a Creator), why is creationism not taught in Tennessee public schools?"

If the commissioner declines to answer onthe grounds that it is impossible to prove or disprove any answer, then SJR 17 poses the further question;

"Since it cannot be determined whether the Universe, including human beings, is created by a Supreme Being (a Creator), why is creationism not taught as an alternative concept, explanation, or theory, along with the theory of evolution in Tennessee public schools?"

And if the answer is no, then SJR 17 poses no further questions, remaining content to express admiration of the commissioner "for being able to decide conclusively a question that has long perplexed and occupied the attention of scientists, philosophers, theologians, educators, and others."

For the text of SR 17 (PDF), visit: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/bills/currentga/BILL/SR0017.pdf .

For the whole story go to http://www.nashvillepost.com/news/2007/2/26/senate_resolution.

The intent of the resolution is obvious; if the Commissioner of Education answers as a theist, then the question may be sensible - why not teach Creationism since even the Commissioner believes Creationism is “truth.”  If the Commissioner waffles and says Creation cannot be proven or disproven, then the logic supports Creation as an “alternative” theory to the other “unprovable” theory.

Both answers are inappropriate.  The truth is that there is no scientific evidence of Creation or Design, and much evidence of evolution and Natural Selection, and that is what the Commissioner must say.

This latter answer MUST be the answer the Commissioner gives.  If there were any evidence for Creation or Design, there would be a scientific basis for those ideas – but there isn’t.

And at the risk of horrifying every theist in Tennessee, the only answer must be the truthful one given by the Commissioner: that since there is no scientific evidence for Design or Creation and abundant evidence for Natural Selection, only evolution may be taught in science class.

The escape hatch for the embattled Commissioner is this: although abundant evidence for Natural Selection and evolution exists and there is a total lack of evidence of Design and/or Creation, this does not constitute a “proof” of the non-existence of God.

Many theists will not be happy about these honest answers, but all other answers would be either be lies or outright cowardice.

Here’s a prediction: cowardice or ignorance will rear its ugly face.  No Commissioner in Tennessee will declare there is no evidence for Creation and keep his job.  If he/she’s brave he’s done; if he/she’s a coward, he/she stays.

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