Monday, September 29, 2008


Which Trials?

This story has been kicking around awhile. The Brunswick County, North Carolina, school board wants to teach creationism in its public schools. The state's Department of Public Instruction has been pretty clear that they can't. Edd Dunlap, science section chief for the department stated that neither creationism nor Intelligent Design may be taught as a required course of study. The department has expanded on that now:

The state school system says that, although creationism cannot be taught in science class or as a standard course of study, it can be taught as part of an elective. It can also be included in history class, as long as it's presented as a cultural perspective along with all other religions and not promoted over any religions or secularism, said Tracey Greggs, social studies chief with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

"Because our society is so pluralistic, it would not be beneficial to teach one religion over another," Greggs said.

Any attempt to craft some elective course that includes creationism might not be all that successful. The high school already offers a Bible as Literature elective but it's not being taught this year because no students signed up for it.

Just to get an idea of the level the "debate" involved, one of the parents who initiated this flap, Joel Fanti, recently had this to say:

It just amazes me some of those responses, how venomous they have been. I don't even know what their definition of religion is. I can argue their views on evolution are a religion, too, because it can't be proven.

So, anything that can't be "proven" (to Joel Fanti's satisfaction) is automatically a "religion"? The mind boggles at the breadth of religion some people see in the world. But we have evidence of where Fanti's attitude comes from: Fanti's pastor, the Rev. Brad Ferguson, had this to say:

There is some scientific evidence supporting creationism. Kids should be presented both sides. … You can't isolate disciplines. Science and faith – they go together.

Except for the fact that they treat completely different subjects, of course.

But here's the funny/sad part:

After reading e-mails by people disgruntled about the idea of teaching creationism, hearing about the state's point of view and consulting with attorney Kathleen Tanner, [school board Chairwoman Shirley] Babson said she thinks the board will not try to go against the law to teach creationism, although she would like to see it in the classroom one day.

Fanti said he learned about the court cases after addressing the board and now thinks the idea of teaching creationism as part of the curriculum will be crushed. But he plans to ask the school board to encourage "evolutionists" in the schools to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of their theory.

"Instead of making it a religious issue, let's make it a scientific issue," said Fanti, who identifies himself as a chemical engineer.

Another data point for the Salem Hypothesis and another data point for the observation that loudly-proclaimed religion is no guarantee of honesty or respect for the law of the land.

What are the odds that Fanti came to that particular epiphany all on his own? I think I called this one.

Wesley R. Elsberry
Heh! I wouldn't be a bit surprised. The DI has to be in a bit of a bind. They have to show some progress if they are going to keep attracting donations. Yet, since the Debacle in Dover, all they have is a semi-connection to a preaching-to-the-choir box office flop and one law passed in Louisiana, that may do more harm than good to creationists there, compared to a string of losses in other states. Furthermore, no matter who wins the presidency, they may have hit the high-water mark of justices willing to consider allowing creationism in public schools. Whether they like it or not, the DI may have to take the next case they get and run with it.
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