I keep having to check the calendar to make sure it’s still 2011. With all the anti-evolution bills being proposed in various state legislatures, it feels like those of us who are pro-science are fighting the same battles over again. When outright young-Earth Creationism was deemed to be a violation of the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause, Creationism evolved into “creation science” and later into Intelligent Design.
The latest wave of anti-evolution bills are a continuation of the “teach the controversy” and “teach the flaws” of evolution. As Lauri Lebo writes in Scientific American, some are even (with a bizarre irony) using John Scopes as an argument. Scopes, of course, was the high school teacher who agreed to be the ACLU’s test against Tennessee’s anti-evolution law in 1925. To say that he would support the current slate of anti-evolution bills is pretty absurd, of course, and to draw inspiration from his courage is also straining my capacity for goodwill.
First of all, it’s hardly a bold statement to be a Creationist. As I’ve said in previous posts, being a Creationist in the 18th century was a potentially reasonable position and departing from that would have been bold; today, being a Creationist is a rejection of modern science, since none of the evidence is on the side of Creationism. It’s not rebellious to reject ideas you don’t like in favor of ideas that are frankly incorrect. There are controversies within biology (which I am decidedly not qualified to talk about) just as there are controversies in physics (which I am), but evolution itself isn’t controversial. The MOND supporters I wrote about earlier possibly are brave souls, but time will tell and the burden of proof lies on them. Creationism was weighed in the balance and found wanting years ago, and it’s not at all bold to continue to hold onto that viewpoint long after its day has passed.