Northeast Indiana lawmakers experiment with bad science, misguided theology and a violation of constitutional principles in their push for creationism in the classroom.
Senate Bill 89, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, and Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. It would allow school districts to require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science – a requirement that inevitably would be adopted by some and certainly would draw legal challenge. It’s a legal challenge the state can’t win and shouldn’t tempt for many more reasons than the cost.
It’s scientifically unsound. Indiana’s current science standards require students to know that Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, is supported by a massive array of biological and fossil evidence. For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be verifiable. Evolution makes clear predictions that are borne out by data in geology, anatomy, genetics, molecular biology, physiology and more. Creationism ignores the same scientific evidence.
It’s theologically unsound. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests, states the Christian Clergy Letter, part of the Clergy Letter Project organized by former Butler University Dean Michael Zimmerman and endorsed by thousands of clergymen across the nation, including some in Fort Wayne. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator.
It’s bad for business. Good schools are a key to drawing economic investment because employers want a well-educated workforce and they need strong schools as an incentive to lure the best employees. How can a state positioning itself as a leader in the life sciences expect to recruit and retain top researchers in that field and others if it is perceived as an intellectual backwater?
It’s unconstitutional. The founders included the Establishment Clause to prevent any governmental endorsement or support of religion. Creationism is a religious theory of the origin of life.
In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in Edwards v. Aguillard found that teaching creationism as science in public schools violated the Establishment Clause. In 2005, a federal district court ruled in Kitzmiller v. Dover that a public school district’s requirement of teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution constituted a promotion of religion. The school board agreed to pay more than $1 million in legal fees and damages.