Inherit the Wind Redux

Inherit the Wind Redux

by Alice Graves, December 2009

Eighty years after the Scopes "Monkey Trial" that inspired the play and later the movie Inherit the Wind, the debate on teaching evolution versus creationism in the classroom rages on. Although the setting has shifted from Tennessee to Georgia the sentiment is eerily familiar.

Educators on Georgia's Cobb County School Board recently approved the pasting of stickers in high school biology textbooks stating that evolution is merely "a theory, not a fact." Needless to say, these small paper stickers kicked up a big old firestorm. In fact, Cobb County parents and the ACLU have since sued, claiming the stickers were a violation of the separation between church and state. Cobb County, the second largest school district in Georgia, has countered by stating that the stickers are a good faith effort to address questions that are sure to arise during the teaching of evolution.

Cobb County is just one of many school districts across the country opting to teach views other than evolution, such as "intelligent design...."

Cobb County however is just one of many school districts across the country opting to teach views other than evolution, such as "intelligent design" [otherwise known as creationism], in the biology classroom.

Similar debates have arises in twenty-four states this year alone, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas and Pennsylvania, according the web site for the National Center for Science Education. A disclaimer for example appears in Alabama biology textbooks stating: "No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered theory, not fact."

Ladies and Gentlemen, there may be cause for worry...

According to the National Science Teachers Association, "evolution is a major unifying concept in science" and if it is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy needed to compete in the world. Explanations of the natural world based on religious values may be personally relevant, but they are not scientific, according to NSTA.

Members of the scientific community are concerned that our anti-science stance will result in a scientific "brain drain," sending our most brilliant scientists to countries that encourage and support scientific advancement.

The Supreme Court has ruled that "creation science" is merely a religious idea and to advocate it in public schools is unconstitutional.

Since history is doomed to repeat itself, expect another monkey trial in the next few years. Let's hope that this time it is not held in a kangaroo court.