The U.S. ranks 25th internationally in terms of educational scores in mathematics and 17th in science.
Is it really any wonder?
We have been witness to a growing hostility to science and an indifferentism to the absolutes of scientific truths from religious fundamentalists for several decades. I’ve elaborated on the dangers of this trend in a past article.
The local manifestation of this phenomenon has been the attempt by some to attempt to introduce “creationism” as an element of the science curriculum in the Southbridge school system.
Yesterday’s Southbridge News contains a letter to the editor from a group of self-proclaimed middle-schoolers titled “Creationism should be taught in school”. The letter says in part:
We believe that if the school system is teaching one theory, it should also teach the other. If we don’t teach one theory, we shouldn’t teach the other. If we don’t teach both theories, we are unfairly influencing each student’s mind. If we don’t teach one or the other, we shouldn’t teach either. To not teach either would be to not teach science at all.
We suggest that we should have two science classes in schools. One for teaching in a creationist view, and one for teaching an evolutionist view.
I am not going to get into a deep discussion of the philosophy of science. Suffice it to say that the adoption or prevalence of any scientific theory has a great deal to do with its overall explanatory power as well as its guidance in further research. As an example, there are many elements of quantum mechanics that cannot yet be explained, but its predictive ability has been repeatedly demonstrated in practical experiments and technological application. The “theory” of “creationism” simply does not offer any of these factors in comparison to the theory of evolution.
The reductio ad absurdum of this approach could be seen in its potential application in mathematics; specifically geometry.
One of the most famous mathematical statements in the Bible is in I Kings 7:23-26, describing a large cauldron, or "molten sea" in the Temple of Solomon. Based upon this passage, the mathematical value of pi is 3. Shall we consider adopting this as an alternative approach to geometry? Before you rule this out as absurd consider the following.
In 1897 Representative T.I. Record of Posen County Indiana introduced House Bill #246 in the Indiana House of Representatives. The bill sought to legislate the statewide definition of the value of pi as 3 in conformity with the biblical tradition. The bill was actually passed by the House before being allowed to quietly die in the Senate.
Or, alternatively, should medical schools be required to give courses in the achievement of “perfect faith” with the goal of achieving healing through the laying on of hands? I think not.
Scientific theories are not immutable. Physics has relatively recently shown the validity of Einstein’s “cosmological constant” which even he always regarded as a “gloss”. The theories related to the demise of the dinosaurs have undergone substantial revision over the last half century resulting primarily from space-based photography and subsequent geological evidence verifying a massive extraterrestrial object crashing into the Yucatan area contemporaneous with the mass extinction.
Whatever “evidence” supposedly supports “creationism” comes nowhere close to challenging the evidence and predictive power of the current Darwinian model. To say that they are of equivalent value is the basest form of sophistry.“Creationism” is as illegitimate a “scientific theory” as that of Lysenko propagated under Stalin.
It is not contemporary science that is” unfairly influencing each student’s mind.” It is an uncritical indifferentism that is incapable of reconciling matters of faith with the perceptual and experimentally verifiable truths about reality offered by science. This prevalent and aggressive “know-nothingism” is one of the greatest threats to the future of America in an ever increasingly competitive world.