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Atheist Michael Zimmerman Pleas For Consistency: How That Would Effect the Teaching of Evolution In Schools

March 6, 2013

Poisoning-the-WellAtheist Dr. Michael Zimmerman has written another alarmist HuffPu puff piece claiming that Barbara Cargill, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, is trying to sneak creationism into public schools.

Cargill’s sin is that she advocates “teaching another side to the theory of evolution.” Despite accurately quoting her as saying that faith-based theories should be taught at home or in church, not in the public school classroom, Zimmerman attempts to poison the well by suggesting that when she says we need to teach another side to the theory of evolution, she reeeeeeeeeally means that we need to teach religion-based alternatives. Because he has grossly distorted her meaning, he goes on to accuse her of being inconsistent with the stated position of the Methodist Church which roundly condemns teaching creationism in public schools.

But that’s not what she’s saying. Here’s what she said:

“Our intent, as far as theories with the [curriculum standards], was to teach all sides of scientific explanations. … But when I went on [to the CSCOPE website, ] last night, I couldn’t see anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution. Every link, every lesson, everything, you know, was taught as ‘this is how the origin of life happened, this is what the fossil record proves,’ and all that’s fine, but that’s only one side.”

CSCOPE is a curriculum management tool developed by Education Service Centers around the state and used by many school districts. Cargill’s point was that if CSCOPE reflected the intent of Texas’ curriculum standards, it would not present a one-sided view of all-natural evolution. Instead, it would teach BOTH the strengths AND weaknesses of evolution.

Teaching evolution critically is not the same thing as teaching a religion-based alternative. I realize that as an atheist Zimmerman has to poison the well somehow. He is misconstruing her as saying she wants creationism taught in schools, because he no doubt realizes that if all-natural evolution is taught critically in schools, students may reject it in favor of religion-based alternatives. And that is a possibility, but that doesn’t mean that schools are overtly advocating any religion-based alternatives by exposing children to non-religious criticisms of evolution [the abiogenesis problem, the gaps in the fossil record, irreducible complexity, whence came the information, etc].

In fact, if we were being consistent, we could not advocate the uncritical teaching of all-natural undirected evolution in public schools even one day longer! You see, if we were to call the teaching of evolution’s weaknesses unConstitutional on the basis that it could add credence to a religion-based alternative, we have a problem: humanism is recognized by the Supreme Court as a religion and undirected evolution is one of it’s central tenets, so if we cannot teach something because it might support a religion, we could not consistently teach all-natural evolution in schools in the uncritical manner we have been doing so in lest we support the recognized religion of humanism!

I wonder if Zimmerman realizes that he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face when he opposes the critical teaching of evolution rather than an uncritical, one-sided indoctrination.

Here’s to hoping the country adheres to a consistent application of the establishment Clause rather than Zimmerman’s dream of a fascist humanist state.

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