From Dean Esmay:
There are people right now in Dover, Pennsylvania fighting to ban a completely harmless book called Of Pandas And People from public school science classes, against the express wishes of a majority of the parents. Tap-dance around it all you want, that is an attempt to ban a book from the classroom and censor ideas. You can put all the lipstick you want on this pig, with armwaving generalizations about “separation of church and state,” but the pig won’t get any prettier. It is censorship that is being advocated here, period. It will belong right on the ALA’s Banned books list, alongside The Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. If the Stalinist ACLU and the self-proclaimed “defenders of science” have their way, anyhow.
Let them have the debate. The kids will learn more from that than they ever will by simply regurgitating whatever’s in their Court-Approved textbooks, textbooks that are Carefully Filtered By The Commissars Of Science To Remove All Dangerous Thoughts.
And maybe, just maybe, the kids will learn that rigorous discussion and debate of ideas, weighing evidence and counterevidence, and learning and exploring are among the most wonderful things about science.
That link is in the original. Dean Esmay is referring to a post by Michael Balter. He notes that opinion polls show that Americans still don’t buy evolution as the best answer to life’s origins. He suggests this is because
“In large part, Americans’ skepticism toward evolutionary theory reflects the continuing influence of religion. Yet it also implies that scientists have not been persuasive enough, even when buttressed by strong scientific evidence that natural selection alone can account for life’s complexity.
Could it be that the theory of evolution’s judicially sanctioned monopoly in the classroom has backfired?”
Including Included amongst our most delightful friends is a homeschooling family who term themselves ‘approximate atheists.’ By this they mean that they are not at all interested in Christianity or Christianity’s God, but they are not dogmatic about it, and recognize that science has nothing conclusive to say about whether or not a deity exists. Both are scientists by degree, training, and employment. They have commented that evolutionary propaganda is extremely heavy handed that it actually backfires. This propagandistic approach is used in public schools, children’s television, the exhibits at the zoo, and museums, and the father of the family says that it’s dogmatic and so obviously designed to squelch any sort of debate that even though he believes completely in the facts of evolution darwinian evolution as factual, there are times he would find a contradiction of the propaganda refreshing.
He also notes that it is counterproductive. It’s not just evolution approached this way, but most sex education courses, the ‘just say no’ campaign, and multiculturalism- these and other issues are taught in a very shallow, sloganeering fashion designed to cut off all disagreement or independent thinking. He believes that kids are not as stupid as we think they are, and they sense when they are being fed propaganda rather than true learning, and they learn to shut off the propaganda- even if behind it there are truths.
This works in other areas, too, by the way, and the underlying principles here are part of why we do not prevent our children from ever hearing a word of dissent from our own views. A child brought up to believe that all ideas different from those he’s been taught are ‘stupid’ is going to be ripe for the plucking the first time he meets an intelligent person who disagrees with him- and that will happen about five minutes after he walks out the front door into the world.
But, as ever, I digress. Dean Esmay links to another excellent article, this one by Fred Reed, who asks, “Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in Pennslyvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our “hate-speech” laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same.”
Fred also notes that,
“the more incensed of the Evolutionists tend to be either of the hard Right or the hard Left: those who need to believe one thing categorically seem to need to believe other things categorically. Which means that if they are wrong, they are unlikely to notice it.
And this is what disturbs me about them. I do not object to the content of Evolutionism. Some, all, or part of it may be correct. I would like to know. A more fascinating question does not readily come to mind. But dispassionate discussion with them is not possible, anymore than it is with Gloria Steinem or Herbert Marcuse or Cornell West, and for exactly the same reasons. They are the same people. How sad.”
There are large and important questions here, of course- questions about the origins of life, the meaning of academic freedom, and the proper role of the courts in public schools, if any. A more personal question to consider is what and how we are teaching our children. Are there any topics where we substitute propaganda for carefully thought out ideas?
Clarification: My point is that we can teach even true things propagandistically (if that is not a word it still conveys my meaning), and this does the truth no service. I presume most parents have already examined what we believe. I think we should also examine how we teach what we believe.