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Let’s all talk about creationism in schools ranging from Louisiana to South Dakota

South Dakota now wants to teach creationism/intelligent design in its schools. (Creationism is basically the idea that life, Earth and the universe are the product of a supernatural being, i.e. God.) Problem is, since about 1968, it’s been illegal to teach creationism in schools — even if it’s what is being taught on Sundays to kids — because it’s a particularly religious viewpoint. Here are some landmark court cases on the matter.

Thing is, you can teach creationism in schools — just check this map, for example (click the link for the full map of the U.S.)

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Louisiana (via this bill) and Tennessee (via this bill) essentially allow creationism to be taught in their public schools; you can also see it in about a dozen other states, from Arizona (about 15 schools) to Florida (about 164 schools) to Wisconsin (about 15 schools).

There’s a whole controversy in Texas right now (not a huge surprise) because the four main LTG candidates all believe in creationism — or rather, believe it should be taught in schools.

Alright, let’s chop it up on the basic debate here.

Con: It’s illegal and that illegality has been proven multiple times by the Supreme Court, so … maybe we should all lay off.

Pro: Give kids different opinions and views and literature on each side and let them draw their own conclusions (don’t most job applications ultimately ask for “critical thinking” skills?).

Con: Evolution has been proven, creationism hasn’t been proven, so …

Pro: It’s a little bit odd for a student in a more-religious community to spend their Sunday discussing God’s ultimate role in the development of life and the world, then go back to Monday and the Galapagos Islands and all that. Again, hopefully it fosters critical thinking. Maybe it just fosters confusion.

Con: If you start letting religion full-on into public schools, what happens next?

Pro: If you completely disavow creationism, are you essentially telling those students that the Holy Bible is wrong on most accounts?

There are a bunch of other points, made more saliently here, here, and here, that inform the discussion more. My basic attitude probably goes back to the first point: if something has been dictated as illegal through multiple court cases, we should probably let it lie as illegal. I mean, this is a big stretch, but if people keep pushing and creationism is allowed in schools, what other long-held law tenets could be flipped? Could murder be fine in certain contexts? (Again, a bit melodramatic.) I believe in most of the Bible (not all) and I hope creationism is at least somewhat accurate, because that would provide a slightly rosier picture of life-after-death, but I also think its place in public schools is probably a wash at this point. But the fight shall rage on, as that map indicates.

Ted Bauer

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