Chancellor Hemenway's 1999 article on the evolution controversy in Kansas is worth reading. And as he says, if you think it can't happen in your state, think again. I heave a heavy sigh as the evolution trial gets underway in Dover, PA this week. A friend of mine who rejoiced when I moved from Red Kansas to Blue Pennsylvania said "If I didn't know better I'd think they were following you." But I love Kansas as much, I think, as I do my birth state of Pennsylvania, and it grieves me equally to see science assailed in any place.
Hemenway is disturbingly precise in describing why the Kansas Board of Education members present such a serious threat to scientific literacy, to science itself, and therefore to our society:
What has been overlooked in all the commotion is the philosophical premise underlying the thinking of the majority of the board. I believe that it wishes to destroy the idea that the public schools should be a source of truth or certainty. Whereas educational institutions - especially colleges and universities - define their mission as the pursuit of truth, the majority of the board seems to believe that the only sources of truth or certainty are the church and the family. According to that view, family values are expressed as the family's right to determine what a child shall believe, and religious values are expressed as theological beliefs that schools must accommodate. If scientific evidence conflicts with those religious beliefs, science must be rejected, no matter the weight of the evidence.
The irony of the position is worth contemplating. By rejecting scientific facts, and using the term "theory" in its lay meaning of speculation, rather than in its scientific meaning of an understanding that develops from observation, experimentation, and reflection, the Kansas Board of Education is trying to use the integrity of science to destroy science. If all science is "theory" then its uncertainty demotes it, and there is no question of its inferiority to religious faith.
It's a great strategy, isn't it? The enemy is not stupid, my friends. The enemy is very, very clever, and very, very strategic. And once science has been completely undermined and demoted, then the Discovery Institute version of Christian science can be installed.
A question that has occurred to me recently, however, is this: Who will do their science? Who will train their scientists? Will all the actual scientists be run out of the universities and the high school science classrooms, with a religious litmus test for science teachers - you know, a little like the purging of Jews from the universities in Germany in the 1930s? Where will their scientific expertise come from? Who will train the medical doctors? Or will they allow enough heathens to stay on so as to keep the machinery running? Kind of like science in the Soviet Union during the Lysenkoism phase?
I'm betting on Lysenkoism. They are too pragmatic to throw out the scientist with the evolution theory, so to speak. What shall we call it? IDism? Designism? I think Designism, because the ID forces talk about wanting to instill Design Theory principles across the board, not just in science, but as the basis for all society. Just as Chancellor Hemenway outlines above. God designed life this way, and so you must live this way. Sorry, Jews. Sorry, Muslims. Sorry, atheists. You'll all just have to get on board or be very, very quiet. Very, very sorry, homosexuals. You'll all just have to go away to another country, or die, or something. Note to teens struggling with their sexuality: the conservative Christians have an answer for you: No room for you at this inn.
Hey, didn't someone once say that to Jesus's Jewish mother and father?