--This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered
--Cobb County Board of Education; March 28, 2002
Antievolutionists are an interesting group of people—as are Scientologists, mind-readers and the ever-so forward-looking people of the Flat Earth Society. The aforementioned groups are all easily dismissed as ignorant people with their heads in the collective sand, though there is a very real problem: they all vote. Anti-evolutionists; however, pose the greatest threat to American science education, and that's after the budget slashing and over-regulation and bad turnover and a whole host of other problems public education already faces.
This is the point where blood begins to boil; however, like all seemingly unending issues, this one, too, must be put in a historic context:
John T. Scopes, a teacher from Tennessee, was arrested and prosecuted in 1925 for teaching evolution in public school, setting in motion what would become a nearly 200 year legal war in the American public school system. Now, if you thought Scopes was done and over with in 1925, think again. The Butler act—the law that Scopes was arrested under in 1925—remained on the books until 1960. Shortly thereafter, Creationism was repackaged as Intelligent Design and was again taught in some public schools until the 2005 Dover Trial, which exposed ID as a tool for injecting religion into public schools. With no scientific backing, its proponents—mostly lawyers and a handful of failed academics—resorted to subtle subterfuge and flat-out falsehoods. The problem, at its core, is religious fundamentalism.
According to literal interpretations of the bible, it is impossible to accept evolution because it goes directly against Genesis and “original sin,” as clearly indicated by other organisms preceding humans. Thus, fundamentalists claim that acceptance of evolution must lead to the disbelief god, which further leads to materialism, communism, Nazism, etc. For those who think I'm extrapolating, the “recommended literature” section of the Discovery Institute boasts the titles “From Darwin to Hitler” and “Darwin's God: Evolution and The Problem of Evil” in the very first column. Science aside, their arguments often fall into the well known literary, logical fallacy of Pandora's Box—a sign of pure philosophic ignorance compounded with a pre-existing scientific one.
As absurd and unfounded their arguments are, the creationists never cease to amuse. Between the Creation Museum (which depicts humans riding dinosaurs,) statements that the world is 6000 years old or that fossils were “placed by god to test our faith,” the straight-faced delivery of these arguments is enough to cause a scientist to re-calibrate their lack of faith in humanity, or stay well humored, depending on your point of view. Either way, we are left with a simple question: with all of the creationist arguments seemingly thrown out the window, how are these people still able to wield any influence in public education?
Enter Michael Behe, an x-cell biologist who published the only paper in Nature making an argument for Irreducibility Complex. This was at the hight of the evolution debate in 2004 and, given the style of Nature, an article evaluating Behe's article was simultaneously published. It turns out that Behe's work was wholly unfounded and did not take into account any recent literature, once again proving the illegitimacy of creationism.
Despite global condemnation from scientists during the peer-review process, Behe's article was—and is—heralded as a legitimate biochemical argument against evolution by creationists and some politicians. While the jury is thankfully settled on keeping creation and other forms of pseudoscience out of the classroom, this 2004 article seems to be the last false-argument the creationists intend to pedal in the years to come. In the world of science, Behe's argument was immediately rendered to be incorrect, though in the world of politics, it might just be a while before we actually see the end of it.
Posted by Alexander Simolaris