The New York Times had an interesting front-page story yesterday about recent setbacks to the teaching of evolution in government schools.

One statement really stuck out when I read the piece. It was made by Hume A. Feldman, a cosmologist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He said, according to the Times, that developments in his state bore a distant resemblance to the difficulties of political scientists under Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, and that he feared that such pressures could impair the educational system.

I’m glad, at least, that the Times and Feldman had the good sense to qualify that pronouncement with the adjective “distant.” Indeed, the efforts by parents and other concerned citizens in Kansas to ensure their children are not indoctrinated with religious viewpoints and theories in conflict with their own is a very distant analogy to the heavy-handed government indoctrination requirements in Communist Eastern Europe.

In fact, I would say that the efforts of government and other elitists with a political agenda to force their beliefs down the throats of students, whether disguised in scientific jargon or not, bears a much more striking resemblance to the practices of Communist and socialist regimes throughout the world. As a matter of fact, Communists made a special point of teaching that God played no role in the creation of the universe and mankind.

The Times further reports that the Kansas school board, which voted in August to remove evolution from its education standards, was “influenced by a handful of scientists whose literal faith in the Bible has helped convince them that the universe is only a few thousand years old.”

Not quite true, again, I’m afraid. In fact, a growing number of scientists are adopting the “young Earth” theory — some of them atheists, some of them agnostics and some of them subscribers to Eastern religions. Some non-believing scientists have even come to their faith through their scientific inquiry for the truth about the formation of the universe and origins of man.

Then the Times reporter, James Glanz abandons any pretense at objectivity and jumps directly into the argument as an advocate for the evolutionists and old Earth proponents.

“The biggest problem for the young Earth creationists,” he writes, “is explaining the time that has apparently passed since the light we see from distant galaxies was emitted. Given the constancy of the speed of light and estimates of the distance between Earth and faraway galaxies, it is difficult to explain how Earth and the cosmos could be young.”

The Times reporter then belittled a theory of some creationists that the speed of light might actually have been faster in the past.

“Indeed, high-precision measurements of the speed of light and other crucial physical constants have revealed no detectable change in their values over recent time,” the Times said.

Actually, the idea that the speed of light might actually be declining is not some far-out religious notion at all, but one being put forward by scientists only very recently to answer a whole panoply of physics problems.

John D. Barrow, the new professor of mathematical sciences at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at the University of Cambridge and author of “Between Inner Space and Outer Space,” published by Oxford University Press, is one such scientist. Just this summer he wrote about the theory in the New Scientist magazine.

“The idea is simple to state but not so easy to formulate in a rigorous theory, because the constancy of the speed of light is woven into the warp and weft of physics in so many ways. However, when this is done in the simplest possible way, so that the standard theory of cosmology with constant light speed is recovered if the variation in light speed is turned off, some remarkable consequences follow,” he wrote in an article July 24. “If light initially moved much faster than it does today and then decelerated sufficiently rapidly early in the history of the universe, then all three cosmological problems — the horizon, flatness and lambda problems — can be solved at once.”

In other words, folks, we don’t know what we don’t know. And that’s as good reason as any not to teach what we don’t know as fact to kids forced to attend government schools. There are many good arguments against government education, but the fact that so many turn into state-sponsored propaganda mills and miseducation camps is the best reason of all.

Some of the very brightest people in the world today believe the universe is actually quite young. Some of the very brightest people throughout history have believed this — men like Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus and Maury. Why is it so vital to the new gods of scientific correctness that every schoolkid in America be taught only their theories of the universe and the origins of man?

Could it be that their theories just won’t stand up to challenge? Could it be they don’t pass the tests of the scientific method? Aren’t there enough scientific principles upon which we all agree to share with our kids in compulsory government education?

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