After Congress adopted a landmark statement in December calling for students to be exposed to a diversity of views when topics “such as biological evolution” are taught, a pro-Darwin group is absurdly trying to claim victory through creative reinterpretation of the legislative record.
In the Conference Report attached to the education reform bill passed in December, Congress declared that “where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.”
Most people would consider that statement an endorsement of the right of teachers to present both sides of the scientific controversy over evolution.
But not Eugenie Scott of the pro-evolution National Center for Science Education. Scott insists that the statement is “good news” for Darwinists and even suggests that Congress intended to discourage the teaching of alternatives to Darwin’s theory such as intelligent design.
Scott certainly deserves some kind of award for shameless spin control. Unfortunately for her, the legislative record is so clear that her creative attempt to reinterpret it can only be described as laughable. Even more incredibly, her current comments completely contradict views she expressed just a couple of months ago.
Congress’ recent statement on science education draws most of its wording from an earlier resolution crafted by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., that was adopted by an overwhelming 91-8 vote of the Senate last June. After the Senate vote, Eugenie Scott and fellow Darwinists spent months lobbying Congress to reject the Santorum resolution, claiming that it “mask[ed] an anti-evolution agenda” and that its wording originated with scholars opposed to Darwinism who embrace the theory of intelligent design.
But that was then, and this is now.
Once Congress as a whole adopted similar language, Scott did an about face and began to offer a pro-Darwin spin, citing one part of Congress’ statement that says “a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science.” According to Scott, this sentence means that Congress is discouraging teachers from covering scientific alternatives to Darwinism such as intelligent design theory.
Scott’s claim is patently absurd. The original Santorum resolution contained a virtually identical statement, but when that resolution was approved, Scott declared it was anti-evolution and originated with scholars promoting intelligent design. Now Scott says the opposite in order to protect her ideological agenda.
The reality is that Congress has voiced its support for teaching “the full range of scientific views that exist” about evolution. While that does not include things like biblical creationism, it unquestionably includes scientific criticisms of natural selection and random mutation as the mechanism for evolution as well as scientific alternatives to Darwinism such as intelligent design theory espoused by scientists like biochemist Michael Behe and biologist Jonathan Wells.
Contrary to claims by Scott, Congress clearly believed that students are best served when they are able to hear such dissenting views in science. This interpretation is backed up by statements made by Sen. Santorum, author of the original resolution.
On Dec. 18, Senator Santorum praised the language ultimately adopted by Congress as supporting academic freedom to study and to teach scientific views that may be critical of evolution. According to Santorum, “a number of scholars are now raising scientific challenges to the usual Darwinian account of the origins of life” and this includes scholars who “have proposed such alternative theories as intelligent design.” Santorum also quoted from a Utah Law Review article by David DeWolf, Stephen Meyer, and Mark DeForrest arguing for the inclusion in curriculum of scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution and of scientific alternatives to Darwinism like intelligent design theory.
Sen. Santorum’s comments clearly refute the after-the-fact attempts to rewrite history by close-minded Darwinists like Eugenie Scott.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this current flap is what it exposes about the mentality of some boosters of Darwinian evolution. While they claim devotion to the scientific method, their defense of evolution has all the trappings of a political campaign. So intent on defending Darwin’s theory, they even make things up rather than face an open discussion of evolutionary theory in science classrooms.
Such blind devotion to Darwinism seems more like dogmatism than science. It certainly has little to do with the open-minded critical approach that science is supposed to favor.
And Darwinists claim that it’s the critics of Darwin who are anti-science?
John West is a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and an associate professor of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University.