A bizarre petition has been recently posted to a White House website that calls on President Obama to ban creation and intelligent design from schools (and by implication even Christian schools and homeschools). A petitioner in Virginia, identified only as “A.J.,” is demanding through a White House website called “We the People” that the Obama administration forbid ideas in school that contradict evolution. As of today, the petition—an effort labeled “Ban Creationism and Intelligent Design in the science classroom as federal law”—has garnered around 35,000 supporters. To be guaranteed an official response from the Obama administration, the petition must yield at least 100,000 signatures by July 15.1
Since Darwin's groundbreaking theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, scientists all around the world have found monumental amounts of evidence in favor of the theory, now treated as scientific fact by 99.9% of all scientists.
However, even after 150 years after the establishment of evolution, some schools across the US are “teaching the controversy,” including Creationism and Intelligent Design. Both of these so-called “theories” have no basis in scientific fact, and have absolutely zero evidence pointing towards these conjectures. These types of loopholes in our education are partially to blame for our dangerously low student performances in math and science.
Therefore, we petition the Obama Adminstration [sic] to ban the teachings of these conjectures that contradict Evolution.
Created: Jun 15, 2013
Even though the petition is a silly one, AiG was asked by two evangelical news services to comment on the growing notoriety of this White House petition.2 The petition has also been discussed on prominent secular sites, so we believed that it was time to comment on this website further.3 In addition, it allows us to use this frivolous petition to expose the intolerance of secularists.
This web article is largely an adaptation of our replies to the news agencies. The question posed by both reporters representing Christian news agencies was something on the order of the following: Since we live in an age known for tolerance, why are evolutionists so intolerantly seeking to ban an opposing view?
AiG responded that the anti-creationist petition is just one more example of the intolerance of secularists who want to censor any challenge to their evolution-based worldview. For all their claims that the pursuit of science should be done with free inquiry and tolerance for dissenting ideas, these same people are often the ones most intolerant of alternative beliefs. For these secularists the issue of creation vs. evolution is a part of their worldview system, for evolution is one of their excuses for not believing in a God and allows them to live their lives how they want—unaccountable to an absolute Authority and His absolute moral standards.
AiG pointed out to the news services that the idea of a petition to “Ban Creationism and Intelligent Design in the science classroom” through a federal law is silly anyway. First, the reality is that creation or intelligent design (ID) is not taught as part of the formal curriculum in any public schools we know of, though there are a small percentage of courageous teachers in the classroom who (legally) let their students know of some of the scientific objections to evolution. Second, if teachers or school boards attempt to incorporate ID into the curriculum, secular groups like the ACLU promise lawsuits. School districts are aware of this threat.
We noted, too, that the petition does not specifically mention only public schools, so it could also be viewed as opposing the teaching of creation or ID in Christian schools and homeschools. If this is the case, we are now seeing the intolerance of secularists being directed against Christians’ freedom to teach creation or ID in private settings.
It is a sad state of affairs when opponents have to resort to petitions and lawsuits to protect their beliefs. We think it reveals that these secularists are coming to recognize that molecules-to-man evolution is so weak in scientific terms that the only way to defend it is by suppressing any opposition, including by attempted political force.
Dr. Terry Mortenson, a popular speaker and researcher at AiG–U.S., made the following observation about the petition posted to the White House website:
Evolutionists should welcome scientific criticisms of their ideas in the classroom. If evolution is really true, then the exercise of helping the students see the fallacies in its criticisms will strengthen the students understanding of—and convictions about—evolution. This would make them better thinkers, thus leading to higher math and science scores on tests and raising America’s position in the international standings.
The teaching of evolution without question amounts to indoctrination rather than training students to learn to think critically and to discern the difference between assumptions, observations, and interpretations of the natural world. This petition states that a lack of evolution teaching has led to “dangerously low student performances in math and science.” But we contend that the fact that students are not allowed to question evolution, or hear what very qualified scientists are saying in opposition to evolution, is one reason American students rank so low in these subjects. They don’t know how to think, explore, and search for truth. Rather, they are told what to think, and they are also taught that they are not to question their teachers or their textbooks. This censorship greatly inhibits the development of truly scientific minds.
In light of the way that evolutionists are becoming more vocal and active in censoring creationists, we were asked by one media outlet if the culture was becoming more anti-Christian, and, if so, how could Christians respond? Well, we noted that even though America has more ministries, Christian bookstores, evangelical media outlets, and the like than it ever has before, this nation is becoming less Christian every day. For example, the Bible is no longer in schools, courts almost always rule against any hint of Christianity in the public arena, and evolution is used to undermine the Bible. Secularists have become even more intolerant of Christians because court decisions in their favor (plus other factors) have emboldened them to attack Christianity with greater fervor.
How should Christians best respond to such intolerance? Frankly, we are not very sanguine about using the courts, legislatures, and other avenues to bring about change from the top, unless there is also a grassroots effort to change people’s worldview thinking.
We noted to reporters, too, that it’s a red herring for evolutionists to claim there is a concerted national effort to mandate that creation or ID must be taught in public schools. All the leading creation and intelligent design groups that we are aware of do not believe it is wise to force instructors to teach creation or ID, for they will probably teach it poorly (using weak arguments or possibly even misrepresentation) if they are evolutionists.
Lastly, we were asked to comment on whether such a petition might have some success in slowing down the influence of the creation movement. We observed first of all that the White House petition will have no impact on how the teaching of origins is presented in public schools. For one, presidents don’t issue executive orders to ban certain kinds of teachings in schools. Rather, the development of science curricula is largely the domain of individual states and local school districts, not the executive branch of the U.S. government. We view this petition as frivolous and as another attempt to ridicule the thousands of scientists across the U.S and millions of Americans who reject evolution for solid scientific reasons and accept the Genesis creation account instead.4
While the White House petition site is intended to encourage civic participation, bizarre petitions like this one discourage serious discussion about such an important topic. Are there many subjects more important than addressing the question of where we all came from (and where we are headed)—creation or evolution? There is meaning and purpose in life if there is a Creator God, but purposelessness and meaninglessness without God.
In our recent dealings with the media about this petition, and as we have always maintained, Answers in Genesis made it clear to them that we are not in favor of mandating that either creation or intelligent design be taught in public school science classes. However, we believe that teachers already possess the academic freedom to point out the problems with the evolution model. In addition, we stated to them (as we noted above) that it’s a red herring to claim that there is an organized national effort to mandate that creation or ID be taught in public schools.
At the same time we explained that, contrary to what is commonly believed, science instructors do have the freedom to bring up evidence that supports a Designer. The well-known 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning creation in schools dealt with the issue of whether states can mandate that creation be taught along with evolution. But the Court did not say that teachers were not permitted to bring up alternative scientific ideas to evolution—just that they could not be forced to.
A better topic for a petition would have been something like this:
The White House should encourage (though not mandate) that students be able to scientifically critique controversial science topics, including evolution, in the public schools and discourage indoctrination. All students should learn to think critically and to discern the difference between assumptions, observations, and interpretations of the natural world. In this way, American students will rank higher in science and math.
In contrast, last year a brief video by Bill Nye, “The Science Guy” of PBS-TV fame, went viral on YouTube in which he claimed that America can’t be competitive in technology unless the nation teaches children evolution as fact. (See our article “Bill Nye’s Crusade for Your Kids.”) Such a claim ignores the fact that evolution and technology employ significantly different types of science, namely historical science and operational (observational) science respectively. Evolutionists try to reconstruct the unobservable past, and they are heavily influenced by worldview preconceptions. On the other hand, technology deals with present, repeatable phenomena, and the researcher’s worldview has little or no influence on the outcome. An engineer, for example, does not need an evolutionary outlook to design new cell phones, computers, and spaceships. Neither does a doctor need evolution to figure out how to cure a disease.5 There is not one example of one form of technology that has been the result of the teaching of molecules-to-man evolution.
The frequent repetition of this spurious claim about the connection between evolution and technology and now this petition indicate that something deeper is going on than a concern about science. It really is all about protecting an anti-God religion: evolution.
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