The Oakland-based NCSE has a recent online article about the Grantsburg, Wisconsin, School Board’s revised policy on the teaching of evolution. CSC’s press release on the Grantsburg policy is located here.)
The policy states:
Students are expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information. Students shall be able to explain the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. This policy does not call for the teaching of creationism or intelligent design.
The Grantsburg Board acted wisely in adopting a policy based in part on language from an existing Texas education standard. The policy is carefully crafted so as to keep the focus upon the scientific arguments for and against evolutionary theory, rather than any alternative scientific theory such as intelligent design (or creationism, for that matter). The Grantsburg Board’s approach thus mirrors the “teach the controversy” approach to chemical and biological evolution that has been adopted at the state level in Ohio, Minnesota and New Mexico.
Oddly enough, the nay-saying NCSE went to great lengths to promote an effort by a group of pastors in Wisconsin who opposed the sound policy. The pastors wrote a two-paragraph public letter opposing the Grantsburg Board’s decision (available here). After a sermon-esque first paragraph, the pastors go on to declare that a person’s rejection of evolutionary theory amounts to “a rejection of the will of our Creator.” Apparently, raising scientific criticisms of chemical or biological evolutionary theories places people’s souls in mortal peril! Fortunately, for the citizens of Grantsburg, the will of their popularly-elected school board prevailed over such sectarian, theological objections.
As John West pointed out in National Review Online, “as a private group, the NCSE has every right to use religion to promote its pro-Darwin agenda, whether or not it is sincere.”
This is true. Yet this is NOT the first time the NCSE has explicitly relied upon religion to promote its Darwin-only views. For instance, in one publication, the NCSE’s Eugenie Scott recommended students interview pastors in their community to get their views on evolution. Particularly interesting are her words of warning:
The survey-of-ministers approach may not work if the community is religiously homogeneous, especially if that homogeneity is conservative Christian, but it is something that some teachers might consider as a way of getting students’ fingers out of their ears.
A similar, religion-based promotion of their agenda is discussed by Francis Beckwith in an American Spectator article entitled “Government-Sponsored Theology”.
Perhaps Grantsburg’s fortunate rejection of the pastors’ theological condemnation will cause the NCSE to re-think their religious pitch for evolutionary theory and instead prompt them to focus on the scientific evidence. Perhaps not. Meanwhile academic freedom gets a green light in Grantsburg.