NPR’s Morning Edition recently had a story on Northwestern High school in Baltimore. Students there have been struggling to pass the state science test. The interesting part of this story is the muddled but all-too-common way the featured biology teacher handles students’ perception of conflict between their religious beliefs and Darwinian theory.
According to the teacher, what students’ churches and families told them about God creating the world is not wrong; rather, it is just not based on “fact.”
You’ve got your area of faith. You’ve got the things your parents have taught you, your church has taught you. And all those things are good. But because we’re in a science class, science is not based on faith. Science is based on fact. But I’m not saying this is right or wrong. All I’m telling you is this is on your [test].
This is one of the most patronizing lines in the debate over Darwinism and public schools. Call me simple, but if something isn’t based in fact, why isn’t it wrong? To believe something is to believe it to be true. To believe something is true is to believe that it corresponds to reality–or to put it another way, the facts about the world.
Perhaps when discussing Darwinian theory, concerned parents at school board meetings should say, “I’m not against the teaching of Darwinism. It is all well and good; it’s just that it is not based on facts. The fossil record, DNA experiments, and the presence of irreducibly complex systems merely show that acceptance of Darwinism is not based on factual considerations. It is not wrong though; it is all well and good. I mean, you are still allowed to believe it at home or at the civic club even though it is based on things other than facts–just not in our science classes.”