WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Why can’t intelligent design be taught, too?, which appears in the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
We’ll copy today’s letter in its entirety, omitting only the writer’s name and city, and add our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. The bold font was added for emphasis. Here we go:
I read with interest the editorials and letters on the subject of evolution versus intelligent design. I will state up front that my issue is not which one is correct. I personally believe that there is a God and that He created the universe in general and human beings in particular.
I don’t want to debate with others who disagree with me. I am not interested in changing their opinion or forcing my opinion on them. Please reciprocate.
The letter-writer is wise not to argue about which is correct; and we’ll be pleased to reciprocate with his expressed disinterest in changing our opinion or forcing his opinion on us — provided he will do the same. (Hint: he doesn’t follow his own rule.) Let’s read on:
The issue I am concerned about is this: I don’t want anyone to force their opinion on my children and grandchildren attending schools funded in part by my tax dollars.
That objection is often expressed — But I’m a taxpayer! As taxpayers, we can always find things the state does with our funds of which we disapprove. But merely being taxpayers doesn’t give us the option of selecting the laws we’ll comply with, disregarding others, and using our tax receipts as a justification for imposing our personal beliefs on our fellow citizens.
The states are required by their constitutions to provide public schools (it wasn’t always so — state supported education started around the 1840s), and state action inevitably requires a degree of coercion. There are solutions — homeschooling is one, and a constitutional amendment to dis-establish the schools is another. Otherwise, state schools are going to teach science, and they’re forbidden to promote religion. That’s how it is.
Neither your beliefs and theories nor mine can be proved. No matter how many letters are written or arguments offered, they will most likely have little to no impact on changing the beliefs of those on either side of the argument.
We could write a whole essay on that. The letter-writer doesn’t consider that some beliefs can be definitely dis-proved, and such is the case with what we assume is the letter-writer’s belief in Noah’s Ark, but let’s not dwell on that. We agree that we can’t change his mind. Here’s more:
You can accept evolution, intelligent design, or both, and it is irrelevant to the real issue. The contentious issue is that only one of these theories is allowed to be presented, and presented as fact, in our educational systems.
Yes, it’s entirely true that creationism (and ID) aren’t presented, but that’s because they’re religious doctrines. As for astrology, flat-earth, alchemy, and a thousand other non-scientific beliefs, whether or not they’re religious, they’re quite properly left out of science classes because they’re nonsense. Moving along:
As a believer in intelligent design, I ask that it be taught as another widely accepted and reasonable option. I am not asking that evolution be left out of the discussion. I am only asking that intelligent design be given equal time and included as a reasonable option.
The letter-writer is correct, alas, that ID is widely accepted (among the scientifically ignorant), but despite its popularity among the uneducated, it’s not a scientifically reasonable option. Request denied. Here’s another excerpt:
This is not an issue of government-funded teaching of religion.
Oh, but that’s exactly what it is. And now we come to the end:
It is simply teaching the views held by a significant number of residents in this country. That is fact. This is not an attempt to convert anyone. It is simply teaching the reality of the opinions that exist.
[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]
What can we say? That was certainly a polite letter, and its author didn’t make any of the crazy claims that we often see in such letters, like the frequent assertion that there’s no evidence to support evolution. He just wants his own ideas given equal time — never mind that he started out saying he didn’t want to force his views on anyone. He wants the state to do it for him because he’s a taxpayer. What’s wrong with that?
The answer is that not all ideas — even popular ones — belong in science class. When his creationist beliefs gain scientific acceptance, they will be taught in the schools. Until then, if he wants his kids to receive a creationist education he’ll have to settle for homeschooling. Oh, he has yet another option — he could run for election to the school board and from there he can try to get his views accepted as part of the curriculum. It’s the Texas solution.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.