Aug 15, 2005
The Kansas State Board Of Education voted August 9th to teach "intelligent design" along with evolution in Kansas science classes. If the final vote this fall confirms this decision, Kansas will join three other states in teaching religion in place of science.
President Bush endorsed the views of these reactionary board members, saying to reporters that he "felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." This sentiment is in line with what religious fundamentalists say about evolution: that it is only a theory. Yes, it is a theory – the ONLY theory that explains life on the planet and how it has changed in the four and a half billion years of the earth's existence.
Evolution is a theory in the sense that scientists call all scientific explanations "theories." "Theory" in science means a set of ideas that has actually been confirmed, above and beyond doubt, by observation, experiment and application. For example, electricity is explained based on the motion of tiny charged particles called electrons, which we have no way of seeing. But how can anyone deny that what scientists know about electrons must be true, when one can just look around and see this "theory" at work literally thousands of times a day? Inventors and engineers have used this idea, this "theory," to radically change our lifestyles and the face of the earth in the past century and a half. Without this theory, there would be no computers, no cars, no washing machines, no air conditioning.
In the same way, evolution and its mechanisms have been confirmed by observation, experiment and application. Evolution is the theory by which humans can understand the development of all living things, starting from the first life on this planet 3.85 billion years ago – which were bacteria – up to today, with the multitude of living things around us.
Too bad for the children of Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio and New Mexico. They will be prevented from understanding the way the world works, if this board majority has its way. They will be prevented from really understanding what scientists have been learning for the last 150 years, even before Darwin published Origin of Species. These children will be denied the means to develop a scientific approach to the world they live in.
In fact, if Bush and his supporters fully have their way, they would prevent the next generation from contributing to scientific research, from finding the next treatments in medicine. Only by understanding how life evolved could scientists come up with vaccines against viruses and antibiotics against bacterial infections.
With attitudes like those of the president, we would all still die in our 40s, like our great grandparents did. With attitudes like the president's, doctors would still hand out alcohol-based "tonics" to pretend to cure sicknesses. Without real scientific knowledge, humans would continue to die in epidemics of smallpox or malaria. Less than 100 years ago, a flu epidemic during 1918 and 1919 wiped out at least 25 million people worldwide.
Let Bush and his fellow-thinkers stop going to their doctors and start praying for cures. Let them return to the days of untreated water filled with sewage. Let the rest of us go forward.