Kansas: Why "ask your family" about Darwinism or ID won't work
I gather that the state of Kansas is about to switch back to standards that would not permit the questioning of Darwinism. In particular, when a student is wondering about whether fine tuning of the universe or March of the Penguins or some whatever suggest design, "The teacher should explain why the question is outside the domain of natural sciences and encourage the student to discuss the question further with his or her family and other appropriate sources."
A while back, a friend and I wrote a skit about what will likely happen:
STUDENT: Miss! Miss! I got a question. Last night Mom took my extreme games back to the store and made me watch some talking heads on a demo TV while she reamed out the manager for stocking those games. On the show, a guy said that the laws of physics and chemistry don’t really explain how life forms came to exist. But you say they do. So who’s right? Then this astronomer guy comes on and says the universe is so finely tuned that if you changed just one constant by one smidgen, we wouldn’t be here. Wow. What do you think about that?
TEACHER: I can’t answer your question. We are not allowed to talk about design. It is outside the domain of science.
STUDENT: These guys were scientists.
TEACHER: Well, they just don’t know what science is.
STUDENT So how come they have jobs then? Like, that one guy, he heads up some ...
TEACHER: Science is the activity of seeking only natural explanations of what we see. These persons are inferring design from the evidence. Scientists aren’t allowed to do that. You are not allowed to discuss intelligent design.
STUDENT: Isn’t that censorship, Miss?
TEACHER: It is certainly not censorship! I am told that you have to go to “your family or other appropriate source.”
STUDENT: Are you kidding? Mom got lousy marks in science. She dumped it before they got round to dissecting frogs. I wanna talk to someone who knows.
TEACHER: Ask your pastor then!
STUDENT: He doesn’t know this stuff. He mostly counsels people like Mom.
TEACHER: Well, ... perhaps a philosopher, then ...
STUDENT: Miss, in my neighborhood, I’d have better luck finding a space alien. Look, if you don’t know the answer, just admit ...
TEACHER: It’s NOT that I don’t know the answer! I’m not allowed to talk about ...
STUDENT: And you claim that’s not censorship? Give me a break!
TEACHER: If you say one more word, I will send you to the office and they’ll send you home!
STUDENT: You know what? That’s okay with me. I’m goin’. Even my mom isn’t as illogical as you! I bet I can find lots of stuff on the Internet.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.