Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Question of Freedom

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a rabid defender of separation of church and state.

I think that here in the South, where religion is particularly pervasive, and sometimes quite extremist, it is especially important to maintain those boundaries.

A while back I took issue with an incident that ocurred at Diminutive One's school, wherein he was castigated by another child for not being a Christian. Ultimately, the situation was resolved without too much drama. But since then, there has been a distinct chill from the other room parents as well as the teacher, and a subtle but unmistakeable exclusion.

This is nothing new to me. I've experienced this kind of thing time and time again.

On several occasions, fledgling friendships that I had hoped would turn into something really special and enduring, fizzled and died when I realized that I was just another soul to add to their tally. Once they found that I wasn't interested in being saved, I was dropped like a hot potato.

And, a time or two, I'm sure I was dropped because it was decided that I wasn't worthy of someone's friendship because I didn't share their beliefs. Because I was being judged as less of a human being. Because it was assumed that I did not have a strong moral bearing.

Sometimes, that really hurts my feelings.

But most of the time, I'd rather not have to deal with people who would judge someone based only on their religious beliefs and I count myself well rid of them.

That's neither here nor there, really. But it is yet another argument for the fact that religion has no place in schools.

What I really want to talk about today is this:

State Legislators Seek Bills to Allow Questioning of Evolution Theory in Schools

Go read it, I'll wait.

You're back? Okay.

This disturbs me a great deal. Because although it is being pandered as "academic freedom" to practice "critical analysis" of evolution, it's really nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to once again introduce creationism and intelligent design into a secular learning environment.

It's tacitly ridiculous.

I have faith that this bill will not pass in most states where it has been introduced. But the really frightening thing is that although I don't think it's likely to pass here either, I suspect that it will get a great deal of support.

Kathy Cox, Georgia's Superintendant of Education, got a LOT of support in 2004, when she proposed the prohibition of the term "evolution" in Georgia schools, in favor of the term "biological changes over time" which would open the door for teaching theological concepts in conjunction with scientific ones.

She was quoted as saying:

"This wasn't so much a religion vs. science, politics kind of issue. This was an issue of how do we ensure that our kids are getting a quality science education in every classroom across the state."

Translation:

"This was an issue of how do we ensure that our kids are being taught widely accepted religious theory without violating constitutional precepts that protect against such abuses?"

Thankfully, a coalition of teachers, legislators and parents lobbied successfully to defeat the proposal. But it was too close for my comfort. Frankly, the fact that such a proposal was even made raises my eyebrows. The fact that she wasn't laughed right out of office on a tide of public disapproval and personal humiliation is enormously disconcerting.

I am lucky enough to have a group of wonderfully intelligent women with whom to discuss such things. Several of them are women of faith. They never fail to give some well-reasoned perspective minus the judgementalism and righteous indignation.

One of those women, who knows how to diffuse my outrage by appealing to my irrevent sense of humor, quipped:

"Next they will throw out Einsteins's theory of relativity in favor of 'God did it'."

Another, whom I would love to quote but won't because it was a private conversation and because I have not asked permission to use her words, played devil's advocate by asserting that they are all in essence, just theories. So why not allow other theories to be taught? Not to promote a religious agenda, but to provide a more well rounded perspective on ALL the plausible theories?

That was a good point, and I really had to think about it.

First, I don't believe that creationism or intelligent design are plausible theories. Not to mention that there is not one iota of proof to support these substantiations.

Teaching creationism and intelligent design in schools would be like teaching a course on Fairies. While I certainly believe that magic and whimsy have their place, and a valuable one at that, I most emphatically do not want my children building a belief system upon them.

Evolution is, if not entirely proven, at least supported by the fossil record, human or pre-human remains, and mitochondrial DNA sampling. Though I do not believe in the literal personification of Eve as described in Genesis, I do think that theMitochondrial Eve theory makes a great deal of sense. And, once again, lends credence to the validity of evolution as a scientific reality, rather than a theological flight of fancy.

Which brings me to my real objection to teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design in schools.

Evolution is a SCIENTIFIC theory. It has been studied and advanced by scientists. There is signficant physical evidence to substantiate that theory. It makes sense to teach evolution under the auspices of scientific understanding and awareness of human genesis.

Creationism and Intelligent design are RELIGIOUS theories. They are advocated by theologians. They are not, to my knowledge, supported or substantiated by anything other than faith in the written word of God as interpreted and set down by Man.

The purpose of school is to teach secular ideals, scientific principals, and established academic concepts. It is not for promoting religious theory. Period.

We don't attend church because I am not interested in exposing my children to an environement where those religious tenets are being espoused as irrefutable facts. And I shouldn't have to worry that they, along with children of other faiths, are being force fed a diet of Christian idealism outside that environment.

People often argue that this country was founded upon the principal of "One Nation Under God" and therefore, prayer should be allowed and encouraged in all aspects of our lives and the bodies that govern them.

But that's not true at all. This country was founded upon the right to religious freedom.

You have the freedom to choose your own religious beliefs, and to celebrate those beliefs in your own home, your private life, and the church of your choosing.

I have the freedom to choose differently, or to choose not to believe in anything at all.

And my rights are no less inalienable than yours.

I don't really know how to wrap all this up, except to say that...If you don't teach creationism in my schools, I won't teach evolution in your church.

Fair enough?

29 Comments:

  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger KT said…

    When I try to say this it sounds stupid. When you say this it sounds elloquent and well thought out. You have just put my thoughts into words so much better than I ever could have.

     
  • At 6:47 PM, Anonymous OmegaMom said…

    Hear, hear.

    This is part of a concerted effort...the same "teach the controversy" approach is being trotted out in state legislature to state legislature. Luckily, most of the legislatures where it's been introduced have soundly defeated it.

    Intelligent design has no peer-reviewed research. Amazingly enough, evolutionary theory has lots of evidence, especially in evo-devo(evolutionary development), and applications in a wide variety of medicine and agricultural areas.

    ID is not science--you can't test the hypotheses. No matter what is set up as the "intelligence" that "designed" us, you're left with the question: How did that intelligence develop? Where did it come from? Was there another intelligent designer that designed that intelligence? And on and on.

    Anyway, I hope the bill dies in your state as it has in many others.

     
  • At 7:21 PM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    The first part of "scientific theory" is "scientific." When one takes the scientific method out of a theory, it is not longer an appropriate thing to teach in science classes.

     
  • At 8:11 PM, Blogger TheMama said…

    "I don't really know how to wrap all this up, except to say that...If you don't teach creationism in my schools, I won't teach evolution in your church."

    This is perfect. I'm with KT, you have phrased this in a way that my brain tries to get my mouth to convey, and they both fail miserably.

     
  • At 8:14 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I homeschool and see parents carrying around "science" books with titles like, "On the 6th day, God created BIRDS".

    BTW, very smart post.

     
  • At 8:29 PM, OpenID TEOM said…

    I gotta say, all this Creationism made me want to get through Kansas as fast as possible when I crossed the country last summer. All I can say is, OY!

     
  • At 9:19 PM, Blogger jess said…

    Huh, I don't really know how I feel about this. I was raised in an uber-religious home and I question a lot of the things I was taught growing up (for instance, separation of church and state. Uh, wasn't it, like, JESUS who advocated letting Ceasar worry about running the government and rejected the idea of a Christian "kingdom" on earth?)

    Sometimes I hate calling myself a Christian.

    But the kicker is that I am. At least until someone finds a better word to use. My faith was always very much a part of my life, and myself. Disillusionment with my parents' version of Christianity did not change the fact that I've sensed God in my life since I was a little girl. That what I've read in scripture has been borne out by my life experience, even when I hated it and didn't want to know it.

    Do I think that God made all of the animals in a day- pointing a magic wand around the world & zapping new species into being? Well, I think He probably could have, but in my experience, that's not the way God works at all. What I've seen, in the way He treats me, seems a lot more supportive of something more like evolution. Unhurried, steady, intricate; with leaps and bounds occasionally, but mostly just infinitesimal changes over long periods of time.

    But rejecting outright the possibility of any kind of intelligent design, even if you don't believe that there's a god, seems as silly to me as rejecting evolutionary theory because you do believe. The truth is that there will always be questions and details that scientific theory can't cover because no one was there to document it; the same could be said of creationism.

    Just because you can't prove something, doesn't mean that there's no possibility that it's true. And, now that I've pushed the laws of decorum and comment-length to the limit, I do agree that ID really doesn't have any business being taught in schools.

     
  • At 11:03 PM, Blogger Lara said…

    i agree with a lot of what jess said. and another thing that occurred to me while reading what you wrote is that the argument that we were founded as "one nation, under God" is ridiculous, since the words "under God" weren't added until the 1950's.

    i do worry sometimes about people and environments that become so focused on those theories that have "proof" (whatever that might mean to them) that they cannot be accepting of the fact that other people do believe things that lack "proof." i would hate to be in a classroom where a teacher was openly mocking my beliefs, simply because there is no fossil record to prove God's existence. like jess, i believe very strongly in God and His work in the world - the fact that i also believe in the theory of evolution (when does that stop being a theory, btw?) doesn't change that fact. so i wouldn't want to be learning about evolution and hear a clear message that "some people believe that God did this stuff, and they're all big, fat morons." you know? just sort of swings the pendulum too far the other way, and it worries me sometimes.

     
  • At 9:28 AM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read this:

    1. I'm a Christian, and have several friends who are not religious or are Jewish. I would never turn my back on them just because we didn't believe in the same things. I feel awful hearing stories like yours, knowing that I am lumped in with those "Christians".

    2. I feel it's my responsibility to teach my children about my faith. Why would I want to have some random teacher from who knows what religious background instructing my child about their faith? They can handle the scientific side, I'll handle the faith side. Then my kids can decide what they believe when they're ready.

     
  • At 9:30 AM, Blogger Carol said…

    Your blog is always so INTELLIGENT! Thanks for saying so much that needs to be said -- and saying it so well.

    Carol

     
  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Wisconsin Mommy said…

    What I was taught and what I will probably teach my son is that evolution and creationism are not mutually exclusive. The events that take place in the bible (as long as you are not stuck on it being a LITERAL "day") seem to mirror the timeline of evolution, don't they? It is easy for me to believe that intelligence designed creation THROUGH evolution (and the big bang or whatever).

    It seems to me that presenting lots of different ideas to kids (when they are developmentally appropriate) and encouraging them to work through them with critical thinking is usually the best way to go. Of course, that tactic almost got me fired from teaching Catholic school :)

     
  • At 11:33 AM, Blogger Traceytreasure said…

    We were dropped by some Mormon friends for not wanting to join the LDS Church. I'm okay with that. I have Athiest friends and I have Christian friends and I don't jugge anyone. I love that we are all different. I think life would be boring if we all believed the same thing and had the same faith. I love your blog. It's always full of important information. Best of luck and hugs to you and yours!

     
  • At 11:33 AM, Blogger Traceytreasure said…

    That is Judge anyone! BTW! Sorry!

     
  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    katt williams actually put it more simply: "don't f*ck wit me, i won't f*ck wit you."

     
  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    katt williams actually put it more simply: "don't f*ck wit me, i won't f*ck wit you."

     
  • At 12:37 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    stupid blogger...

     
  • At 12:42 PM, Blogger Natalie said…

    The fact that people think teaching intelligent design is a plausible inclusion in school baffles me. If things like this are accepted where will the scientific community in America be in the next few generations?

     
  • At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, it's the aforementioned devil's advocate here. I want to thank you for a well-written, well thought-through post. You're cool. You state your point eloquently. I'm glad you had to think about what I said. But I also had to pull out of the discussion that you refer to. I kind of felt out-numbered and I just don't have it in me to argue this. Teenage boys, particular the one who is "wired differently" are taking my time and energy right now. Plus, that discussion became, in my opinion, crass and insulting. Sorry, I know I took it personally.

    You have every right to state your beliefs (and non-beliefs) and so do I. I'm thankful that we respect each other. But I do stand by what I said. Evolution is still a theory, and maybe some day I will get on the stick and find the facts to support my views.

    For now, I really do enjoy discussions with you, but I'm just not up for a debate these days, okay? I don't have an agenda - you know me well enough to understand that.

    Still friends???

    --B--

     
  • At 3:41 PM, Blogger jess said…

    Good discussion, I'm just bookmarking my place so I don't forget to keep up with it. I like this whole "reasoned debate" thing, where people discuss stuff without spitting and calling each other names. Whose idea was it, anyway? :)

     
  • At 3:49 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    B~

    Absolutely we are still friends. And one of the reasons I enjoy discussing religion with you is that I know you dont' have an agenda.

    I'm truly sorry you felt ganged up on. But FWIW, I don't think anybody meant to insult you, but rather, were trying to mollify me. You know we all love and respect you.

    I can totally respect that you don't have the mental energy for debate. But I always value your input, just so ya know.

    And I want also want you to know that I admire you for your faith and your commitment to your beliefs.

    Thanks for always being willing to share that with me.

    B.A.

     
  • At 4:20 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    Amen, Mama (no pun intended) :)

    We are totally on the same page with the being excluded based on lack of belief/religion. It hurts my feelings, too, as I feel I'm worthy of friendship regardless of my lack of belief but do try to say "good riddance".

    I have HUGE problems with mixing religion and education (I just blogged about it, kinda, but not to this extent ~ though it's most definitely deserving of a post of its own. I'll get there, one day, when I learn to be half as eloquent as you) :)

    I feel pretty confident that evolution is a fact, not a theory. And I think that those that believe in creation/intelligent design CAN have work together so I don't understand the hostility where it's concerned from the religious "right".

    I really don't have anything of importance to add here... just that I think you're right on and this is an important thing for us to protect as parents, so our children are able to make intelligent choices that are right for THEM, not have religion stuffed down their throats and made to feel inadequate about choices that they make.

     
  • At 6:37 PM, Blogger Day Dreamer said…

    I'm a Christian. (But not a perfect one!!!)

    Some of my very close friends are on the fence, athiest, jewish, different from me in some way or other...I love them very much, and I'd never ever shun them.

    I live in the bible belt, too, and it's difficult to NOT GO TO CHURCH when you're a Christian. But we don't. (We have our reasons, half of them are lazy, the other half are personal...) We get looked down upon by other Christians! Life is too short to please every person that thinks they can live your life better than you.

    This was very well put, as usual!!

     
  • At 6:55 PM, Blogger West Coast Diva said…

    Fairly Odd Mother -
    It's not just home school parents who have books like that. Weird huh?

     
  • At 10:57 PM, Blogger jen said…

    standing up and applauding you now.

    posts like this are exactly why i adore you.

     
  • At 10:45 AM, Blogger womaninawindow said…

    Your argument is really solid. Maybe too much commen sense? 'Cause from the outside the United States doesn't seem to operate on a whole lot of common sense. (Canada either, for that matter.) For a country that purposes vast freedoms, politics and media tend to back up the religious. And for me, that's ok, I suppose, albeit a little creepy. ie) Oprah's direct line to god. But this is coming from a liberal "agnostic" who has her kids in Catholic school. ya, I'm just as f-d up as your President. Well...maybe that's going just a little too far!

     
  • At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Angela said…

    We live in NY, and as I was born and raised in a largely Catholic community, I never experienced the sort of exclusion that you are speaking of. Until recently. As it was happening, my husband kept suggesting that we were being judged based upon our refusal to be saved, and I refused to believe it. I'd never experienced such a thing. But until we are willing to join the local Church of What's Happenin' Now? One set of our neighbors continues to watch us from a distance, invite us to worship with them once or twice a year, and pray, I'm sure for our heathen souls. Also? Our children are not allowed to play with theirs. This is such a great...and for me...timely post. In a variety of ways.

     
  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger PunditMom said…

    What you said!

     
  • At 1:04 PM, Anonymous midlife mommy said…

    OK, this is one of my hot buttons, and I do not mean to offend anyone. I've been toying with a blog post of my own for awhile now after reading a book with my daughter at her daycare center that discussed the ostensible origins of the whale (apparently, "many scientists" believe that the whale descended from a "dog like" creature).

    I have no problem with evolutionary theory being taught in school, as long as it is made clear to the students that many, many parts of the theory have not been validated, and that there are other beliefs that may or may not conflict with this theory. I do understand why people are opposed to intelligent design being taught in schools, and I agree, religion should not be forced down anyone's throat. Consequently, I would not be in favor of ID being taught in our public school system.

    However. When I was learning about evolutionary theory in public school, it was not presented to me as a theory (despite our spending a great deal of time learning about the scientific method and how hypotheses should be crically evaluated). In fact, religious pespectives were seen as silly and subject to ridicule. The theory of evolution was presented as the ONLY explanation for the way that life evolved. (And yes, despite this, I happen to have Darwin's Origin of Species among the many books on my bookshelf.)

    As for me, I do believe in God. And, I do not believe that evolution and creationism are mutually exclusive. I intend to teach my daughter accordingly.

    What angers me is this -- I understand why there is a push back against teaching ID in school. But, from my perspective, it seems to me that people who are buying into evolutionary theory hook, line, and sinker are also practicing a religion of sorts, for lack of a better term. And, when these people are teachers, and they do not at least tell children that not everyone believes all of the tenets of the theory, then they are forcing their own form of religion down my child's throat.

    And that really bothers me, no differently, I suppose, than the thought of intelligent design being taught would bother others.

     
  • At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Tami said…

    I have to agree with Midlife Mommy and some of the other "Christians" as one so eloquently said we are lumped. I too enjoy your blog immensely, read it daily (sometimes more faithfully than my bible), I too have friends, very dear friends, who do not share my beliefs in ANY WAY and thankfully we can have intelligent debates without pointing fingers. However, I feel it is very unfair that the evolution theory can be taught and others cannot be. Personally - I think evolution is a bunch of junk, I believe with everything I have the God did "poof" us into existence along with the birds on day 6 but I respect the fact that many people don't agree with my view. Why must one theory be taught? There has been talk before about how the testing in our schools are making our children into robots and not truly teaching them anything. Shouldn't we teach children the theories, give them the tools to make their own decisions as they grow up as to how we came into existence??? Regardless, thanks for the thoughtful blog and approaching a touchy subject with class! :)

     

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