Since this opinion piece can no longer be accessed at the Shreveport Times’ website, I’m posting a copy here.
As the Louisiana Board of Education (BESE) prepares to vote today on whether to approve life science textbooks that teach proper science, including the theory of evolution, lots of confusion and misunderstanding has surfaced about the boundaries between science and faith and the role each can play in our lives.
As a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, I feel strongly that BESE should immediately adopt proper science textbooks that teach evolution without any disclaimers, revisions or supplementary materials. It’s been eight years since we’ve updated our textbooks; Louisiana public school students desperately need new books that teach proper science and will prepare us for success in the global economy.
Some would like to insert the supernatural and faith-based beliefs of creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design, into public school science textbooks and classrooms. These beliefs have a proper place in church and in philosophy and religion courses, not in public school science class. Scientific theories are observable, naturalistic, testable, repeatable and falsifiable. Creationism and intelligent design do not meet these criteria. Evolution does.
I often hear evolution criticized because it is “only a theory.” The scientific meaning of the word theory is very different than the everyday use describing an unproven conjecture — like the “theory that Carl Weiss wasn’t Huey Long’s murderer.” That theory is open to debate.
In science, a theory is a well-supported group of facts that have been thoroughly tested and retested and shown to have predictive ability to explain natural phenomena. Major theories like the theory of gravity and the theory of evolution undergird entire branches of science and have helped send men to the moon and develop medicines to fight disease.
There is also talk about something called “Teaching the Controversy.” There is no controversy among scientists about evolution! This point repeatedly has been made by prominent science organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists, which contains 10 million members and has made strong statements in support of teaching evolution. Any attempts to act like there is a controversy are disingenuous.
Finally, creationists also pretend there are “flaws” in the theory of evolution. There are no flaws. In fact the National Academy of Sciences states on their website that because evidence supporting evolution is so strong, “scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred, and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution has taken place…”
For the sake of our students, I hope BESE makes the right decision and adopts textbooks our students need for success.