On grand bargains


So I did my Hindu thing for a while, and took some time to write another essay about race in America. I figure I should get back to my main topic: evolution and creationism. As I tend to do, I’m responding to something that happened several weeks ago.

In November the Ethics and Public Policy Center hosted its semi-annual Faith Angle Forum. Texas Monthly journalist Erica Grieder offered a ‘grand bargain’ on creationism and intelligent design:

I’ve heard a variation of Grieder’s bargain before. Heck, I think some science organizations themselves have offered it. I understand why it sounds appealing: some parents want their children to learn creationism, and scientists don’t want it in science class. Teaching creationism outside of biology seems like a neat way to pacify everyone.

Unfortunately, Grieder’s position misdiagnoses the problem. It’s not that some parents want creationism in schools. It’s that they don’t want evolution. They want their children to hold an interpretation of the Bible that contradicts the theory of evolution. Keeping evolution as is, without watering it down in any way, will not make them happy.

As I’ve said before, my personal ideological leanings would grant parents a large degree of autonomy in these types of decisions. That stance coupled with the idea that evolution may not be that important leads me to a different grand bargain: parents who don’t want their kids to learn evolution should be allowed to substitute microbiology or human anatomy for those few weeks.


    1. I have chickens without tails feeding in my yard. This is not a result of evolution. It is because my next-door neighbor received a million-dollar grant from the government to learn how this happens. (It has application to human birth defects.) I doubt that her research grant requires her to pledge allegiance to evolution to insure rigor in her studies. If it does, ideology has overwhelmed biology and the life sciences are in worse condition than I thought.

      1. I’m inferring from your comment that you don’t consider evolution to have any scientific underpinning. But in order for the neighbor to best understand why those chickens lack tails she would need to understand the building blocks of selective mechanisms and how they can fail. Really hard to do that without using evolutionary theory.

  1. Should Holocaust deniers be allowed to opt out of their children being taught about WWII? Should Flat Earthers and Geocentricists (yes, they still exist) be allowed to opt out of their children being taught geography and astronomy?

    The purpose of a *Public* education system is to teach children a broad-based, consensus education of the things society thinks they need to become well-informed productive citizens, not to pander to parents’ idiosyncrasies. If parents object to this broad-based consensus then they have the right to opt-out through private schools and/or home-schooling.

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