You might have seen those stories about the “Bible Belt” types trying to sneak creationism into your kid’s science textbook. Big court battles have been fought over this issue and it’s still happening in certain parts of Texas and Arizona and probably other places that I don’t know about yet. Now Neil DeGrasse Tyson has weighed in on the Bill Moyers show with, “No, I’m not going to allow you in the science classroom.”
Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Moyers & Company
He does have a point. Science is about what can be observed, measured, and tested. Real scientists notice valid experimental results and not the ravings of a mad hermit. The best science classes teach young students how to observe the world around them along with teaching real facts that can be verified with a few simple tests. That’s usually where it runs into conflict with matters of faith because most religions don’t really care about physical evidence. If you can’t bring me one shred of real scientific evidence that the world is only 6,000 years old, I am more likely to believe the geologist who demonstrates to me how he determined that a particular rock was spewed out by a volcano 10,000 years ago. It’s really no use to become angry and rant about evolution being just a theory when there are many more fossils than tangible evidence that supports creationism.
Do I dislike creationists? Not as a group. Most just want to quietly go about their own business and those are the ones I can usually get along with even when certain controversial topics come up in the conversation. Usually after a few go-arounds, my attitude is, “Look, we’re never going to agree on this, so why don’t we just drop it?” The ones I have a problem with are the ones who want to shove their religious beliefs down everybody else’s throats. And that was Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s point too. “Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think that there’s one God, two Gods, ten Gods, or no Gods. That is what it means to live in a free country,” he said in that interview. However, if religious people try to use God to fill in the blanks that our scientific capability doesn’t have an answer to yet, they are going to find that God has less and less wiggle room as our best scientists start filling in the answers.
The science classroom may well be one of the creationists’ last resorts for raising children on the standard dogma and discouraging them from trying to find answers on their own. The fact that they use “alternative” viewpoints as an excuse is pretty telling. They know that they aren’t going to get into the classroom of anybody who is actually serious about teaching science any other way. I remember that, when I was in school, we staged a debate about evolution vs. creation in the middle school science class, and all one kid did was read chapter and verse from the creation story in the Bible. He didn’t even include one scrap of original thinking. If that’s the best you can do, you’re not going to win. The evolution versus creation debate is not even very interesting when creation cannot come up with a serious argument that is based on evidence.
I really have no problem with creationism being taught in the home or in church. You can pretty much tell your kids that this is what you believe. If you try to force it into the classroom, though, you’re facing a potential ACLU lawsuit because you are going to run up against the atheist who just wants you to teach science. Those are the people who are just going to keep hammering at you until your legal fees drive you to bankruptcy if you can’t keep religion out of science class. It’s a case where you have the right to dance, but you don’t have the right to step on other people’s feet while doing it. Kids deserve to have access to all the information they need to make choices about what they want to believe and can, in most places in America, pick up Christian traditions just by getting out into their community when they’re not in school. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has the right idea. Just keep it out of the classroom in the first place.
Time For Some Fun!
This is what more people need to learn how to do. When the day is over, just relax and unwind and get out on the dance floor like Neil DeGrasse Tyson does here.
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