In our senseless and bloody Culture War, people like me don’t exist.
You know the war I mean. On one side: Bible-thumping Christians and cultural conservatives, utterly convinced that God is with them. On the other: The ACLU, atheists, and the usual crew of lefty hangers-on who view the Religious Right as the embodiment of evil. It’s a tedious, overblown melodrama. Everyone plays their part, but the ending surprises no one.
The latest Culture War dispatch comes from Georgia. As usual, the issue is evolution. As usual, it’s the ACLU versus Christians. As usual, both sides are absolutely convinced of their justice of their cause. As usual, the outcome will change nothing.
An Atlanta judge has ruled a sticker unconstitutional. The school of board of Cobb County, under pressure from Christian parents, placed this pesky Post-it in biology books:
“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
Come on, people. This “only a theory” stuff is nonsense. Einstein’s Special Relativity is also a theory, one of the most strongly tested in all of science. Even so, there are some things relativity predicts that we haven’t found: Relativity has “gaps”. So where are the physics stickers saying relativity is “only a theory”?
Let me lay my cards on the table. I’m no liberal, but I am a member of the ACLU. I’m also a critic of intelligent design.
ID theory is an alternative to evolution embraced by many thoughtful Christians. Creationism, its predecessor, was ruled “nonscientific” by the Supreme Court. It can’t be taught in a public school science class.
I’ve read most of the books on ID. I’ve debated its proponents in public and private. I believe it is no more scientific than creationism. Its supporters work backwards, starting with The Answer and manipulating data. It should never be taught in science classes anywhere.
Evolution is the best scientific theory we have concerning life on earth. When the evidence says otherwise, I’ll change my mind. That’s one way you can tell me from my opponents.
Here’s another: I won’t push my beliefs on others just because I think I’m right.
If backing off will bring an end to the Culture War, I’ll slam into reverse. I want peace. That’s why I don’t fit in.
Where is there room in the drama for people like me, who think that ID is bunk but take Christian concerns seriously? I’m a parent, I know how badly I want to teach my children right and wrong. I have to assume Christian parents feel the same.
This issue keeps coming up because we pay taxes to school districts. ID can’t be taught because that’s a public endorsement of religion.
The Supreme Court hasn’t said this yet, but they will if asked. ID, like creationism, is religious. No Supreme Court will ever rule that black is white, up is down, or that ID is science. But why should they have to? We’ve got tickets to a better show. They’re called vouchers.
The Court has upheld the constitutionality of voucher programs, reasoning that giving funds to parents of all religions endorses none. This can bring the curtain down on a drama that has become farce.
Under a voucher system, parents who agree with me can send their kids to a school where ID is studied in comparative religion class. Others can send their children to schools where evolution, if taught at all, gets a sticker. You go your way, I’ll go mine.
Best of all, vouchers will stop this issue from being fought over by lawyers. Courts are essential to civilized society, but they will never give us scientific or spiritual truth. “Live and let live”, along with time and patience, will.
So here’s my message to all ID True Believers and ACLU Culture Warriors: Take your vouchers and leave the field. Make peace with one another and go home.