A Response to Columnist Cal Thomas
Mr Thomas' column can be found here and here.
For a man who claims to be concerned about deceit, you have a real knack for disregarding it when it issues from your own pen. Your column on evolution and creationism in Cobb County, Georgia, was a real corker. Where do you get the infernal idea that school kids should decide for themselves what to think about science? You and I both know that if the kids got to decide, they would skip science altogether - except in the rarest of cases - and go directly to recess.
Teach them evolution and creationism, you argue, and let them make up their own minds. Then we ought, in all fairness, to let them decide if 2+2=4, or maybe 5 or 3 or 17.117868, if they were feeling especially inspired, or uninspired (because they have no rote, government-sponsored prayer that they do not understand to mumble through every confounded day, for instance).
While we're at it, we also ought to let them decide if cheating on tests is ok, and if the War of 1812 might not have been fought in 1939, if Rutherford B. Hayes is buried in Grant's Tomb, or if "dolt" is a verb instead of a noun.
And let's be sure we waste all kinds of time and money offering "balanced treatment" of all these ideas, to use the politically correct argot of the disingenuous wing of the religious right.
Shucks! Let's let free market values run the classrooms of America and call it "Academic Freedom"! Then, when the kids can't read, write or cipher, you and Shrub can show how truly worthless public schools are - since the prayer argument has been a loser, after all - and shut 'em down for good. Vouchers, schmouchers. Let's abandon the public schools entirely and funnel everyone through Cal's Conventional Conservative Christian College, where they will be free to make up their own alleged minds on all manner of things, like whether newspaper columnists have a clue about evolution or are just doing what their paymasters tell them to.
It is arrogant and deceitful to pretend there is only one creationism to "balance" against evolution, Mr. Thomas. The schools cannot spend the time teaching the creation theories of all the many religions. There would soon be no time for anything but "balanced creationism."
So why, in the name of academic freedom (as long as we're taking that term in vain) should schools give preference to the narrow Protestant know-nothing fundamentalist version of the origins of humanity, over all other religious views? Because Cal Thomas happens to believe in that one, that's why. Never mind that most Christian denominations have NO PROBLEM with evolution - and that includes the Roman Catholic church, which once saved us from believing the Earth is round and not the center of the universe. We had better teach "balanced" views of the flat Earth stuff, too, eh, Cal? And the heliocentric solar system? After all, the Good Book says the Earth is flat and the sun goes around it. Don't want to be selective with the Holy Word of God. Wouldn't be prudent. If that is to be our science text (or should we let the kids decide if they would rather hear about hellfire and damnation or spaceships and astronauts?), then we had better not abandon any other venerable scientific teachings to be found in the covers between Genesis and Revelation. Let the kids decide if Lot's wife really turned into a heap of sodium chloride. Let the kids decide - and see how democratic education becomes. As long as the only view we use to balance with real science is the one near and dear to Cal's own personal copy of the Good Book, we should all be fine.
Never mind that our children will be unable to compete with kids from other countries where they teach real science. Never mind how much of a disadvantage it will be to have a generation grow up without knowing how tuberculosis and E. coli are evolving beyond the power of antibiotics to kill them any more. We shouldn't let little things like disease and death get in the way of teaching science out of the Bible! Never mind that Jesus healed
the sick - he just called on God! If we did that, we wouldn't need shots!
Ok, Cal, give us the pitch for faith-healing too while you're at it. Let the patients decide if the AMA has it right or if Mary Baker Eddy wins this round. If I'm halt and lame I will pray, but I will also hedge my bet and see a good orthopod.
It is simply reckless to suggest in this nation and this century, after the mapping of the human genome and countless other discoveries that have added to Darwin's theory, that evolution is subject to any serious doubt. The evolution of AIDS, TB and E. coli happens so rapidly that we can actually watch it. We can also use our understanding of evolution to beat these diseases by withdrawing treatment for a time when circumstances permit, and letting the resistant strain weaken as the threat from medicines is suspended. When the resistant gene weakens or disappears, the former treatments may work again. These principles are healing the sick - right now. Tell them we need "balanced treatment", Cal. Tell the gravely ill people in our hospitals that what is saving their lives is a lot of atheistic bunk! Then ask them if they give a rip. You may be dodging loaded bedpans till the next millennium. I for one would pay to see that. And be sure and tell the kids who will be a laughing stock when they apply to colleges and universities, that they really needed to believe Adam named all the critters and dinosaurs and x millions of species of insects one balmy afternoon in Eden. Tell the engineers at the oil companies who drill all day to support Shrub's income that creationist geology is True - and watch them die laughing. Face it. You are wrong. Your argument is a loser.
Denial, Cal, is a form of deceit. Religious intolerance is not going to bring you worldly power - and any god who can work through evolution is not going to be amused at your unctuous, hypocritical scoffing. Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and get a copy of Darwin's The Origin of Species. Then find someone nice to read it to you.
- Jon M. Bauman