Where're we going? Creationism Becoming Extinct?

STORY BY James Sullivan

Published: December 10, 2013

With twelve years of Rick Perry as governor, better known as the decorated veteran of the so-called War on Christmas from his presidential campaign last year, and fanatics like Alex Jones, David Barton and Justin Lookadoo, and of course twelve seasons of King of the Hill, it has for some time now been fashionable to ridicule Texas and its people, as a large desolate badland populated by zealots and bigots who would secede from the rest of the country with a violent revolution at the first given opportunity. I'd say it's hardly fair to assess this judgment across an entire state and its people. In the approaching weeks, it is fair to say that what happens in Texas will severely impact much of the country. Because of Texas' immense size, its State Board of Education often dictates the textbooks distributed throughout the country, making it the demographic to fit the needs of the rest of the states.

Consequently, as we speak, many of the people appearing at the State Board's textbook hearings include a number of notorious figures from the Discovery Institute, a conservative think-tank from Seattle that promotes Intelligent Design, as well as the infamous Don McLeroy, a dentist and former state board member who insisted that in adopting a textbook series that weighed the 'strengths and weaknesses,' of evolution, you are in fact, supporting the Bible as the textbooks have largely weighed in neutral on the subject of evolution, a turn of events that all but takes us to the days following the landmark Scopes Trial. Also on the scene is Raymond Bohlin, who unlike many creationists has a Ph.D in molecular biology, earned with the intent of learning what he could about evolutionary theory in order to prove it wrong in favor of young-earth creationism.

Although many creationists, whether they accept the concept of a 4.5 billion year old Earth or not, claim that their battle is for science education, or to save children from the possible negative consequences of materialism and atheism, McLeroy and Bohlin have proven that this is more of a cultural struggle than anything else. Many religions have made peace with evolutionary theory decades ago, and as for it being bad science, 99.85% of scientists worldwide acknowledge that evolution is an active process, far from it being a controversial theory.

I suspect that these same people lobbying against evolution, would not advocate a position of 'teach the controversy' regarding the validity of string theory in the same militant manner. Rather, these people are not so much concerned with truth or education as they are with having the appearance of authority, to appear to disprove the hard research of scientists and to dictate with their own interpretation of the Bible, to not so much create scientifically literate thinkers, but rather people trained to fear their superiors. They see their own channels of order and power dying out, their relevance to each passing generation. 

You've probably heard the oft touted Gallup poll statistic that 46% of Americans believe “God created human beings in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years,” and that an underwhelming number of Americans accept evolution as the primary explanation for diversity on Earth. However, a recent study put out by the NCSE suggests that a changing of the way the question is worded makes a big difference, with only 18% of respondents favoring this option when the question was not asked in a religious context, and estimating the number of young-earth creationists in the country to be approximately 10% of the population, a number that shows signs of decreasing, as well as their concentration by state. 

As this continues, textbook publishers will have less reason to appease them. A further bit of irony is that Texas has been the excavation site of so many transitional fossils that creationists like to deny, among them the synapsid Edaphosaurus, a mammal-like reptile which lived in the Permian Period and one of our distant ancestors. Richard Dawkins' foundation uses the phrase “We Are All Africans,” suggesting the common ancestry all humans have in Africa and solidarity. In many ways, before that, we were all Texans. 

Other Stories by James Sullivan
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