When I took my 10th grade biology class in Mississippi, we were required to learn evolution because it was mentioned on the state biology test. My teacher, Miss Lott*, would say a sentence about evolution, and then go on for several minutes about why that sentence was untrue. She reiterated that on the test we had to answer the question about evolution, but advised us to remember that it was liberal hippy bullshit designed to push us away from God’s truth.
Louisiana teachers now have the legal right to do the same thing.
In 2008 Louisiana state legislature passed a law called the Louisiana Science Education Act which allows teachers to use materials to critique evolution. Essentially, Louisiana teachers are now allowed to teach creationism as an alternative to evolution.
Christian legislators have allowed educators to teach children scientific inaccuracies straight from the Bible, and, thanks to this, the state will have a new generation of under-educated children who spew the same inaccuracies to their own children.
By doing everything in her power to discount evolution, Miss Lott deprived her students of a proper education and continued feeding the idea that science is designed against God. It completely discounts how the scientific method works and how these conclusions are drawn. Using the position of educator to mold students into anti-science adults isn’t helpful or Christ-like, it’s cruelty.
In the United States, 42% of people believe in creationism. They reject strenuous scientific investigation in favor of the writings of a book thousands of years old. Beyond that, they lie about it. They claim that a large number of scientist don’t believe in evolution, when that simply isn’t the case. 97% of scientists accept some form of evolution, so why frame it otherwise? Why claim that scientists widely question and disagree with evolution?
It is easier and more acceptable to conform to the beliefs you’ve been raised with than to question them. It feels safer, it feels homey. There’s even a well-established bias called the “Overconfidence effect” where individuals’ confidence that they are correct is substantially greater than their actual accuracy. Daniel Kahneman explains it: “Overconfident professionals sincerely believe they have expertise, act as experts and look like experts. You will have to struggle to remind yourself that they may be in the grip of an illusion.” Despite evidence to the contrary, people are very likely to overestimate the validity of their claims despite evidence to the contrary.
Of course, this isn’t exclusive to the Christian Right and liberals must be aware of their own biases. However, when 97% of scientists support some form of evolution, it isn’t saving a child’s soul to teach them evolution and lie to them about scientific consensus. That isn’t just or helpful to a child’s upbringing. It creates an us vs. them situation and encourages children to step away from the sciences.
This is why people don’t understand evolution. This is why so many students get to college and try to argue with professors who have decades of educational and research experience on them. This is why people cover their ears and go, “NANANANANANANNANANA” instead of learning about science.
If creationism is being taught in school, why not mix it up a little? Let’s teach Shinto creation myths, Vedic creation myths. Let’s teach how Native American traditional religions thought the world was created. If we’re going to be grossly scientifically inaccurate and include religions in science education, let’s be sure to at least be fair when inspiring ignorance in future generations.
If you genuinely believe that evolution must be debunked by religion, you don’t get to pick and choose which religions should debunk it. In public education, no religion may reign supreme. If you want the Bible in classrooms but would have a fit if the Qur’an was in a classroom, you’re a hypocrite. This is why religion shouldn’t be in public schools. This is why we have the establishment clause in the constitution. Unfortunately, since these laws don’t specifically name Christianity as the religion that must be used, they get to slide on through.
If a teacher used the Qur’an, they’d be put on blast. Louisiana has already had trouble with Islamic schools. Louisiana passed a law called the Minimum Foundations Program that students failing at public high schools can use government-paid vouchers to enroll in other schools, many of which are religious schools. The Islamic School of Greater New Orleans applied for funds associated with this voucher program. Law makers reacted angrily, opposing funding an Islamic schools and saying that no one could go home and explain they had supported this.
To Louisiana citizens and lawmakers it is fine to have religion in education, but only if it’s Christianity. Evolution can be debunked with the Bible, religious schools can get extra funding, but God forbid any other religion ask for the same privileges.
Louisiana is doing a disservice to its citizens and promoting group think about Christianity’s uncontested superiority. And they’re proud of it.