By Noah Fitzgerel
Creationism has always been a polemical topic. As of late, it has taken hold of headlines in the form of a group interested in building a museum in Kentucky dedicated to creationism (to respond to those institutions that teach evolution). Adding to the controversy are comments made by Bill Nye, who admonished parents for teaching creationism to their children.
Nye, the man who became famous for his PBS show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” stated in an online video (that has since gone viral) that parents should not substitute religious doctrine for evolution in teaching their children.
A belief in creationism, Nye argues, will cause children to become “scientifically illiterate.”
“I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with the world we observe, that's fine,” Nye asserted. “But don't make your kids do it. Because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems."
I certainly concur with Nye to the extent that we need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers, just as we need politically literate voters and taxpayers.
Unlike evolution, creationism is a concept that is inherently religious. As such, it is inappropriate for the public school science classroom.
Too often, Americans assume that those who advocate for church-state separation, such as Americans United, oppose creationism as a theological concept. This is not the case. This is America, and people have the right to believe what they want. But no one has the right to use a government-run, taxpayer-supported institution, such as the public school system, as a vehicle for evangelism.
Put simply, the public schools are no place for proselytizing young people. Creationism – a fundamentalist doctrine based on biblical literalism that has no serious support in the scientific community – doesn't belong in biology classes.
As a public school student myself, I understand the importance of this distinction. I respect the beliefs of my peers, teachers and administrators. I would, however, vigorously oppose any attempt on their part to bring religion into the classroom. Teaching creationism does just that, and that’s why we fight it.
The U.S. Constitution ensures that the government will not endorse religion or religious tenets. Allowing for public school teachers to proselytize students under the guise of creationism is not acceptable.
Noah Fitzgerel is a summer intern at Americans United. He is a rising senior at Annandale High School, Annandale, Va.