Michele Bachmann on Evolution: I’m an IDiot

I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone, but Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced that she thinks Intelligent Design/Creationism should be taught in schools.  According to CNN:

“I support intelligent design,” Bachmann told reporters in New Orleans following her speech to the Republican Leadership Conference. “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

“I would prefer that students have the ability to learn all aspects of an issue,” Bachmann said. “And that’s why I believe the federal government should not be involved in local education to the most minimal possible process.”

There are several things wrong with Bachmann’s stance: here’s just three.

[1] For starters, it’s just wrong: there is no reasonable doubt as to the ability of evolution to explain the diversity of life on Earth.  Quite the opposite, it is unreasonable, as unreasonable as believing that the earth is the center of our universe.  Evolution is true.  Evolution has happened and is happening — even to us.  Bachmann’s doubt is not based on any scientific evidence but on religious dogma (and a very specific one at that: fundamentalist christianity).  If you’re interested in learning more about why evolution is true (and why Intelligent Design/Creationism is not), read this blog or others by actual biologist (not politicians), and pick up a copy of Jerry Coyne’s terrific book Why Evolution is True.  It’s an easy and entertaining read, with very helpful illustrations.

[2] Second, although we should promote critical thinking among our students, we should not teach them “all aspects of an issue” if one aspect is clearly wrong.  We would never teach our children that 2 + 2 = 4, but also, by the way, some guy once said that 2 + 2 = 5, so, yeah remember that also, and good luck on the test.  We encourage critical thinking by having students form hypotheses and then test them.  Encouraging students to believe that an untestable and incorrect assertion like Intelligent Design/Creationism is a valid alternative to to evolution is not critical thinking, but lazy thinking.  Besides, just remember all the reasons you should understand evolution.

[3] Finally, Bachmann’s desire to have Intelligent Design/Creationism taught in public schools is illegal, since it is clearly descended (evolved!) from biblical creationism and “creation science” (which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one).   The courts have dealt with this issue repeatedly, and each time they have affirmed that teaching creationism in public schools — in any of is previous or present manifestations — is unconstitutional.  It is ironic that Bachmann made her annoucement in Louisiana (my home state), which once had a law mandating equal time for evolution and creation science.  The constitutionality of this law was challenged in 1987 in the US Supreme Court, and in Edwards v. Aguillard the court ruled that requiring public school teachers to teach creationism violated the separation of church and state.

So there you have it: incorrect, lazy, and illegal.  Religion isn’t science and has no place in a science class room.  Intelligent Design/Creationism advocates (IDiots) like Bachmann want to attack federal education standards that include evolution so that local school boards like those in Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania and Kansas can push their religious dogma onto others.  In case you were ever on the fence, you now know not to vote for her.

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6 thoughts on “Michele Bachmann on Evolution: I’m an IDiot

  1. One of the things I’ve learned to say in my time as an evolutionary biologist (and a Christian) is that I don ‘t believe in evolution. Evolution is not a faith based system, therefore there is no need for belief. It is a fact. Intelligent design, on the other hand, cannot be tested and therefore is faith based: that is not science.

    I disagree, though, that religion should not be taught in schools. In fact, I think it would be very good for students in melting-pot countries like the U.S. to have religion courses. In fact, a history of religion course would be very appropriate for understanding other cultures. One should start in northern Africa and western Asia with the ancient religions of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. This can be followed by Judiasm, Islam, and Christianity. Then, some of the more complicated religions such as Buddhism (yes, it is complicated if you include history), Hinduism, and the Roman, Greek, and Norse mythologies. If you round it out with Native American religions, and not just those from North America (include Incan, Mayan, and Aztec), you have yourself a rich course. Of course, how life began is a major part of all of these religions, so Intelligent Design fits in quite appropriately.

    Just my two cents…

    • The type of religion course you are talking about — world religions — would be interesting. I think it would be great for highschoolers to be exposed to something like that because it would help them put their own beliefs into a larger historical and mythical context. I loved reading about various religions when I was in school and, in my opinion, the type of course you mention could only lead others to reject any specific form of organized religion. I don’t think that is a bad thing.
      However, I don’t see such a course being taught well in public schools — at least not the the public school I went to. It would be less about world religions and more about Christianity, less about historical context and more about dogma. A survey of religions in the type of school I went to would be exactly the opposite of what you intend, which is why I think religion shouldn’t be taught in public schools. Not that religious texts can’t poetic and even necessary to interpret much of English literature; it just becomes a slope that is too slippery for public highschool educators.

  2. Oh, I agree. It is hard for me to imagine a course like that being taught properly at the public schools where I’m originally from. (I didn’t meet anyone other than Baptists, Presbyterians, evangelicals, and the occasional Jehovah’s Witness until I left the mountain. The problem is that we just don’t have enough open-minded people in this world. Not enough people get out of their comfort zone and explore the world.

  3. Pingback: Louisiana’s Science Education Makes the Funny Pages | darwinbookcats

  4. Pingback: Rick Perry on Evolution: I’m an IDiot too! | darwinbookcats

  5. Pingback: John Huntsman on Evolution: Call Me Crazy, But I Accept It! | darwinbookcats

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