South Carolina State Senator Blocks Evolution from Being Taught in Science Classes

mike-fair-scMaybe Republicans are on to something about evolution being a myth.  After all, they seem determined to prove that as a species, they’re actually getting less intelligent – not more.

I never thought that I would see the day where evolution being put in science books somehow became a political issue.  I never thought I would see the day where people couldn’t decipher the difference between science and faith.  

See, faith is an individual’s own thoughts and opinions (with no real rules dictating what they believe) concerning their own spiritual or religious beliefs.

In fact, faith is defined as: firm belief in something for which there is no proof

Essentially, faith requires no evidence to support its system of beliefs – because it’s faith.

Which brings me to science.  Science is composed of countless steps, theories, processes and provable conclusions.

In fact science is defined as: knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation. 

Do you see the difference?  Well, can you please tell that to South Carolina State Senator Mike Fair?  He seems to think that there’s absolutely no basis to call evolution a “fact.”  Which is why he’s blocked evolution from being included in science classes in South Carolina.

Fair said:

“To teach that natural selection is the answer to origins is wrong.  I don’t have a problem with teaching theories. I don’t think it should be taught as fact.  Natural selection is a direct reference to Darwinism. And the implication of Darwinism is that it is start to finish.”

What he wants is the same as what many other conservatives want – for creationism or intelligent design to be taught alongside science in the classroom.

Which would be fine, except – creationism and intelligent design aren’t science!

That’s faith.  That’s religion.  You teach that at home, or in church, not in a science class.

Robert T. Dillon, a professor of biology at the College of Charleston and member of South Carolinians for Science Education, said:

“What frustrates us are when pieces of [the standards] — evolution — are singled out for religious and political reasons.  Mike Fair singles out evolution for special treatment. It is no more scientifically controversial than photosynthesis.”

It’s absolutely ridiculous that this continues to be an argument.  Look, I’m a Christian, so I obviously believe in Jesus Christ and God.  That being said, neither have a place in a science classroom.

Because faith is not science. 

As Mr. Dillon said, evolution is as scientifically proven and accepted as photosynthesis.  I can’t say I recall many people questioning whether or not photosynthesis should be taught in science classes.

Instances such as these are explicitly why the Founding Fathers didn’t want religion and government (public schools are a government entity) being mixed.  Science, math, reading, history – they should be taught in the appropriate classrooms.

Faith, religion and spiritual beliefs should be taught by parents if they so choose at home and their places of worship.

This isn’t really complicated.

But stunts such as this (and I call it a stunt because, like when some in Texas tried to do basically the same thing, it will eventually be overridden and evolution will be put in science classes) are just continued efforts by conservatives to violate our First Amendment rights to “freedom of religion” by interjecting specific faith-based beliefs into the classrooms of public schools.

It’s just ridiculous that in 2014 we’re still being forced to have this debate.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Sandy Greer

    Creationism does not belong in public schools, funded by our tax dollars. Save it for the Sunday schools.

    Simply appalling, the lengths the Right goes to. ‘Crazy’ gotta hold of the GOP and WON’T LET GO!

    • Pipercat

      This is nothing but “uber-pandering” to the base of a particular political party. The tremendous short-sightedness is appalling. The adage: “The big picture” is lost on these Myopians…

      • Sandy Greer

        >The tremendous short-sightedness is appalling.

        ^^^There’s always a ‘good’ side, isn’t there, LOL

      • Charles Vincent

        You can’t have your cake and eat it too I say. Both courses should be electives in schools IMHO.

      • Pipercat

        One is science, the other is faith. Our competitors are not distracted with this sort of thing. This is one of the reasons we are getting our asses handed to us by east Asian countries. The only thing that keeps us above water are our universities. The college prep these days is frighteningly bad. The universities are thriving on foreign students. All of that sums up our distractions unfortunately well.

      • Charles Vincent

        haha like I said middle ground if they are electives its choice to take them not a requirement. I would call it pro choice but I don’t want to confuse the issues lol

      • crabjack

        Then everything, English, economics, math, etc., should be an elective?

      • Charles Vincent

        Maybe but that’s a different topic. Maybe we should speak French or Spanish or Portuguese. Not every one is good at math maybe only addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication and fractions/decimal points is all that should be required. From where I stand it doesn’t look like the people running this country took economics in school anyway.

      • Pipercat

        This would assume that science is controversial in an of itself. There are some controversial conclusions, amongst the scientific community, but the science itself is sound, logical and factual. This notion of Creationism is faith. This other notion of Intelligent design is pseudo-science. Faith is taught and explained in the houses of worship and cannot be taught in government schools. So, there’s having and eating the cake, I reckon. Pseudo-science is well, hogwash and has no place anywhere. None of that stuff is peer reviewed and published anywhere besides propaganda mills. Like I said, the Chinese are not burdened by this stuff…

      • Charles Vincent

        How are the Chinese not burdened?

      • Pipercat

        They don’t have this debate. Their kids don’t’ mess around and study science, math, engineering…. oh, and English. Between lessons on cutting corners during manufacturing! 😉

      • Charles Vincent

        Priceless….

      • Gary Menten

        The Supreme Court disagrees with you and there is a considerable amount of jurisprudence to back me up on this. It is not the business of the state to promote one religion against another or religion against non-religion.

      • Charles Vincent

        Teaching all forms of religion isn’t promoting one over the other especially if they are elective courses.

      • Gary Menten

        1. It is not in any way practical or feasible to teach all forms of religion in the publics schools. There are too many of them. Nor do the people wanting religion in the public schools want all form of religion taught there; they want their version only.

        2. In McCollum v. Board of Education (1948)
        The Court held that the use of tax-supported property for religious instruction and the close cooperation between the school authorities and the religious council violated the Establishment clause. Because pupils were required to attend school and were released in part from this legal duty if they attended the religious classes, the Court found that the Champaign system was “beyond question a utilization of the tax-established and tax-supported public school system to aid religious groups and to spread the faith.”

        3. Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
        Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:
        1) the government action must have a secular purpose;
        2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;
        3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

        4. Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)
        The Court ruled that a state statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state’s attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

        For the same reasons, when challenged in federal court, this law will be ruled unconstitutional. Thanks for your input, but the Court has heard it all before and disagrees with it.

      • Charles Vincent

        On point one they don’t get to have it all their way either teaching them all as electives is reasonable but perhaps excessive.

        Also not saying schools cannot teach evolution but the double standard seems to be that we can teach one but not the other, and forcing people (students) who do not believe in evolution to learn it is well a bit hypocritical.

        In point two you mentioned “the Champaign system” please expound on this.

        In point three you mention three rules In particular rule number two applies here In that not allowing creationism to be taught is in effect violating the second rule in that it inhibits religion.

        I am also not arguing that blocking the teaching of evolution is constitutional as it is in effect the same as not allowing creationism to be taught.

      • Charles Vincent

        Gary they do not allow links in posts here so I re-posted your reply verbatim and modified the link so it would post.

        The Champaign System refers the
        “system” devised by the Champaign (Illinois) Council on Religious
        Education, cooperating with the Champaign Board of Education. A summary
        of the case can be found here.
        http://www DOT oyez DOT org/cases/1940…

        There is no double standard. Science is science, faith is faith.
        Scientific theory is guided by natural law, can be tested by empirical
        methods and falsifiable. Evolution meets those criteria, religion does
        not.

        The teaching of Evolution certainly does not inhibit the free
        practice of religion; Nor can it by definition I think really inhibit
        religious faith, since faith by definition does not require evidence.
        Scientific theory requires mountains of it.

    • surfjac

      they are only hurting their students’ chances of securing a well paying job in the future. They’ll learn first hand how selection works.

      • MadameDelphi

        i don’t know, these idiots seem to make a living spouting this nonsense.

  • surfjac

    I suppose having studied evolution, natural selection, genetics, molecular biology, etc. in pursuit of an advanced degree in biology and being interesting at parties, I could write some verbose explanation of the meanings of fact, theory, evolution and natural selection.
    It will suffice to say mr. fair is really an idiot in my book; just a complete idiot. How do stupid people like him get elected? stupid people, that’s how.

    Hey mr. fair, snow is white. I’m waiting for his argument that I’m wrong.

  • Edward Krebbs

    The SC Senator is Mike Fair. For years he also almost single handedly kept it illegal to get a tattoo in SC as the Bible banned them (one of the first 5 books of the Bible. Don’t know if it is still illegal or if it has been overturned.) He is from the I-85 corridor which has grown in population due to easy transportation to Charlotte and Atlanta – with the influx of people from out of state I don’t at all understand how he stays in power.

  • Edward Krebbs

    Let’s say that they teach intelligent design alongside evolution. As they will critique the evidence for evolution, will they also critique the Bible account ?

    • Joe

      Maybe possibly as part of a history class when they do discuss religions or philosophy class, but seeing as intelligent design has no real scientific basis as it is basically just something the religious people came up with to try and fit new scientific findings with their prior conclusions based on their faith try and fit them together to make them feel better, no, not part of science.

  • Elizabeth R. Lewis

    I have strong fundamental Christian beliefs but one of them is NOT to indoctrinate anyone. The whole purpose of education is to expose people to information, theories, many views so that you can learn to think and evaluate for yourself. I am disgusted by people who choose to shove their religious beliefs down people’s throats. In public school, it is unconstitutional. It violates the First Amendment. If people choose not to believe in and abide by the Constitution, I’ll be glad to show them the door…OUT.

  • askirsch

    I would be delighted to teach creationism. I’ve taught Ptolemaic astronomy, phlogiston, caloric, and a host of other theories that were eventually dumped; in my classes we explored why they were. I would do the same in biology. Bring it on!

  • Gary Menten

    For those who still don’t understand the scientific meaning of the word “theory” and how it differs from the non-scientific definition:

    “A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step—known as a theory—in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.”

    This is very different from the non-scientific definition of the term. Evolution is a “theory” in the same sense as Newton’s Theory of gravity and Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity are theories. If anyone doesn’t think gravity is proven, I invite them to test it by jumping off a cliff.

  • Gary Menten

    If there’s one thing we can always count on from creationists, it’s intellectual dishonesty.

  • Gary Menten

    This idiot law will be struck down in the Federal Courts. In Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), the Supreme Court held that any law that bans the teaching of science to protect or advance a particular religious position is unconstitutional. Now you can dress it up with a lot of baloney claiming that Evolution is “not proven” but that’s like saying that gravity is not proven.

    In Mclean v. Arkansas, the US District Court of the Eastern District Of Arkansas issued a ruling on what does and doesn’t constitute science. For something to be taught as science (the case was about whether creation science is in fact science), Judge Overton concluded must meet the following criteria:

    It is guided by natural law;
    It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
    It is testable against the empirical world;
    Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and
    It is falsifiable.
    Evolution meets all these criteria. “Creation Science” meets none of them. but it’s clear from the ruling that the Federal Court defines Evolution as science, regardless of what some dumb-asses in the SC legislature pretend.

    Stay-tuned as the creationists lose another round.

  • Alan Jones

    We can’t make more people stupid but we can teach it! I have faith that come November we will have a fact the Republicans are gone!

  • rossbro

    Separate the Church and State , or we all act like Muslims in the Mid-East.

  • sherry06053

    Every time one of these morons try to push something like this through, ultimately it ends up in Superior Court and gets thrown out. I am guessing this is why so many attorneys are Republican. They make a fortune out of our tax payer dollars. Since no federal money can go to a school that requires religious education, give the taxpayers a break and use these attorney fees for something that actually makes sense and does good.

  • Rick Jacobsen

    Why would a Fundamentalist want to give a perfect God credit for being our creator. He sucked at it. We don’t live very long, have disease, wars, hate, we are miserable creatures he made. He did a crap job. I wouldn’t take credit for it.

    Hell if I where a Fundamentalist I would beg for evolution to blame it on.