Most Americans will agree that academic freedom is important in any educational setting.
In 1987, the U.S Supreme Court handed down a ruling that invalidated a Louisiana law that required public schools in that state to offer a “balanced treatment” between the theory of evolution and creationism in their science classes.
It has been 27 years since the Edwards vs. Aguillard ruling. Since that time, several lower federal courts have struck down the idea of teaching creationism in public schools.
Unfortunately, the issue is still alive and well.
Some religious fundamentalists have began to regroup and change the language of creationism to make it sound more appealing.
The terms and strategies to reintroduce creationism back into the sphere of public education are as follows: “evidence against evolution,” “the theory of abrupt appearance” and, of course, “intelligent design.”
Whatever the repackaging scheme, the core ideas consist of the same old biblical fundamentalism fronting as legitimate science.
In addition to the new terms, creationists have attempted to adapt the strategy of wanting to only have a discussion about this supposedly “controversial” issue called evolution.
The assertion of the religious fundamentalist is that they serve as spokespeople for “academic freedom,” a claim made in proposed legislation in many states this year.
So the question becomes, what’s the endgame? The answer is quite old and simple.
It seems to be a pernicious attempt to sway young people who are already disillusioned with science or more difficult concepts, who would now be offered an easier answer to “where did we come from?”
The fundamentalist answer is, “God did it.”
Just having that creationist option in the science classroom would lead to further confusion and distortion of what we as a civilization know about the physical world.
As a teacher I know that the future of our nation depends and belongs to the scientifically literate, specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Students who enter college without the rigorous enrichment of evolutionary theory and its principles suffer a disadvantage.
The good news is that with the exception of a few Christian fundamentalist schools, colleges and universities teach evolution unapologetically and without controversy.
That is, for now.
.Appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch May 2, 2014: Mensah is a contributor to STLtoday.com/religion. He serves as a board member on the St. Louis Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.