Sunday, November 23, 2008

Texas, evolution and the rabbis

[Photo of Rabbi Ana Bonnheim]

The great state of Texas continues to be embroiled in a battle about how to teach evolution (or not) in Texas public schools. The Texas State Board of Education is considering a science curriculum that would provide for the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.

Why we have to have this same old fight over and over again in our various states is beyond all comprehension. Creationism and intelligent design are not science by any stretch of the imagination. They are "religious" in nature and in content! Those, such as the Discovery Institute, that push for teaching such nonsense are not about learning but about evangelism. They are fundamentalist Christians! The number of real scientists that back either creationism of intelligent design would fit on the head of the proverbial pin.

Three rabbis of the Reform persuasion appeared, along with other people, before the Texas State Board of Education to ask, please, don't foist this junk on our public high school students. Specifically, the curriculum would require science teachers to note the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories such as evolution.

Sounds reasonable? Not. As Rabbi Ana Bonnheim said, "On the surface, teaching about the 'strengths and limitations of scientific explanations'... may not seem like teaching religious beliefs. Yet...when science teachers answer questions about evolution and origins of life by pointing to the divine or supernatural, they are incorporating religion into science classrooms."

Yes, they are. And what Rabbi Bonnheim did not say, is that the "religion" being incorporated is fundamentalist Christianity!

I know that other religious leaders in Texas have spoken out on this issue, in particular clergy of the United Methodist Church. But where are the others? Are the pastors of mainline denominations so intimidated by possible fundys in their congregations they are afraid to speak against creationism and intelligent design? Are they afraid they may alienate these parishioners? Are they fearful these conservatives in their midst might leave to find another church taking their money with them?

Let's hear from the Lutherans, the "liberal" Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal priests.

Silence tends to insinuate consent.

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