I thought I’d take a quick look at some of the education bills coming down the line in the 2013 Montana Legislature, and was excited to see this proposal from Clayton Fiscus: AN ACT ENCOURAGING THE BOARD OF PUBLIC EDUCATION TO EMPHASIZE CRITICAL THINKING IN INSTRUCTION RELATED TO CONTROVERSIAL SCIENTIFIC THEORIES ON THE ORIGIN OF LIFE.
Mr. Fiscus is of the impression that, since Darwin’s time, more scientific research has been developed proving the theory of creationism and intelligent design, and in the spirit of “critical thinking, he wants to ensure that teachers in public schools are allowed to express their religious views when teaching science curriculum.
Specifically, Fiscus claims that, “all theories and viewpoints must be allowed if true critical thinking is to be encouraged.”
While it’s confusing that Mr. Fiscus seems to believe that only science requires this level of critical thinking, it seems he may have ignored some drawbacks to demanding that all points of view be discussed. For one, there are thousands of theories about evolution and creation, and all of the ones that don’t rely on modern scientific evidence are equally invalid.
The science is clear. The law is clear. Scientific American’s John Rennie made the case best, back in 2002:
Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as “intelligent design” to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a “wedge” for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.
I agree with Representative Fiscus that critical thinking is essential, for students and legislators. Let’s hope he does some and pulls this absurd bill.