Creationism and The Legal Debate, Essay Example

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Essay

Why do you think that some people insist that creationism be taught in public schools to the degree that there are several litigations to achieve that end?

After reviewing the articles given for consideration, I am reluctant to give the same answer I would have before. The two articles, “Should Creationism Be Taught In Public Schools?” by Robert T. Pennock, and, “Excerpt from God and Judge Jones” by Charles P. Pierce describe litigation that pits special interest groups against the judicial system itself. At some point, the insistence held by some people that creationism be taught in public schools becomes less about the teaching and more about prevailing, and this is the point where litigious action arises. Instead of a discussion of curriculum, there is a political circus that challenges the judicial system and the idea of a separated government itself. Political litigators bring an “all or nothing” attitude to the courts. The answer to the question then, is that some people insist on creationism to the degree of litigation because they have gone too far and gathered together too many minds to do anything but push for absolute prevalence in the issue. Pennock’s and Pierce’s readings present many points that support this answer.

The biblical philosophy referred to as creationism and intelligent design is a subject that inspires passion on both sides of the debate. For decades, a battle has been fought concerning creationism, the theory of evolution, and our public schools. There are some that feel so strongly for the philosophy of creationism and in the belief that creationism should be taught in schools, that they have taken this fight to the courts. To examine the matter, first we need a definition of creationism. Creationism is the belief that the world and all creatures in it were created instantaneously by some supernatural being or power. From Robert T. Pennock’s, “Should Creationism Be Taught in Public Schools?” we can add the following details to this definition. According to Pennock’s article, creationism is “primarily an American phenomen”. (Pennock) Also, creationism is not scientific fact, or a basic tenet of scientific knowledge. Creationism is a religiously based theory and there are different factions of beliefs within creationism. (Pennock)

If we consider just this definition, and remember that in the United States of America there exists a legal separation of Church and State, thus prohibiting biblical tenants and religious theories to be taught in the K-12 public school system, then the question of whether or not creationism should be taught in schools should be easily answerable with a resounding, “no”. But the question to be addressed here is not the intense debate itself, but why the debate is so intense.

As Pennock explains in his article, there are many outlets already available for the teaching of creationism. Parents who wish to teach creationism to their children can do so by taking them to church and instructing them in biblical scripture and stories. But parents already know they can instruct their children how they see fit at home. It is the instruction within schools that causes so much controversy. Pennock points out that private religious and parochial schools are not bound by the separation of church and state and can therefore teach creationism as a part of the curriculum. Parents who home-school their children have the option to include creationism in their children’s studies. However, it is not reasonable to assume all creationism supporters can place their children in private schools or home-school them. In, “Excerpt from God and Judge Jones,” Charles P. Pierce acknowledges that over forty percent of United States citizens favor creationism in polls, and that they believe creationism should be taught in public schools, even to the eradication of evolutionist theory. This is a surprisingly large number. So why would so many Americans feel so strongly that scientific fact should be uprooted and creationism beliefs taught in their place?

Perhaps it is the strong inclination of Americans to uphold First Amendment rights that speaks so strongly to many educated people. Pennock lists the First Amendment in his article as a common defense used by pro-creationists. It is reasonable to assume that many get caught up in upholding the rights of free speech and religious freedom. Further speculation brings forward the idea that perhaps it is a desire for the assertion of one’s own beliefs to the exclusion of others, a desire to leave only their own imprint on their child’s mind. But reading through Pierce’s piece, an interesting idea comes to mind, and that is that the fight is not quite as personal as it is first perceived to be. In describing the court case in Dover, Pierce writes that, “the whole controversy had left religion, if it ever truly was religious at all, and entered the realm of politics, which meant it had entered the marketplace.” (Pierce) This statement gives the impression that the original impetus for the debate of teaching creationism in public schools has less of an impact on the legal battle than does the unstoppable force and forward motion of political controversy.

 

Bibliography

Pennock, Robert T. Should Creationism Be Taught in Public Schools? n.d.

Pierce, Charles P. “Excerpt from God and Judge Jones.” Pierce, Charles P. Idiot America. New York: Anchor Books, 2009. 128-162.

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