Indiana state Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, recently proposed Senate Bill 89, which aims to give Indiana schools the right to require that alternative theories of the origin of life -- and Kruse specifically adds "including creation science" [sic] in apposition -- be taught alongside evolution. Ratification of this bill would be both an embarrassment to Indiana and do a tremendous disservice to students across the state.
It would be an embarrassment because the theory of evolution maintains a very high degree of confidence among the scientific community and because creationism is not a science.
Since Darwin first published "The Origin of Species" in 1859, the core theory he put forth has been repeatedly confirmed by fossil and genetic evidence. This is not to say that alternative theories are always a bad thing -- indeed, Einstein's theories of relativity were once "alternative" -- but since creationism is not science, by any stretch, teaching it as an alternative to evolution gives students an inaccurate idea about what science actually is.
As everyone knows, science is all about using evidence to support a hypothesis and subjecting conclusions to rigorous scrutiny -- as has been done with evolution. Creationism cannot hope to offer an evidence-based accounting for the origin of life. Indeed it is, at best, a poor attempt to poke holes in evolutionary theory by appealing to the diversity and complexity of life.
This is important because what is at issue here is not a question of belief. Even if a person is convinced about the accuracy of the Biblical account of creation, this does not justify teaching a non-science in Indiana public schools.
In the past, even prominent religious leaders have denounced the teaching of creationism. The Catholic and Anglican churches and the American Academy of Religion, among others, have offered public statements warning against teaching creationism as an alternative to evolution.
Kruse has been justifiably criticized for proposing this bill, but some of the blame should be placed on local religious leaders for not taking a public stand against SB89.
Religious groups have a long history of positive involvement in local communities. It would be a disservice for religious groups in Indiana to ignore this bill as it threatens to put students at a disadvantage when they eventually have to compete with domestic and international peers in college and the workforce.
With jobs being outsourced and unemployment high, Indiana legislators should be proposing legislation to help students become more employable, not introducing false sciences into school curriculum.
However, criticizing politicians is not enough. Religious leaders also share the responsibility to look out for the best interest of public school students, and SB89 is a clear deviation from that responsibility that merits response.
Jacob Homan of Whiting is a graduate student at Purdue University Calumet. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.