I know I shouldn’t react like that. After all, we’re in the midst of an era of good feeling and reconciliation with Obama’s election and we want to bury hatchets and grudges and ill will and move forward and extend our hands. Which is good, great, badly needed.
Still. Every time I read about the Texas State Board of Education holding hearings about what to teach about evolution in the public schools, I get a bit, let’s say, distraught. The last time I looked, it was 2008, still the 21st century, the age of science and technology and progress. We want our state and nation to retain leadership in the world, don’t we?
So why are we arguing about a theory that is generally accepted by all scientists? Why are we dragging the Bible and Adam and Eve into the classroom? Teach the controversy, the strict Biblical constructionists suggest, even though there’s no controversy to teach. Once again,
There’s nothing to argue about. Science is clear — but here we are, wasting our time and voices and patience and money on something that isn’t controversial and isn’t remotely scientific. Why not teach the controversy on whether 2 plus 2 equals 4? I’m sure there must be some dissent there. Surely some creative soul feels hampered by the rigidity of that equation.
But, no. In our state, people will go on dressing up like pioneer women and dinosaurs and we will have to pretend to have civilized conversations about something that’s sad and laughable and inarguable to the rest of the world. If this passes into the state curriculum, one scientist said, our state will be a laughingstock.
The economy’s tanking, the war rages on, we have so much real work to do. Why does this battle between science and fairy tales continue to play out, year after year, generation after generation?
All right. Take a deep breath. Paste on a tolerant smile. Speak in a well-modulated voice that’s somewhat less piercing than a scream. It’s the era of good feeling and reconciliation, after all. We’re supposed to be building bridges and understanding, not blowing them up. And we know that evolution takes time, that it meanders and retraces its steps, but eventually, over the millennia, progress will be made, even if it’s so damned slow it drives us crazy. So, I. Want. To. Scream. But. I. Won’t.
As the thug with the ducktail said in American Graffiti, “You know, Rome wasn’t burned in a day.”
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)