The debate about what should and should not be taught to children in schools has been raging for some time. Parents frequently fight against schools that attempt to teach sex education or other topics perceived as being “inappropriate” or “opinionated”. There have also long been combative relationships between professional educators attempting to create comprehensive curriculums and parents who disagree with how things are being taught. Some of those debates are legitimate. Others do not carry as much weight.
The hottest argument that is going on in schools across the country is about evolution. Some parents feel that evolution should be taught to children in school as part of basic biology or science curriculum and parents that think that evolution should not be taught in schools because it conflicts with the outlandish claims made in the bible.
In Florida, the Palm Beach County School Board is not currently teaching the scientific theory of evolution to students. The students are actually being taught an inaccurate and watered-down version known as adaptation. This is just a two-dimensional idea that animals adapt to their environments over time. The concept could be seen as part of evolutionary biology although it leaves out many details and almost all of the science. Excluding evolution upset an 11-year-old student attending school in the county. The student loves science and particularly loves evolution. His father was very upset to learn that evolution was not being taught in his son’s school district.
The father, Barry Silver, is an attorney in Florida. He immediately drew up an 18-page court document to file against the Palm Beach County School Board. The law-suit is designed to force the school board to teach evolution in school. Silver is disgusted by the substitution of religious principles over science that is going on in his son’s school. He also found it dangerous that science was not being taught. It would put his child at a disadvantage later in life. The school board decided to meet with Silver in an attempt to reach some type of agreement over the issue. Silver does not want to go to trial but will if something cannot be worked out.
This trend of treating evolution like something uncertain is largely based on a misunderstanding of the term theory and a misunderstanding of evolution. Scientific theories are not the same as the colloquial use of the term theory. A scientific theory has been rigorously tested. It is backed by evidence. It has survived intense scrutiny from the community. It is not just a random idea. There are mountains of evidence showing that the scientific theory of evolution is valid. There is also a fundamental misunderstanding of what evolution is. Evolution describes how organisms diversify and change over time. It does not address the origins of life itself.
The dispute going on in Palm Beach County, Florida is just the latest of many such incidents. Religious advocates have started a new effort to get creationism into schools and to remove evolution. Some of those efforts are succeeding leaving children learning religious creation stories instead of facts that have been proven by science. Silver’s case has not yet been resolved. He hopes that something can be worked out in order to avoid going through a long and complicated trial.