June 29, 2013

A Federal Ban on Teaching Creationism?

A petition is underway at the WhiteHouse.gov petition site in which petitioners are asking the Obama administration to ban creationism and intelligent design from being taught in the U.S. Here is what appears to be the full text of the petition, spelling error included:
Since Darwin's groundbreaking theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, scientists all around the world have found monumental amounts of evidence in favor of the theory, now treated as scientific fact by 99.9% of all scientists.

However, even after 150 years after the establishment of evolution, some schools across the US are "teaching the controversy," including Creationism and Intelligent Design. Both of these so-called "theories" have no basis in scientific fact, and have absolutely zero evidence pointing towards these conjectures. These types of loopholes in our education are partially to blame for our dangerously low student performances in math and science.

Therefore, we petition the Obama Adminstration to ban the teachings of these conjectures that contradict Evolution.
At the time I am writing this post, the petition has 38,974 signatures and needs an additional 61,026 before July 15.

I am not going to encourage you to sign or not sign the petition. I will say that I do not plan to sign it even though I am certainly no fan of creationism. In addition to finding it poorly written and overly vague, I doubt whether a president could issue a ban of this sort even if he or she wanted to. There is plenty that is within President Obama's power that he's not doing; I'd prefer to pester him about those things.

For better or worse (worse, in my opinion), we in the U.S. have localized much of the authority for educational decisions. Local school boards have considerable power, and while the federal government has intervened at certain points, I seriously doubt that we'll ever see the sort of interference this petition appears to be seeking. Just imagine that President Obama could and did institute such a ban. What do you suppose would happen when we find ourselves with President Rubio? Creationism would be taught in every science classroom! I do not think presidents have this sort of authority, and that is probably a good thing.

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