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Let there be evolution


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Shelia Bapat
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 3, 2000
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In the beginning, there was pond scum, slime and Karen Johnson. It seems that as long as the theory of evolution has been taught in science classes across America, Mesa's legislating lunatic has been fighting it.

This time the state representative's bill attempts to undercut the teaching of evolution in a subtle yet stupid way.

Johnson claims that scientific evidence against evolution ought to be presented to K-12 students.

Her bill asks that teachers "present scientific evidence that supports or is consistent with the theory of evolution, and scientific evidence that does not support or is not consistent with the theory of evolution."

Without stating her intentions outright, Johnson is using the bill to promote the teaching of creationism in public schools. A recent statement she made about the bill proves her true feelings about evolution.

"If you come from a little bit of slime out of a pool, then what's so great about life?" Johnson said. "I believe we are children of a heavenly father. I believe in Adam and Eve - all of that."

Not only is Johnson just plain wrong for proposing such a bill, she is attempting to promote a losing agenda.

There are those who will defend her, just as they will defend the teaching of creationism in public schools as being the only fair theory to pit against the big dirty theory of evolution.

These individuals overlook many obvious conflicts. There is a small technicality known as separation of church and state. As much as Johnson and her supporters would like to build a steeple over the state capital and hold daily prayers in the legislative chambers, it just can't be done. The same goes for teaching creationism in public schools. Why should one religious view about how life came about be taught and others be ignored?

Johnson might give the good old founding fathers argument. She might say that this country was based on the influences of Protestants and it is therefore legitimate, constitutional, moral and good to shove biblical creationism into the curricula of science classes and force students to sit through a completely unscientific story told in the top-selling book of all time, the Bible.

By using such roundabout language to promote the teaching of creationism, Johnson is trying to push a cause that has already died. In 1998 the State Board of Education required that the theory of evolution be mandatory in science classes. Johnson protested, claiming that creationism ought to be taught alongside evolution. But Superintendent of Public Schools Lisa Graham Keegan, in a rare display of rational thinking, said, "I agree that the absence of the word [in Arizona's science curriculum] evolution is just ridiculous."

Arizona House Speaker Jeff Groscost supports Johnson's bill, along with other conservatives in the legislature who keep fighting the "good fight" against quality science education.

To oppose the teaching of evolution in science classes is like opposing the teaching of the Constitution in American government classes. It is a fundamental theory that students must understand before learning other science concepts.

More importantly, it has existed for nearly 150 years and has yet to be disproved.

Johnson and her supporters might point out that biblical creationism has existed for thousands of years, so it also is a legitimate theory to be taught in science classes.

But creationism is not a theory, it is a belief. It is not the opposite of evolution, for it is not based on conflicting evidence. Creationism is a religious idea, nothing more. To try to interject this biblical concept as an opposition to evolution is just as ludicrous, for it assumes that creationism and evolution are directly opposed to each other.

As a legislator, Johnson may be doing a good job representing Mesa conservatives, and of course she has every right to propose any bill she wants. But her relentless attempts to infiltrate Arizona public education with her own beliefs about what ought to be taught are just getting old. Her knowledge regarding curricula is nil compared to experts at the State Board of Education, school officials and science teachers around Arizona.

Maybe Johnson doesn't like picky scientists and critical columns judging her agenda. But maybe she'll listen to a voice from above, for God would surely say, "Let there be quality science education in Arizona public schools."

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