Feature Article - January 2006
by Do-While Jones

The Politics of Evolution

It isn’t about science. It isn’t even about religion. To some, it’s about politics.

We don’t like to talk about politics because we aren’t trying to take a political stand. We want to talk about science. But we can’t help noticing that scientific “truth” is being influenced by political ideology. The elephant in the room, which we have so far pretended not to notice, is that political liberals tend to favor teaching the theory of evolution and political conservatives tend to oppose it. There is a political reason for that.

Maybe we have been wrong to ignore politics for so long. We criticize evolutionists for not talking about the scientific evidence against evolution. Perhaps it is hypocritical of us not to talk about the political agenda that is behind the drive to institutionalize the teaching of evolution.

We get email asking, “If science is against evolution, why don’t all scientists reject evolution.” That question presupposes that the decision is made on purely scientific grounds. In reality, religious and political opinions, not scientific fact, drives the decision.

Our last few newsletters have been dominated by articles about the fight over Intelligent Design in various public schools. We really want to get off this subject, and back to science. But this is a NEWS letter. We are driven by news and emails we get about the news. The news has just been filled with the political and judicial aspects of evolution lately, so that’s driving our content.

For more than nine years, we have ignored the political factors that are driving some evolutionists. We can’t ignore it any more.

Conservative vs. Liberal

Political conservatives take the position that the power of the federal government is limited by the United States Constitution. All authority not expressly granted to the federal government is retained by the states. The Constitution gives the federal government authority to regulate such things as interstate commerce, but there is nothing in the Constitution that allows the federal government to establish a Department of Education (ED) that controls how young people are indoctrinated.

Conservatives would like to see local school boards establishing the curriculum for their own school districts in accordance with the wishes of the local population. They don’t want these decisions made by ED or the National Education Association (NEA, the teacher’s union). The Cato Institute expresses what many conservatives think.

The U.S. Department of Education, formed in 1979 during the Carter administration, represents an intrusion by the federal government into an aspect of American society for which there is no constitutional authority.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress no authority whatsoever to collect taxes for, fund, or operate schools. Therefore, under the Tenth Amendment, education should be entirely a state and local matter.

For more than 200 years, the federal government had left education to those who were in the best position to oversee it—state and local governments and families. 1

Liberals, on the other hand, take the position that education is important to success, and that no section of the U.S. population should be handicapped by an inferior education. Every student is entitled to an excellent education, and therefore national standards ought to be set to ensure that certain minimum standards are met everywhere.

ED was created in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. Its original directive remains its mission today — to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation. ED's 4,500 employees and $71.5 billion budget are dedicated to:

• Establishing policies on federal financial aid for education, and distributing as well as monitoring those funds.

• Collecting data on America's schools and disseminating research.

• Focusing national attention on key educational issues.

• Prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education. 2

Those are the two completely opposite positions on how education should be conducted in the United States. Neither side is “anti-education.” Both sides are sincere in their beliefs that they know what is best for our children.

Evolution and Politics

With this background, you can see the relevance of the theory of evolution to the politics of how evolution should be taught in America.

The theory of evolution is a political wedge for establishing precedent concerning the federal government’s roll in establishing a nationwide educational curriculum. If a legal precedent is set that the federal government can mandate what can be taught about the theory of evolution in public science classrooms all across America, then courts can use that precedent to enforce other things being taught in the science classroom. These other things might include the government-approved positions on global warming and environmental responsibility. Once the government has established the right to require the teaching of these things in physical science classes, it is a small step to mandate the teaching of social science issues, including attitudes toward race, gender, abortion, socialized medicine, religious tolerance, the right to die, etc.

Presumably, the government would force public schools to teach the correct position on all these issues; but who is to determine what the “correct” position is? How can we be sure that the correct position will be taught?

Everyone is in favor of education. The only disagreement is whether competition, encouraged by charter schools, vouchers and experimental curricula, is better than uniform funding and a standardized curriculum.

Unrestricted Education

We don’t care about vouchers or standardized curricula. We just want the whole truth to be taught about the theory of evolution. We want the public to know what Darwin taught. We want the public to know what the fossil record really contains. We want people to know the similarities and differences of living creatures. We want people to know all the facts because, if they do, they will realize that the theory of evolution is counter to too many scientific laws. The theory of evolution, although plausible in the nineteenth century, is no longer “good science” in light of modern discoveries, and needs to be rejected.

Unfortunately, the theory of evolution has been chosen by the liberal establishment as a means to gain complete control of the educational system in America. They are jumping on Intelligent Design because they think they can win in the court system, not on the basis of science, but on the basis of religion. They argue that Intelligent Design is simply religion in disguise, and should not be taught in public schools. The courts, currently, are generally favorable to this argument. There is urgency among liberals to get this issue brought up through the lower courts to the Supreme Court before appointments of new justices shift the balance of power there.

Again, we want to emphasize that we don’t want to take sides on a political issue, but we feel we have to bring to your attention the possibility that politics are driving these court cases more than scientific integrity. We believe this to be the case because the proponents of evolution don’t present scientific evidence in favor of the theory of evolution when arguing these cases before school boards or in court. They always play the religion trump card.

One might argue that the scientific evidence in favor of evolution is far too complex for judges to understand, and should not be presented to them. It should only be presented to fifth grade science students. But, of course, it isn’t presented to students, either. The children are just told to accept, by faith, that there is some evidence for the theory of evolution, and that someday they will be told what it is.

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1 Cato Handbook for Congress (Policy Recommendations for the 108th Congress) http://www.cato.org/pubs/handbook/hb108/hb108-28.pdf
2 Department of Education web site, “About Us”, http://www.ed.gov/about/landing.jhtml