What Are They Angry About?
by Tyler Booman
If you’re planning a vacation later this year, better make sure it’s not in Kansas. According to recent reports, the state’s overall IQ has just taken a nosedive. What has caused this “giant step back into the nineteenth century” as one person called it? Quite simply, the State Board of Education voted to de-emphasize evolution in state testing and to give local school boards the option of deciding whether or not evolution would be taught. Nationwide, the reaction has been vehement.
On ABC’s “Politically Incorrect,” Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, Inc., referred to the Board of Education members as “Neanderthals.” Invectives like “embarrassing,” “backward,” “insane,” “intellectual backwater,” “blotting out the light of truth and knowledge,” peppered the Letters to the Editor of the Wichita Eagle’s online edition. Even PBS’s Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” weighed in on the topic. The Associated Press quotes Nye as saying “to reject this fundamental, beautiful thing about the world around us is harebrained. It’s nutty.”
What is striking about the reaction to the Board’s decision is not that some people disagree with it. Anything as controversial as the creation/evolution debate is bound to generate a diversity of opinion. But the ferocity of the responses reveals something at work other than a simple difference in points of view concerning educational policy.
After all, the Board of Education did not mandate the teaching of a particular view of creation. They did not endorse fundamental Christianity, or Judaism or Islam. They didn’t even order the teaching of creation alongside of evolution. They chose merely to de-emphasize evolution and allow local school systems to decide how — or if– it is taught.
So why all the anger?
If you listen to the voices raised in protest, you might conclude that creationism is inherently anti-scientific and anti-intellectual. Th…