Public School Money, Creationism, Evolution, and Schneider
Over the past year, I have read a number of articles regarding the use of public funds to support schools that are teaching creationism and not evolution. In all of my reading on the topic, I have not read any articles offering a perspective similar to my own. Therefore, I have decided to weigh in on the subject.
In order for readers to properly consider my perspective, I must first offer insight into the influences that have shaped my thinking, both my own worldview as well as my own brief-yet-critical considerations of the two theories. Finally, I will offer my view of the use of public funds for supporting the teaching of the state-endorsed theory of evolution.
Playing Well With Others: The Ground Rules
There is a risk in my revealing both myself and my reasoning on a topic that evokes strong responses from people. Thus, I will also establish some ground rules for how readers might register their responses to this post:
I welcome comments that are written in a respectful manner. Such comments need not agree with my viewpoint or the viewpoints of other commenters; however, the disagreement must not violate human dignity. For this reason, any comments sent to my blog are made public at my discretion.
The Lens Through Which I View the World
I am a follower of Christ. This was a conscious decision I initially made decades ago; it is the result of careful and systematic study of the teachings of Christ as offered in the bible. I figure that if a single man has such influence that the world for millennia has used his birth to mark time, He is worth my careful consideration. In His teachings, Christ offers an invitation to every individual in the human race to follow him; by that, He means that the individual should voluntarily submit his or her own will to Christ and enter a relationship whereby the human self is transformed via systematic surrender to reflect a Christ-likeness evidenced by these qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. Christ teaches that human beings were designed to be in relationship with a God who loves them. Man’s breaking the contract of that relationship is sin. Christ came to restore relationship.
Based upon His teachings, there is no “group” salvation, nor is there any salvation “by proxy.” I am not a Christ follower because I belong to some church, or because I live in a “Christian” nation. I am a Christ follower because I made a conscious decision to become one.
Nowhere is the Scriptures does Christ put anyone in a headlock and make the person cry “uncle” to get the person to follow Him. Christ Himself respects the human will. Christ is not a religion. He is a loving relationship.
It troubles me that what many people promote as Christianity is nothing more than self-righteous condemnation of others. Still others tout Christianity and exploit fellow human beings, often financially. I am sorry that such nonsense occurs. Those of us who are not involved in such foolishness are often erroneously categorized by a wary public as being frauds. I am no fraud, I assure you.
I realize also that many view being Christian as equivalent to being one who is uneducated and who exercises no critical thought. I have witnessed for myself these very qualities in those who call themselves Christians. However, let me put that idea to rest regarding me. I am a thinker. In order to better understand the Scriptures, I have studied Greek and Hebrew and have a working knowledge of both. I hold a Ph.D. in probability, which will come into play soon in this discourse.
Weighing Creationism and Evolution
When I think of evolution and creationism in their most basic senses, I think of “chaos produces order” and “order produces order,” respectively. As for chaos producing order, nowhere in my experience have I seen this modeled. Disorder does not tend toward order. If I do not tend my yard, it does not become kept. If I do not discipline my students, they do not become disciplined. If chaos could produce order, corporate reform could work. Closing 54 schools in Chicago could produce educational improvement. Replacing experienced teachers with inexperienced “teachers” could yield positive results for students, schools, and communities. But it does not because chaos only produces chaos.
In contrast, all around me I witness examples of order producing order. If I cut the lawn, it looks kept. If I discipline my students, they learn and improve both academically and personally. If I organize my teaching and plan my lessons, productivity happens in my classroom.
Order requires intention.
The creationist view notes that God spoke the world into existence. Words are powerful, and words cannot be divorced from intention. That is why the use of words, too, can be termed, “giving orders.” In my blogging, I use words, and they are powerful. They lend order to the chaos of corporate reform. The reformers themselves use words with intention; it is their determined course to distort the purpose of words, to erase clarity from speech, thereby inciting chaos. They say one thing and do another. They lie. They hide and distort information.
Corporate reformers introduce chaos. The return on this investment is also chaos.
One might also conceive of chaos as being “absent structure,” or “random.” Order does not emerge from randomness; this statement summarizes the entire field of statistical probability. A statistical test is a ratio of the likelihood of the systematic (ordered, intentional) to the unsystematic (random, or “without order”: chaotic). And when I consider the complexity of the world around and in me, how many parts must function just so in order to both produce and sustain life (not only my life, but nature and civilization in general), the very idea that it “just happened” without intentional influence (absent the systematic) is so highly improbable that I cannot consider the entire universe as emerging from some unintentioned, spontaneous “boom.” I am simply too educated in the field of probability to buy such a theory.
I have seen a lot of things blow up, both literally and figuratively. Never have I witnessed an explosion that produced order.
As for evolutionary concept, “survival of the fittest,” the corporate reformers are following this course. If survival were the ultimate goal of preservation, then their selfish acts should be lauded. After all, they (the reformers) are pursuing actions that promote their survival, the propagation of their kind.
Corporate reform makes me angry. And that leads me to issues of conscience and morality. Where did this sense of right and wrong and of justice come from? Not from any “boom.” Order produces order.
The only people Christ expressed anger toward were those in leadership who were exploiting others of considerably lesser influence. He publicly lambasted them for heaping upon people burdens that they themselves were not willing to bear. This is exactly what the corporate reformers are doing: Applying incredible pressure to schools and communities in the hopes that the schools and communities will falter under the load so that the so-called reformers might make even more money.
I too am angry at the pervasive exploitation of the “haves” who in their greed only aspire to be “have mores” at the expense of other human beings. Corporate reform is leeching a foundation of American democracy, the community public school, only to feed its twisted, insatiable desire for “more, more, more.”
Following Christ’s model, I have committed my time, energy, and intellect to publicly expose the exploiters for the refuse that they are.
They are chaos. I do not like chaos.
Use of Public School Funds and Issues of the Science Curriculum
I do not believe evolution is a credible theory based upon the “chaos producing order,” the probability-defying arguments, and the issues of morality and conscience presented above. Others have weighed in on the issue; they believe the theory is credible; they believe the scientists have confirmed the theory via such methods as fossil records and carbon dating. I think there remain significant holes despite carbon dating and fossil records. Therefore, I consider it an impasse. Nevertheless, I don’t need to agree with evolution in order to accept its presence in the state curriculum.
How can that be?
There are two higher-order issues here. These two issues are what I see as most important to the discussion at hand. Before I discuss these higher-order issues, let me say that I would prefer if the state taught competing theories of the origins of man. With the direction corporate reformers are taking in serving themselves, I think that it is possible for some so-called state “chiefs” to declare an “anything-goes,” absence of any curriculum at all. This would truly promote chaos. This leads to my first point:
There must be an established state curriculum.
An established curriculum at minimum establishes an order. It is chaos to send public school money to institutions without any stipulation that such institutions, in accepting public school funds, also agree to abide by the public school curriculum.
Private schools have chosen to be private schools for the ability to teach a curriculum free of state oversight. If these private schools accept state money, they should also teach the prescribed state curriculum.
Corporate reformers like to tell private schools that these schools retain the freedom to teach whatever they desire despite accepting state funds. Frankly, I am wary of anyone who offers me money and tells me it has no strings. There are always strings, and these self-styled reformers are notorious for changing the rules mid-game. To believe that the state might not capriciously change course once the money has been awarded is naive.
In accepting state money, any and all schools should also accept the state curriculum.
The second higher-order issue here involves the beauty and usage of critical thought. If I am teaching my students to think critically, I am equipping them to live dynamic, successful, engaged lives. It is of no use for human beings to simply swallow a teaching absent critical thought, be it evolution or creationism. It is no good for my students to passively accept what I teach simply because I, their teacher, teach it. I want them to analyze what is taught, to dissect it, decide what they will own and what they will discard. This is living. This is also the food of relationship. Therefore, it is not so much the content presented as it is the means of digesting the content via critical examination. I want my students to think, not just to bubble letters on a test like trained moneys. So let them learn of evolution, and let them learn how to approach this and all content critically. Most of all, let them arrive at their own conclusions regarding the content presented to them. I respect the indispensable necessity of critical thought, for it feeds the dignity of the human being and is the lifeblood of a fruitful existence.