Earlier this month Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated evolution and creationism.
Now, it seems the debate has made small waves in the wrong direction.
While respecting others’ religious beliefs is important, so is a child’s exposure to scientific understandings of the history of life on Earth. Letting parents opt out of having their children learn this content is a slippery slope.
If a Missouri bill that proposes to alert parents if evolution will be taught in school passes, it could set a precedent that allows parents to remove their children from other courses. Evolution has many scientific elements within it that could then become questionable for parents, such as fossil records, radiocarbon dating and extinction.
Beyond those topics, it raises concern about what other subjects the government might sweep under the rug due to contradicting parental beliefs.
Parents would also impose their religious preferences on their children by withholding them from evolutionary theory, which could then keep them from a perspective they don’t personally agree with.
Moreover, high school students would not gain knowledge on one of the most fundamental facets of biological science. These students could then enter college courses without familiarity on the subject.
In college, students can possibly avoid classes teaching evolution. However, most colleges require students to take foundation courses, including science.
USF students take both life and physical science courses for the Foundations of Knowledge and Learning Core Curriculum requirement. One might face difficulty finding a class that does not in some way contradict religion.
With this in mind, students attending college cannot opt out of taking science courses or tests because they conflict with religious beliefs, so it is illogical for parents to opt them out of classes teaching evolution beforehand.
On a similar note, students
cannot avoid a test in chemistry class because it teaches about half-lives or exempt themselves from an astronomy worksheet that states the universe is 13 billion years old.
Concern about whether parents can opt their children out of learning about evolution in high school may warrant arguments as to why public universities don’t do
In colleges and universities, students cannot dodge
evolutionary topics or other scientific information countering their religious beliefs.
It is therefore unacceptable for students attending public schools to do so.
While it pleases some parents to have their child void of
evolutionary knowledge, they only hurt their children by not allowing them to access the information they attend school to obtain.
It is hopeful that the bill will not bear an impact on the national scale. Education in the U.S. already needs improvement, so it is unwise to further harm the system with proposals such as these.
Adam Mathieu is a sophomore majoring in studio art.