To no one’s surprise, the American Family Association is not happy with the decision of the Cobb County school board to settle the Selman suit. Their chief counsel, Brian Fahling, is quoted in this article saying silly things like this:
“Of course, I think that it’s a disservice to the community overall,” the AFA Law Center spokesman observes. “Evolution stands out alone as the only area of science that is absolutely cordoned off from any criticism,” he says; “there is a great wall around it and they simply do not admit any dissenting voices.”
In reality, the opposite is true: evolution stands out alone as the only one subject to endless PR campaigns and political lobbying in an attempt to weaken public school teaching of it. That was one of the primary arguments in the Selman trial, that the disclaimer, which declared that evolution is “a theory, not a fact”, while transparently obvious, is true of every scientific theory. Why, then, is evolution singled out for such treatment?
Because it is a virtual mantra among creationists that saying that it’s a theory rather than a fact means it’s little more than a guess. That, of course, is an example of rank ignorance, and yet another reason not to allow these people anywhere near our science curricula. These people simply don’t know the difference between a theory and a fact; if they did, they would know that theories do not “become” facts at some point (except in rare cases where technological advance allows us to observe something we formerly could not). Thus, the stickers, by using that very argument, was endorsing an ignorant view based upon religious objections to evolution.
However, Fahling points out, “that [wall] is beginning to crumble a little bit, because inside the camp of Darwin, there is tremendous dissent.” So, even though he feels the Cobb County case is further evidence of the “oppressive” attitude the academic community has toward opponents of Darwinian evolution, the pro-family attorney says evolutionary theory is “in tatters” right now.
Gotta love the irony. In one sentence he claims that there is a wall around evolution that shuts out all “dissenting voices”, and in the next sentence he claims that “there is tremendous dissent” within evolutionary circles. Pick a horse and ride it, pal; is no dissent allowed or is there an incredible amount of dissent? The truth, of course, is that there is virtually no dissent from the standard evolutionary model of common descent as largely the result of variation and selection.
There is a great deal of healthy debate among specialists on specific, narrow questions within that model, but that is absolutely normal; the same can be said of debates over the nature of the gravitational force among physicists, but we don’t see the AFA demanding “theory, not fact” stickers on physics textbooks. Why? Because their real objection has nothing to do with whether it’s a theory or a fact; their real objection is that evolution conflicts with their religious beliefs and therefore they want to knock it down.
And the fact that the ignorant distortions of science they use in attacking evolution are treated as the ignorant distortions that they are and laughed off by scientists is interpreted by them as evidence of a “Darwinian priesthood” that will brook no dissent. That is utter nonsense. There is much healthy debate within evolutionary circles over the details of the natural history of life on earth, and those debates are taken seriously; those who offer nothing but creationist distortions are not taken seriously, nor should they be. And they certainly have no place in science classrooms.