Susan Darst Williams
Sign Up Here To Fight The Teaching of Evolution - Sort ofOpinion, by Susan Darst Williams, May 08, 2002, Nebraska StatePaper
Should evolution be taught to kids as “scientific fact” and enthroned as such in Nebraska’s K-12 public-school learning standards? Or should it be taught as what it is: a theory full of untestable assumptions, no better than any other theory of origins?
Nebraskans who want truth in science education - kids taught the whole story about evolution, pro and con - can say so to the Nebraska State Board of Education. You can sign an e-petition by early Thursday, May 9. A citizens’ group will testify on your behalf at a public hearing before the state ed board.
All this reminds me of how I learned evolution is nothing but a fish story:
Years ago, one side of my neck suddenly swelled up like a Husker linebacker’s. A doctor in Omaha told me I needed immediate neck surgery to prevent cancer. He said I had “the remnants of the tissue of a gill, left over from evolutionary changes in utero.” This “gill” might become a repository for cancer cells! Eek!
I remembered pictures in my grade-school science textbook of human embryos with gill slits and yolk sacs. The illustrations implied that in the womb, we look like fish for a while, then reptiles, then other animals, and finally, ping! A Gerber baby.
The “sound bite” for all this is a mouthful: “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Here was proof for evolution in my own body! I scheduled the surgery, bragged about my “gill” to my friends, and went around making funny fish faces and stuff.
Then a physician friend heard about it, and went ballistic.
Turns out the gill-slits theory was exposed as a hoax a half-century ago. Human embryos do NOT go through evolutionary changes of other species like that. Our embryonic throat grooves may have looked like gills to scientists a century ago, when this theory got started. But high-tech microscopes and the science of embryology have long since shown that the shape is just a coincidence. There are no “gill cells” in the human embryo at any time, no “gill DNA.” The grooves go on to form groovy stuff like our tonsils, middle-ear canals, and parathyroid and thymus glands. But no gills. Ontogeny doesn’t recapitulate phylogeny after all.
I quit making fish faces, canceled the surgery, went to a smarter doctor, found out my “gill” was only a stuffed-up sinus . . . and realized I’d almost been conned.
Which means that, years before, I HAD been conned . . . by my teachers. Which means that somebody had conned THEM.
Hmm. If THAT part of evolution isn’t true, what ELSE isn’t? A sampling:
-- Missing links: still missing. Not a single transitional species has ever been found.
-- Natural selection and adaptation: yes, they occur, but within the existing gene pools of existing species, not creating new species from existing ones.
-- Evidence that any species of life has gotten more complex over time: none.
-- Biochemistry: still disproves evolution.
-- Astronomy: still disproves evolution.
-- Mathematics: still disproves evolution.
The clincher was learning that “Nebraska Man,” the possible “missing link” in the Scopes trial from the propaganda film, “Inherit the Wind,” was just another in a long line of evolutionary hoaxes. The way it was taught in school, I pictured “Nebraska Man” as a kind of Herbie Husker / Fred Flintstone combo. Come to find out, there was never even a skeleton for “Nebraska Man.” All they had was a sketch of what a skeleton might have looked like, based on one measly tooth, a tooth scientists said was from a human being a squillion years ago.
Turns out the tooth wasn’t even from a human: it was from an extinct pig.
If evolution would dare to besmirch the name of Nebraska that way, it was no longer welcome in my intellectual hall of fame.
How about yours?
Shouldn’t we be teaching our students the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about evolution and all other important school subjects?
I think our kids deserve the straight scoop from their schools . . . and we all should make funny fish faces Otil they get it.