WASHINGTON – A petition urging the Obama administration to ban the teaching of creation and intelligent design in U.S. schools was recently filed on the White House website.
Written by an individual simply identified as “A.J.” from Vienna, Virginia, the 116-word petition claims that even though Darwinian evolution is “treated as scientific fact by 99.9% of all scientists,” some schools still erroneously give credence to the “controversy” of non-evolutionary theories.
“[Creationism and intelligent design] have no basis in scientific fact,” the petition claims, “and have absolutely zero evidence pointing towards these conjectures. These types of loopholes in our education are partially to blame for our dangerously low student performances in math and science. Therefore, we petition the Obama Adminstration [sic] to ban the teachings of these conjectures that contradict evolution.”
Since A.J.’s petition was posted on June 15th, well over 30,000 people have signed the measure, and that number continues to rapidly increase with each passing day. According to White House policies, the administration will deliver an official response if the signature count eclipses 100,000 in 30 days.
The Obama administration has accepted online petitions like this one since late 2011 in an attempt to increase openness and public input with government policies. And while several of the requests involve legitimate political or legal issues, others are more trivial or even comedic in nature. (One popular petition late last year asked the government to construct a life-size spaceship from Star Wars.)
Even though the creationism-banning request has received considerable media coverage, Dr. Kevin Anderson—a microbiologist with the Creation Research Society—told Christian News Network that the petition makes several faulty claims. For instance, he said that the “99.9%” figure is most likely a highly exaggerated assertion.
“My personal observation is that there are more creationists than popular evolution media wants to acknowledge,” he remarked. “Evolutionists tend to over exaggerate the popularity of evolution in the scientific community and then seek comfort in this popularity. … Popularity of evolution has little to do with evidence; rather it is a defiance of God.”
Dr. Anderson further emphasized that there is “very solid” scientific support of creation, despite what evolutionists contend. He also suggested that evolutionists’ lofty claims are normally reflexive responses, and not objective critiques of creation science.
“When I debate evolutionists,” he said, “I assure you, they have few answers to my arguments, and those answers are usually either denial of the actual scientific data or attempted obfuscation of the arguments.”
“Why should evolution even worry about such criticism?” he asked. “That is what science is all about; active and critical discussion of an idea. The evolutionists have repeatedly attempted to halt all open discussion. This is not the actions of those wanting free thought and open access of ideas. It certainly appears to me that evolutionists fear they have to protect their doctrine (which is really what it is), because otherwise it may not withstand an open critique.”
In a similar interview with the Christian News Network, Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, described this petition as yet another display of secular intolerance toward Biblical creationism.
“For all their claims that the pursuit of science should be done with free inquiry and tolerance for dissenting views,” he commented, “many of these same people are the ones most intolerant about any alternative belief. For many of these secularists, evolution is their excuse for not believing in a God. It allows them to live their lives how they want … unaccountable to an absolute Authority and His absolute standards.”
“It is a sad state of affairs when opponents have to resort to petitions and lawsuits to protect their beliefs,” he stated. “I think it reveals that these secularists are recognizing that the evolution belief system is so weak in scientific terms that the only way to defend it is by suppressing any opposition, including now by attempted political force.”
Ham also called the petition “silly,” since the teaching of creation and intelligent design in public schools is already very limited. Additionally, he stated, because science curricula is primarily governed by local school districts, this effort to impose federal government involvement is simply “another attempt to ridicule the thousands of scientists across the U.S and millions of Americans who reject evolution and accept the Genesis creation account instead.”
In regards to the legality of teaching creation in school, Ham carefully pointed out that—contrary to popular belief—there are no national laws preventing science teachers from teaching about creation. He mentioned that the famous 1987 U.S. Supreme Court Case concerning science curricula “dealt with the issue of whether states can mandate that creation be taught along with evolution … the Court did not say that teachers were not permitted to bring up alternative ideas to evolution—just that they could not be forced to.”
Finally, Ham proposed that the online petition actually masks the vital importance of having legitimate conversations about life’s origins.
“Bizarre petitions like this one discourage serious discussion about such an important topic,” he noted. “Are there many subjects more important than addressing the question of where we all came from (and where we are headed), creation or evolution? There is meaning and purpose in life if there is a God, but purposelessness and meaninglessness without a God.”