We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

September 5, 1999

Maybe you missed the news from Kansas. If so, let me fill you in. Last month the State Board of Education passed a new policy removing the word “evolution” from the science curriculum guidelines for local school districts. The implication is that each school district can make its own decision regarding how much or how little the students are taught about the theory of evolution. Teachers would still be free to teach evolution if they so desired, but they would not be forced to do so. Considered by itself, the policy is absolutely unremarkable. In one sense it merely returns to local districts the right to determine what students will be taught. It would seem hard to argue with that principle.

But then came the firestorm. Almost every newspaper in America weighed with words of ridicule and vitriol. The Sun-Times published a column by that “noted scientist” Roger Ebert in which he declared that all creation is evidence for evolution, which if taken literally is a statement of religious belief that has nothing to do with science. Writer after writer bemoaned the fate of those poor Kansas schoolchildren who won’t be taught about evolution. Never mind that that’s not what the new policy mandates; it promotes more freedom of thought, not less.

But that is precisely the heart of the debate. The proponents of evolution are so desperate to protect their worldview that they will brook no criticism and no alternative ideas, especially not the radical concept that the universe is the product of Intelligent Design, which is a euphemism for “God.” The True Believers in evolution call it purposeless, random, and directionless. It just happens. So-called “theistic evolutionists” put God back at the start, but that hardly solves anything. The True Believers don’t need God for their theory to work. They don’t mind having God at the start so long as he doesn’t actually interfere with the process.

Phillip Johnson is right. The evolutionists panic at things like the new Kansas policy because they don’t want the public to understand the implicit religious content of what they are teaching. Let there be no mistake. Evolution is not just a “theory” about peppered moths and dog-breeding. It is a worldview that leaves God out. But if you omit God from life, you have missed the central fact of the universe. And if you are wrong at the center, you are certain to be wrong in the details.

As Dorothy said to Toto, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” But maybe we should be.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?