Rebirth of Reason


Machan's Musings - Schools, Government and Creationism
by Tibor R. Machan

No matter how often you point this out, those in the mainstream simply ignore the issue even though it is central to the controversy. Ever since the Scopes "monkey" trial back in 1926, there has been this on-going, unending battle between secularists and fundamentalist Christians about whether Darwin’s evolutionary theory should be taught as established fact in government schools. (Oddly, few talk about whether Einstein, Bohr or Heisenberg ought to be part of the curriculum. Nor whether the Big Bang should be included in astrophysics. Nor seems there to be much fuss about genetics and other sciences. But with evolutionary biology I suppose things are most directly testy, so people get more excited.)

But the real problem is that government schools exist. The delusion that you can get religion and values out of education is part of what lulls so many people into the misguided belief that government education is just fine. No one would admit this about a government ministry which the US Constitution explicitly prohibits. Yet schools are rife with lessons about controversial matters that touch on religion and other matters about which members of the citizenry are deeply divided. And in a free country there ought to be no official pressure on them to conform. Yet demanding that they agree either with the Creationists or with the Darwinists is imposing pressure on them they cannot escape without considerable cost they ought not to have to bear.

Suppose government/public schools teach Darwin but one objects and does not elect to subject one’s children to such teaching. In order to escape, one must do double jeopardy now—pay the property taxes for the government school and then pay tuition to the private/religious school of one’s choice. Or suppose it’s the other way—or, indeed, some way not today in the limelight. All are surely rank injustice.

It is interesting that the major supporters of government education, modern liberals, often complain when their taxes go to projects with which they disagree. During the Vietnam War era they often advocated tax resistance because their funds were being sent to support a war they found morally objectionable. And more recently some have proposed similar measures vis-à-vis Bush’s war in Iraq.

Yet, they see nothing wrong with forcing fundamentalists to pay for government schools that teach what fundamentalists consider an abomination. And this includes not only Darwinism but, often, sex education and other value-laden topics to which children of parents who object should not be subjected.

In this respect the ACLU, too, is two-faced, as are the pro-choice people, who endorse choice when it comes to killing a fetus but will not defend it when it comes to spending one’s wealth as one wishes or not paying women the same as men in the same job. How come choice is such a fine thing when the lives of fetuses are at stake but not in most other areas in which they insist political correctness must rule?

This also points up just how inconsistent many modern liberals are when it comes to the right to private property. For many of them—certainly some of their most prolific proselytizers—government really owns all the wealth in society, not individuals. (This is argued by New York University Professors Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel in their book, The Myth of Ownership, Oxford UP 2002.) Taxation, therefore, is not any kind of confiscation but resource-management by government that properly owns all the wealth in society.

Yet, folks of the same ilk take part in tax protests when they don’t like how the government uses the taxes it takes from us. Well, why protest?—government is merely managing things as it sees fit and no one has any say in the matter once a decision has been reached.

Well, the same can be said about protesting the teaching of either Darwin or Creationism in government schools. The very institution implies that there is nothing to protest—they got the power! To remedy it all, let’s then take it from them and support teaching as we choose, in the varieties of schools we could have if government didn’t usurp this area of social life.
Sanctions: 9Sanctions: 9 Sanction this ArticleEditMark as your favorite article

Discuss this Article (5 messages)