Educators in Kentucky have rolled out a new set of science standards.
Nearly two dozen parents, teachers, scientists and advocacy groups commented at the state Department of Education hearing on the Next Generation Science Standards. The broad set of guidelines will revamp content in grades K-12 and help meet requirements from a 2009 law that called for improving education.
“Students in the commonwealth both need and deserve 21st-century science education grounded in inquiry, rich in content and internationally benchmarked,” said Blaine Ferrell, a representative from the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, a science advocacy group that endorses the standards.
Seems reasonable right?
No so much. Opponents of the science standards have apparently lost their fucking minds:
The critics included parent Valerie O’Rear, who said the standards promote an “atheistic world view” and a political agenda that pushes government control.
Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister declared:
“Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Singleton said. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.”.
There’s no end to the crazy:
At one point, opponent Dena Stewart-Gore of Louisville also suggested that the standards will marginalize students with religious beliefs, leading to ridicule and physiological harm in the classroom, and create difficulties for students with learning disabilities.
“The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them,” she said, adding that “we are even talking genocide and murder here, folks.”
Superficially these objections are completely nuts. But, they make sense in context of right wing Christian rhetoric that teaches that the Holocaust was the direct result of teaching evolution and the natural outcome of accepting the concept of evolution leads to atheism, which leads to the Gulag Archipelago and Stalin’s decades long reign of brutality, oppression, murder and organized terrorism of the Soviet populace. The connection between the scientific theory of evolution and the Holocaust and the worst excesses of the Soviet Union may not seem obvious. It goes something like this:
Evolution teaches that the whole universe is just a giant accident, that people evolved by sheer happenstance. Which means, we’re nothing but animals. Since there is no god, there’s no morality and since we’re just animals there’s no reason for us to be moral. So all sorts of horrible things happen because there’ s no God and no morality. The Holocaust, genocide, the murder of “socially undesirable” persons are the obvious outcomes of a universe with no god and no morality.
So when these otherwise normal seeming persons stand up in public and announce that new science standards for the state of Kentucky will lead to genocide and murder, they aren’t just crazy, they’re responding to a narrative about evolution, morality and science which says science is dangerous because it denies God. But, without knowing that background, it’s pretty to easy to read or hear such statements and conclude there is no dividing line because fundamentalist and crazy.