Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma made the right call last week in deciding to shelve a bill that would have allowed public schools to teach creationism alongside evolution in science classes.
The bill approved by the state Senate would have permitted public schools to teach creationism, as long as they included origin of life theories from multiple religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.
Bosma said Tuesday he considered the proposal a lawsuit waiting to happen. He was right.
Certainly, the bill made an effort to avoid such a challenge by requiring that schools teach not only the Christian theory about the origin of the species but theories from other religions as well.
That requirement, though, made the measure even more unworkable. If they wanted to offer such instruction, schools would have been forced to choose their science teachers not just based on their knowledge of science but on their understanding of all of the world’s religions.
And even if schools found such a teacher, how much time would it take to teach all of those theories? Would the teacher have time remaining to teach the rest of the science curriculum?
The bill revealed a basic misunderstanding about scientific theory. The fact is that evolutionary biology isn’t really about the “origin of life.” It focuses on how species propagate and change over time.
There is, of course, a conflict between science and religion. Both seek to explain the mysteries of life.
Science does it through research and investigation. Religion does it through faith.
As they investigate life’s mysteries, scientists develop a hypothesis, an educated guess based on observation. They then seek to prove that hypothesis through repeated testing. Once tested, a hypothesis can become a theory, representing a summary of scientists’ current understanding.
Even for scientists, though, some things are unexplainable. Those, we accept on faith, and every religion has its own teachings, its own explanations.
This nation’s founders believed strongly in freedom of religion, that we all had the right to adopt our own beliefs and not to have someone else’s beliefs forced upon us.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars our government from establishing an official religion.
Bosma was right. We should teach creationism in our churches and science in our schools.