On June 19th, 1987 in the Case of Edwards vs. Aguillard, the United States Supreme Court decided that “…Louisiana's "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction" Act…is facially invalid…as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
The State of Louisiana had legislated a policy that if evolution was to be taught in public schools, creation science must be taught as well. The Supreme Court was not fooled by Louisiana’s attempt to cloak religious teachings in the trappings of science. In his opinion, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. writes:
…the purpose of the Creationism Act was to restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. Out of many possible science subjects taught in the public schools, the legislature chose to affect the teaching of the one scientific theory that historically has been opposed by certain religious sects…the legislature passed the Act to give preference to those religious groups which have as one of their tenets the creation of humankind by a divine creator.
Justice Brennan, while invalidating the “Balanced Treatment” law left room (wisely I believe) for an intelligent approach to the subject. He writes that, “…teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.”
Taking a tip from Justice Brennan, I believe that creationism should be taught—as an example of bad science. Science teachers already teach the scientific method. They can teach their students, unambiguously, how evolution follows the tenets of the scientific method and how creation science does not. Educators shouldn’t shy away from the controversy. If America is to remain competitive, if we are to continue being leaders in scientific research, we must train students how to distinguish science from fantasy.
There’s so much talk, these days, about identifying and eliminating bad teachers. Here’s one way to do it: Remove anyone who teaches their students that creationism is science.