LETTER: SB 55 is about religion, not science
To the Editor:
The proposed Senate legislation known as SB 55 is not about improving the teaching of science in South Dakota schools, as its language would deceitfully have us believe. It is about protecting teachers from consequence if they choose to teach religion in science classes under the guise of so-called "creation science."
"Creation science" is a term adopted by Christian science deniers as more compelling and purportedly defensible than the previously used terms "creationism" and "intelligent design." The ethereal hypotheses these terms all promote are wholly based on biblical propositions, not material fact, and have been ruled manifestly unscientific and religious in federal courts and prohibited from being taught in U.S. K-12 science curricula.
HB 55 proposes that teachers be unrestrained from teaching "in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses" of the actual science they are supposedly teaching in their classes. This is a code phrase for "challenging in a subjective religious manner ideas that diverge from biblical doctrine." Just as "extreme vetting" and "a beautiful wall" are code for foreigner-loathing racism.
Science and religion, no matter how you phrase the latter, are unreconcilable. Science is the evidence-based discipline of accurately describing the actualities of the material universe, and is always open to criticism. Religion in its many iterations is the imagination-based practice of envisioning and worshipping omnipotent, immaterial beings, and is deemed infallible. So, trying to explain tangible science with airy religion is fundamentally a nonsensical notion.
If our state's legislators want to insert religion into our children's science education, they should say so directly and not try to slip it into legislation underhandedly using opaque language to camouflage its true intent. It's not, one might say, very Christian.