My wife and I frequently talk about education, especially in a compare-and-contrast sense. See, my wife is from California, whereas I’ve lived in Texas my entire life, and over the course of these conversations we’ve been having, I’ve come to realize how different our educations were. I was at the mercy of Conservative, religious-based public school bureaucracy while she had a more rounded education, especially in the subject of science. Yet, through all the discrepancies, science is the subject that really stands out when I stand up and say “I do not, under any circumstance, want my children to be educated in Texas.”
At one time, it also had a lot to do with how Texas handles children who even so much as swear. Since then, new laws have been passed that severely cut down what schools can do to kids who act like, you know, kids. Anyway, I digress.
Since science is the primary reason why I don’t want my children going to school here, I suppose it’s best if I start it off with that. There are two huge reasons: 1.) in Texas, there is a unanimous denial in climate change, and b.) in Texas, there is a unanimous denial of evolution, which is taken one-step further by repeated attempts to include intelligent design in the curriculum. These are two things I absolutely will not stand for.
Firstly, while evolution is still classified as a “theory”, there is an astonishing amount of evidence to support it. This evidence is not just found in humans, but in other primates, other mammals, insects, arachnids, flora and fauna, etc. etc. etc. Basically, evolution takes place in just about everything and no amount of arguments involving Mount Rushmore can keep that from being a reality. However, the consensus in Texas is that evolution didn’t happen, that God made everything as it is now, and that the Earth is 6,000 years old.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that’s a crock of shit. Hell, third graders have a basic understanding that evolution exists. I think, for the sake of making sure we’re all on the same page — I’m not implying that you’re not following, just covering all the bases — let’s look at the definition of evolution, courtesy of Merriam-Webster.
1 : one of a set of prescribed movements.
2 a : a process of change in a certain direction : unfolding
b : the action or an instance of forming or giving something off : emission
c (1) : a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state : growth (2) : a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, or economic advance
d : something evolved
3 : the process of working out or developing
4 a : the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species) : phylogeny
b : a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations; also : the process described by this theory
5 : the extraction of a mathematical root
6 : a process in which the whole universe is a progression of interrelated phenomena
— evo-lu-tion-ari-ly (adverb)
— evo-lu-tion-ary (adjective)
— evo-lu-tion-ism (noun)
— evo-lu-tion-ist (noun or adjective)
^ full definition given so people don’t accuse me of modifying my information to fit an agenda (believe it or not, this has happened).
As per the definition, evolution is when things evolve to adjust to changing times. Case in point, if you subscribe to the “theory” of human evolution, then you know that modern humans have appeared in varying stages, including Australopithecus, H. erectus (the “upright man”), and even our modern species, H. sapiens. You also probably know that humans share approximately 99% of the same genetic makeup as chimpanzees. This being said, chimpanzees exhibit all sorts of “human-like” behaviors, even aside of the more primitive ones, like tool use, intelligence, hunting and nest-building. Chimpanzees also exhibit altruism, meaning they are selfless and care about the well-being of others in their group, or family, if you will; they communicate using gestures, facial expressions, and vocalizations (research into the chimp brain has revealed that communication activates a portion of their brains that’s in the same position as the Broca’s area, the language center of the human brain); and they also exercise aggression, particularly males, especially in matters of defending their homes and their families, and at times, will kill other chimps for no reason. All of these are fairly common human behaviors as well.
So, how is it that two species, who many claim are completely different, not only share a nearly identical genetic makeup and exhibit near identical behavior patterns in socialization? Does God have an answer for that one?
The denial of evolution is absolutely ridiculous, and while I want my children to be able to form their own opinions, I want them to be well-informed. Texas won’t do that for my kids because they are so concerned with the Bible being the basis of all truths in existence, when the Bible is really nothing more than a collection of Jewish folklore and a few accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, whether he existed or not. The Bible is about as scientifically relevant as a soap opera, and when it comes to the quality of education for my children, I would much rather them not be told by teachers that the book is fact, Noah carried dinosaurs on the ark, and anyone who is not Christian will burn in Hell. Not only is that wrong and morally reprehensible, but it’s irresponsible. God, Jesus, and everything associated with it belongs in Sunday school, not a public institution.
To assist me with this part of my argument, let’s turn to Bill Nye. Remember? The Science Guy? Rival to Beakman? Yeah, you remember.
Or, we could consult an astrophysicist. You know, since he studies the Universe and stuff. Let’s talk to this guy.
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye are both students of this guy:
Another abhorrent trait of the Texas school system is their refusal to accept that man-made climate change exists. In reality, this is just a measure of common sense. There are a multitude of things we do that classify as “progress”. Hell, we’ve been in a constant state of “progress” since the end of the 19th Century*. This “progress” has constituted evolving (there’s that word again) methods of manufacturing, technology, mechanics, combustion, and all sorts of stuff like that. Of course, over this period of extrapolating Earth’s natural resources and creating synthetic ones for the “betterment” of humankind, there has been some damage done to the integrity of the planet. For instance, carbon dioxide levels have increased due to the use of fossil fuels (which are potentially harmful to people, mind you), and those rising carbon dioxide levels create a “greenhouse effect”, which is most commonly in greenhouses (those really hot and humid apparatuses where plants grow) and on the planet Venus, who’s atmosphere is made up almost entirely of carbon dioxide.
* This is debatable, depending on who you talk to and what topics you’re discussing with this person.
Earlier this year, the carbon dioxide level on Earth passed 400 ppm (400 parts per million, or .04% of the Earth’s atmosphere). This level has never been recorded by human instruments until now and hasn’t been seen on Earth in over three million years, at a time when seas were around 30 feet higher than they are today, the planet was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and horses and camels roamed the high Arctic.
Other factors contributed to climate change by humans include the use of aerosols and cement manufacturing (both of which also contribute to the rise in carbon dioxide), as well as land use, ozone depletion, animal agriculture, and deforestation. Remember deforestation? It’s when you cut down trees. And what do trees do? Convert carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis.
Do you remember?
If that isn’t clear enough for you, let’s keep the PBS-theme going and bring back our friend Bill Nye:
We could also take an explanation from Neil deGrasse Tyson:
In summary, because I have an objection to how Texas, and most other conservative states, handle these topics within the study of science in public schools, I refuse to allow my children to attend these classes. As I stated before, I want my children to form their own opinions, but do so from an informed standpoint, not because a teacher who either doesn’t believe in these things or is bound by state laws regarding the subjects tells them otherwise. It’s no secret that evolution and man-made climate change are very real things going on in this world. The problem is that in states like Texas, the acknowledgement of evolution discredits Christianity and the acknowledgement of man-made climate change acknowledges that a lot of the industry in Texas (such as oil and natural gas fracking) is damaging the planet.
As Bill Nye said, “I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent we observe in the Universe, fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.”