Knox County Schools Should Leave Science Book Alone

The Knox County school board is in the midst of a controversy, having discovered that it has a biology book which refers to the creation of the world by the Judeo-Christian God as a “myth.” This has upset enough parents to have the school board trembling.

As all good East Tennesseans know, God created heaven and earth and placed the sun and the moon and the stars in place during a six-day period about 6,000 years ago. Some people find this confusing unless you understand that God has a bizarre sense of humor.

For instance. He arranged for light to arrive on Earth seemingly from stars that are so far away the light would have to have started a billion years ago.

He evidently created a lot of bones of scary creatures and salted them around the earth in various places leading some people to believe in dinosaurs. There is no mention of dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden and the dinosaur fossils appear to be hundreds of thousands of years older than humans. If man was created the same week as everything else, how can this be?

There are people who think that the world was created by an intelligent being, a Creator if you will. But they also believe that the universe is billions of years old and that the account in Genesis is a wonderful metaphorical description of the event, but not a literal account. This reconciles science and religion and it is the position of many modern-day Christians.

The problem with this position is that it leaves these Christians in the position of seeing the Genesis account as, well, a myth. A wonderful, poetic, grand vision and one of the most creative concepts humans have ever produced. This description was created at a time before philosophy and science were even invented.

Seems almost divine, doesn’t it?

But it is either the literal truth, which conflicts with what we know about physical science, astronomy and biology, or it’s a mythical account and an attempt by early humans to understand their world and how it came to be. It can’t be both.

There was a time when Christians were fed to lions, stretched on racks and crucified. Many of them had to flee their countries to seek religious freedom, including many of the early settlers in America. They suffered trials and tribulations for their faith. Many of them died for their faith.

It is a far cry from the “persecution” of Christians in America today. In most cases, as in the Farragut biology book case, it consists of having their feelings hurt.

The language in the Knox County biology book was brought to the attention of adults by students. It is obvious that these students are getting strong religious instruction at home and in church—as they should. Does anyone think a single paragraph in a biology book will shake their faith, change their minds, or overcome the instruction they are getting at church and at home?

School biology class isn’t the place to deal with theology and neither agnostics nor fundamentalist Christians should think having public school teachers explaining religious doctrine is a good idea. The idea that schools “should teach both” ideas of creation is a dangerous fallacy. Teaching science should be about what is, leave the “how come and the who” to theologians and churches.

Let’s don’t even get started on the creation “myths” of the rather diverse population of Knoxville’s non-Christians—shouldn’t they get equal time? Are we to have a chapter on Amon Ra, Odin, Zeus and Vishnu? Why not? They figure in the creation of the world in various cultures. Surely we aren’t going to say we will only teach Christianity in biology. Where does it end?

It’s hard for the school board to deal with emotional and explosive topics like this one. But it can be a teaching moment. Stand up and do what you know is the right thing to do.

Leave the book alone.

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Comments » 4

jmcnair writes:


hzcummi writes:

Sorry, Mr. Cagle. You are not an expert on Genesis. You have no idea what God was revealing to Moses, so stop misleading people concerning something you know almost nothing about. How about just stating that the school system allows a book to affirm an opinion about an opposing view of pre-historic history, but the school system won't allow a book (or a discussion) about that opposing view in science class?

No one in any school system, all around the world, is qualified to teach Biblical Creation. The correct opposing view to the evolution theory is the "Observations of Moses", which is the true explanation of the first chapter of Genesis. "Young Earth" creationism is foolish, and denies scientific reality. “Old Earth” creationism is false doctrine, and denies the literal truth of the Bible.

Accept the fact that the worlds of Creationism and Theology do not understand the Genesis text, and stop ignoring the person that does understand. A 62 minute PowerPoint presentation is available that explains the geologic history of Earth, as given to us by what was revealed to Moses back in 1598 BC.

Teaching only evolution in public schools (science class) is actually state supported indoctrination into the tenets of Atheism, using public funds. No public school system is supposed to decide for the students whether or not there is a Deity, or a Creator.


historyfanatic writes:

Seems Herman told us nothing to convince us that he is an expert on the Book of Genesis. He does however give us a good dose of his opinion. The vague reference is intriging but I wonder who authored it?

Science collects facts over time and the theory itself does evolve as we learn more. We know much more about cancer than our grandparents. We know how to fly which was impossible before 1903. We build bridges that were impossible two hundred years ago. Let's reserve science for the science classes.

As for creation in general let us turn to the Bible: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible." (Hebrews 11: 1-3 NRSV) This is theology and might well be taught in schools but to date, we do not have it in the public school cirriculum.

My wife and I attend church weekly and accept the evolution of viruses and many other of God's species. Personally as a retired engineer, I do not find evolution and Christianty incompatable.

So keep up the enlightenment, Frank!

beauvaislyons writes:

I am pleased that School Board Chair Indya Kincannon was able to postpone board member Cindy Buttry’s resolution to ban the honors biology textbook Asking About Life until their May 5th meeting in hopes that they are “going to be able to reach an even-keeled, reasonable conclusion.” I share Buttry’s concern about this textbook and its characterization of creationism as a “Biblical myth” and want our elected representatives to be thoughtful and deliberate when deciding to eliminate a book from the curriculum. I have faith that after further reflection and in consultation with members of the community the Knox County School Board will do the right thing and ban this anti-Christian text from our classrooms. The Bible is, after all, the word of God and rich with accounts of the animal kingdom. I take its eight references to unicorns (in Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Job 39:9, Job 39:10, Psalm 22:21, Psalm 29:6, Psalm 92:10, Isaiah 34:7) to be evidence of God’s creation and biological truth. The same could be said for dragons, which are also cited in the Bible. To claim that unicorns or dragons are mythic creatures would also be preposterous and I hope the new honors biology textbook used in our schools will include them.

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