All debates are good. But not all debates are created equal.
Case in point – the debate over teaching evolution in schools, which seems to be winding down. I say “seems to be” because it’s not in the news much today, replaced by what I think are far bigger social battles – gay marriage and abortion.
Like those issues, soldiers from both armies in this fight are dug in pretty deep. The debate has reached the point where the dialogue is just stale and bitter. Opponents of evolution are “superstitious” and “ignorant;” proponents are “godless” and “immoral.” Certainly citizens have the right to hold their own opinions, but they should at least mind their manners in a public debate. For crying out loud, what would their mothers say?
As a public, we’ve argued about whether science or religion ought to dominate in schools (to me, a question whose answer is staggeringly obvious) for at least 87 years, and as a recent high-school graduate, I can attest that the rhetoric from both sides over the question of how modern man became so civilized has devolved into nothing more than an annoying distraction. Perhaps it’s time for a compromise then, one from which both sides benefit.
The needed settlement is simple. As a verified scientific principle, schools should teach evolution in science classes. However, they should refer to it as a theory (as they also do to the theory of gravity), because in science nothing is ever 100% “proven.” Creationism, on the other hand, belongs in the Social Studies environment. This point of view is based on Jewish and Christian cultural tradition, and so it would make sense to keep it in a subject which is all about cultures from all over the world.
Indeed, many schools are already moving to this model of education, if they haven’t adopted it already.
Of course, this proposed compromise won’t make everyone happy – there will always be people on the fringes of a debate who will never be satisfied. But at least it’s a step in the right direction, and a genuine stab at putting this issue to bed once and for all.