|Evolution in Politics - December 2000|
|No substantial part of the activities of this corporation shall consist of … attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate or intervene in any political campaign (including the publishing or distribution of statements) on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.|
That’s why we didn’t discuss politics during the campaign. Now that the elections are finally over, it is appropriate to make some observations about how much respect the candidates gave to the theory of evolution during their campaigns. In this month’s Web Site of the Month, Lothar reviews a site that addressed the presidential candidates’ views on evolution. In this column, however, we want to focus on the local school board election.
Before the election, we picked up a pamphlet entitled, “Ridgecrest Citizens For Constitutional Government VOTER GUIDE 2000”. According to the pamphlet, “Ridgecrest Citizens For Constitutional Government is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse or support candidates for office.” We were particularly interested in Question 14 on the “2000 Sierra Sands Unified School District School Board Candidate Survey.” It asked,
|14. Neither evolution nor creation is provable in the science laboratory. Should discussion of both be permitted in the classroom?|
Of the eight candidates running for school board, seven said “YES,” and one was “UNDECIDED.”
Of more significance to us than the actual responses of the candidates, is the way the “non-partisan” organization unfairly biased the question against evolution. In our opinion, the first sentence of their question clearly reveals what they think the answer to the second question should be. We think it would have been fairer to ask,
14. Which of the following statements most accurately expresses your stand regarding the teaching of the origin of life in public school science classes.
That would have given us a more accurate understanding of what each candidate actually thought on the subject. (Or, perhaps it might have given us a more accurate understand of what each candidate thought he or she had to say to get elected.)
Despite the imperfection in the way the question was phrased, it seems clear to us that, in Ridgecrest, there is widespread rejection of the theory of evolution. Furthermore, there is an obvious desire to give creation an equal shake in the Ridgecrest area public schools.
We should note that Ridgecrest/China Lake is an unusual community. There are only three industries in the area. Movie making is a distant third behind weapon development and chemical production/mining. It seems like practically everyone in town is either a scientist, engineer, technician, or married to one. Silicon Valley probably has a larger number of engineers and computer scientists than Ridgecrest, but that’s only because of the difference in total population. Ridgecrest might have a higher percentage of people with advanced technical skills than any other city in California. We probably have a higher per-capita ownership of personal computers (running programs we wrote ourselves), palm pilots, and GPS receivers, than anyplace else in California (although we admit that we don’t have any statistics to back up our subjective observations).
Pardon me for bragging, but the people who work at China Lake have unquestionably developed an unmatched number of the finest, most sophisticated, most effective, most reliable, most usable, military products in the world. There is an extremely high concentration of very smart people who are really “into science” in Ridgecrest. Many of them have come to the conclusion that the theory of evolution is no longer a plausible explanation for the origin of life. That’s why, in the last election, NOBODY who wanted to get elected to school board would go on record as favoring the teaching of evolution alone. It would have been political suicide in such a scientifically-aware city as Ridgecrest.
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