KENNEBUNKPORT – The bumper sticker “Creationism is for Sunday school; science is for public school” is supposed to be a jab at Paul LePage. However, does the sentiment stand up to scrutiny?

LePage’s exact words have been parsed at length, but no one has explained what the “teaching” part means. If a future social studies teacher recalls the 2010 election, explaining to sixth-graders how creationism played a role in the governor’s race, has the teacher just “taught” creationism?

Few would think so. But is it really any different if a teacher tells her students that a significant number of citizens believe in a doctrine called creationism, and she then explains what they believe? Does that rise to teaching creationism?

Probably no one, including Paul LePage, knows what he meant when he said it. To me, a literal meaning of creationism makes it silly to believe. But it is not toxic. It is not going to poison anyone who hears it somewhere, even if the somewhere is a school.

Now for the science part.

A recent Nature survey of the religious beliefs of U.S. scientists found that “among the top natural scientists disbelief is greater than ever — almost total.” But statistics of the general U.S. population show just the opposite — 90 to 95 percent believers.

That means the scientific community is a subculture out of sync with the rest of the country when it comes to rejecting God and religion. That is their prerogative, but it should make us wary about the influence they have in our schools.

Science is often belligerent in its face-off with religion. While religion would never suggest that science has no place in schools, science reciprocates by demanding that religion be banned from classrooms and textbooks. Fanatical atheist-scientists of the ilk of Richard Hawkins crusade against God in books and in the media, and routinely portray believers as illiterate fools and foils.

This might be all well and good if scientists took it upon themselves to explain all of nature and the universe. But instead, like the professors in “Planet of the Apes,” they draw the line of the forbidden zone — where the questions are too hard to answer. Unfortunately, these are the very questions which matter most to 90 percent of the people.

Take the big-bang theory. Scientists believe the universe began with a big bang. The evidence is convincing. They even know when it happened, 13.7 billion years ago.

But here are the questions they sidestep:

Who or what caused it?

What existed before it? (If “nothing,” can they explain clearly what that is?)

Did time start then?

Or consider that this very minute we are all embarked on a fantastic journey far more bizarre than the man who jumped on his horse and rode madly off in all directions. Unfelt by us, the planet beneath our feet hurtles along through space at incomprehensible speeds: 1,000 mph as it rotates, 67,000 mph as it revolves around the sun, and 300,000 mph as it moves with our galaxy — and all of these at once! The reason we don’t fall off Earth with these gyrations, or even sense them, is much the same as why we don’t feel motion in a jetliner — but this travel is real and happening now.

Why don’t we think of this astounding reality every waking hour? Why doesn’t this electrifying and terrifying flight to eternity dwarf booking a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth 2?

Perhaps because science has sedated us with “Now, now, don’t worry your pretty little head over things you (and we) don’t understand.”

How about telling us where we are going in the universe? If the universe is constantly expanding, what is it expanding into?

Science has no explanation of the origin of life. A process outside the logic of evolution appears to be needed to explain the origin of life and the beginning of evolution.

Science has never come close to being able to replicate life in the laboratory — even life of the lowest order. Sorry, Dr. Frankenstein.

Hubris aside, the image of science as a totally impartial process of truth-finding has not been valid since at least 1633, when Galileo was put on trial for denying that Earth is the center of the universe. Science has always been biased by societal pressures, “Climategate” being only the newest scandal.

I propose a new bumper sticker: “Science, intelligent design and open minds are for home and school.”

 

– Special to The Press Herald