My local newspaper, The Kentucky Enquirer, has a smaller front page these days. That’s good news, as today they found a way to place a giant photo of the founder of a creationist museum in the area on the cover. The reason his photo is there owes to a debate that is taking place at the museum in a couple of days, between Ken Hamm, founder of the museum, and Bill Nye, scientist famous for his show “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” What makes me happy that the photo was so large is that the article accompanying the photo was so long and tilted in Hamm’s favor that it forced much of the article to interior pages, forcing the reader to do more work to find out more. It’s good in my opinion because the creationist viewpoint of Hamm was all that was mentioned on the front page, giving no time to Nye and science.
It is, by now, probably very easy to see that my views match closely with Mr. Nye. And, I am no fan of Mr. Hamm. However, I am intrigued by, and cannot wait to see, this debate online. I decided I did not want to donate any money to the creationist cause, which, in my opinion, would lead society backward and help us lose ground to more enlightened thinking. If you can follow the article long enough to wade through the lengthy background story on Hamm and his museum, and continue to connect the extra sub-articles on successive pages, you will eventually find a small piece about Nye and his science stance. Why the editors chose to place all the non-scientific information ahead of the science is beyond me. Does it matter that this person is local? Maybe, and I could understand that if it were about local government or business. But, as Mr. Nye points out in the sub-article that discusses his reasons for debating Mr. Hamm, this is about education and misinformation.
Nye wants to debate, even as the creation museum will get attention from the event, because he wants to put up a fight against what seems to be a popular misconception that may enter our kids’ science textbooks — that being that the story of creation being fact and scientific. Nothing could be further from truth if you allow science to help you see the story unfold. If we allow creation into a science textbook we are allowing a religious myth to further spread. thereby promoting a religion and demoting actual science. There is no science in the story of creation. There is nothing that shows that story actually happened on earth. There is no reason it should take any space in a science textbook.
Now, at the same time this story was being splashed on the front page, another article about education, including science, was buried deep in the paper in a section called Forum. It was an opinion letter co-signed by members of local businesses and education institutions. The letter was taking to task those who think the national Common Core Standards, adopted first by the State of Kentucky, are akin to the federal government forcing their agenda on the country. Nothing could be further from the truth, and, as the letter points out, the need to raise standards is paramount if the United States is to reignite it’s torch of scientific and business leadership and compete internationally. The group of signers also mentions that the focus of the standards will be on weighted toward critical thinking and problem solving.
Which brings me back to the debate above. If we can strengthen standards that promote critical thinking and problem solving, we can then use those skills to bring more scientific discoveries to the world. Perhaps these discoveries can then allow people to understand why dinosaurs could never have lived with humans, and why all of this beautiful planet we call home could not have been created in six days and be only 6000 years old. Science should and will come to the front page of our society, and we will all be well served by the time and effort directed toward that change.