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November 30, 2004

Reality and Government Schools

In my previous post here I commented on two of Timothy Sandefur's posts (here and here) about creationism vs. evolution. I closed my post by asking: "Who defines reality, and who decides to confront us with it? The state?" Mr. Sandefur responds thusly:

...Reality is not “defined” by some entity standing outside of it and determining its contents; it simply is. It is discovered, and observed, by all of us—some more skillfully and carefully than others....

All right, then, who decides which of us is the more skillful and careful observer of reality? It shouldn't be the state. (I believe that Mr. Sandefur and I are firmly agreed on that point.) But, we do have government-run schools, and they do dominate education in the United States. Perforce, it is those schools, in their vast inadequacy, that decide what to teach as "reality."

I share Mr. Sandefur's concern that proponents of  "intelligent design" would use the state to compel the teaching of ID as an alternative to evolution. But government schools that teach evolution are also the schools that teach a lot of things that skillful observers like Mr. Sandefur and I do not recognize as truth -- things that might be wrapped up in the phrase "government as ultimate problem-solver."

Now, I do not mean to suggest that government schools might just as well go for broke and teach more untruth by adding ID to their curricula. What I mean to suggest is that government schools already teach -- and have long taught -- ideas that are far more subversive of liberty and the pursuit of happiness than ID.

It's annoying to think that "creationism" is widely believed, and it's galling to think that it might be taught in public schools. But I find that far less threatening than the widespread belief in government as ultimate problem-solver. That is why, given the limited amount of time I have for blogging, I tend to shoot at the left and ignore the right.

Posted by Thomas Anger on November 30, 2004 | Permalink

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