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Statement to the Ninth Grade

There have recently been a spate of incidents involving recalcitrant school boards acting to mitigate the risk that a student might actually come out of Biology class thinking that there is something to this Evolution idea. In Georgia they are putting stickers in the textbooks, and even in Blue PA a canned statement is being read to students in the 9th grade science class, which happens to have a textbook mentioning Darwin. (Just so you know, this is in Dover, the in Red area outside of PA’s bright Blue cities.) The science teachers have refused to read the school board’s statement, so the assistant superintendent is making the rounds. The statement has not been widely published, but brings you the text as an exclusive scoop! Here is is: “Hello Boys and Girls. I’ve stopped by today to talk about facts and theories. There are some things people know for sure, and some things people aren’t sure about. We call the things we know for sure “facts” or “truth.” For example, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Gospel truth.” The things we’re not sure about we call theories. For example, maybe you’ve seen on TV how the police sometimes have a theory on who committed a crime. Of course, we don’t put people in jail because of theories. First there has to be proof, like finding the DNA of the criminal on the crime weapon. Even that’s not good enough. To be absolutely sure we’ve got the truth we get twelve people together in a group called a jury. They have to totally agree that someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before the police’s theory is accepted as fact. Now you learned in science class that science is about facts, so you are probably wondering why we even talk about theories, which as we just said are maybe true, maybe not. You have studied many things in this class that are clearly facts, for example that there are creatures called lions, tigers, and all the other creatures on Noah’s Ark. Why can’t science class just stick to the facts? We teach you about theories just in case some day you want to become a scientist. Scientists spend their day trying to prove and disprove theories. What do we mean by disprove? This means to find evidence that a theory really isn’t true. Showing that a theory is not true is just as important an activity for scientists as showing that the theory might be true. For example, maybe if one of you were to become a scientist, you might be the one to prove that evolution isn’t true. Think how famous that scientist would be! In the meantime, thank God we live in a country where all points of view, even unproven theories like evolution, can be mentioned, even if most people in America believe it is wrong. As a quick review, does everyone remember when I talked about how in a jury every single person has to agree for the verdict to be considered the truth? Good luck with your science studies, and your school board would like you to know how proud we would be if one of you were to become a famous scientist!

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