A proposal from two Post Falls parents to teach scientific creationism alongside evolutionary theory provoked cheering and jeering at a school board meeting Monday.
About 120 people debated how best to teach the origins of the universe. Superintendent Dick Harris said the district should do more research on teaching scientific creationism before making it part of the science curriculum.
Harris laid out a plan for dealing with the volatile issue. In a memo to the school board, he suggested:
Obtaining from parents Kevin Krieg and Ted Corder an example of a lesson plan that could be used to teach scientific creationism. Advocates say creation science is a scientifically based theory that a god - not necessarily the Christian God - created the universe.
Requesting legal opinions from the Idaho attorney general’s office and the Idaho School Boards Association on how creation and evolution theories may be covered legally in the schools.
Requesting an opinion from the state superintendent of public instruction regarding the appropriate curriculum for both theories.
Seeking the opinion of local clergy on how the district should cover the issue.
Researching what instructional materials legally can be used on the subject.
And researching how other public school districts in Idaho and other states deal with the issue.
A cautious approach would appease concerns from taxpayers who worry that teaching creation science could lead to a costly lawsuit.
“I don’t want to be the test case as a taxpayer and I don’t think most of these taxpayers want to be the test case for the (American Civil Liberties Union),” said Fred Gabourie, a local attorney.
Teaching creation science would infringe on the rights of people with differing religious beliefs, said Susan Smith, an ACLU representative at the meeting.
One school board member, Charles Eberle, said examining evidence that counters the theory of evolution would not be teaching religion in public schools and would therefore be legal. “Let the data stand on its own, whichever way it falls (for or against evolution).”
Corder said teaching creation science would not involve religion. It merely calls for examining scientific evidence for the theory of creationism and would not use any religious texts.
“You can separate the issues from one another,” he said. Further, “evolution is the basis for other religions that are already in mainstream America,” he said, listing secular humanism, atheism and neopaganism.
Roger Emigh, who was scheduled to make a presentation to the school board, believes the idea of a creator implies religion. For that reason, he said, teaching scientific creationism in the public schools would be illegal.
Numerous others who addressed the school board disagreed and said both sides of the issue should be explored in the schools.
“Real science looks at every view,” Corder said.
“Anything less is intellectual thievery and we’re stealing from our kids.”