Thursday, February 2, 2012

Teaching Creation Myths May Cause Heads to Explode

By now, I’m sure that many of you have heard that the Indiana Senate has approved a bill that allows school boards to elect to teach creationism in schools. The original version of Senate Bill 89 provided:

The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.

The bill was cleverly written with reference to the “various theories” and the reference, not to creationism or intelligent design, but rather to “creation science”. By referencing “theories”, the bill’s author, Sen. Kruse (R-Northeast Indiana), plays on the scientific use of the term “theory” in order to try to put the “theory of evolution” on the same level as other creation myths (theories). Of course, as we all know, gravity is also just a theory… And by referring to “creation science” Sen. Kruse sidesteps the issue of bringing religion into the classroom notwithstanding that by their very nature religious-based creation myths are absolutely not science largely because of their reliance upon the supernatural and therefore the impossibility of either proving or disproving the myths as is required in real science.

During Senate hearing on the bill, Sen. Vi Simpson (D-South Central Indiana) introduced an amendment that many thought was meant to be a poison pill. To the surprise of many, Sen. Simpson’s amendment was adopted and the bill passed with that amendment. Thus, SB89 now provides:

The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.

Given that the goal of the original version of SB89 seemed to simply be to have creationism taught alongside evolution, the requirement that the creation theories of other religions also be taught seemed like something that might cause those wanting to teach the Judeo-Christian creation story to balk. But surprise, surprise. The amendment was adopted and SB89 now moves to the House.

But let’s play a little game. Let’s jump forward and presume that the House also passes SB89 and the Governor signs it into law. And let’s presume that the school board of some random rural school district decides that teaching creationism (or, perhaps, denigrating evolution) is so important, that it is willing to go ahead and teach these other creation stories, too. I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the Judeo-Christian (and Islamic) creation theory (though, to be fair, one should probably ask whether when we’re discussing the Biblical creation theory if we mean the story in Genesis Chapter 1 or the story in Genesis Chapter 2; after all, those two chapters contradict each other on such basic things as whether humans or animals were created first…). But how familiar are you with the other creation theories specifically referenced in SB89 and which would, seemingly, also have to be taught?

Apparently, Hinduism has many creation stories, but two of the more popular ones go as follows:

The world is said to have come into existence because the Primeval One, having become bored being the only being in existence, split Itself into a variety of forms and manifestations (i.e., the material world and all of its beings) so that, through them, It could experience a loving and playful relationship with Itself.


The creation account from the Vishnu Purana, wherein Vishnu, lying on an ocean of milk atop the serpent Sesha, sprung a lotus from his naval that contained the god Brahma. Having been sprung from Vishnu's navel, Brahma creates all living beings, as well as the sun, moon, planets, etc. and a number of other gods and demigods. Following Brahma's creative acts, it is then said that Vishnu expanded himself into Ksirodakasayi Visnu (Paramatma) and entered into everything that exists in the material and immaterial spheres.

As for Buddhism, there is apparently not a focus on creation theories, but one explanation provides:

The Buddha described the universe being destroyed and then re-evolving into its present form over a period of countless millions of years. The first life formed on the surface of the water and again, over countless millions of years evolved from simple into complex organisms. Eventually, the universe is again destroyed and another arises in its place. All these processes are without beginning or end, and are set in motion by natural causes. Our present universe merely occupies one slot in this beginning-less and endless sequence of time.

Now let’s go back to our rural school. I want you to picture the teacher first explaining to her children evolution, then the stories from Genesis (and query how she’ll handle the contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2), and then the Hindu and Buddhist stories. (As an aside, do we really believe that in that mostly homogenous rural school any attention at all will be paid to creation theories other than that espoused by Christians?) Anyway, what impact do we think those various theories will have on the children? Will they now be more educated with a greater understanding of their world … or will they be confused? Will they have a greater belief in science? Or will they begin to wonder if what they’ve been taught to believe in church is as … odd … as what other religions have been teaching their followers.

But more than anything, I really want to sit in the back of the classroom when the teacher explains the creation story taught by Scientology (or, at least taught to those Scientologists who have paid enough money to get promoted to the highest levels of the church) and I want to be in the homes of these children when they rush home and say, “Mommy, Daddy, we learned how humans got to earth today!”:

Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago, which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as "Teegeeack". The planets were overpopulated, with an average population of 178 billion. The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with aliens "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth.

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of his citizens together under the pretense of income tax inspections, then paralyzed them and froze them in a mixture of alcohol and glycol to capture their souls. The kidnapped populace was loaded into spacecraft for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The appearance of these spacecraft would later be subconsciously expressed in the design of the Douglas DC-8, the only difference being: "the DC8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't". When they had reached Teegeeack/Earth, the paralyzed citizens were unloaded around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were then lowered into the volcanoes and detonated simultaneously. Only a few aliens' physical bodies survived. [L. Ron] Hubbard [founder of Scientology] described the scene in his film script, Revolt in the Stars:

Simultaneously, the planted charges erupted. Atomic blasts ballooned from the craters of Loa, Vesuvius, Shasta, Washington, Fujiyama, Etna, and many, many others. Arching higher and higher, up and outwards, towering clouds mushroomed, shot through with flashes of flame, waste and fission. Great winds raced tumultuously across the face of Earth, spreading tales of destruction…

L. Ron Hubbard, Revolt in the Stars

The now-disembodied victims' souls, which Hubbard called thetans, were blown into the air by the blast. They were captured by Xenu's forces using an "electronic ribbon" ("which also was a type of standing wave") and sucked into "vacuum zones" around the world. The hundreds of billions of captured thetans were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for thirty-six days. This implanted what Hubbard termed "various misleading data"' (collectively termed the R6 implant) into the memories of the hapless thetans, "which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, et cetera". This included all world religions, with Hubbard specifically attributing Roman Catholicism and the image of the Crucifixion to the influence of Xenu. The two "implant stations" cited by Hubbard were said to have been located on Hawaii and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

In addition to implanting new beliefs in the thetans, the images deprived them of their sense of personal identity. When the thetans left the projection areas, they started to cluster together in groups of a few thousand, having lost the ability to differentiate between each other. Each cluster of thetans gathered into one of the few remaining bodies that survived the explosion. These became what are known as body thetans, which are said to be still clinging to and adversely affecting everyone except those Scientologists who have performed the necessary steps to remove them.

A government faction known as the Loyal Officers finally overthrew Xenu and his renegades, and locked him away in "an electronic mountain trap" from which he still has not escaped. Although the location of Xenu is sometimes said to be the Pyrenees on Earth, this is actually the location Hubbard gave elsewhere for an ancient "Martian report station". Teegeeack/Earth was subsequently abandoned by the Galactic Confederacy and remains a pariah "prison planet" to this day, although it has suffered repeatedly from incursions by alien "Invader Forces" since that time.

(Links and internal footnotes omitted.)

Look, my goal isn’t really to make fun of what anybody happens to believe. But how do you think Evangelical Christians, those who disbelieve in evolution and instead want their children to learn creationism (or intelligent design) are going to react if the Scientology creation myth is taught in school as just another theory of creation. I’m thinking that heads are going to explode.

So maybe, just maybe, the poison pill is simply a slower-acting poison…

Update: For a humorous take on this and similar issues, please see my post Graphic Slogans That Describe My Mood posted last June. Teach the controversy, man. Teach the controversy.

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At Saturday, February 04, 2012 8:22:00 PM , Anonymous Karin said...

How this is even going to pass the smell test with the ACLU? Once again, our Legislature is creating laws that they know will not hold up in court......sigh! I too have had the exact same thought about a rural child in Indiana some day coming home to tell mommy and daddy all about the aliens that they learned about in science class. HAHA Can the republicans in this state make us look anymore hick and backwards? What tech/research/environmental company is going to want to set up shop here and have their employees kids attend a school that teaches this nonsense. And who will monitor the schools for compliance that "theories" from multiple religions are being presented? UGH Now my head hurts.


Great blog entry. Keep it up. Love your take on things.....since it matches my own :)

At Monday, February 06, 2012 11:11:00 AM , Blogger MSWallack said...

The problem, Karin, is that many on the religious right want these issues to go before the courts. They think that if they can get the right case the current more conservative Supreme Court will overturn existing laws on school prayer and the teaching of creationism. So they just keep trying. It's much the same with regard to abortion. So those of us with a view that science classes should teach science need to keep up the pressure.

And thanks for the kind words about my blog. Please do keep reading and letting me know what you think.


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