The Idaho GOP wants the Bible used in public schools — to teach biology.
At their summer meeting in Twin Falls over the weekend, Idaho Republican Party State Central Committee members passed a resolution 12-3 that supported the use of the Bible in Idaho public schools for reference purposes.
For the most part, the resolution is benign, claiming the Bible’s literary and historical values make it useful for secular instruction.
It’s true. The Bible can be used to teach history and literature, although there are better sources for learning about the great writers and the first century.
But buried deep in the resolution, which originated in Idaho County – home to Rep. Paul Shepherd and Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, there is a major problem.
The resolution says the Bible can be used as reference material for biology and geology classes “where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant.”
It begs the question, “How is the Bible to be useful or relevant in a biology or geology class?”
To put it plainly, the Bible provides nothing instructive for the aspiring biologist or geologists. In fact, the Bible is often used to argue against the fundamental and immutable principles of biology and geology – evolution and deep time. Of course, those arguments are absurd, supported by zero evidence and promulgated by Biblical literalists.
That’s not to say there aren’t important cultural messages that are worthy of study in the Bible. Christianity has had a major impact on western culture. That being said, the Bible’s contribution to our understanding of evolution and plate tectonics is…how do you say it? Zero.
So for all the seemingly harmless language – including a reference to a 1782 bill voted by Congress that “…approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools” – the GOP resolution, at its heart, is nothing more than an attempt to inject creationism into science.
The opportunity for Idaho’s children to hear, in a scholastic setting, the stupendously long and complex history of the universe is fundamental to human dignity and the preservation of our intellectual freedoms. Jeopardizing those freedoms with false notions of the earth’s history using literal interpretations of Bronze Age texts is irresponsible.
We must do better.