Recently, the prestigious publication Scientific American honored Eugenie Scott as one of its ten most influential science people in America, along with a manager at a computer chip company, an electric car industry executive, an infectious disease physician, and even Bill Gates from Microsoft.
Who is Eugenie Scott and why is she being honored? Did she contribute to lifesaving cancer research? No. Did she invent a device that will help millions of people in need? No.
Kate Wilcox of Scientific American writes of Scott:
Thomas Henry Huxley was the 19th century biologist known as "Darwin's bulldog" for his defense of the great scientist's ideas. The 21st century has a counterpart in the woman who describes herself as "Darwin's golden retriever." Eugenie Scott has emerged as one of the most prominent advocates for keeping evolution an integral part of the curriculum in public schools.”1, 2
Trained as an anthropologist, Dr. Scott turned away from doing science and began promoting evolution. And not just educating citizens about evolution, but demanding of government officials that only evolution must be taught to schoolchildren across the country. Creation science, Intelligent Design, and any other alternative to Darwinian-based evolution must be eradicated from the educational landscape in America. This is not the first time atheists and humanists have sought to influence education policy in public schools.
In 1963, the United States Supreme Court heard the case of Madalyn Murray, an American atheist and communist sympathizer, who demanded that her son should not be subjected to prayer and Bible reading in school. The Court ruled in her favor, and Ms. Murray (later O'Hair) became a hero among atheists around the world.3 She was also named the most hated woman in America by Life magazine.
Eugenie Scott, who serves as Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in Oakland, appears to have taken up the mantle of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, establishing herself as the guardian of atheism in America's science classrooms. Not surprisingly, Dr. Scott is one of the signers of the 2003 Humanist Manifesto.
Rather than doing science or defending the evidence, Dr. Scott defends the 19th century ideas of Charles Darwin. She works tirelessly to ensure that all children in America never have to hear any science but Darwin's atheistic-based evolutionary ideas. And in this year of worldwide worship of the man Charles Darwin, who popularized the notion that molecules eventually became fish that eventually became people, the popular science community is falling head over heels for anyone defending this origins-by-accident theory that now saturates science and education.
Dr. Scott has won numerous awards and many honorary degrees, mostly for her "public service" in defending evolutionism and disdaining creationism. One of her awards in 1999, oddly enough, was given by the Hugh Hefner Foundation (named for the founder of Playboy) for her efforts in defending the First Amendment! (She later sat as one of the judges on the 2006 Hefner Foundation committee.)
Dr. Scott's NCSE motto is: "Defending the teaching of evolution in public schools." More specifically, she labors to keep "evolution in the science classroom and creationism out." Like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, activist Eugenie Scott wants all American schoolchildren to have only one side of the story in science--her side.
Thus, as part of her mission, she flies around the country to lecture school board members that they must eliminate any policy that includes examining the weaknesses of evolutionary theory, of which she believes there are none. She "consults" with attorneys involved in court cases over creation, Intelligent Design, and evolution, and occasionally testifies as an "expert" witness. She insists that institutions expose and expel suspect scientists who don't hold firmly enough to the evolution gospel. And while many of her opponents make their living conducting actual evidence-based science research, what has Eugenie Scott contributed to the advancement of science knowledge?
The narrow, one-sided approach to the study of science is apparent in her organization's recent lament that students in Texas will now be required to "examine 'all sides of scientific evidence.'"4 And that's a bad thing?
That's like telling judges not to examine all sides of the evidence in a murder case.
That's like telling oncologists not to examine all sides of the evidence in a patient's test results.
That's like telling military commanders not to examine all sides of the evidence before sending their troops into battle.
And, of course, no one wants cancer researchers to examine all sides of the evidence in clinical trials of a proposed cancer-fighting drug. Right?
But according to Eugenie Scott, schoolchildren are less than properly educated (perhaps even harmed?) when they examine all sides of scientific evidence. Spoon-feeding them evolutionary dogma, rather than allowing them to examine actual evidence, is the end result for the "advocacy" efforts of the NCSE. And that helps students become critical thinkers?
So pervasive has Dr. Scott's activism become that TV gossip shows like The View have become forums for ridiculing those parents who would refuse to teach their children the beliefs of Charles Darwin. Co-host Joy Behar publically stated that not teaching Darwinism is tantamount to child abuse!
While Eugenie Scott may not ever take up the title of the most hated woman in America after Madalyn Murray O'Hair, she nonetheless is attempting to counter American public opinion on the creation-evolution controversy, where a recent Gallup poll demonstrated that over 60 percent of Americans believe in recent creation and not in evolution.5 Poll after poll in the United States consistently demonstrates that a majority of Americans don't believe in Charles Darwin's ideas. And yet evolution activists like Eugenie Scott, Richard Dawkins, P. Z. Myers, Michael Ruse, and many others continue their attempts to push Darwin's ideas as genuine science.
Dr. Scott, like those who honor her and those who set governmental policy in education, is much like a politician who loses touch with her constituency after taking office--she votes against the majority time after time. Splitting from the majority can be a good thing, if the majority is wrong. However, Dr. Scott's aversion to the investigation of true science--where all of the evidence is fair game for study--demonstrates that her agenda is not anchored in the investigation of truth.
But Eugenie Scott is just one of many new faces in America's cultural war. She is a symptom of a larger malignancy growing even faster during these postmodern times in America's history. Because of changes in the nation's political, economic, social, and even religious landscape in recent years, activists like Dr. Scott in public education and leaders of the radical fringe groups among environmentalists, for instance, now ply their trade to politically pragmatic decision-makers at all levels of government, hoping to swing votes against traditional values and common sense, despite the will of the American citizens and even the clear evidence from scientific research.
A few years ago on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the entire science faculty of SMU refused to sit down, behind closed doors, with scientists from the Intelligent Design Movement to dialogue about science. What were they afraid of? Were they not confident enough in their own understanding of scientific data to enter into a friendly discussion about the evidence? What about examining evidence and analyzing data to discover truth? It's not on the agenda of these activist groups. Leveling attacks against certain elected and appointed officials (who happen to not hold these radical views) in order to oust them from school boards and other positions of influence is a much more efficient approach to accomplishing their goals.
There are others like Eugenie Scott who in their own locales are determined to push humanism and atheism on city councils, on school boards, on civic leaders, and on others who maintain the traditional values that formed the foundation of the United States. Science has become a hot-button issue in many state legislatures as the majority of citizens still want to see their children taught all sides of the evidence. Thus, there remain opportunities for people to counter the one-sided arguments of organizations like the NCSE.
And what about the role of Christians in this battle? While Dr. Scott will readily point out that many "religious" and "Christian" people are "okay" with evolution, the fact is that many of her allies in the clergy and church have long abandoned the authority and accuracy of the Bible, which defines Judeo-Christian belief. It's time for evangelical Christians to redouble their efforts--influencing and persuading those in authority with the evidence that activists like Eugenie Scott don't want children to know and consider. And while laws still prohibit the teaching of biblical creation science within the public schools, training our children with critical thinking skills will empower them to do what is right in the classroom--examine, analyze, and critique all sides of the issues, especially science.
- For more on the destructive influence of Thomas Huxley, read Brian Thomas' article "Cod Still Recovering from Darwin Bulldog's Bite," ICR News, posted on icr.org May 28, 2009.
- Wilcox, K. June 2009. Eugenie Scott: A champion for the teaching of evolution steps up her advocacy. Scientific American. 300 (6): 64.
- Madalyn Murray's atheism became part of the grounds for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in School District of Abington Township, Pa. v. Schempp, consolidated with Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203, 211, 83 S.Ct. 1560, 1565 (1963).
- A setback for science education in Texas. National Center for Science Education News. Posted on ncseweb.org on April 1, 2009.
- Gallup Poll: Two Thirds of American Believe God Created Them. ICR News. Posted on icr.org June 12, 2007.
* Mr. Ford is Executive Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Ford, L. 2009. New Voices in Evolution Activism. Acts & Facts. 38 (7): 4.