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Counterpoint: Scrutinizing science

Real education should be about teaching kids how to think.

Steve Kern April 13th, 2011

In Oklahoma, there have been at least three attempts to pass a “teach the controversy about evolution” bill in the last few years.

The most recent was the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act carried by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City. Each has ultimately been defeated mainly due to pressure exerted by the science departments of the major universities in Oklahoma. It is hard for me to understand why, since I believe the adage, “Truth does not fear investigation,” to be reasonable.

It makes me wonder what the opposition is afraid of if evolution theory is supposed to be a “scientific fact.” All the bill is designed to do is allow teachers in Oklahoma to provide information about empirical scientific studies that may question some evolutionist assumptions. Providing our students in our public schools with scientific information verified by credentialed scientists is not teaching religion. It is providing students the opportunity to see broader issues that go beyond what they read in their textbooks. Real education should be about teaching kids how to think through information presented to them, rather than just regurgitate “true or false” or fill-in-the-blank answers.

This has been a big problem with “No Child Left Behind.” Teachers have been forced to teach how to pass proficiency tests, rather than learning how to think and learn what the information means and how it can be applied in coming to reasonable conclusions.

I experience this in my college class rooms.

I often find that my students can read answers to a question from their text, but when I ask, “What does it mean?” trying to get them to think about what they just read, I get blank stares. Most of these students are products of Oklahoma public schools. They are intimidated when asked to “think outside the box,” or to use their own faculties to reason to a new realization.

Our kids are at times taught to question American history through revisionism, the Bible through open-mindedness, politician’s motives through skepticism, and yet Darwinism is not to be questioned in Oklahoma public school classrooms. Why not?

Innovation is the product of investigation. Nothing should be off-limits.

One major example is “junk DNA.” For years, it has been thought to be leftover from past evolutionary progress and no longer needed. This evolutionist assumption limited research. Now that some scientists decided to think outside the box, it turns out that so-called junk (noncoding) DNA impacts embryonic development in the reproductive tract, the central nervous system, DNA repair and is crucial in preventing heart disease and cancer.

This leads to one of two discoveries:

What is in the box is false, or what is in the box is true. That leads to progress. Our public schools need to be producing students for our university science schools who question everything and follow their investigative studies to wherever they might lead, unhindered by any form of predetermined bias. Maybe that is what our university professors are afraid of: students who can think for themselves and who need to be guided, but not indoctrinated.

Kern, husband of state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is pastor of Olivet Baptist Church and adjunct professor at Mid-America Christian University.

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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04.15.2011 at 03:35 Reply

Holy crap! 


You have totally changed my way of thinking.  Screw Darwin, I believe the earth is thousands of years old, not millions.  And dinosaurs are just artifacts left behind by a devious God to see if he can weed out the non-believers.


Okay, that’s me being facetious.  I hope you caught on to that, because it pains me to think that you can’t comprehend the obvious.  Though, to be fair, your commentary leads me to believe just that.  By the way, why would an all knowing God need to weed out non-believers?  Wouldn’t he just know?


First off, I personally don’t have an issue with the idea of “thinking outside the box,” and I have no problem questioning Darwinism.  However, once again you are attempting to justify sneaking religion into schools for the sake of forwarding your own cause.  I shouldn’t have to lower myself to explain what’s legally wrong with that, after all, I went to a public school, and I do know what’s in the Constitution.  But for one insane moment, I’ll patronize you.  If the Biblical stories are permitted as observable material in the classroom, then why not the texts relating to all other faiths?  After all, every religion must have their own interpretation of creationism, right?  And what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?  But you don’t see it that way do you?  And in thinking that, you have revealed overwhelming hypocrisy.  You tell people to think outside the box, and yet you seek to limit their insight to the views seen inside your own Christianity box.  You want to legally make people see your point of view, which is odd that a professed Christian whom must respect the free will granted by God would seek to impose his own will on God’s people.  You fail to acknowledge that evolution has tons of evidence supporting it.  I can assure you that when you can find equal amounts of evidence to support your belief, this argument will have no reason for being.


You do make at least one compelling argument.  That being that youth do not learn anything other than what their taught.  I think that’s a perversion of fact.  They behave as though they are in a box because they need good scores to progress in school.  You significantly fail to realize that these kids know the game their playing, and like all game players, they want to win.  Telling the teacher they’re wrong isn’t going to help them succeed in life.  But a curious thing happens when these students move beyond the restraints of academia, they stop restraining their “think outside the box” mentality, and they go on to do just that.


I wonder if it even occurs to you that I could have been your student.  And that perhaps I spoke on things to keep you happy, and wrote my papers in line with your own personal beliefs.  I might have been there in your box.  And you passed me.  Never realizing that I played the game the way it was meant to be played.  When it was all said and done, I graduated, went on to better things, all the while knowing that I played you like a fiddle.  I did not really believe the stuff you tried to teach me, I merely made you think I did.


And that my friend is why you do not have to force these youth to think outside the box.  Their minds are already outside the box; it only appears that they are “indoctrinated.”  And with that, I leave you with a final thought.  There is a common believe regarding hypnosis that only those who believe in it can be hypnotized.  While I know how you would answer this question, I’m going to ask it anyway.  Who of us is hypnotized?  Who of us has a series of rules by which to follow?  Who of us cannot do things because of nothing more than a “Belief?”  And who of us is truly free to live, and think as we choose? 


By the way, I believe in Jesus, I believe he existed, I believe he was a great man.  And when it comes to the Bible, his words are the only ones worth observing.  He was not the Son of God.  That’s what I believe.  I live outside your box, and I’m happy.


04.18.2011 at 03:03 Reply

One day I was at Wal-Mart and I was approached by an elderly woman.  She defied pleasantries and proceeded to quote the Bible in an attempt to berate me because I am covered in tattoos.  I leaned into this woman and quoted Jesus from the book of Matthew.  She stood silent for a moment, stunned that this heathen would know the word, and then went about her shopping.

This woman is an empirical example of religious ideology.  Not necessarily Christian ideology.  Because in every faith there are those who believe that by simply being a member of that faith that they are somehow entitled to treat others as if they are beneath them.  Steve Kern is no different.  He places himself on this pedestal because he believes he has the right to do so.  And in doing so, he defies Jesus, whom had no trouble humbling himself before the meekest of people. 

Kern’s insistence that public schools teach creationism is a sad attempt at narrowing a person’s view to one that is actually in “the box”.  Because the sad truth that I doubt he ever considered was that Darwin was thinking outside the box when he came up with his theories on evolution.  And it was the pursuit of that outside the box idea which has successfully proven Darwin’s theory.  It would seem that Kern would prefer a time when the earth revolved around the sun, and those venturing out to sea would fall into the abyss when they reached the edge of our flat planet. 

So it is with great irony that a man with two dimensional thinking seeks to alter the perception of those already moving into fourth dimensional thinking.  I’m willing to go so far as to say that he wants to limit enlightenment because of his own fears of what might come of it.  String Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and the Higgs Boson Particle terrify this man.  The understanding of such things could one day disprove his faith.  So because he is uncomfortable with the possibility of there not being a God, we should be forced to hear unprovable doctrine to the contrary.  What’s more unbelievable is that a person with resolute faith should not fear such academic progress, just as one who feels their soul is saved has no use for a firearm.  Such moves only reveal overwhelming cowardice.

So let there be no question why this tattoo clad heathen refuses to commiserate with Christians.  I simply realized that I was surrounded by hypocrites and liars.  And Kern is proving himself to be both with each totalitarian diatribe he let’s loose.