At the Texas Republican Lieutenant Governor Primary debate Feb. 2, four candidates stood against the backdrop of a colossal Texas flag and bandied about phrases like “true conservative,” while roundly lauded the merits of teaching creationism in public schools. If God shaped man in His own image, surely Rick Perry shaped these Republican lieutenant governor candidates in his.
This debate revealed that all of these candidates have remarkably similar views on most issues, including the teaching of creationism as a science, which three of the candidates agreed is acceptable. Only Jerry Patterson, the financial underdog in the race, disagreed, saying it should instead be taught in social studies.
Some people might take issue with the way the candidates seem to have fashioned their platforms entirely out of divisive cultural issues. Some people might object that the teaching of creationism in schools is explicitly unconstitutional. And some people might even accuse them of naked, shameless, embarrassing, disingenuous pandering to reactionary Republican primary voters. However, I disagree and think we should applaud these brave men for standing up for creationism, despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists support evolution. That kind of blind adherence to politically convenient beliefs is what belongs in science classrooms — not evolution.
I have a modest proposal to ensure the future success of the next generation of young Texans: Drop evolution from the statewide curriculum and immediately adopt creationism as the standard teaching. I believe that David Dewhurst, Jerry Patterson, Todd Staples and Dan Patrick prove that repeating claims to appease ideological primary voters is far more important to a student’s success than understanding science. Understanding evolution isn’t important for a child’s education. Sure, a grasp of evolution and its mechanisms is necessary to develop vaccines, decode the human genome and design more efficient agricultural methods, but it won’t get you the Republican nomination for statewide office. Giving children an education grounded in the scientific method is important, but putting forth religious ideas under the guise of legitimate scientific theory is a more pragmatic skill for our leaders of tomorrow to know. This slate of lieutenant gubernatorial candidates have clearly demonstrated that.
Even The Texas Education Agency, which administers all primary and secondary schools in the state, promises in its mission statement to “prepare [students] for success in the global economy.” While “success” is obviously not an objective metric, certainly anyone would acknowledge that election to high state office represents some degree of professional success. Our students need to be taught to reject critical thinking the way Staples, Dewhurst, Patrick and Patterson have and, instead, publicly say only the things that their most important fundraisers want to hear.
In fact, I propose that we abandon science-based education all together. Instead of science textbooks, children should be issued a copy of “Atlas Shrugged,” campaign literature from the local Tea Party outfit and an American flag lapel pin. It’s very clear that those things have been more influential in the development of this year’s field of Republican candidates than any textbook.
Matula is a finance junior from Austin.