There is science and there is religion. There is school and there is Sunday school. All have their place in instructing the young, but keeping those places properly separate seems hopeless when the subject is evolution.
To those who worry about the dumbing down of America, the resistance to the scientific fact of evolution may be the ultimate reason to despair.
This debate should have been settled long ago, driven into the darkness by the rising light of reason, but it seems that the sort of thinking that gave America the absurd spectacle of the Scopes monkey trial in benighted Tennessee in 1925 has only grown stronger.
Creationism and its close cousin, intelligent design, have wormed their way back into what should be fortresses of enlightenment-- high school science classes. As the Post-Gazette's David Templeton reported Sunday, the open secret about the nation's public school biology classrooms is that evolution often isn't taught robustly, if at all.
Although a Post-Gazette questionnaire sent to science teachers this spring found that a large majority accepted the theory of evolution, a shocking 19 percent believed in creationism, with 5 percent not sure what they believe.
A science teacher who doesn't accept evolution is like a math teacher who denies calculus. The National Academy of Sciences puts evolution as a fact in the same category as the Earth orbiting the sun -- which was also once denied on the basis of religion, as Galileo was to discover.
More disturbingly, a national survey turned into a book by Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer of Penn State University found that between 17 and 21 percent of teachers introduce creationism in the classroom. Even when they don't directly mention creationism, some teachers downplay evolution.
The ones who suffer from this breach in the wall of separation between church and state are the nation's children. The urgent effort to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education are undone every time a teacher banishes scientific facts from a classroom.
And it's so unnecessary. It is possible to believe -- as many Christians do -- that God created heaven and Earth and that evolution was His mechanism.