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fishyfishI am occasionally asked by religious friends why I make such a fuss over evolution. Some have suggested that secular types beat the drum for evolution only because it sticks such a sharp object in the eye of theism. One went so far as to suggest that “If you guys would just let that one go,” we’d have a lot better luck building bridges with the religious.

The question is a good one. Fortunately the answer is even better. And it’s nothing so trivial as making Churchy Eyeball Kebobs, nor nothing so grand and simple as “I champion evolution just because it’s true.” It’s also true that George Washington had no middle name, but I’m unlikely to devote much of my life force opposing someone who insists that yes he did, and it was Steve, and that only Martha called him George, and only when she was drunk. Even if this hypothetical Stevist insisted on teaching the middle name in American History classes, I might think it daft, but I’ve other fish to fry.

Evolution is a fish I choose to fry. It’s an idea that I want my children and as many others as possible to know and care about.

A list of reasons to champion evolution education, each building on the last:

First, it is an everything-changer. If knowing about evolution by natural selection hasn’t changed almost everything about the way you see almost everything, dig in deeper with the help of the great explicators and know that I envy you the journey.

Second, it inspires immense, transcendent awe and wonder to grasp that you are a cousin not just to apes, but to sponges and sequoias and butterflies and blue whales.

Third, it annihilates the artificial boundaries between us and the rest of life on Earth.

Fourth, it puts racial difference in proper perspective as utter trivia.

Fifth, when taken as directed, it constitutes one of the four grandest-ever swats of humility to the pompous human tookus.*

Sixth, it contributes enormously to our understanding of how and why things work the way they do.

Seventh, that understanding has led in turn to incredible advances in medical science, agriculture, environmental stewardship, and more.

The list goes on.

I’ll turn it over to Clay Burell, education editor at, for the call to action. Hit it, Clay.

Petition: Thank Politicians Who Say “No” to Creationists
by Clay Burell
First appeared 18 February at

WE COUNT OUR INJURIES far more closely than our blessings, the old saying goes. That might be especially true in our dealings with politicians. They surely hear far more complaints than thank yous. Let’s change that for once.

texastwoLet’s say thanks to these two in Texas:

It takes courage for a politician in Texas to speak out against religious fundamentalism. Texas state Senator Rodney Ellis and Representative Patrick Rose deserve the thanks of all Americans – or those who value real science, anyway – for showing that courage.

Whether you’re a Texan or not, if you want creationism out of high school science textbooks – and evolution in them – please take a moment to thank Sen. Ellis and Rep. Rose for fighting the Discovery Institute/creationist-dominated Texas State Board of Education (SBOE).

As I reported last week, Rose and Ellis proposed legislation “to place the board under periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission and hold them accountable for their performance, just as we do the Texas Education Agency and other state agencies.”

Why? In their own words:

The decisions of the SBOE not only impact millions of young lives on a daily basis, but impact the economic progress of our state as well.

For these reasons and many others, the public has a right to full disclosure and oversight.

The board has escaped such scrutiny for far too long. The disregard for educators, instructional experts and scientists can’t continue. It’s time to take a closer look at the operations and policies of the State Board of Education.

Our state, and especially our kids, deserve better.

Again, please take a moment to send them your thanks in this petition. It will also be cc’d to your own state and federal representatives, asking they show the same courage in your state.
clayburellCLAY BURELL is an American high school Humanities teacher, technology coach, and Apple Distinguished Educator who has taught for the last eight years in Asian international schools. According to law, he’s married to his wife. According to his wife, he’s married to his Mac.

When you’re done signing the petition, it’s time to support our troops at the National Center for Science Education. These are the heroic and seemingly tireless folks who do the heavy lifting for the rest of us.

*Copernicus, Lyell, Darwin, Hubble.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.