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Creating a Controversy: Biology Teacher's Biblical Presentation at School

May 26, 1991

Teacher John Peloza (Commentary, "Debate on Life's Origin Is Really on Philosophies," May 21) is not writing about his right to discuss different theories of creation nor is he even talking about his right to share a belief in God.

Mr. Peloza is arguing that he has the right to promulgate his belief in the "absolute inerrancy of the Bible"--a dimension of the Christian faith that is based on a narrow interpretation of biblical Scriptures that has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years.

Through some rather specious reasoning, he appears to make a logical defense of his right to teach this interpretation in our public schools. Thus he argues that since "the scientific community is not in agreement as to how life got here. . . ," he has the right to throw out everything that most educated people do agree on--such as the reality that human existence has been around for more than 6,000 years.

By quoting one "noted biologist" who questions whether life is a result of "random chance," Peloza then concludes that either you believe in his ancient creation mythology or you must therefore believe in "random chance." He thus ignores the abundance of sophisticated scientists and sincere religious thinkers today who see the "hand" of a higher power in all creation, but do not agree with his simplistic creation mythologies.

This same kind of predetermined reasoning allows people like Mr. Peloza to justify a rather blind faith. He ignores the fact, for example, that there are two creation stories in the book of Genesis. It is clear that Mr. Peloza believes that there is only one kind of legitimate religious experience.

This leads all too often to prejudice and discrimination. It is this loss of critical thinking that can be damaging to a young student's educational development and sadly, in the end, to religion. Mr. Peloza should not be teaching in our public schools. Religious interpretation belongs in our churches and synagogues.

THE REV. FRED C. PLUMER, Irvine United Church of Christ

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