Were the Founding Fathers Creationists?

Many times we stumble across op-ed pieces that argue in favor of including “intelligent design”/creationism in public school science classes. We usually don’t include them in our Daily News Clips because there are far too many of them and we don’t want to add fuel to their fire. But today is a good day to look at one such column written by Chuck Norris and published yesterday on TownHall.com.

Mr. Norris, you will remember is the actor and martial arts expert best known for his role in Walker, Texas Ranger. He is also on the board of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which hawks a sectarian, error-riddled Bible curriculum to school districts nationwide.

In yesterday’s column, Mr. Norris weighs in on the “intelligent design”/creationism controversy.

The vast majority of his column consists of statements made by the Founding Fathers. He presents these quotes as evidence that they would be in favor of teaching in science classes that the world was created by a divine being.

It’s a great argument to make, considering the primary sources are dead and can’t protest. It’s also useless to argue against such rhetoric (aside from noting that “intelligent design” advocates constantly say they aren’t promoting the idea of a “divine being” creating the world).

Notwithstanding evidence that some of the Founding Fathers were dedicated to the separation of church and state, we can be certain that there would be no consensus among them on such a controversial question. While our State Board of Education may not be a perfect example of statesmen and -women, politicians even today argue over what should be a settled question: What should be taught in science classes funded by taxpayers of many different faiths?

(The British have Darwin on their money; we’re still arguing about him.)

Indeed, it is within reason that, had the Founding Fathers witnessed the progress of science since the late 1700s, at least some of them would be secure in acknowledging that the acceptance of evolution as a scientific fact does not conflict with their religious beliefs. Sort of like the Catholic Church.

In fact, contrary to what David Barton, Chuck Norris and other religious-right figures would have you believe, the United States government officially ratified in the Treaty of Tripoli that our country “is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

When taught in context and in classes led by teachers who are well-versed in religious studies, learning about the Bible and other religious texts and their influence in history and literature can be invaluable to students. But “intelligent design”/creationism has no place in science classes. Students must be exposed to the foundations of biology and technology. Otherwise, we will inevitably find ourselves in a future where Texas is no longer a leader in business, education, biotechnology and other important fields.

2 thoughts on “Were the Founding Fathers Creationists?

  1. I am surprised the TFN keeps making statements that if srict guidelines are adopted, the study of the bible in school would have historical significance in understanding literature in general. Well, it wont apply to math, science,grammar etc., but supposedly will help students understand history and literature. Those who want the bible in schools state that history and literature texts are full of biblical references. This is a myth and TFN has swallowed this coolaid. It is not true. I just read my daughters American History text and her English texts( 10th grade) and both are void of biblical references or any situation where biblical knowledge is necessary except in a few cases. The American History text talks about Puritans etc. and religious freedom, but those terms arent in the bible.Ph. D.’s in history dont take bible courses to get a ‘full’ understanding of history. You and I were taught these courses without school bible classes and we understood it. This is a ruse, although maybe well meaning by some, its premise is false. The history in the bible is not pervasive in history or English taught in schools. I urge the TFN to oppose any bible classes in schools. An entire semester or year will not advance students understanding history or English. Get a text out and read one and I bet you’ll agree. Brian Rutledge

  2. Well said Brian Rutledge. On my own note the FF were creationists only in the fact they believed in a god, not the xian god necessarily. In the Declaration of Independence they note Nature’s god and the Laws of Nature, not jc. The First Cause is how I’d describe their god. This was before the understanding of the big bang and evolution so they can’t be blamed for thinking a god created the universe.