When I was 12 years old and in the seventh grade I received my first formal education in the Theory of Evolution. While Biology was never my primary interest, I have always loved science and I soaked it all up.
There was a girl in my class named Danielle. She came from, what I now understand, a Creationist family. She had frequently displayed annoyance at the discussion of evolution since we started studying the theory. I learned of her attitude when I, and a few others were sitting in the school’s resource center during the lunch period during which I had been working on a Biology assignment. I asked Danielle (not knowing about her family’s convictions at the time) if she had completed the assignment.
She replied, “I don’t have to do it! My parents called the school. We don’t believe in Evolution. We’re Christians.”
I’ll summarize the ensuing discussion. I was not sure what to make of this. I had never heard of someone getting out of school work for being Christian. I tried to ask why she could not be a Christian and study evolution, since I was pretty sure that most of our classmates were doing both. However, she was adamant. She said with certainty, “We did not. Evolve. From. Monkeys!”
I had never experienced such an attitude to science before. I told her that she was really missing out and that such a stance would harm her in the long run.She objected, citing her faith as well as her personal disgust with the idea of being a monkey.I tired to explain that she should really follow what is taught in school and that there is no reason she can not also be a Christian, but one of the aides in that room suddenly snatched the simple taxonomic chart I was pointing at and crumpled it into a ball.She then moved me to the other side of the room and told me to leave Danielle alone.
Later that week, I was sitting at one of the picnic tables with two of my friends during lunch.I was talking about one of our recent lessons in evolution because they did not understand it as well as I did and asked me to clarify.
During the next period, I was pulled out of class and reported to the front office where I was addressed privately by both the principal and the vice-principal.They said that Danielle had lodged a complaint about me that day.Apparently, she had been sitting nearby and overheard my conversation regarding evolution.They told me I that I needed to be “more aware of the differing opinions around me’ and to not talk about certain things if it might upset someone.
I was twelve-years-old, I was just relieved that the faculty was not going to call my parents or give me detention.It was not until several years later upon reflection that I realized the hypocrisy of their actions.Anything can be viewed as offensive if your criteria of what constitutes offensive material is that which you perceive as contrary to your religion or culture.Are we supposed to walk on eggshells around each other unless we all have the same views?Or maybe it is better if we don’t associate with others at all.