I was disappointed that a large percentage of the public believes that creationism should be taught in schools. As Scott Keeter pointed out in his Oct. 2 Outlook piece, "What's Not Evolving Is Public Opinion," the surveys don't "probe deeply" about what a respondent would like to be taught, and therein lies a prickly problem for school boards.

If we use tax dollars to teach the Christian creation story, should we not also teach the Native American story? The Mayan story? The Hindu story? Will students in different towns learn different creation stories?

The point of the Framers' separation clause was to prevent the imposition of a particular set of religious beliefs on the citizenry and the splintering of civil society by inclusion -- or intrusion -- of religion into matters of the state, which now include public education.

From a pragmatic perspective, the inclusion of theology in science classes will not enhance the performance of our already-failing science and mathematics students. Will evolution -- the only hypothesis supported by fact and capable of explaining the historical, geological and molecular genetic records we understand today -- be relegated to a second-tier topic, just when society needs to understand the potential for stem cell therapies, genetic engineering and rapid virus evolution?

We have no reason to distrust Mr. Keeter's numbers; both the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Gallup Organization have a great deal of integrity in this arena. Unfortunately, the majority in this country has often gotten its way, even in cases in which the majority has been wrong.


Brunswick, Md.