Should we let Creationism into science classes?

For many years now I have been a staunch opponent of teaching Creationism (AKA Intelligent Design) in science classes, but I’m beginning to question that stance, and I’d like to hear some other opinions on the subject.

So have I given in to the “teach the controversy” crowd? Quite the opposite! In the US today, with our majority Christian population and unconscionably high percentage of people who already don’t believe in evolution, it is almost inevitable that children will be exposed to Creationism in some way. Why let it be on the Creationists’ terms?

Instead I propose that we actually teach children about the Christian Creation Myth in schools, but tell the truth about it. Don’t tell them that there is a serious debate in science about whether life on Earth got to its present state by means of evolution or by creation in its current form. Instead tell them that we know evolution happens, that even many Christians including Pope John Paul II agree that it does, and then show them exactly how literal Biblical Creationism falls flat on its face as science.

This would be a great educational experience in critical thinking, and a fantastic demonstration of how ancient unscientific ideas are eventually overtaken by good science based on observable facts. We still see the layperson’s side of this battle going on today since Creationists are much more tenacious than doctors who thought that “bleeding” people would cure them, but people should know that this debate is limited to laypeople and a few fringe scientists who have a lot of faith but little or no training in relevant scientific disciplines.

Instead of ignoring Creationism in school and letting kids be confused by hearing a basic version of the truth about the history of life on Earth in science class and then hearing confusing Creationist lies at home, on the street and in church, often without any arguments presented against it, the common Creationist claims should be debunked and it should be shown for the outdated, disproven, cynical lies that they are. We know that the Creationists are presenting their case, weak though it may be, and bashing evolution and science in any way they can. Why not fight back?

As I have seen too often in children and adults who believe in the Biblical Creation Myth, this and other related religious beliefs can destroy their trust not only in evolution but in all of science, even in anything secular, and then all they are left with is their religion. If we let people become so disconnected from reality and society as a whole, we risk losing them as members of our society along with anyone they manage to convert. This is a real concern since many of these people are evangelical and believe it is their mission to convert people.

So let’s cut this off at the knees. We can give the Creationists part of what they want and put Creationism into the science curriculum, as Creationism and not the “Intelligent Design” pseudonym so no one is confused about what the real issue is. Then we can teach people about the current controversy between fundamentalists and rational people in the laity, and let them know that the controversy in the scientific community between Evolution and Creation is long over and that the Creationists lost decisively.

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About Kazz

My name is Shawn Esplin and I am an advocate of Free Thought and general good sense and thought in general. To that end, I encourage people to seriously question the things that they have been taught, especially as children, because many of these things - religious and secular - are taken on faith until we actively choose to seriously examine them for ourselves.

4 thoughts on “Should we let Creationism into science classes?

  1. What Atheists fail to understand is that Darwin only challenged the literal belief of the story of Genesis, Darwin didn’t put forward any convincing theory to disprove the divine completely. This is the reason why leading scientist Sir John Houghton, who is an evangelical man of integrity, could say: ‘Creationism is an incredible pain in the neck, neither honest nor useful, and the people who advocate it have no idea how much damage they are doing to the credibility of belief.’

    Personally I have no problem in believing in miracles. If God created the world in six literal twenty-four-hour days then it was a miracle. The problem with creationists like Ken Ham and the people over at Answers in Genesis is that they try and use the laws of science to “prove” the literal story of Genesis. But if they ever succeed (which they won’t) the only thing they’ll accomplish is not prove God but rather to disprove God’s miracle!

  2. Rhys: I agree with you, it is possible to take a different view of the Bible and not take the creation story literally. I did mention that the last Pope believed in evolution along with many other Christians, but I’m sorry if I didn’t make it clear enough.

    Personally I don’t believe in either the Bible’s creation story or its god, but I hate to see people giving up science because they can’t make it fit with their religion. Fortunately many Christians, probably most, find a way to believe in both. Unfortunately many others take the Bible as their science book, and in most cases no one is really telling them why it shouldn’t be taken that way.

    Keith: I totally agree, but that’s the point! If people are going to be exposed to Creationism one way or another, why not present it fairly?

    In this case that would basically mean tearing it apart and showing just how badly it fails to fit with the evidence we have in so many areas of science, and show all of reasons that Creationism simply can’t be considered science.

    Normally I would agree that it wouldn’t be useful to spend too much time on unscientific subjects in a science class, but with all of the ID “scientists” and their “Creation Museums” and other nonsense springing up, I think that teaching children how to tell the difference between real science and mythology masquerading as science might be a very important lesson.

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