March 1, 2011

Facts vs. Make Believe

By Francis Nye

Although creationism has lost every major U.S. Federal Court battle during the past 40 years, a recent study published in "Science" found "a pervasive reluctance of teachers to forthrightly explain evolutionary biology.”  This of course is a bit alarming to me and brings along a host of other issues that are very problematic.  Setting aside the fact that evolution is a proven and tested science, I think the real concern is the difficulty of narrowing down the plethora of religions and their ideas of creationism in the classroom.  There is also the inability of religion to prove or disprove creationism in a meaningful scientific way.  I further see some effects on other academic subjects if we integrate religion with science in our schools.

Each religion has its own distinct system of beliefs. In order to adequately address creationism, either all religious beliefs would have to be taught, or the teacher would have to individually choose which aspects of religion would be incorporated in the class.  This would be very unfair to other faiths.

As I alluded to before Creationism is part of a set of personal beliefs that cannot be proved or disproved through any scientific test. If creationism is integrated into high school science classes that would entail treating God as a physical object that can be studied.  Many religions—particularly Christianity, the main lobby for creationism in school—is founded on the principle that God is a transcendent being who cannot be defined in a certain form.

Scientific hypotheses must have the ability to be disproved, but the existence of God cannot be proven through a series of tests or trials. The objective of science classes is not to help students learn about different types of faith but to expand pupils' knowledge of facts that have been proven through the scientific methods. Personal faith has no influence on chemical reactions or the laws of physics.

Also, each individual academic subject contains different material. If creationism is allowed into the classroom, it would open the door for more religious subjects in other classes; history and English courses could become the subjects of another debate. What if religious background information becomes mandatory? Could biblical stories like the great flood or the Hebrews exodus also become require learning in class?  If so this could also be very problematic because historians and archeologists have not proven that these events took place either.  There is just no archeological evidence of these events. In fact the evidence tends to lean toward these events not taking place at all. That they are just stories use to teach morality.

Additionally, teaching creationism would force educators to decide which religions and beliefs to focus on. Yet again another debate.  This other debate would likely lead to a school district having to endorse a set of religious principles to teach in schools.

God cannot be proven to exist through any scientific method. That clearly places religion and God outside of a science class. I think science and religion need to remain in their own realm. Creationism might be fine in the confines of a church, but I personally believe it has no place in a high school class.  One also needs to realize that science values data and statistics and champions the virtues of evidence and experimentation whereas religion does not and cannot.  This is really what separates religion from science.  If religion could be proven it would not be religion at all, it would be science. 

The only logical argument for having creationism taught in schools is because some parents may feel it is not being addressed correctly at their local house of worship.  However, since there is wall of separation from church and state then religious class cannot be taught in a public school.  But not to be deterred I have a solution that will satisfy all.  Parents should either home-school their children or send them to private schools that have such curriculums.  It is a win-win and solves all problems. After all we wouldn’t want to force religious training on everyone; now would we? That wouldn’t be very American. Ω

What are your thoughts on this situation?  Please let me know below in the comment section.

Richard Dawkins: One Fact to Refute Creationism

For entire interview see:

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