...As Theories

Browsing through some of the more 'controversial' topics that EP had to offer, I came across a lady who was outraged that her children were taught evolution in schools and not creationism.  Obviously, from this lady's point of view, the biblical idea that the earth was created by God in six days was the truth; while the biological idea that mankind evolved to its current form over millions of years was just a lie created to turn people away from Christian values.


Fair play to this woman for her strong faith.  Though her argument does seem a little dogmatic.


First, I think I should admit that I do personally believe in evolutionary theory.  I also believe that, no matter how persuasively you try to argue in favour of it, there are some people who just will not listen and instead advocate that they're religious creationist stories are the truth.  And I think that's fine.  Nobody should tell you what you should or should not believe.  But, by the same argument, I do not think that you should dictate what your child should believe either.


I believe that children should be taught both evolution and creationism in schools, without a teacher advocating to them which is right or wrong.  Evolution should be taught as a scientific theory, and creationism should be taught as a religious belief.  It's not necessary that a science (or R.E.) teacher stands at the front of the classroom and preaches that evolution (or creation) is correct, and anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot.  Children should be taught both, and left to make up their own mind.


Telling your children what belief system they should follow is just indoctrination, as is curtailing their education so that they never experience anything other than one set of values.  If you only allow them to learn creationism (or evolutionary theory) of course they're going to believe it!  Freedom of belief is so very important, and is something that is denied of so many people after all.


In conclusion, I would like to point out that my high school taught both theories side-by-side like this, and Christians, atheists and Buddhists all learned together quite happily because of it.

Ryuuzaki Ryuuzaki
22-25, F
14 Responses Feb 17, 2009

If teachers want to teach creationism on the same level as they tell children about Zeus and Hera, then fine. I agree that we become more tolerant and enlightened people if we learn about other people's beliefs - even (especially?) the ones we disagree with. But the idea that we should teach creationism and evolution as two intellectually equal theories and then let children make up their own minds is ridiculous and pernicious. There's no evidence for creationism and plenty of evidence for evolution. Evolution is an established fact, although I realise there are plenty of gaps in our knowledge. You may as well teach children about fairies and then get them to make up their own minds.<br />
Although children should be taught to be critical and not to accept anyone's word for anything, it is not the purpose of education to teach children rubbish. I certainly wouldn't teach children about democracy and national socialism and then leave them to make up their own minds as to which one is preferable.<br />
Children should be taught that evolution is fact. They should also be taught that creationism, although many people believe in it, isn't.

Do you have religious studies classes in Canadian high schools? We do here in Britain, even in schools that are not aligned with the church and it is compulsory for children to study religion up until a certain point when they can choose to drop the subject. Ergo, the two theories do not ever really compete at all as evolution is taught in the biology classroom while creationalism is taught in Religious Studies as a form of Christian belief. RS (sometimes also titled BPE - Belief, Philosophy and Ethics) does not exist as a subject to tell you what to believe, but to kind of outline the facts as "some people believe this and here's their reasoning, while others believe the following". I think that this is the best possible way for it to be taught.

While I do agree that it is important for children to decide what they believe for themselves, I firmly believe in a separation of church and state. Teaching creationism side by side as a viable alternative seems not only unconstitutional (at least in Canada and the USA) but also dishonest. The amount of evidence in support of evolution is enormous (from all fields of biology, as well a palaeontology) and this is simply not true of creationism. Creationism requires faith. To me teaching creationism in schools as a viable alternative is no different to teaching stork theory along with sex ed to explain where babies come from.

Creationism is clearly very stupid. I am European, Catholic and a PhD microbiologist, so I am very clear on this. What I find interesting is why some intelligent people, who know enough to know better believe it.<br />
<br />
I can imagine that if I made a scientific discovery that clearly proved beyond doubt that morality was nonsense (entirely hypothetical), I would rather not believe in science that not believe in morality. Possibly this is what is happening in their minds?

Evolutionary theory is science and should be taught in science as the scientifically accepted theory. Creationism as it is normally used is the creation myth of one particular religion and if it is taught should be taught alongside of other religion's creation myths. None of them are scientific or can be considered as scientific theories in their current state.

Yes, that is also true. Although I feel that scientific theories have a little more empirical "weight" as we can see evidence for them in the physical world, in the end we don't know for sure. That's why they're called 'theories'.<br />
<br />
This is why I give credit to people for wanting to believe in various creationist stories. If they preffer those theories to evolution, so be it.

Damaging fairy tales are just as confusing as science's explaination of the big bang, and evolution. Evolution has yet to be proven so it is still theory, and that theory was made up by someone just like creationism. <br />
<br />
So by some logic the two stories in theory are both damaging fairy tales.

Evolution has been seen to happen, unlike creationism. It wasn't just made up by someone. It's an established fact.

Fair view, but by your view all teachers could be accused of teaching only the things they felt were important based on personal prefference. <br />
<br />
Personally, I think that it would be very easy to teach in a third person. You merely have to say "Some people may think this... While others may think this...". In my experience, writing essays in this tone is the only way to get good marks in standardised examinations so therefore students are actively encouraged to consider view points other than their own.

I just think that it would be hard to find many people who believed in some type of religion, no matter what that was, (or no religion at all) not to be biased while teaching some other sort of dogma in schools. I'm an Atheist so I may put more emphasis on non belief than some dogma. I don't think there is a happy medium there............ If I was a fundamental Christian, I may put too much emphasis on that belief than others because we tend to "throw out" things we don't believe in, even while we might respect people who hold those beliefs.

And they wonder why so many children in the UK are becoming parents? <br />
Case in point: recent news of scarily childlike 13yr old who may have fathered the child of his 15yr old girlfriend....<br />
Repeat after me: Glove before Love.

Betty - I don't know what R.E. is like where you are, but here it does focus on all religions. In fact, at my high school they started off with Native American beliefs and did not teach Christianity until the third year. However, it was a compulsory class (though only had one lesson a week while the sciences has three or four) as most English high schools deem learning about other religions important to helping students know how to interact with one another. This is especially important in a rural area like mine, where there were only Christians and Buddhists. Without proper knowledge of other cultures, the children in my home town did really run the risk of growing up sheltered and opinionated.<br />
<br />
I don't take your point offensively, as I said I value the opinion of others. I do not agree the religion is a subject of 'damaging faerie tales' though. Although I do believe in evolutionary theory myself, it's merely a personal preference. Science is largly like my beloved philosophy - despite being a study based on 'reason' it is still an area built on 'theory'. Although you can easily rationalise theories, it's hard to prove them a priori as fact.<br />
<br />
Aurora - I totally agree, and agree with your point on sex education. In my school, we weren't taught proper sex education until I was about fifteen because we were deemed immature and I think we all suffered because of it. That really was far too late, when a lot of my classmates had been active for years by that point...

I agree. I think everyone should have the right to chose what they want to believe - just like sex education should explain about all forms of contraception, including celebacy - religious ideas and many religions from around the world, as well as scientific theory should be taught- one point of view should not be privilaged over another.

I always loved R.E. class at school. Flipping through people's experiences on this topic, there are a lot who say that it's up to families or the Church to teach children this. In my school, R.E. was always a compulsory topic. It may not have been as academically important as maths and science, but they still deemed it necessary for children to learn about cultures and faiths other than their own. And I agree that this is very important in building a well-rounded and respectful person.

I agree with you again Ryuu.<br />
Kids should also be taught about all religions of the world, so that they have a wider understanding of the world in general.