Skip to comments.Should creationism be taught in British classrooms?
Posted on 04/13/2010 6:33:12 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
To some people's incredulity and others' satisfaction, creationism's influence is growing across the globe. Definitions of creationism vary, but roughly 10-15 per cent of people in the UK believe that the earth came into existence exactly as described in the early parts of the Bible or the Quran, and that the most that evolution has done is to change species into other, closely related species.
The more recent theory of intelligent design agrees with creationism, but makes no reference to the scriptures. Instead, it argues that there are many features of the natural world - such as the mammalian eye - that are too intricate to have evolved from non-living matter, as the theory of evolution asserts. Such features are simply said to be "irreducibly complex".
At the same time, the overwhelming majority of biologists consider evolution to be central to the biological sciences, providing a conceptual framework that unifies every disparate aspect of the life sciences into a single, coherent discipline. Most scientists also believe that the universe is about 13-14 billion years old.
The well-known schism between a number of religious world-views - particularly Judaeo-Christian views based on Genesis and mainstream Islamic readings of the Quran - and scientific explanations derived from the theory of evolution is exacerbated by the way people are asked in surveys about their views on the origins of human life. There is a tendency to polarise religion and science: questions focus on the notion that either God created everything, or God had nothing to do with it. The choices erroneously imply that scientific evolution is necessarily atheistic, linking acceptance of evolution with the explicit exclusion of any religious premise.
In fact, people have personal beliefs about religion and science that cover a wide range of possibilities. This has important implications for how biology teachers should present evolution in schools. As John Hedley Brooke, the first holder of the Andreas Idreos Professorship of Science and Religion at Oxford University, has long pointed out, there is no such thing as a fixed relationship between science and religion. The interface between them has shifted over time, as has the meaning of each term.
Most of the literature on creationism (and intelligent design) and evolutionary theory puts them in stark opposition. Evolution is consistently presented in creationist books and articles as illogical, contradicted by scientific evidence such as the fossil record (which they claim does not provide evidence for transitional forms), and as the product of non-scientific reasoning. The early history of life, they say, would require life to arise from inorganic matter - a form of spontaneous generation largely rejected by science in the 19th century. Creationists also accuse evolutionary theory of being the product of those who ridicule the word of God, and a cause of a range of social evils (from eugenics, Marxism, Nazism and racism to juvenile delinquency).
Creationism has received similarly short shrift from evolutionists. In a study published in 1983, the philosopher of science Philip Kitcher concluded that the flat-earth theory, the chemistry of the four elements and medieval astrology were all as valid as creationism (not at all, that is).
Life lessons Evolutionary biologists attack creationism - especially "scientific creationism" - on the grounds that it isn't a science at all, because its ultimate authority is scriptural and theological, rather than the evidence obtained from the natural world.
After many years of teaching evolution to school and university students, I have come to the view that creationism is best seen by science teachers not as a misconception, but as a world-view. A world-view is an entire way of understanding reality: each of us probably has only one.
However, we can have many conceptions and misconceptions. The implications of this for education is that the most a science teacher can normally hope to achieve is to ensure that students with creationist beliefs understand the basic scientific position. Over the course of a few school lessons or a run of university lectures, it is unlikely that a teacher will be able to replace a creationist world-view with a scientific one.
So how might one teach evolution in science lessons to 14- to 16-year-olds? The first thing to note is that there is scope for young people to discuss beliefs about human origins in other subjects, notably religious education. In England, the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) and the QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) have published a non-statutory national framework for religious education and a teaching unit that asks: "How can we answer questions about creation and origins?" The unit focuses on creation and the origins of the universe and human life, as well as the relationships between religion and science. As you might expect, the unit is open-ended and is all about getting young people to learn about different views and develop their own thinking. But what should we do in science?
In summer 2007, after months of behind-the-scenes meetings, the DCSF guidance on creationism and intelligent design received ministerial approval and was published. As one of those who helped put the guidance together, I was relieved when it was welcomed. Even the discussions on the RichardDawkins.net forum were positive, while the Freethinker, an atheist journal, described it as "a breath of fresh air" and "a model of clarity and reason".
The guidance points out that the use of the word "theory" in science (as in "the theory of evolution") can be misleading, as it is different from the everyday meaning - that is, of being little more than an idea. In science, the word indicates that there is substantial supporting evidence, underpinned by principles and explanations accepted by the international scientific community. The guidance makes clear that creationism and intelligent design do not constitute scientific theories.
It also illuminates that there is a real difference between teaching something and teaching about something. In other words, one can teach about creationism without advocating it, just as one can teach in a history lesson about totalitarianism without advocating it.
This is a key point. Many scientists, and some science teachers, fear that consideration of creationism or intelligent design in a science classroom legitimises them. That something lacks scientific support, however, doesn't seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson.
I remember being excited, when I was taught physics at school, that we could discuss almost anything, provided we were prepared to defend our thinking in a way that admitted objective evidence and logical argument. I recall one of our A-level chemistry teachers scoffing at a fellow student, who reported that she had sat (outside the lesson) with a spoon in front of her while Uri Geller maintained he could bend viewers' spoons. I was all for her approach. After all, I reasoned, surely the first thing was to establish if the spoon bent (it didn't for her), and if it did, to start working out how.
Free expression When teaching evolution, there is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts they have in order to shape and provoke a genuine discussion. The word "genuine" doesn't mean that creationism and intelligent design deserve equal time with evolution. They don't. However, in certain classes, depending on the teacher's comfort with talking about such issues, his or her ability to deal with them, and the make-up of the student body, it can and should be appropriate to address them.
Having said that, I don't pretend to think that this kind of teaching is easy. Some students become very heated; others remain silent even if they disagree profoundly with what is said. But I believe in taking seriously the concerns of students who do not accept the theory of evolution while still introducing them to it. Although it is unlikely that this will help them resolve any conflict they experience between science and their beliefs, good teaching can help students to manage it - and to learn more science.
My hope is simply to enable students to understand the scientific perspective with respect to our origins, but not necessarily to accept it. We can help students to find their science lessons interesting and intellectually challenging without their being a threat. Effective teaching in this area can help students not only learn about the theory of evolution, but also better appreciate the way science is done, the procedures by which scientific knowledge accumulates, the limitations of science and the ways in which scientific knowledge differs from other forms of knowledge.
-- Michael Reiss is professor of science education at the Institute of Education, University of London. His PhD was on evolutionary biology, and he is a priest in the Church of England
FYI, the author, of this article, Michael Reiss, was forced out of his position as director of communications at the Royal Society 18 months ago because he said that creationist and ID views should be treated critically but respectfully, when raised by students in science classes.
Reiss sacking has been perhaps the most public demonstration of an Expelled-like phenomenon in Britain to date.
No, it shouldn’t. The Bible should be taught in British classrooms.
There is actually more evidence to back up creationism then there is evolution. Never, ever, ever, does chaos create order. You need more faith to believe in evolution(everything is just an accident) than creationism.
You can teach ABOUT something, critquing or defending aspects of it for instance without requiring students to believe it one way or the other.
Exactly right. I’m intending to homeschool and will teach my daughter about Darwin as a theory with support and current controversy. Am not going to send her into the world unequipped to discuss and understand the ideas that drive it.
No, there really isn’t. The Stratigraphic Record does not match the events outlined in Genesis. Sorry.
I also will of course teach the Biblical creation account. None of this self-created moderate theory. Present the alternate idea and . . . next lesson.
British schools have the same problems as ours: discipline problems, p.c. kowtowing to gays and Moslems (oddly, both ;-), failure to teach basic skills, grade inflation, etc.
The argument over Darwinism vs. alternatives is just a play-fight to distract the people from the almost-complete collapse of the system. If students can’t read or add, it doesn’t matter much what else the curriculum includes.
Add astrology and alchemy while you’re at it.
Modern evolutionary thought do not allow for the supernatural. Yes, there are some theistic evos who spout the "God as a watchmaker" stance, but that is in direct opposition to Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, and the rest of the evolutionist watchdogs. These watchdogs want evolution to be true so that God would be a lie.
Also, while there are those who will talk about all of the mechanics that are supposedly revealed by evolutionary theory, the cannot explain how life started. By ignoring this crucial foundation piece, they prop their theory on massive amounts of speculation and conjecture.
It doesn’t really matter to me, if God says it, it is. Why should I believe fallible man? Does man suddenly have all the answers? I don’t think so. There is no solid evidence for stratigraphic record, it’s all up to interpretation, man is fallible and the farther back you go, the less reliable the information. The world wide flood for one thing would have disturbed much. I saw a documentary done a few years back that says it does go along with what the bible says. I’ll just stick with what God says.
And global warming and Keynesian economics.
Bingo. I wish the paranoid "scientists" who dominate the field of science education in the United States had the beginning of a clue about this.
“Never, ever, ever, does chaos create order. “
—I’m not sure what you mean by “chaos creating order”, but order and complexity arise spontaneously in the chemical world all the time. Otherwise, chemistry would be a rather worthless and boring subject (albeit much easier). Ever seen snowflakes (an increase in order), or rust (an increase in complexity Fe + O2 -> Fe2O3)?
So clever. The IDer's are lumped as Creationists, yet whenever one wants to criticize those conveniently dumped into the same pot, one begins by setting them all up as YECers. Sloppy, sloppy thinking. Actually, it isn't even thinking, it's emoting.
I didn’t think my reply suggested that. I have no problem with ID-ers. The ID just took a long time, from our POV.
No real evidence of a global flood, though.
Peace, anyway. I have no real argument with you, we just look at things completely differently and will never see eye to eye.
Many scientists subscribe to the notion that "Nature is all there is" which is a philosophical statement but not a scientific statement. Science has a hard time making absolute statements, especially when singular events are beyond observed duplication. A little more humility from the "scientific community" would be appreciated on this score, but theirwidespread paranoia demands an absolutist mentality .
Question for theistic evolutionists: "Can God acheive an intended result by a process devoid of intentionality?"
Sorry for doing a little "lumping together" of my own. I didn't mean it as a philippic against you personally. But the fact remains that that the majoritarian view in science nowadays is that ID = Creationism. Which betrays serious sloppiness of thought ---on their part.
Very true, but this is the crux of the matter in teaching evo vs ID. The evos will say that what they are teaching is "science" devoid of "religion", and that ID is "religion" devoid of any "science". The problem is that both have a philosophical presupposition that cannot be proven with the scientific method.
What needs to be pointed out is that any origin theory is based in a philosophical presupposition, and as such, has a certain amount of faith to it.
If you believe in God, this won't change His mind about you :) He still loves us no matter what. Relationships are like that with God, there is still much I don't know. The more I learn, especially about God, the more I realize how little I know.
Nice set of loaded words there. Let us not forget that the modern evo have their own "philosophical chicanery" going on: they claim that all that exists is matter and that there is no God. While they don't know everything, they discount the possibility of something that is not unreasonably possible.
Let me expand. How did life occur? We don't know, but it can't be God. How did the universe begin? We don't know, but it can't be God. They have already rejected a definite possibility for rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.
As part of an elective Theology course? YES!
You’re describing influence in terms of their acceptance by those in institutions of learning, organizations, etc.
I think the author is referring to the GENERAL PUBLIC and what they believe. In this regards, he seems to be telling us that creationism seems to be gaining in acceptance.
For instance, CBS has been doing a yearly poll on public acceptance of evolution since as far back as I can remember.
This poll (1991) had 47% for creationism (God created man 10,000 years ago) and 40% for evolution.(man evolved God guided the process). However an addition 9% also believed in evolution (man evolved God wasn’t involved) End numbers 47% to 49%
A follow up (1997) to the last poll, with the same numbers came out 44% creation 39% evolution with God and 10% pure evolution. End numbers 44% to 49%
In 2005, they told us that their poll results show that most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved.
This number, I think has been increasing every year in favor of creationism INSPITE of what is happening at our institutions of learning.
*THAT* I think is what the author is referring to.
See Part II for evidences of a global flood.
Center for Scientific Creation - In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood
Part I dispels the upside down logic of evolution.
Part III is questions, answers and a debate challenge.
Sorry but you could not be more wrong. Evolution is historical (aka hysterical) science. Evolution stands logic on it’s head to try to explain nature. The Dover PA case did not involve any “conservative, religious colleges of rural Pennsylvania” higher learning insitutes.
See my post #30 in this thread for more truth than you’ll
find in all of the evolution textbooks combined. If the
government would quit funding evolutionary science then
it would literally dry up and blow away.
I wish I had kept the magazine, but was so disgusted with the lot that I threw it away.
I see the creationist camel has its nose under the FR tent again.
Just when I was getting ready to cough up a few hundred for the Freepathon.
Let me be the first to say...’This belongs in Religion’.
“Never does chaos create order.”
That is true - but order can form in a chaotic system if the chaos increases elsewhere.
I don’t agree.
Science is not based on faith but on putting up a thesis without any faith, knowing it may be wrong. It’s only based on observation and logical links to other observations and the point is not to regard it as truth for all time but a temporary base of work until obeservations are made that make your thesis obsolete or incomplete or wrong.
In fact faith is a problematic attitude for a scientist since they are certainly tempted and do fall in love with their theories all the time - but the philosophie is - and that is what every scientist gets tought and what every priest is forbidden: To not fall into love with theories, models, interpretations etc. but to test them, make your own and put them to a discussion.
It is the essence of science to be unfaithful.
There is no way science can proof or resume that ‘there is no god’.
In fact it is impossible to proof that angels, elfs or the like do not exist.
There are areas of incertainty and they are big.
But only because we don’t know jack about what things are in these areas it doesn’t mean on the other hand that there is a god.
Science doesn’t say ‘there is no God’ it just says - we don’t see him.
Jesus walked - perhaps - over the water. But there is a lot of indications, that makes it to hard to believe. We even have a better theory - one that has more logical connections to other observations and results of interpretations and is much harder to attack: The bible contains stuff, that is made up.
So why consider a second best theory ?
And your proof that the bible has fiction in it is what?
So why consider a second best theory ?
In your mind, it is the second best theory. To me, the idea that an intelligent and logical mind has been created by random events is far poorer than the idea that a more superior intelligence created a lesser one.
You claim “The bible contains stuff, that is made up.”
I say prove it or pack it up and go home! The Bible is unique among all other books. And it shows many clear signs to be divinely inspired by God as does creation itself.
To make such an outlandish claim, you obviously have never seriously studied His Word nor the many heavily researched books and articles as well as archeological science itself which shows the Bible to be trustworthy and true.
Psalm 22 was written at least 800 years before Jesus Christ walked the earth yet it alone provides numerous fulfilled prophesies describing the details surrounding the crucifixion. Science can not begin to compete with His Word and has no answer for any of the wondrous and miraculous claims in the Bible.
The problem is that every scientist does fall in love with their own theories or models. For instance, is the speed of light constant? There is some good evidence that it is not, but there a strong resistance from the physics community not to accept the theory. Einstein refused to believe quantum mechanics because, as he put it, "God does not play dice." (and, no, I am not saying that Einstein believed in God, I am just quoting him).
Also, I have yet to see a controlled experiment that conclusively proves ToE over ID. What I see is the equivalent of forensic scientists looking over a crime scene trying to figure out what has happened, but who have been told that the perpetrator is not their man, and that they should abandon any line of inquiry that proves otherwise.
Before I believe that Jesus walked on the water I just prefer to believe he knew where the stones are.
An object with mass that is higher the that of air will immerse in water - a body that contains mainly water will do so nearly completely or sink.
Now it’s your turn to tell me your hint to believe Jesus really walked on the water ;-)
Now this is not a proof but it is a little theory with a quite dense logical background.
I’ll go with this until you show me something reproducable and consistent that convinces me otherwise - and no just because many people do it or because it’r written is not a logical and reproducable thing.
But as Doctor House said - don’t reason with religious people - they wouldn’t be religious if you could ;-)
well THAT must be interpreted... as what ?
Either that Psalm 22 is an impressive act of prophecy - details from the passion of chirst where actually written on paper long before Christ was on Earth.
Or the authors of christ’s passion knew the content of Psalm 22 and bound it into known context.
Since I do not know how it was determined that psalm 22 was authored over 800 years BC I will not say it isn’t so - I know that many sources of text in the bible are much older then 2000 years. Was it never ‘worked over’.
What do you think would happen to all the informations written down in ancient times ? What motivations existed then to write things down.
If I assumed that there was in fact prophecy and enlightenment as a motivation to some of these ancient writers - isn’t it likely that there have been people arround who wrote and preached also political and ethical propaganda ?
What might have happened to writings like the later ?
Hmmm I am asking to much - you don’t have to open your mind to ateism. It’s maybe not even what makes you or most people happy.
I would ask not to demand to mix science with religion or to even compare them in any way is a missunderstanding of concepts. Just keep creationism where it belongs - into talkshows and the media - it was ment as a provocation. If it appears in school then in lessons where you teach children what ‘the media’ is.
There you are. It is so correct. Scientists can never live up to their own philosophy. As democracy and capitalism, science isn’t a perfect concept because of the human factor.
This is different with Christianity.
No mere man can walk on water as described, except by some supernatural event. But if He is God, the Creator of all, as He said many times, it would not be illogical to allow Him to perform acts like this to show His dominion over creation.
I'll give you a crude analogy. In many pieces of software, there are "easter eggs" or "cheats" that allow the player to do things not normally possible. These are placed in by the creators of the software, and, unless revealed to rest, they look impossible to perform by the average user. But they show the dominion of the programmer over the game.
But as Doctor House said - dont reason with religious people - they wouldnt be religious if you could ;-)
Spoken like a true closed-minded bigot (House, not you; I have no idea if you are a bigot). You have presupposed that religious people are not reasonable. That makes it easier for you to dismiss us.
As I pointed out earlier, ANY origin theory is based in a philosophical presupposition, and as such, has a certain amount of faith to it. Also, any theory is worthless if it cannot be predictive, i.e. a controlled experiment where the result can accurately be predicted before. I have yet to see a controlled experiment that conclusively proves ToE OR ID. As such, both are not theories, but conjectures.
Rummenigge, sorry for not understanding, but I am not sure what the “this” is referring to. Will you clarify?
True science does not ignore nor throw away some/most of the known data just because it does not fit their assumptions. See my links page and explain why over 100 natural clocks are ignored in favor of those used by evolutionary science and their many [oft not-stated] assumptions for starting points and uniformitarianism.
You stated: “I would ask not to demand to mix science with religion or to even compare them in any way is a missunderstanding of concepts.” You must study much history grasshopper, before you may begin to see who is ‘pulling the wool over your eyes.’ Newton did his scientific reseach in an attempt to prove God, the Bible and the evidence that God states is plain for all to see in His creation.
You ever heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Modern science has shown that the Biblical Old Testament is accurately recorded as it was passed down throughout history.
More suggested reading to shed light on your Biblical understanding:
3 books/recordings by Lee Strobel:
The Case for Christ,
The Case for Faith, &
The Case for Creation.
‘More than a Carpenter’ by Josh McDowell [iirc]
‘The Signature of God’ by Grant Jeffries
‘Starlight and Time’ by Russell Humphreys
Dr Ivan Panin Russian Mathematician later emigrated to USA and spent his life’s work researching the mathematical codes underlying the structure in the Bible which consequently led to modern day ELS - Equidistant Letter Spacings. ELS is only possible w/ the advent of the computer age.
Online book that I strongly reccomend for hardback purchase
containing what is and what is not conclusive in modern evolutionary science by a former evolutionary scientist
‘In the Beginning’ by Dr. Walt Brown Ph.D.
[also on my FR links page.]
The choice is yours:
Continue to throw stones blindly, or
Do some of your own web research and analysis.
Modern day science has become big-time Bible critics by using only the data that supports their hopes and dreams. I think eventually you’ll see that all folks live in glass houses some are just more stone-proof than others.
But no one has shown any true science that can conclusively refute the inspired Word of God. Many make such claims and many reach consensus w/i their own little warped peer-reviews but none [no one] can produce anything on par w/ the accuracy of the Bible.
Why teach creationism or evolution? Why not simply teach science?