As the World Evolves:
Science OR Religion becomes Science AND Religion
The debate between science and religion has been ongoing since the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin proposed an alternative explanation for the origin of life contrasting Genesis, the first book of the Bible, which originally satisfied most people in the Western world. This debate becomes even more heated in the public school system, especially in science class. How was the universe created? Science classes should stick to science and concepts that can be proven. But with respect to the creation of the universe, given gaps in the evolutionary model, alternative theories should be incorporated. Therefore, creationism as a theory has a place in the classroom.
According to Kent Greenawalt (2005) in Does God Belong in Public Schools?, “Scientists regard evolution as by far the most convincing scientific explanation for the development of species” (p. 117). In addition, “creation science is not genuine science because neither its theses nor the techniques of its practitioners are genuinely scientific, and its conclusions conflict with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence” (p.116).
However, there are uncertainties and gaps in the evolution model. Dr. Henry M. Morris (1973), founder of the Institute for Creation Research, in his article Evolution, Creation, and the Public Schools states, “Although widely promoted as a scientific fact, evolution has never been proved scientifically. Some writers still call it the theory of evolution, but even this is too generous. A scientific hypothesis should be capable of being tested in some way, to determine whether or not it is true, but evolution cannot be tested. No laboratory experiment can either confirm or falsify a process which, by its very nature, requires millions of years to accomplish significant results” (p. 1).
Since evolution does not fully explain creation, it is the responsibility of teachers to share alternative explanations, such as creation and others. Public schools in Tennessee and Louisiana are allowed, with tax funding, to permit creationist instruction in the science classroom. The Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 “allows teachers to use ‘supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner,’…in effect, allowing creationist material inside the classroom” (Kirk, 2014). In 2012, a Tennessee state law allowed public schools to teach scientific strengths as well as scientific weaknesses and permits teachers, if desired, to teach creationism.
Though I believe the emphasis in the science classroom should be scientific, with no proven explanation for creation, there is a strong argument to teach various explanations: “There are, therefore, sound scientific and pedagogical reasons why both models should be taught, as objectively as possible, in public classrooms, giving arguments pro and con for each. Some students and their parents believe in creation, some in evolution, and some are undecided. If creationists desire only the creation model to be taught, they should send their children to private schools which do this; if evolutionists want only evolution to be taught, they should provide private schools for that purpose. The public schools should be neutral and either teach both or teach neither” (Morris, p. 1).
But why does it have to be one or the other? We continually evolve, and in doing so might find that both sides are right — that evolution is part of God’s bigger plan for creation. I can relate to author Karl Smallwood (2013) who said, “Creationists do not necessarily disagree with mainstream science, in fact they openly embrace it, they simply believe that God, or some higher power, played a part in the events that led to our creation” (p. 1).
Greenawalt, K. (2005). Does God Belong in Public Schools? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kirk, C. (2014). A Map of Thousands of Schools That Are Allowed to Teach Creationism With Taxpayer Money.
Morris, H. M., Ph. D. (1973). Evolution, Creation, and the Public Schools.
Smallwood, K. (2013). 10 Reasons Creationism Should Be Taught in School.
The Big Bang Theory — Evolution vs. Creationism (funny). (2010). Youtube.