Creationism vs Evolution
Should schools be allowed to teach creationism alongside evolution as part of their science curriculum?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Evolution is an unproven theory about the origins of life. Both creationism and evolution are faith...
Evolution is an unproven theory about the origins of life. Both creationism and evolution are faith-positions, given that both are attempts to explain the past, which is in principle beyond direct scientific examination and verification. If we are allowed to teach one, we should be allowed to teach the other.
Evolution is not a theory about the origins of life at all. It is a theory about the development of life. All scientific theories are necessarily unproven - that’s what ‘theory’ means. If we only taught those areas of science which were entirely ‘proved’ there would be little or no science teaching at all. The theory of evolution is, however, supported by overwhelming evidence, and is therefore not a ‘faith-position’ whereas the ‘evidence’ for creationism is discredited. The fact that much (not all - evolution is a continuing process) of the evidence relates to the past is not a problem: all sciences (and indeed history as an academic discipline) make what are, in effect, predictions about the past which are then confirmed or disconfirmed by evidence such as, in this case, the fossil record.
Creationism is science. It has discovered evidence for a young earth and for the biblical flood. I...
Creationism is science. It has discovered evidence for a young earth and for the biblical flood. It has pointed to the absence from the fossil record of intermediate forms between known species. It has argued that certain species could not have evolved gradually because of their particular chemical or physical make-up. All of these discoveries and observations confirm the truth of the Genesis account of creation.
Creationism is not science. It takes the Genesis account (actually there are two Genesis accounts, in Gen 1.1-2.3 and Gen 2.4-3.24, but let’s not get into that) as true in every particular, and bends the evidence to fit that so-called ‘hypothesis’ - in fact it is not a hypothesis at all, since it is in principle unalterable for the creationists. Meanwhile, evolutionists come up with hypotheses which they test, modify and, where necessary, abandon as appropriate.
Biology can be studied in a creationist context. Looking at the way in which different organisms wo...
Biology can be studied in a creationist context. Looking at the way in which different organisms work shows us the beauty and perfection of God’s design. Classification is still possible, along the lines of the ‘kinds’ described in the Bible - but cladistic classification based on hypothetical ‘lines of descent’ is deeply flawed and should be rejected. Creationism helps us to understand the power, goodness and majesty of God and to see how everything is under his authority.
Evolution should be a central part of the science curriculum, because the rest of biology is dependent on it. Understanding how and why different organisms work as they do requires a knowledge of mutation, natural selection and adaptation, which are rejected by creationism. For creationism, the classification of living things based on lines of descent and chronological speciation makes no sense. Furthermore, understanding how evolution works as a theory helps teach students about the nature of scientific method - a matter on which creationists are notoriously shaky.
Schoolchildren are vulnerable and impressionable: if you teach them that Genesis is wrong, they may ...
Schoolchildren are vulnerable and impressionable: if you teach them that Genesis is wrong, they may well believe you. This has implications for the possibility of bringing them up as believing Christians, which is of course the point of having faith schools in the first place, and what their parents must be presumed to want if they choose to send their children to faith schools. If a majority of Americans are creationists then the school curriculum should reflect this.
Schoolchildren are vulnerable and impressionable: if you teach them the literal truth of Genesis as science, they may well believe you. Since you are wrong, this is not to be welcomed, particularly since what your teaching involves is a wilful misunderstanding of the nature of scientific method, with implications for their understanding of science in general for the rest of their lives. The fact that more than half of all Americans believe that the world was created by God in seven days is a testament to political pressure from Christians to water down the science curriculum, and it is harmful - because it is wrong. We may allow children to be sent to faith schools, but we do not allow those schools to teach them whatever they like.
If we are allowed to teach religious studies, we should be allowed to teach all of the implications ...
If we are allowed to teach religious studies, we should be allowed to teach all of the implications of religious belief. The idea that God created the world is central to Christian, Muslim and Jewish belief. If we allow faith schools in which children are taught about their religion from an explicitly committed perspective, if we allow (indeed encourage) religious worship in schools, it is bizarre to allow this to be contradicted in science lessons.
The belief that God creates and sustains the world is not the same as the belief that God created the world in seven days a few thousand years ago. The former is a theological position which implies the goodness and sovereignty of God, and his continuing involvement with his creation, not a scientific claim. The latter is an empirically testable claim which has been empirically tested and found to be false. We should not allow schools to teach our children things that are just plain wrong, and known to be wrong. This is distinct from allowing the teaching of religion, which is culturally and historically significant and which involves beliefs which are in principle distinct from science.
There is a great deal at stake in the claim that God did not create the world in seven days: the Bib...
There is a great deal at stake in the claim that God did not create the world in seven days: the Bible says that he did; if he did not, then the Bible is wrong. If the Bible is wrong on this, we cannot trust it on anything else and our entire faith, which you seem to want us to be allowed to maintain, is built on a lie - on your logic, we should not be allowed to teach our religion at all, since on your logic it is all false. For example, the Bible’s description of Jesus as a ‘second Adam’ is undermined if there was no ‘first Adam’ - this would remove Jesus’ significance. Those churches which accept evolution are compromising their faith.
On this question, the Bible just is wrong, and if you insist on holding a literalistic approach to Scripture then the implications you claim do indeed follow. However, there is no theological need to do this. The Roman Catholic and the Anglican churches, for example, have accepted the truth of evolution and they still hold what is a recognisably and distinctively Christian faith. Assuming that the writers of the Bible meant their creation stories to be understood as literally true makes them look stupid – we should do them the justice of allowing that they wrote stories designed to account for the world as they knew it, not scientific accounts.
If we are descended from animals then the specialness of humanity, as the only creature uniquely cre...
If we are descended from animals then the specialness of humanity, as the only creature uniquely created in the image of God, is denied. There is nothing to separate us from the beasts, and no moral basis for feeling ‘special’ and acting differently from them.
This is just nonsense. Evolution has no implications for morality: it describes what has happened, making no judgement about whether what has happened is good. Non-religious ethicists are perfectly capable of making moral judgements, and they regularly do so.
There is no need to draw a sharp distinction between academic subjects in which creationism may and ...
There is no need to draw a sharp distinction between academic subjects in which creationism may and may not be mentioned, particularly if you hold, as Christians and other religious people do, that the truth is unified and beautiful. If it is acceptable to talk about creationism’s religious, cultural and historical significance - as it should be - then it is acceptable to talk about its scientific legitimacy. We believe that it is scientifically legitimate - more so, indeed, than evolution - and we intend to defend that claim in science classes.
There is nothing wrong with teaching the creation myths of Christianity, and indeed of other religions and cultures, in religious studies, history or language classes, because of their historical and cultural importance - they may even make a good starting-point to evolution courses as a point of contrast to show that there is little to choose between non-scientific creation myths, but that Darwin’s revolution transformed our understanding of the development of life by positing a scientifically testable theory in place of myths. Teaching creationism as science, however, is wrong.
US-SPECIFIC ARGUMENT: It is true that the promotion of religion is constitutionally not allowed in s...
US-SPECIFIC ARGUMENT: It is true that the promotion of religion is constitutionally not allowed in schools: however, scientific creationism, while it has religious implications, is legitimate science - if teaching creationism implies the truth of the Christian position (which it does not necessarily, as some Muslims and Jews would support it) then that simply reflects the fact that the Christian position on this is correct.
US-SPECIFIC ARGUMENT: This is a smuggling of religious teaching into the state school curriculum, which is against the First Amendment of the Constitution. The government is not allowed to promote, mandate or enforce particular religious doctrines. Creationism is a religious, not a scientific, doctrine, and government money should not fund its promotion.
What do you think?