Should creationism be discussed in school science lessons?
Research informs us that one in ten students are believers in creationism. Professor Michael Reiss ignites old controversy as to whether creationism should be taught alongside evolution in science lessons.
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.
Students deserve to learn about different theories from each religion
In order for students to grow up as well-rounded, understanding and knowledgeable individuals, it is of vital importance that they learn about each others' religions, alongside their own. Coupled with this, students learn to respect each other. The world can be a very divided, prejudiced place, therefore it is essential that students learn from a young age about the history of the religion of their fellow students. Science lessons are the perfect way to do this, where creationism can be explained and taught about in the same manner as evolution. Those who believe in evolution can learn about what Christians, Jews and Muslims believe in alongside their own.
Creationism is a religious belief, and should best be taught in a religious education class rather than a science class. The same goes for multiculturalism, which is not a topic which should be taught in science, rather PSHE type classes.
Creationism does not rest upon the principles of science- empiricism and rationality, instead it rests upon revelation. Related is Intelligent Design, which is effectively an attempt to show that an "Intelligent Designer" had some effect upon nature.
Yes, students should learn about 'different BELIEFS from each religion'. However, science classes are not the place for this. religious education classes are.
Science teachers should be sympathetic to each individual student
Despite what some peoples' opinions might be, those who follow the Christianity, Judaism and Islam religions, might want their religion to be presented as fact in a science lesson and no prejudices of others should stand in the way of this. When dealing with sensitive issues such as religion, does anyone really have a right to say how it should be taught to children and in what subject? Science teachers should respect this and treat creationism the same way as they would any other aspect of science.
Science teachers can be sympathetic about the religion and beliefs of their students' even if they do not believe creationism themselves. However, they may not have been professionally trained themselves to teach children about creationism and this poses a problem for the training of all science teachers.
What is more, the sensitivity of people's views should not be an issue in science, unless it is a view rejected by science, such as parents wishing for racial segregation to be taught in science classes or magical gnomes being taught in place of atoms. At the most, creationism should be taught as a theory which has been rejected by science.
People who subscribe to certain beleifs, be they religious or political are not being goaded by the teaching of science which does not address religious issues. Each person needs to develop resilience and understanding of what is able to be proved and what is able to be believed.
It will not assist the development of faith of young people if they become accustomed to the world of adults refraining from showing them the broader world. Faith is about choice. Science is about what can be proven. The story of creationism as taught in the bible was written to assist the understanding of the development of the world 2000 years ago. Our minds are capable of greater understanding of the scientific advances constantly being discovered.
This is like saying a history teacher should not correct a child that believes the 2nd world war occurred in the 1600s or that a geography class can be led to believe the Earth is flat. The point of lessons is to teach students what is currently accepted in a given field. It is not to make sure they do not feel hurt or offended. What do you do with a Holocaust-denying child in a history class? Should we mark the answer' God did it' correctly in an exam asking 'describe the theory of natural selection'?. And would you be happy to teach PE in a maths class? (I.e. of course we have to decide which class things should be taught in!)
Also, creationism is not an aspect of science. It is religious teaching.
Science lessons are not always comprised of undisputed fact
The mainstream of argument against largely depends on the opinion that science lessons present fact and religious education presents belief. However, with the world of science constantly improving and ever changing, science lessons are not always comprised of undisputed fact. Aristotle taught us that there are five bodily senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. But, according to NewScientist Magazine(1), the count is at odds with science. Their count is actually an enormous 21! But surely, it is much more convenient for the curriculum to outline the usual five. Simply because the majority of scientists and the population believe something, does not make it fact.
Science doesn't proclaim to produce 'facts', so much as it claims to produce verifiable, empirical ways to measure and disprove hypotheses. This is known as the scientific method. Things that can be measured, and disproved have a place in science.
Apart from the existence of holy books, and people's insistence, there is no evidence to the existence of a divine being or God. One of the main arguments creationists use is that it is implasuable that such advanced creatures as human beings evolved through evolution. However, they offer no demonstrable theory of how a divine being would be able to manipulate matter, to create us out of thin air either.
An example of evolution of a virus was demonstrated scientifically recently, when the swine flu virus became able to infect humans. Rational theories of evolution are constantly demonstrated throughout the world, and so far Darwin's theory has never been disproven. the great thing about science is, so long as someone shows effective research and scientific method, anyone can disprove his theory once and for all. If this happens, then science can continue in another direction. Religious people should read his theory in full before they reject it out of hand though - there is a great deal of misunderstanding about Darwinism amongst religious people. Indeed, he himself was a religious man, and it took a great deal to convince him of the likelihood of evolution.
It is never possible to 'prove' something beyond all doubt in science, there is always doubt, and that doubt is celebrated. This is what gives us new hypotheses, which become new theories when they cannot be disproven. This is what moves us forward instead of backward. Another example is the belief that the world was flat. Many, many people believed this, just because of their own experiences. Science could disprove this theory by using rational analysis of geography and star positioning. In fact, standing on a tall mountain or getting in a plane can show you the curvature of the earth, but it is amazing how angry people were when that theory first came about.
The existence of a divine creator can never be disproved, because it is based purely on belief, not on empirical, observable evidence. If a Harry Potter book was dug up in two thousand years, just because lots of people liked Harry Potter stories, doesn't mean that he ever really existed as a real person. In contrast, we can demonstrate how less evolved species developed through the finding of fossils, through genetics, and through the understanding of the process of gene propagation.
It's nice to believe in something, and have faith in higher purpose or meaning, but faith is contrary to scientific method. An example is some parent's faith in the massively discredited theories to do with the MMR jab's link with autism. No serious scientists agreed with this inherently flawed research, yet it influenced thousands of people, and is now having the net effect of increasing the spread of measles (a potentially fatal disease). This an example of hearsay, and faith in a particular source (in this case, Newspapers and TV) outweighing all evidence to the contrary. Almost all religous arguments are based on faith - not on evidence.
If creationism is to be taught in science lessons, it can only be fairly taught with the demonstration of the absence of scientific method, sound research, solid theories and empirical evidence. It is a good example to students of how not to partake in scientific argument and observation. Just because you want to believe something with all your heart, doesn't make it a scientific theory.
Creationism is fact, according to a creationist
Science is seen as a discussion of fact. The common disclaimer against creationism is that it is not a discussion of fact, rather a discussion of belief. Discussion on belief, arguably, has no place in the science lab.
What gives anyone the right to deny a person their religion, and claim that what they lead their life on cannot be true or fact, because it has not been scientifically proven? Surely a belief, something someone believes wholeheartedly, for which they are willing to die, overrules any scientific experiment. Why can it not be fact?
The Bible was written over a span of 1,200 years and is comprised of 66 separate books. What if these were written by renowned and respected scientists? Would creationism then be treated respectfully and taught undisputedly in science lessons?
Therefore, the issue is that creationism is seen as an implausible hypothesis because it is based on belief. This is not enough to exclude it from a scientific discussion.
In today's modern society, it is the norm that something only becomes fact with scientific support. Scientific support is integral to the teachings of a science lesson.
A discussion of whether or not a belief is fact is irrelevant in a science lesson. Science is about teaching about what science considers to be fact.
The reality that matters of faith are not included in science curriculum does not equate to a denial of religious beliefs. In fact to include creationalism would equally deny others their rights to not be educated in a Judeo, Christian, Islam belief. There are many more religions in the world - science could become a very intensive subject!
A fact is something that can be proved and demonstrated - until then it is a theory. There is nothing small or demeaning about having a particular faith - however it is not something that can be proved. They are distinct areas - it is the person who enables the overlapping not the subject matter.
In actuality, the scientific method does not deal with 'facts'. Scientists come up with hypotheses which they test. If they cannot disprove these hypotheses (as there is never any 'proof' either), they develop theories from them. Established theories (such as Evolution by Natural Selection, Gravity or the Heliocentric model of our solar system) are treated as 'proven' or 'fact' only in that they are almost definitely such - not that they are certainly such. This always leaves room to question, re-test and change. This is why science is progressive and this is also why religion is not science.
Creationism can be discussed freely, not just taught
One of the principles in educating children is that they interact: communicating and informing others of their knowledge. What better place to do this than in a science classroom? Here, in a controlled environment, students can challenge ideas of evolution and creationism together in the same subject.
But why a science class? Why not geography or economics? Creationism has nothing whatsoever to do with science, and should preferably be excluded from science syllabuses. Instead, PSHE lessons, which are designed to allow pupils to learn about contemporary issues and debate them, should be the only place where creationism should be mentioned, let alone taught.
The US Constitution protects freedom of religion.
The US Constitution does not allow the establishment of any one religion, but it also protects freedom of religion, which means that the government cannot put down people’s faith. By teaching that evolution is true, schools are telling them that their religious beliefs are wrong. This attack on their faith amounts to a denial of religious belief, which clearly goes against everything the American Founding Fathers stood for. The creationist view that the entire natural world was created directly by God should be taught instead.
Teaching evolution in the science classroom is not an attack on religious faith. Students are still free to pursue their own private religious beliefs. Many Christians find no conflict between science and a symbolic reading of the Genesis account of creation. But teaching creationism in a publicly funded school is clearly breaking the Constitution’s 1st amendment. Those who wish to ban the teaching of evolution are really promoting one specific religious tradition based on a very literal reading of the scriptures. Teaching creationism actually means only putting forward that very literalist viewpoint, to the disadvantage of other religions and of non-believers.
Evolution has not been proved: it is a theory used to explain visible facts.
Evolution has not been proved: it is a theory used to explain visible facts. But those facts can be explained just as well, and in some cases, even better, by intelligent design theory. In addition, evolutionists do not accept that the evidence essential for proving their ideas – e.g. fossil remains of transitional, evolving beings – simply does not exist. Creationism is a theory that is at least as valid as evolution and should be taught along with it.
Evolution is a theory that is based on scientific facts that can be demonstrated, but creationism is based on the revelations found in scripture. Creationism cannot be taught as science because it does not follow standard scientific methods. Intelligent Design is put forward as a scientific alternative to evolution in an attempt to get round the 1st amendment. But ID still relies on a Christian-style creator God to explain away any difficulty, so it is no more scientific in approach than creationism.
By teaching intelligent design theory, a school is not doing anything to establish any particular religion.
By teaching intelligent design theory, a school is not doing anything to establish any particular religion. Intelligent design is accepted by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Hindus and many others. Therefore it should not be forbidden by the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
All religions offer a creation story, varying from faith to faith and from culture to culture. A public school might examine all these beliefs in the context of a history of ideas course, rather than in a science class. In practice, however, creationists are not interested in exploring different beliefs. They are instead committed to putting one religious belief on an equal footing with current scientific thinking in the science classroom.
Creationism is not, as the Supreme Court has ruled, a religious belief.
Creationism is not, as the Supreme Court has ruled, a religious belief. It is a scientific theory, and has been put forward by many philosophers and scientists, for example, Aristotle, in a completely scientific context.
Creationism is not a scientific theory and is not accepted by the scientific community. Schools have a duty to teach what is widely accepted by the country’s scientists – that is, they must teach evolution, not material from outside the discipline of biology.
History has shown that scientific theories are often disproved over time.
History has shown that scientific theories are often disproved over time; therefore evolution should not be considered to be an unquestionable truth. In the spirit of scientific inquiry and intellectual scepticism, students should be exposed to competing theories. What is wrong with teaching students that there is a debate here?
Science is morally and religiously neutral. It does not aim to uphold religion; it does not aim to debunk religious beliefs. Evolution is not taught as an attack on religion; it is taught as the best scientific explanation of available facts. All scientific knowledge is in some way a theory, but we must give students the best theory currently available to explain the world around them. If new facts come to light (e.g. finds of new fossils), then the theory can be rejected or changed to suit the new evidence. That is not the case with creationism or intelligent design, which do not deserve the status that a place in the science curriculum would give them.
This is an issue of states’ and local rights.
This is an issue of states’ and local rights. Our schools should answer to the local communities which they serve, and which pay to support them. Democratically elected state assemblies and local school boards should be able to make decisions about what is taught in their classrooms, in order to pass on community values and make sure the views of the local population are respected by teachers. It is wrong that a few unelected judges can impose their own very liberal view of what children should learn upon the whole country. In the end, if many parents feel schools are attacking their family’s faith, they will remove their children from the public school system.
Science doesn’t change depending on where you live, nor because you hold a vote on it. We would not want different school boards putting forward skewed views of American history, or teaching their own versions of English spelling and grammar. In the same way, we must reject local attempts to keep young people ignorant through an appeal to “community values”. The 1st amendment is there to make sure that one faith cannot use state institutions to drive out all opportunities to question. It also makes sure that every child has access to the highest quality science education, which is vital for both their own future life-chances, and the future prosperity of America as a whole.
It is already taught in most religious education lessons
The purpose of a religious education lesson is too study beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites and personal roles of each religion in turn. During a religious education lesson, the teaching is not presented as fact, but discussed and mulled over as beliefs shared by millions of individuals. Creationism is already taught in religious education lessons and has not, up till now, created a problem. It seems unnecessary and inconvenient for teachers and students alike. What would be the need of removing it from the curriculum of religious education and transferring it too science?
The Big Bang is also discussed in Religious education, even though that's a scientific theory - just because creationism has its roots in religion doesnt mean that it can't be scientifically prven some time in the future, I mean no one has worked out what the trigger for the bang was for all we know it could be a deity of some sort.
Since the big bang is discussed in both Religious Education AND Science then so should creationism because they are both after all just theories and just because Creationism happens to involve a God doesn't mean that it should be ommitted from Scientific studies because that's just degrading for all those who believe in a God...it should at least be mentioned even if it's not in detail.
It may be damaging to some students in a compulsory science lesson
Depending on the age of the student, it may be confusing to them to hear about evolution, when they have been raised to believe in creationism. To hear a science teacher discuss creationism could possibly be damaging to others, during a lesson they cannot get out of, in an environment where they learn about photosynthesis; the periodic table and the human body. So why should they be subjected to learn about creationism in a compulsory lesson, when it may not be in their best interests to do so?
It will be for the government to decide when children will have a sufficient degree of mental maturity to handle such sensitive information. Presumably this will be at the age of 14 when lessons begin to revolve around GCSE’s. By this time, a child should have the intellectual maturity to process conflicting ideas and evaluate their own response.
Parents may not want their children’s religion ‘challenged’ or made confused
Some parents may feel uncomfortable with creationism being taught in a science lesson. A science lesson indicates fact and students from a non-religious background, or who have been raised to believe the theory of evolution, may become confused by the beliefs of a creationist.
If parents feel uncomfortable with the chosen curriculum, then they do not have to send their children to that particular school.
Science lessons tend to deal with fact, as opposed to opinion as in a religious education lesson
The bottom line is that science lessons deal with fact and not opinion. Creationism simply is not fact. Creationism was written by a individual whom no one can name. There is no evidence that it actually happened: only a shared belief by millions of people can possibly give creationism any credibility. The fact that it cannot be disproved is not basis enough for it to be taught any more than the unproved proposition that invisible unicorns live on mars should be discussed in the science class. Science is about physical evidence alone, it may not be the only path to truth but it is a very specific discipline and creationism simply cannot live up to its standards and so, although it may in fact be correct, creationism should not therefore be taught alongside evidence based theory. Science lessons are the laboratory of fact, experiments and precision. Religious education classes are home to discussion - sharing opinions and thoughts about something which is uncertain.
Professor Lewis Wolpert, of University College London, said(1): "Creationism is based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes.
"There is no evidence for a creator, and creationism explains nothing. It is based on religious beliefs and any discussion should be in religious studies."
Indeed, the science room is for experimentation, and creationism is a subject matter for such experiments. Creationism has yet to be disproved. Ergo, creationism belongs in the science room.
Creationism lacks scientific support, therefore should not be taught in a science lesson
Scientists go to great lengths to prove their theories. Thousands and thousands of experiments are carried out in order to make scientific breakthrough discoveries. The Big Bang Theory is just one of many theories that scientists throughout the centuries have strived to prove. The idea that the solar system emerged from a swirl of matter began with Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and has been mulled over since then, particularly by the British physicist, Stephen Hawking. Creationism does not have any scientific support: despite it being believed by millions and believed for thousands of years. Surely, by now, someone would have been able to scientifically prove this. It is not worthy of being taught in a science lesson. Creationism is a theory, true, but no more valid scientifically than that of the film The Matrix- it could be true but it does not seem likely to be proven, at least not scientifically. It is certainly worth discussing for those so interested, but it is not of true scientific value in the way that the Big Bang theory, for example, is.
Who made it so that the curriculum for a science lesson has to be backed up by scientific knowledge? Maybe it is now time that science lessons are comprised of debateable issues that can be argued and reasoned amongst students.
The Big Bang Theory is just that, a theory, as is creationism. If creationism does not belong in a science lesson because it has not been proved then The Big Bang Theory should be taken off of our science curriculum (and off of our television program listings for that matter!)
Creationism is not based on scientific principles
Everything taught in science lessons has come from scientific reasoning. This is one reason why they are called science lessons. Scinece is reasoning based on current facts and evidence and showing that it fits with the rest of the system. The proof for creationism does not fit with established facts.
This does not mean that we should totally stop teaching creationsim in schools althogether after all in order for us to become a tolerant society we need to understand and appreciate values of others. I therefore beleieve that creationsim is a subject best taught in Religious Education/Studies. This is a subject about other peoples views.
Ideas such as evolution are taught as it fits with the system. It was reasoned through scientific evidence. not only does it fit throught the idea of the age of the earth but also about how animals have become so diverse and how some have become extinct.
Even ideas which have been sugessted and have been proven wrong are taught because is shows reasoning and logic with the availale evidence and it is the best explanation and it raises the last questions or it answers questions from before.
In conclusion science is simply an explation and an alternative supposing a "gods" lack of existence.
Parents may choose to raise their children according to a specific religion but that does not require that society must follow
This debate is rather less about the whether or not Creationism is able to be included in a science lesson and rather more about parents who have certain beliefs wanting the rest of society to support them by their choice.
If this was extended to all persons of a country it may be covered by a philosophical study of religions - all of them. This however does not meet was is being demanded by those who support creationism. Not all Christians subscribe to such a narrow belief, many understand that it was a metaphor for many events which were unable to be explained in the days that the old testament was written.
This call for inclusion of religion in science studies appears to be based on fear that people will be ridiculed for their belief and that their faith will not be able to withstand the conversations of ordinary people. Perhaps the inclusion of curriculum about respect and dignity would protect all from being "taught" religion and affiliations.
It is not anti religious to suggest that matters of faith are not appropriate to include in other subjects, rather it respects that religion and faith are matters which are to be respected by all.
Multiple points why this makes no sense
1) Creationism cannot be proven, and teaching this could devalue due scientific process in a scientific learning environment
2) Impending a religion on all of the students in a classroom is unconstitutional
3) Our founding fathers created a very clear line seperating the state from the church, and if we are talking about PUBLIC schooling here, that is a government run AND funded program.
4) Not all of the students in the classroom will be christian/catholic. How will you teach creation to hindus, buddhist, and jews?
5) There are laws stating that teachers are forbidden to teach religion and politics in the classroom.
What do you think?