Let’s get a few points before I begin. First, THIS IS ONLY AN OPINION – I am only a student in the educational system, not an employee, so at best, this is speculation. Second, This is not an argument about which one is correct, nor is it an argument for which one is wrong. While I will state why I feel teaching both are important, I’m neither a scientist nor a theologist for any religion. I’m not going to pick sides or ask you to pick sides – I’ll leave that to those more qualified than myself.
Last but not least, I ask that everyone keeps an open mind on what I have to say. Opinions are great when all sides are informed of the arguments and make their choices from that information, but more often than not, one side skews a view in their favor. As I said, I’m here to give an opinion on why a problem that becomes ridiculous debate exists even at the college level.
That problem: The theory of evolution as taught in school.
Last week we started our summer semester at Rock Valley College, and the first class of the semester was Human Biology (BIO-100). The first two chapters we started learning from were based on what Biology is and the Theory of Evolution. As we hit the second chapter, my professor brought up creationism repeatedly, pointing out problems the theory has not answered, the flaws with common knowledge about the theories, and some of the similarities between the two. He did not cover creationism directly, but his intent wasn’t to do so – it was to make us think.
Sir, you succeeded. My thoughts?
The biggest single argument everyone knows as to why is its ties to a particular religion – in America’s case, Christianity. It would be the same in any other country where 1 religion is dominant across it, except that there’s a lot of countries might enforce both the theory as well as the main religious doctrine. In the good old U.S. of A., however, where there is religious freedom as well as a belief in the separation of church and state (an argument for a different day), we avoid teaching anything religious-based in public schools to avoid offending either the atheists and agnostics or those of other religions. If you want the other view, you have to go to a private school (or, post graduation, a religious college.)
As valid as the argument may be, I think there are more factors to it.
One of those is a lack of knowledge “in the other argument.” This one plays out in K-12 on both the public and private side: Public kids being taught little beyond the fact that Creationism is tied to religion, private (religious-based) – at best – doing its best to show why their belief is better than scientific theory. This carries over into college, and while kids from both types of educations mix on the public and state colleges, the slants also carry over. This slanted perception provides little accurate information on either side.
This brings me to my second point: The fact that you’d have to dedicate extra time to covering the other side. (I’m going to limit this between Christianity and Science for a moment.) While I will wager that private school may be able to get that extra time to study the counter-argument, I can’t argue much on this, but for the public school, which has a mix of people from many backgrounds, as well as a limited budget, this is a huge problem. While the Christians in the school will have read from the Bible, many who aren’t as religious or who have a different faith probably have not, so extra time would have to be spent learning the relevant parts of religion.
Now, multiply the amount of time spent for Christianity creationism for every religion that at least one of the students at the school believes in – which would be the only real way a school would consider taking the chance in so doing – and the amount of time and dollars spent – and you could see how to teach an accurate version of one argument would be a difficult to do.
One very human side to the argument: Ego. While open-minded people exist, they’re not as vocal or active as the people involved on either side. Most people can’t concede the importance of both arguments or trains of thought , even when belief allows for it. (In some cases, the Ego in question belongs to their boss – if you’re lucky, those people are semi-vocal.) Ego being a human factor, it’s not limited to one side or the other.
The biggest factor: The number of scientific arguments specifically tied to what exists. Creationism, in the hands of extremists, fails to explain why fossils exists or how we have some of the problems we have now, something those in the scientific community shudder at. The theories within the theory of Evolution tie to many of the things taught within a biology course, and while not believing in it won’t affect the doctor you might become, it will create many problems with understanding some of the necessary science in the community.
Whatever the case – ego, time, cost, religious-separation, understanding – one thing is certain from my mind: none of it works. Even if the private school teaches both, you’re dealing with a news-media-like situation where there’s a slight leaning in either direction. Most students, like most people in most cases of life, don’t see both sides equally.
So why should both be taught in all schools? How does all of this matter?
My argument is the story I learned of Galileo. He made the argument that our Earth revolves around the sun – a very unpopular argument back in his day, as many people believed the sun and moon revolved around the Earth. Years later, his argument was proven correct – but not before suffering house arrest for challenging the courts of the day, or his own death.
Any side of Creationism – whether based in Christianity or another religion – has you putting faith in a book(s) and a belief system. Evolution, likewise, asks for a similar faith, due to the gaps either currently unanswered or left to further study for explanation. I don’t think anyone really wants to think of a monkey as a long-lost relative (something VERY misunderstood), but we don’t have all of the answers for either theory.
I’m of the opinion that all schools, public and private, should be equal in the matter of giving the people an equal amount of information. There should not be a slant, there should just be facts presented in a hot-argument-topic like this. Let the people choose what they want to believe on their own – something they can’t currently do accurately.
Just some food for thought.