Why Creationism Shouldn’t Be Taught in Science Class.

N.B. I have taken great care to be respectful of people who take the Bible literally. If I have failed in some way, if I have accidentally offended someone, please let me know in the comments section. If I agree, I will change this post to be more sensitive to your concerns.

Before discussing creationism and intelligent design–which is just creationism with a new name–first you must understand what science is and is not and what the word theory means to a scientist.

Science uses the word theory differently than we do. When we say theory, we really mean hypothesis or speculation. When science uses the term theory, it mean an explaination. It is meant in the way we mean the word when we talk about theory and practice. If you look at the graphic of the scientific method, you will see that a theory is the result of the valid predictions of a hypothesis. In other words, a theory is based on proven ideas.

Also as new data comes along, theories are usually modified rather than abandoned. For example, relativity didn’t replace Newtonian physics. Instead Newtonian physics is a subset of relativity that occurs for speeds and masses that we encounter on a daily basis. In other words, relativity theory augments Newton’s discoveries for extremely fast and the extremely massive objects.

The theory of evolution has withstood the test of time for 150 years. It has been subject to testing and peer review all of that time. It is not likely to be abandoned, just augmented at this point. Any scientist who rejects it does so on religious grounds.

Science is a method for using measurement and reason to establish useful explanations of how nature works. For example, when James Clerk Maxwell used Michael Faraday’s obsevations to form his electromagnetic theory of light, it suggested that radio transmission would be possible. This led Heinrich Hertz to do early experiments in radio transmission that inspired Nikola Tesla. Guglielmo Marconi stole his design from Tesla. This is a case of observation informing a theory that predicted a phenomenom. The testing of that prediction brought us the radio.

Evolution is not an atheist conspiracy to remove God from science however. If that were true, no one would be able to hide a conspiracy that big and it would be common knowledge. The entire scientific community would be discredited.

On the other hand, the biblical account is beleived to be revealed by God in Genesis. It is an article of faith. Creationism is this account dressed up to look like science to nonscientists. The motivation for the disguse is to try to make creationism appear to be legitimate science and sneak it into science class.* Some school boards fall for it. As Creationism is not based on emperical observations and hasn’t made any testable predictions, it is not science.

Since Creationism will not hold up under scientific scrutiny, it is best left as what it is, faith. I have seen Buddhists who try to use quantum mechanics to bolster the teachings of the Buddha. They look ridiculous. They are better off just just accepting the teachings of the Buddha rather than trying to use science they don’t understand to give Buddhism legitimacy. In the same way, the Biblical account is fine as faith. Just don’t pretend it is science.

I should mention that some Bible literalists have adopted a compromise which they call progressive creationism or evolution by kind. This means that God creates kinds of animals as outlined in Genesis and evolution occurs within a kind. Again this is not science, but an attempt to reconcile the account in Genesis with evolutionary theory. The big tip off is that these ideas are only proposed by Bible literalists. When in doubt, do some research. It always leads back to Bible literalists.

The first amendment forbids the government from establishing a state religion. Teaching creationism in science class as science conflates faith with science and the government run school is now in the business of teaching religion. Do you really want the government teaching your children religion?

Not only will you violate the constitution, but you will create a generation of students that do not understand science or the scientific method. We will fall behind in innovation.

It was the space race that got the federal government to mandate the teaching of evolution in the first place. Now that the Soviet Union has collasped, should we abandon our lead in science and technology in order to teach religion in science class?

Evolutionary theory is so important in biology and medicine that without it, many of the advancements in medicine would not have been possible. Would you be willing to give up the medical treatments that evolutionary theory has made possible?

To prevent the establishment of a specific national religion, teaching the Christian creation account would require you to teach the creation accounts of all religions. However, they aren’t science either and should be taught in a humanities class.

If you want to indoctrinate children into your religion, you are free to do it in a private school, at home or at Sunday school. It is precisely because we don’t allow a specific religious group to use our schools to indoctrinate our children is why we have so much religious freedom.

If religion is taught as fact in the public schools, who decides what those facts are? Allowing a group to decide what religious content to teach in public schools is when one sect will dominate the others and lord it over everyone else. Do you really want a Christian sect you disagree with deciding what your children are taught?

And what about the Christians who accept evolution as scientific fact? I am sure they don’t want their kids being taught creationism. Only 42% of Americans are creationists. By teaching creationism in public schools, you are violating the rights of the other 58% of Americans.

If you truly appreciate your religious freedom, the first amendment, the rights of other Americans, the rights of Christians who believe in evolution and American technological innovation, you will fight to keep public schools secular.

*I consider this to be hypocrisy. The authors of this kind of material are knowingly and willingly misrepresenting religion as science. How they reconcile this with the commandment not to lie must be an interesting bit of cognitive dissonance. I guess they think the ends justify the means. Because of their disingenuous actions, I consider these people untrustworthy at the very least. They sully the reputation of Bible literalists. I will leave it at that.

©2017 Stephen L. Martin

Image: The Scientific Method as an Ongoing Process by ArchonMagnus CC BY-SA 4.0

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