Evolution and the Bible Believing Student: Does the Creationism Ban Really Protect our Interests? Original Photo courtesy of collegejolt.com There is much turmoil on the broad topic of creationism and its place in American society. The vast debate of creationism versus evolutionism is a very large topic, something that has been made increasingly evident by the numerous books printed on the subject. Most evolutionary scientists and proponents of creationism spend their time attempting to debunk the other’s theory; to, in one way or another, prove that theirs is the correct answer to the origins of life as we know it. I have no intent of diving into that raging battle, but would rather take a very different approach. Being raised in a religious household, I naturally have assumed the Christian faith and taken great interest in what creationists have to say. I attended public school until my seventh grade year, which was spent in a small private Christian school classroom. The following years, up to my junior year of high-school, I was homeschooled by my mother. For the remainder of my high-school, I studied at Tacoma Community College, and it was there that I had first real dose of evolution in public education. So as it stands, this topic has sparked particular interest, however, what’s more intriguing is why creationism is not offered as a science credit option for students in public schools or colleges but is only taught under the “religious studies” classification. For someone with little knowledge on this debate, offering creationism science as a completely separate option from evolutionary science classes seems like an obvious and legitimate solution. Part of learning to be an effective leader is to practice the skill of finding the win-win solution to most conflicts. So then, why has creationism been completely banned from touching public school curricula? This is indeed a phenomenon that warrants addressing. It would seem creationists are being discriminated against by the Supreme Court under the guise of "
separation of church and state."
The court's claim carries the appearance of a double standard and negatively impacts millions of people. Regardless of which side of the debate one may stand on, hopefully more of this nation’s authorities will eventually gain new perspectives and a genuine understanding of how the creationism ban may affect Bible believing students. Today, the theory and ideology of evolution is at every step and every turn we make. It’s nearly impossible to flip through TV channels, magazines, newspapers, books and web pages without finding something, somewhere related to evolution. The Discovery Channel for instance, has always been a huge advocate of evolutionary theory, and practically includes its teaching in one form or another in most shows. Many mainstream media organizations regularly report scientific news and again, usually make some reference of the connection to evolution. These information superhighways are littered with the assumption that evolution is what America wants, supports and believes. Obviously, the largest dissemination of evolution remains in American classrooms, after all, we must learn what “America believes” early in our educational ventures. Children, naturally fond of dinosaurs, are told from the very beginning how they roamed the earth millions of years ago. However, evolution is certainly not limited to the free public school system, but is even more prominent in higher education. Evolution has even, perhaps, gone so far as to dictate what some universities consider credible information in coursework. ProQuest is a widely known scholastic search engine designed for students to search through an enormous database full of peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles to use as research references. Unfortunately, ProQuest lacks certain data for Bible believing students seeking information on creationism. The very first result to appear under the search term “creationism” is titled in all caps, “WHY DARWIN WAS RIGHT AND CREATIONISTS ARE WRONG.”…Really? This and articles like it are what nationally accredited universities consider to be credible sources for student coursework. Yet this 2009 article by Douglas Futuyma is rather biased, even encouraging professors to force their students to read more evolutionary publications. Readers who want a short, quick, straightforward account of the evidence may find that Coyne (who focuses on evidence for evolution, not refutation of creationism) suits them better; those who prefer their science served with more anecdotes, a chattier style, and explicit revelation of the failures of creationism may opt for Dawkins. Better still, read both, assign both to your class, make them a gift for all your friends and relatives. Why Evolution Is True and The Greatest Show on Earth are among the most important books on evolutionary science for a broad audience in decades. Both desperately needed to be written and need to be read. (Futuyma, 2009). These types of articles, found in popular educational databases, may give some students the impression that creationism is not generally welcomed in the educational world. As a large portion of scholarly articles tend to suggest, opponents of creationism have a common and shared demeanor towards creationists. This overly negative undertone can be very easily spotted in most publications by evolutionists or firm proponents of evolution. To illustrate this mind-set, Paul Mirecki, former chairman of the University of Kansas religious studies department, had this statement to say, “The fundies [fundamentalists] want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it in a religious studies class under the category mythology"
(Kaufman, 2006). While many scholarly articles and publications may not be this blatant, most are simply more careful in their choice of words; careful enough to still include the strong negativity toward creationists. This mind-set does not stop in the educational realm, but finds common ground in the governmental system as well. An article in the Houston Chronicle shows the attitude of Federal Judge John E. Jones towards proponents of creationism during the popular Dover, Pennsylvania case against the Dover Township school board. The judge also excoriated members of the Dover, Pa., school board, who he said lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of ‘breathtaking inanity’ and ‘dragged’ their community into ‘this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources’ (Goodstein, 2005). Hearing the judge’s reaction, one might think that the school board was guilty of completely replacing school science curricula with creationism books. However, the board did nothing more than vote among themselves to include a brief statement in the beginning of their biology classes. This statement simply emphasized that evolution is a theory and creationism is another alternative theory. These teachers did nothing more than expand their students’ knowledge and raise awareness of what other students may believe. Why firm proponents of evolution have this shared distaste for creationists is an entirely different topic. Matt Kaufman, a Focus on the Family author of over 120 publications, has an interesting opinion regarding this in one 2006 article. “No wonder [evolutionists] don't want anything to do with the God of the Bible: [God] spoils the whole game of gaining knowledge that will make them, in some sense, ‘as gods’” (Kaufman, 2006). As the main roadblock of creationism remains separation of church and state, exposing the correlation between evolutionism as a religion, in and of itself, is the next logical step. One author, in particular, does an excellent job of illustrating this relationship. Doctor Daniel Callahan earned his PhD in philosophy from Harvard University and is currently the author or editor of over 30 scientific publications. As a devout, former Roman Catholic for nearly 20 years, doctor Callahan lost his faith in his late thirties and took a great interest in the field of biomedical ethics. It is at just this point that I, the former religious believer, find it hard to confidently swallow the ideology of science, much less the serene faith of many of its worshippers. I left one church but I was not looking to join another. Nonetheless, when I stepped into the territory of science that appeared to be exactly the demand: If you want to be one of us, have faith (Callahan, 1996). It is interesting that even a well educated, self-proclaimed atheistic scientist openly admits the similarities between religion and science. Callahan (1996) continues on in his article about how science is in dire need “to be subject to moral, social, and intellectual judgment” (p. 27). He finally closes with more interesting insight. “I can only say, for my part, that I left one church and ended in the pews of another one, this one the Church of Science. In more ways than one – in its self-confidence, its serene faith in its own value, and its ability to intimidate dissenters – it seems uncomfortably like the one I left.” This is simply one statement from one person and this view cannot possibly be shared by all scientists, right? Now then, let us consider the words from a different scientist, this time Dr. Michael Ruse in his 2000 National Post article. Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion – a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. …Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today (Ruse, 2000). Even still, it would seem that science’s own members cannot even convince the necessary government leaders of the potential flaws in the system. The separation of church and state claim behind the creationism ban desperately needs to be completely and thoroughly reevaluated. There is little doubt that evolution, at the very least, suggests the idea of atheism. The educational system, backed 100% by the government, is essentially teaching students that life was an accident, we evolved from monkeys and the assumption that there is no God. Some individuals choose to believe certain aspects of evolution, yet do not consider themselves atheists. Without getting too specific, intelligent design is a form of science that incorporates both evolution and creationism. However, this too, is viewed as being in violation of the separation of church and state clause. While having knowledge in all subjects and fields is important, some Bible believing students may still feel uncomfortable being required to learn exclusively evolutionary doctrine. Marjorie George is the director of the institute of governmental studies at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley and a political science professor. Her article, while claiming that creationism does not deserve equal time as evolution in public schools, unintentionally provides evidence to show the vast number of people that are affected by the Supreme Court’s ban. The debate about teaching evolution and creationism in public schools has not diminished; in fact, it now seems stronger than ever. This comes as no surprise when considering a recent Gallup poll that indicates that 44% of Americans consider themselves creationists and believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years (George, 2001). Forty-four percent of Americans equates to over 135 million people, a number that is difficult to ignore. As this evidence may suggest, 44% of Americans are being discriminated against, perhaps unintentionally, due to the Supreme Court’s decision. Discrimination may be a powerful term, but is certainly not limited to age, gender, race, ethnicity and sexual preference. The court and its leaders have given the perception of ignoring millions of citizen’s religious beliefs to promote their own evolutionist agenda. It is difficult to use the separation of church and state clause as a defense anymore, because members of the evolution society have admitted otherwise. As a nation we can find common ground, however it appears the Supreme Court retains the unwillingness or unawareness to do so. So what do evolutionists have to say regarding these arguments? Probably the most common claim that evolutionists would use is, “evolution is not a religion.” As shown earlier, two, well-known scientists openly admit the similarities between evolution and religion. Dr. Callahan, in particular, brings a very interesting aspect to the table in his quote. The majority of evolutionary scientists did not have a strong religious upbringing, so Dr. Callahan has the added advantage of experience and insight. It is difficult to take someone’s claim seriously who has never been involved in religion to say evolutionary science does not have that correlation. How could they know? That is why Dr. Callahan’s argument is so powerful, because he has been deeply embedded in both worlds and found the similarities to be daunting. Many Bible believing students also find it easy to discern the parallel between the two, simply from their experience with religion. Another popular opposing view is that “evolution is not atheism.” This argument would be against creationist claims that evolution, not intelligent design, suggests unwelcome assumptions that there is not a God (specifically referring to the big bang and similar theories.) While some choose to believe in intelligent design, it is hard to argue that evolution, in its purest sense, is not suggesting the absence of deity. This is especially true of the evolution that is taught in public schools, because any form of creationism or intelligent design has been banned from curriculum. It is simple deductive reasoning; if public school evolution implies there is no God and atheism believes there is no God, then public school evolution therefore implies atheism. As far as the curriculum is concerned, there is no alternative to evolution, so it is extremely difficult to argue that evolution does not advocate atheism. As it turns out, Bible followers believe there is a God and may find it uncomfortable being required to take mandatory science classes that suggest otherwise. While it can be beneficial to learn some evolution for common knowledge, parents and students do not have the choice to learn any alternative science classes in public schools. With that being said, imagine for a moment if the current situation was reversed. A person that exclusively believes in evolution would probably be upset at being forced to learn creationism and the ideology that there is a God. It is true that historically Americans were forced to learn creationism, but much has changed in this age. It was eventually deemed wrong to force certain viewpoints in education, however it seems the scale has tipped too far. The last argument an evolutionist would make suggests that Bible believers send their children to private schools instead of modifying public school curriculum. However, as taxpayers, their money is being given to the public school system to prepare future generations. Does it really seem fair to force millions of Bible believing parents to send their children to expensive private schools when they are already spending money on the public schools? Certainly not all of these parents have sufficient income to support such a lifestyle. While 44% of Americans is not the majority, it is by no means a small number and should still be taken into consideration. Once again, hopefully more of this nation’s authorities will eventually gain new perspectives and a genuine understanding of how the creationism ban is affecting today’s Bible believing students. Most creationists do not agree with teaching exclusively creationism in schools, but would rather see it offered as a completely separate science option for parents and students if they wish to take that route. This still seems like the most logical solution, however creationism is still very far from ever touching willing student’s ears. I would therefore urge Christian parents who want their children to learn creationism to support their local Christian private schools. If the American government wants to deny Bible believers of their religious and educational freedoms, then believers should in turn deny American public schools of decent, well-behaved and hard-working students the system has, perhaps unknowingly, discriminated against. Let us allow the system and its leaders to reap of the harvest they have sown. Bibliography BIBLIOGRAPHY Callahan, D. (2005). Calling Scientific Ideology to Account. Society .Futuyma, D. J. (2009). Why Darwin was Right and Creationists are Wrong. Bioscience , 905-907.George, M. (2001). And Then God Created Kansas? University of Pennsylvania Law Review .Goodstein, L. (2005, December 21). Intelligent Design Plan Shot Down by Judge. Houston Chronicle , pp. 1, 3.Kaufman, M. (2006, January 19). Boundless Webzine. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from Bounless.org: http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001201.cfm#shareRuse, M. (2000, May 13). Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians. National Post , pp. B-3.