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Friday, June 14, 2024
New framework needed for a more productive evolution, creation debate


New framework needed for a more productive evolution, creation debate

The evolution-versus-creation-in-school debate has been raging for years. Some say religion should not be taught in schools. Some say students should not be exposed to material that conflicts with the religious beliefs their parents are attempting to instill in them. Still others say that both should be taught so that students are exposed to both sides of the argument and can make a decision for themselves. The debate could be boiled down to creation and the Big Bang Theory, since evolution only addresses what has happened after the appearance of life on earth. But the real debate should be more general: religion versus science.

One interesting facet of this argument is the wide variance of views among those who support creation being taught in schools. On one end of the spectrum are fundamentalist groups like the Young Earth creationists, who believe every word in the Bible was meant to be taken literally. This group is vehemently opposed to any scientific discipline making claims that could be in opposition to their beliefs in any way. This policy has made enemies of virtually every scientific discipline for them. On the other end are those who follow intelligent design. Proponents of this idea value science much more and often attempt to use it to prove creationism.

But critics say that more often than not, these attempts make too much of an effort to stretch their theories to fit the scientific observations, or vice versa, and they do not meet the standards of the scientific process. As UW Professor Elliott Sober wrote, ""It is easy enough to construct a version of intelligent design that accommodates a set of observations already known, but it also is easy to construct a version of intelligent design that conflicts with what we have already observed. Neither undertaking results in substantive science, nor is there any point in constructing a version of intelligent design that is so minimalistic that it fails to say much of anything about what we observe.""

It is also impossible to disprove intelligent design because in almost any context, its followers can simply fall back on the assertion that ""God did it."" So creation cannot be tested empirically. It is not a theory. It is an unverifiable belief. Since science is all about putting ideas to the test, the concept of creation has no place in the scientific world.

So in the end, this debate is somewhat ridiculous. Scientific theories like evolution and the Big Bang belong in science classrooms. Components of systems of religious beliefs like creation do not. All students should be exposed to at least a basic overview of the principles of science. If some parents want to indoctrinate their children with a predisposition toward any scientific theory, they have the right to do it. They also have the option of sending their children to private schools that may teach a curriculum more to their liking.

This is not to say that there is no place for creation in schools. It can, and should, be taught in the context of a religious studies class. In fact, all religions should be taught in that context. Fostering a better understanding of the different world views that exist should be a goal of any school. But subjects need to be taught in the appropriate framework.

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Religion and science do not need to be opponents of one another any more than math and English do. They are simply different elements of the well-rounded learning experience that should be offered in schools. People from the religious camp need to accept that religion should not be on the same playing field with any scientific theory. It would be like a baseball team trying to beat a football team at football. People from the other side need to accept that both science and religion have a place in schools. Both sides need to acknowledge that this debate is just one more unnecessary source of animosity in a world that is already overflowing with it and learn to accept the views of others, even if they don't agree with them.

Ben Turpin is a junior majoring in psychology. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to


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