googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Creation in the Classroom

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Creation in the Classroom

I’m already on record as saying I don’t want public schools to require teachers to teach creation. I am in favor of teachers being allowed to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the theory. In February, 2008, Florida went the other way and passed a law requiring schools to teach evolution.

In a New York Times article, author Amy Harmon details the challenges face by one FL biology teacher. From the article:
ORANGE PARK, Fla. — David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote “Evolution” in the rectangle of light on the screen.

He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact. His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m. prayer meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the school gymnasium.

“If I do this wrong,” Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, “I’ll lose him.”
Huh? He’ll “lose him”? You’ve got to be kidding me! There you have it folks – indoctrination at its finest. It’s not enough to teach evolution and make sure kids understand the theory; they have to believe it hook-line-and-sinker or they’re lost!

The rest of the article highlights Mr. Campbell’s frustrations:
…at the inaugural meeting of the Florida Citizens for Science, which he
co-founded in 2005, he vented his frustration. “The kids are getting hurt,” Mr.
Campbell told teachers and parents. “We need to do something.”
Oh no, he didn’t! Did he just say kids are getting hurt?! Yes!! Creationism is child abuse – just ask Mr. Campbell.

Of course, the article tries to portray Mr. Campbell as a noble educator with the children’s best interests in mind. It talks about, for example, his patience with Ms. Yancey – the seemingly misguided science teacher who allows children to “draw their own conclusions” about evolution. How enlightened of him!

It’s obvious that Mr. Campbell sees this as a battle between his science and the religious beliefs of his students. He’s also afraid his side is losing:
“The discovery that a copy of “Evolution Exposed,” published by the creationist organization Answers in Genesis, was circulating among the class did not raise his flagging spirits. The book lists each reference to evolution in the biology textbook Mr. Campbell uses and offers an explanation for why it is wrong…. A pastor at a local church, Mr. Campbell learned, had given a copy of “Exposed” to every graduating senior the previous year.”
Where is this supposed “separation of church and state” I keep hearing about? Why does this teacher see it as his personal mission to undo the religious teachings these kids here at home and in church? Why does he lament so when a pastor gives students information that supports the idea that Genesis is a factual account of the creation? Aren’t pastors supposed to preach and defend the word of God?

Again, it’s OK to teach evolution. It’s OK to ask a student what he understands of the scientific theory. It’s not OK to undermine the religious beliefs of the students.


Carvin said...

Creationism is not science, it's a religious tenant. At best, intelligent design is a poorly supported hypothesis, but it is not a theory. Kids need to learn science. Even you hope for someone to make a solid creationism theory, you'll need people who understand science. Promoting a poor hypothesis as both theory and truth is a failure of education.

RKBentley said...


Are you saying that unless a person actually believes in evolution, he is uneducated? That's technically No True Scotsman fallacy.

This isn't about schools teaching evolution. Neither is it about testing a student on how well he understands evolution. These teachers are actively attempting to dissuade Christian students from a belief in the Biblical account of creation. The students might understand evolution very well. They might understand science very well. But unless they BELIEVE in evolution, these teachers aren't happy.

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