Teaching Creationism in Schools


The question as to whether or not creationism should be taught 
in public schools is a very emotional and complex question. It can be 
looked at from several different angles, its validity being one of 
them. Despite the lack of evidence to support the fundamentalist idea 
of creationism, that in itself is not enough to warrant its exclusion 
from the curriculum of public schools in the United States. The 
question is far more involved and complex.

 One way to address the question is whether or not creationism, 
in itself, is a valid idea to be taught in public schools. The answer 
to this can be yes. Not only should a student in American public 
schools learn and acquire knowledge in empirical sciences, and other 
tangible facts both in history and other courses, but he should also 
learn how to think and make decisions for himself. Unfortunately, as 
it turns out, creationism is in direct conflict with the biological 
theory of evolution. Many fundamentalist propose that creationism 
should replace, or at least be offered as an alternative to Darwin's 
theory of evolution.

 This is not the right approach. Creationism, as exemplified in 
the book of Genesis, should not be taught in a science course. Science 
runs on a certain set of rules and principles being: (1) it is guided 
by natural law, (2) it has to be explanatory by reference to natural 
law, (3) itÕs conclusions lack finality and therefore may be altered 
or changed, (4) it is also testable against the empirical world, and 
finally (5) it is falsefiable. These characteristics define the laws, 
boundaries, and guidelines that science follows. In a science course, 
all knowledge conveyed is shown, or has been shown in the past, to 
exemplify a strict adherence to these qualities. Creationism, 
unfortunately in the eyes of Christian fundamentalist, does not 
exemplify any adherence whatsoever to these rules and guidelines of 
science. Therefore, it should not be included in the science 
curriculum in public schools, even as an alternative to evolution.

 Another idea is that which is held by those who subscribe to 
the idea of scientific creationism. Scientific creationism, as it 
relates to this topic, states that God was the creator, and that 
evolution is simply a means, developed by Him, of conservation. Due to
this definition of how scientific creationism relates to evolution, it 
may be easier to accept by scientific criteria, despite the fact
that the origins are scientifically debatable.

 The problem in scientific creationism, and what I see as a 
reason for its exclusion from the science classroom in public schools,
is the fact that it looks as if, from the outside, the whole theory 
that it rest on is simply a contortion of the traditional version of
creation described in Genesis, custom-made to fit in with Darwin's 
theory of evolution. R. M. Hare would probably say that scientific 
creationism is simply a modification of the story of creation in 
Genesis, to fit into the ÒblikÓ of the religious fundamentalist. A 
blik, as Hare describes it, is a pre-set world view held by all 
people, in which they draw from when forming certain opinions on any 
particular subject. In the case of religious fundamentalist, whoÕs 
faith in the validity of the Book of Genesis is an essential part of 
their blik, it becomes necessary for them to contort their literal 
view of the Book of Genesis into a form that is scientifically 
acceptable. For this reason, creation science still does not have a 
place in the science classroom of public schools.

 Another problem with scientific creationism is that it would 
exclude the idea of a random beginning. No theory could ever be tested 
to find origins because it would conflict with scientific creationism. 
Scientific creationism would be, in essence, a lesson on science 
halting efforts to find creation, if it is possible at all. It may, 
however, be acceptable as a theory and not a solid law.

 Now that it is clear that creationism, as well as scientific 
creationism, does not fit into the guidelines on which science 
operates, therefore making them unsuitable for teaching in science 
classrooms in public schools, in what part of the public school
curriculum in the United States should they be taught? The story 
provided in the Book of Genesis could conceivably fit into the 
literary genre of mythology. It could not be considered as nonfiction, 
due to the many contradictions it makes within itself, as well as in 
the world of empirical knowledge. These contradictions are numerous 
and would create a paper within themselves, therefore it should be 
addressed elsewhere. The controversy here, despite the factual and 
logical inadequacies of the Book of Genesis, is whether or not 
creationism should be taught in public schools. Therefore, the story 
of creation in the Bible is best suited to be taught as literature and 
not scientific theory. Due to these facts, it is conceivable that it 
can be taught in English courses in public schools in America. If 
creationism is to be taught, this would be the proper realm of the 
curriculum in which to discuss it.

 Now that it can be agreed that it is suitable for creationism 
to be taught in the English and literature classes of public schools,
we are faced with another controversy. The teaching of the creation 
story in literature courses, while valid in itself, still faces the
problem of whether or not the government would violate any 
constitutional rights by including this in any curriculum in public
schools. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from passing any laws 
that show favor to any particular religion which, in effect, is a 
fairly total separation of church and state. If Congress were to pass 
a law demanding that the Christian version of creationism be taught, 
even in literature classes in public schools which are supported by 
the taxes of all Americans, it would directly violate the 
constitutional rights of Hindus, Moslems, Buddhist, and scores of 
other religions that flourish across the country, many of which have 
their own stories of creation. Therefore, even with a suitable area of 
curriculum in which to teach creationism, it still is in violation of 
the Constitution.

 The exact manner in which it would be taught, if it were even 
remotely possible to teach it in public schools, would also be
debatable. Should it be taught as fact, as religious fundamentalist 
would prefer? Or should it be taught as mythology or some other 
fictional story, as it well may be addressed in an English class? This 
may offend many religious fundamentalist. If it were taught as fact, 
it may offend students who subscribe to other religious beliefs, whose 
parents also pay taxes.

 Since creationism has to many conflicting aspects, as well as 
factual and logical inadequacies, and not to mention the fact that it
does not follow the guidelines of science, it should not be taught in 
science classes in public schools. Scientific creationism, while 
subscribing more to the guidelines of science, can be simply seen as a 
contortion of the Book of Genesis to make it compatible with these 
logical scientific guidelines. Until it logically fits into the mold 
of a theory, it can not be accepted as a plausible alternative. Even 
if the Book of Genesis happened to find a place in the English 
curriculum of public schools, or an any other curriculum for that 
matter, it would still violate the First Amendment of the Constitution 
of the United States. Even if all these hurdles were overcome, it 
would still be hotly debated by different religions as to which story 
of creation to teach. For all of these reasons, it is impossible for 
any version of creationism to be taught in public schools in the 
United States.

 As one can see, the question of whether or not creationism 
should be taught in public schools is not so much a question of should 
it be taught, as it is more of a question of can it be taught. Can the 
Book of Genesis, or even a version of it be taught legally as part of 
a standardized curriculum? The answer is no. Can Native American 
versions of creation be taught? The answer is no. Can any idea of 
creation, subscribed to by any religion be taught legally? The answer 
is no. Should it be taught? Yes. Where then should it be taught 
legally, if not in the public school system? Probably, the best 
environment would be the home. The best teacher would probably be the 


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