Jack Wellman, at the Christian Crier blog, wants creationism taught in the public schools. And to his credit, he doesn’t try and hide behind a facade of pseudo-scientific “intelligent design” either. He wants creationism, plain and simple.
Should creationism be taught alongside evolution? Is it fair to give students only one theory to believe? Is it legal to do so in the public schools?
The obvious answers to the above are no, yes, and no, in that order. Schools exist to teach kids about reality, of which there is only one, and given limited time and resources it’s entirely fair and reasonable to give kids the scientific understanding that best explains the real world. The science classroom is not a public forum devoted to providing different religions free marketing for competing ideologies.
But Mr. Wellman would contest that observation, and offers us what he calls “Five Crucial Reasons to Teach Creationism in Public Schools.”
Reason number one, according to Mr. Wellman, is that “There are No Criticisms of Evolution,” by which he means that science teachers fail to treat spurious and unscientific objections as though they were as scientifically valid as the volumes of research and evidential data supporting evolution. He wants science teachers to teach kids that a “theory” is just an unsupported guess, instead of teaching them the correct scientific definition. He also wants science teachers to undermine science by pretending that science cannot know anything unless it can be reproduced in the laboratory. And of course, he wants to suppress all presentation of any recently-observed examples of evolution and speciation.
Indeed, it seems that Mr. Wellman’s objectives go beyond trying to undermine evolution. He wants to sabotage science itself in order to create an educational environment friendlier to religious dogmas. That, to my mind, is a substantial argument for why we don’t want this kind of curriculum imposed on science students. Education should train students to do science right, not train them to suppress the evidence and sabotage its methodologies.
Reason number two, according to Wellman, is “Critical Thinking Skills.” It’s not clear from the text what he thinks critical thinking is, but he seems to associate it with arbitrarily rejecting information you don’t want to believe.
These educators are like dictators who essentially spout “It’s my way or the highway.” Since educational leadership want students to think “outside the box” in the other disciplines, why aren’t they allowed to do so regarding the theory of evolution. They say that they want the students to use their minds to solve problems, analyze issues, to critique thesis’s, but how can a student do this if they are taught that the theory of evolution has no alternatives.
It’s like those overbearing, tyrannical math teachers who refuse to accept alternative answers to the question “How much is 2+2?”, right? All this emphasis on getting answers that are actually correct and verifiable—it’s so authoritarian. Why can’t we just teach them that the Bible is the only right answer? Don’t we want kids to learn critical thinking?
For example, evolution does not address the question of where did the universe come from. How did the universe come into existence? How did life arise since we know for a fact that life cannot arise spontaneously? The theory of evolution is like coming into a movie that is half way through to the end. What happened before life got here? How was non-living, inorganic matter able to come to life? The theory of evolution only deals with the fact that life had already existed and that life forms evolve into new species.
Um, yes, that’s correct: evolution is about biological life forms evolving via reproduction over time, and is not about cosmology or abiogenesis. A bit of genuine critical thinking might lead us to observe that cosmology and abiogenesis are not relevant to the biological mechanisms that comprise evolution and evolutionary science. Apparently Wellman’s version of “critical thinking” seems to consist of thinking up accusations, no matter how irrelevant and spurious, to be used against evolution. But that’s not critical thinking, that’s just denial.
Wellman’s reason number 3 is “Give Parents What They Want.” Right. Parents want their kids to get straight A’s, so just give everybody an A. Oh, that’s not education? Neither is reducing science class to the lowest common denominator of what the parents want. The law of gravity is not determined by a majority vote on how fast people would like to fall down. Science needs to be based on what reality says, not on what public opinion says. And science education needs to be based on science. If science were limited to following public opinion all the time, we’d still be responding to epidemics by burning witches instead of developing medicines.
Reason number 4 is similar: “Freedom of Speech.” He seems a bit confused, though, regarding what this has to do with teaching evolution. He states, “I believe that students should have the option of stating their own beliefs and base them upon what findings they gain in their education.” I imagine, then, that he’ll be delighted to discover that students already have that option. Teachers, on the other hand, are not entitled to freedom of speech in the classroom. They are expected to provide an accurate education, and not just tell kids whatever they like without regard for whether or not it’s true or on topic.
Wellman also notes that academic freedom is what brought the theory of evolution to the classroom in the first place, but fails to notice that this was because evolution does a much better job than its predecessor, which was creationism. He also fails to notice that academic freedom means researchers being free to follow the evidence wherever it might lead, and free to share their findings with other researchers. He seems to think that academic freedom means science teachers using their classrooms to sell their religious beliefs to other people’s kids, under the guise of “free expression.”
Wellman’s last and least reason is “Evolution is Bad Science.” As proof, he cites the fact that evolutionists believe in the possibility of beneficial mutations.
One example is that mutations are a good thing. I heard about a dairy farmer who had a dairy cow that gave birth to a calf with two heads. That is a mutation. The problem was that the calf died since it was sending different signals to its digestive system and survived for only a few days. If you had asked the dairy farmer if that mutation was an advantage, he would have said no because the calf died. I have never seen or heard of a mutation where it helped the specie propagate or survive and become a better organism.
Checkmate, scientists! You may have actual evidence of beneficial mutations, like the nylon-eating bacteria for example, but I have an actual anecdote about one bad mutation, plus my own personal ignorance, and so that proves that evolution is bad science. Oh, and transitional fossils, and the Cambrian Explosion and yadda yadda yadda.
Wellman’s conclusion is that creationism should be taught, not just alongside of evolution, but instead of it.
To reject God as Creator is to imply that God did not create except by random chance or blind occurrences by way of evolution or that there is no Creator at all which denies reality (Rom 1:20’ Psalm 19:1). Creationism should be taught but it should begin at home. Those who claim that God used evolution to complete His creation are robbing God of glory and God will not ever share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).
Alternately, you could say that God’s reputation takes a bigger hit whenever creationists like Mr. Wellman point out His failure to come up with a design as ingenious and elegant and innovative as Darwin’s. That, I think, might be the biggest burr under the creationist saddle. Here’s their Almighty, All-Wise Creator God, and yet His design for creation is static and decaying, capable of only malignant and harmful variations, and along comes a seminary dropout to show God how powerful and creative and intelligent His design could have been. And all the creationists can do in rebuttal is to point out all the deficiencies, real or imagined, in God’s Biblical creation! Sucks, don’t it?
All in all, I’d say Mr. Wellman does a sterling job of demonstrating exactly why creationism has absolutely no place in the science classroom. It is a form of religious proselytism that is perniciously poisonous to scientific understanding and to genuine critical thinking, besides being factually incorrect. Its one redeeming feature is the implicit blasphemy of attributing such incompetence to the Biblical Creator, but even that’s not a good reason to teach it in science class.