Evolution = Creationism?

This week in Australia, information and legislative statements have come forward about the teaching of creationism alongside the theory of evolution in homeschool curriculums of Christian parents. 

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/home-schoolers-teaching-creationism-and-evolution-as-equal-theories-20140908-10dze3.html

In the article linked above, a Sydney-based newspaper expands on the Home Education Support and Action Network’s recent statement on the homeschool teaching of creationism. The Network has stated that it would not be taught as “scientific theory” but that they would “provide information” about creationism within their curriculum, alongside their teachings about evolution. Parents have been quoted saying that they only taught evolution (and alongside of it, creationism) because it was what the NSW (North South Wales) curriculum laid out for them to do. 

It is made explicitly clear by the author of the article that the Network has a very strong Christian bias, as many of its members are Christian. On top of that, they were receiving information and testimonies almost exclusively from the Christian parents that homeschool their children, rather than homeschooling parents that practice any other religion or that do not actively observe one religion or the other. The article omits any such dialogue that may or may not have transpired. Even further, one could insinuate that the central schooling system’s approach to teaching evolution opposed Christian’s religious values so much that they started to homeschool their children in order to have a more direct influence on shaping their beliefs. However, the article points out that there are a reported ten thousand students in the NSW region that are being homeschooled, and only 3238 that are registered with the Home Education Support Network.If that small percentage of the area’s total homeschooled constituency was the only group voicing their opinions on evolution in homeschool curriculums to a ruling body that largely shared their beliefs, it makes sense that the result would be an overall acceptance of the teaching of creationism as a supplement to that of evolution. 

At the end of the article, a quote from John Kaye, an upper level official in the NSW government, expresses his concerns about the possible long term effects of the equalizing of creationism and evolution in homeschool curriculums. He talked about his fear of long term impacts on the society they live in, and on the degree to which the contrast between scientific theory and religious belief could fade. 

If this is coming up in Australia, a country that historically has a shallower divide between belief in creationism and support of evolution than the United States, how long will it take for this homeschool-creationist bandwagon to travel overseas and become a hot topic in our educational world? Could this be the next Scopes trial? Is homeschooling versus mainstream schooling another demographic that needs to be examined in the studies of who understands evolution and who doesn’t, such as in “Natural History Museum Visitors’ Understanding of Evolution”? 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Evolution = Creationism?

  1. apluckypremed- thanks for the article it was very interesting. I would like to follow-up on the question that you raise in regard to being concerned about the time it would take for religious teachings, such as creationism, to be implemented as a co-course with science.

    Here is a pretty entertaining read that can add some input into the conversation: http://www.icr.org/article/should-public-schools-teach-creation/

    We can obviously conclude that John D. Morris, has a bias, hence he is working for the Institute for Creation Research. What I did find interesting about his article was this small passage:
    “By incorporating both views of the unobserved past into the curriculum, teachers can employ a proven teaching method. Students allowed to study the pros and cons of conflicting models are much more likely to grasp the material, develop love for science, and learn critical decision making skills. Brainwashing does none of this.”

    The underlined is what struck me the most. This is one of the many people that Coyne has made a reference to in his book. Here we have a man who believes that creationism should be taught in schools not only because it will improve the quality of education in America, but also because in not doing so, we are violating the Constitutional rights of many American citizens.

    When making reference to the teaching of creationism in home-schooled settings, should it be up to the government/ board of education to determine if evolution should be taught? Or should it be up to the student’s parents to determine what is best for their children? What do you guys think?

    • gwuw2014 says:

      I find Morris’ two uses of “religion” interesting. He finds it perfectly acceptable to teach creationism in schools (given the books he has authored, I’ll assume the Judeo-Christian creation story) even though it promotes a specific religious view, but teaching evolution in schools “establishes a state religion” – which he views as immoral.

      He also refers to exclusive evolutionary teaching as a type of brainwashing, but the Institution for Creation Research website is full of anti-evolution propaganda. Is it only considered brainwashing if it goes against your own mission?

      • glowcloud says:

        I agree with you, gwuw2104. I also do not understand his classification of evolution as a “state religion”. Science is not a belief system. It exists regardless of whether we choose to believe in it or not. Quite frankly I had difficulty accepting anything that Dr. Morris had to say as credible.

      • gwuw2014- I completely agree with you. Americans have the right to practice whatever religion they desire. The problem becomes when people, or institutions, are not willing to listen. When we have a party that is bias and closed in their thoughts, a compromise can not be achived.

      • gwuw2014 says:

        glowcloud- I think it’s important to understand that from Morris’ perspective, evolution IS a belief, and therefore state mandates that it be taught would be interpreted as the promotion of a dogma with which he does not agree. Of course WE understand that science (and therefore evolution) is not a belief system, but Morris would certainly consider it one. Which raises the question, then, exactly how much science would Morris refute on the grounds of “inconclusive evidence”?

    • Thanks for this article, californiarepublic79. I appreciate the pretty direct counterpart to my article. I think that your distinction between parental and governmental control of the teaching of creationism and evolution in schools is an important one. I also think that it depends on the type of school we are talking about and how those individual types are governed. In the case of homeschooling, as my article pointed out, it is obviously in the direct hands of the parents to decide what they do and don’t teach to their children. Exploring the options of curriculums and implementation of those curriculums in different types of school settings is something that needs to be done further by different kinds of groups so as to yield an ultimately more holistic approach.

  2. sm4321 says:

    Great post californiarepublic79, a very interesting topic and also a good bit of proof that the debate between creationism and evolution is still alive and well. When you first explained the idea that homeschoolers were teaching their children on evolution with scientific theory and creationism being equally plausible ideas, I didn’t have a problem with this; as all people are entitled to their own opinion. I also think that displaying the curriculum this way allows children to form their own opinion on the matter rather than being forced to believe one of the two. However, after reading this article, it is clear that their intentions are not to be neutral (those who homeschool with this curriculum) they are merely using this window as an opportunity to teach their children the “one truth” (creationism) versus the “scientific theory” (evolution). As I said earlier, all people are entitled to their own opinion. But I think it is important that they be given a fair chance to make their decision without a bias being presented to them. Morris in his article quotes a homeschool teacher who states”‘We have a creation point of view. We are Christians and we teach according to our understanding of the Bible,’ Marianne Vanderkolk, a parent and home-school teacher, said. She said she taught her children the universe was “6000 to 10,000 years old”. This is clearly not bias. As she taught, by teaching the age of the universe as 6,000 to 10,000 years old, that creationism is true and evolution is not true, it is merely a theory. The question of whether or not the government should determine if evolution, that’s a touchy subject. I am unaware as to the point of view of the Australian government on the connection of church and state, but it might be an intelligent decision to, if possible, mandate that creationism and evolution be treated as equally true theories. This way the children have the scientific evidence that would lead them to evolution, but still have an understanding of the concept of creationism. I think leaving it up to the parents to decide sounds better in theory, but we can see that it really fudges the line in the equality of the theories.

    • regan1984 says:

      I agree this was a riveting article. Sm4321 you brought up a good point about how it should be the parents decision on what they should teach their children. However, the concept of teaching bias that you mentioned with that women who taught that the universe was 6 to 10 thousand years old is all too true. I know many people who have been home schooled and clearly display very heavy biases in their beliefs to what their parents believe. While the people I know still remain very open minded on most subjects, I still think that if the conversation of teaching creationism in homeschooling curriculum comes to america, many parts of the nation most notably the south might just remove the whole idea of evolution all together. So in essence I guess I believe that that the government should have some set of guidelines as to what is expected from parents who are homeschooling.

      • I would like to bring up a question. Does it make sence to teach both creationism and evolution in a school and homeschool setting? Does each setting make a difference?

        • regan1984 says:

          I could see it as a school type thing. There all already religion classes so as the original blog post stated it would allow students to see the pros and cons of both and understand the information better.

      • sm4321 says:

        In an ideal world yes – the government would have standards set in place to prevent the bias from occurring in the first place. Your comment on the south and the effects of new teaching curriculum- while I do think that in some places your prediction would become a reality, there are many places where I’m sure it would not. And because of the skepisism of this (creationism dominating the south) I think there would be even more attention on the subject and even more efforts to provide places that would supply them with scientific information.

        • regan1984 says:

          Yes I do agree with that. I do tend to over exaggerate things. Personally I would try to not have this conversation enter america at all. But as I read each comment posted on here it just seems as if were all coming to the conclusion that evolution in school is beginning to fade away.

      • I agree with regan1984 that it is something that should be handled by schools, but i also think that offering a factual and unbiased slate of information to students on both evolution and creationism would require a lot of time and effort on the part of school administrations and faculty training programs.

  3. collegeblogger19 says:

    When I first read the article, I was a little shocked about the whole idea of creationism being taught to students being home schooled. It doesn’t seem fair, or right to me. Creationism was never taught in my high school, though our science teachers did not condemn it; they simply said that one has a right to believe whatever he or she chooses, but they were going to teach us the scientific-based theory of evolution. I am from the Midwest, and in particular, from a town that is traditional and religious. So, when I read this article it was surprising to me that they would actually teach creationism when my very religious town did not. Terry Harding, in the article, stated that creationism “relates to the natural world” just like science relates to the natural world. Personally, I think only Christians and religious people think that it relates to the natural world. Evidence does not exist for it, not like the evidence that exists for evolution. In contrast to these beliefs though, I do advocate for individual’s rights. Parents have the right to teach their children what they believe; however, children/students also deserve the right to learn from a non-bias perspective–or at least an evolutionary perspective. The parents who fully believe in creationism would not give as much time to teaching evolution as they should, and I think that needs to be dealt with.

    • jwmigook says:

      You bring up a good point, collegeblogger19. My science teachers in high school never really brought up creationism, but they too taught up about evolution. As someone who is also from a religious background and city, I thought it was strange that I was not taught about creationism either…until my parents introduced me to the concept. What would you propose to “deal with” the fact that parents that homeschool their children don’t put focus on evolution? After all, they do have the right to teach their children what they believe, and I don’t think much can be done if they refuse to teach evolution to their children.

      • collegeblogger19 says:

        I do believe that parents have the right to teach their children their faith and beliefs of creationism. I would just like to see these students learning about evolution in the same way. How we accomplish that, I am not sure.

      • pianokid123 says:

        jwmigook, I share your sentiment that parents have a, “right to teach their children what they believe.” However, just because you are homeschooled should not give you the right to be exempt from learning fundamental scientific theories. Would we allow this if suddenly some religious sect decided to reject the Fundamental Theory of Algebra? Of course not! To mitigate this, I propose states adopting an evolution section on their standardized tests to ensure that even if students did not “believe,” in it, they would still be responsible for a superficial understanding of natural selection and all of its consequences. This would ensure even if you were homeschooled, you would still be exposed to Darwinism. It is the twenty first century, and it is time the US was more proactive in combating superstition and unscientific fallacies (i.e. creationalism).

      • lumastan says:

        I agree with both of you Collegeblogger19 and pianokid123, that parents have the right to teach their children whatever they so desire, however this is not a question of a parents right to teach their children whatever they like, its question of in what context they are allowed to do so. Simply putting it, send your kid to Sunday school if you want the child to learn your religious beliefs, but their academic education is not a venue for religious/cultural education.

  4. Great blog apluckypremed! I completely agree that while the author of this article is unbiased, the Home Education Support and Action Network has chosen a clear side even though they are trying to appear ‘equal’. The factual evidence and scientific support for evolution are so strong that there is little to no point in attempting to teach creationism as an equal alternative. The evidence alone can completely reject creationist belief: however, I don’t believe that’s the case. With homeschooling, another type of bias may arise, parent bias. It’s obvious that the parents quoted in the article see creationist as the valid argument so this brings up the problem that when teaching their children, one of the arguments can appear stronger due to parent preference. Although the Network is attempting to teach both as ‘equal’ it’s apparent that will not be the case when so many Christian parents wanting to pass down their ideals to their own children. I agree with John Kaye, that the line between religious belief and scientific theory may blur over time, but there is also the possibility that intelligent design will become popular opinion in Australia, which can be a good happy medium with such a prevalent christian population.

    • jwmigook says:

      This reminds me of a point that was brought up during peer paper editing in my last University Writing class. The author in this article is unbiased, but the Home Education Support and Action Network has a clear stance. In the “Statement of Scientific Understanding”, too, I noticed that the wording used in it was (too) obviously objective, and that there was actually bias in it.

      • gatorade15 says:

        Jwmigook, what do you mean when you say the wording was too objective in the Statement of Scientific Understanding and that there was actually bias in it? Personally, I thought that the Statement was worded to be unbiased, a means to present the exhibit as unbiased, however it is always great to hear different perspectives.

    • cfc0567owls says:

      The Home Education Support and Action Network, despite what they might want you to think, is certainly not “equal.” They try to appear to advocate just for a parents right to teach their children. But which group is it that, feeling so much discomfort with what is being taught in public schools, will teach their children on their own? The parents that are homeschooling their children are almost exclusively Christian fundamentalists uncomfortable with the theory of evolution. The Network may appear to be advocating for parents who want to take a first hand role in their children’s educations, but it is only for parents who don’t want their children learning evolution. The Network is creating a generation that does not trust science simply because creationism is a more comforting alternative

  5. The problem with allowing both ideas to be taught can be seen more clearly if you apply it to another subject. For example, would you want their children to be taught that while medicine is accepted by doctors and scientists as being very effective, some believe that home remedies and praying to God is all you need to have a healthy recovery? I wouldn’t. I consider it abuse if a parent won’t take their child to the hospital because of religious reasons. Similarly, if evolution is taught alongside creationism, it sends the message that creationism is a valid argument and that could potentially be harmful.

    • I agree with this, anonymousgwustudent, especially as someone that holds medicine so close. I think that your comparison of medicine and religious remedies is slightly more drastic because of its heightened relevance to our everyday lives, but I think that your overall idea is valid.

    • gatorade15 says:

      I see the point you are trying to make here anonymousgwustudent, and I too agree that teaching ideas that have been proven as “incorrect” can become problematic. However, by teaching an opposing idea to an accepted one, like your example of Western medicine with homeopathic medicine, you can accomplish multiple things. You teach students to analyze different ideas and develop their own sense of what seems correct and what seems incorrect. You also teach a student to think like Harris when he says to “start a conversation” with an idea; by talking about both forms of medicine, a teacher can illustrate exactly why Western medicine appears to be more useful by explaining the science behind it, statistics, etc. Ultimately, yes, the students will come out of the experience believing and and supporting Western medicine (one would hope), but to a fuller extent.

    • cfc0567owls says:

      I agree that equal education will almost certainly be harmful to the future of society. Those who advocate for the equal teaching of creationism and evolution try to make the argument that the students should be allowed to decide for themselves what to believe in. But, can they honestly say that children have the maturity and knowledge to decide for themselves? Especially when Evolution and Creationism are taught as equal theories, a student cannot effectively understand that evolution is an undisputed truth.

  6. arcanium82 says:

    Good find, premed. This is an interesting article. I especially like the quote from Dr. Terry Harding, the general manager of Australian Christian Home Schooling. Referring to creationism, he says, “There would be some of it in the science section. We wouldn’t say that’s a scientific theory, but in the curriculum we would provide information as to the creation idea of origins and the evolutionary idea of origins.”

    There are many things going on in that sentence. First, it is contradictory in and of itself. He willingly admits that creationism is not a scientific theory. If it is not a scientific theory, then why teach it in a science class? That’s like saying, “I realize that Shakespeare has nothing to do with math, but we are going to require a detailed summary of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ on your Calculus final.”

    Secondly, and not surprisingly, notice how he refers to the Theory of Evolution. He calls it the “evolutionary idea”. This is a very blatant attempt to downplay the scientific significance of evolution.

    At the end of the day, I suppose this is really a non-issue. This is, after all a Christian Home Schooling curriculum. I would imagine that the types of children who are attending this school are already being taught about creationism from their parents before they are old enough to start learning about evolution. I’m sure if we looked at private Christian schools here in America we would see the same types of curriculum.

    • collegeblogger19 says:

      I agree with your last paragraph, arcanium82. Even though this article is about what is happening in Australia, if we looked to the U.S. we would probably find the same exact thing. In that case, this article could be read as a generalization for Christian schools as well as home schools throughout the world. Zealous religious parents/teachers present creationism as a “scientific theory” more than they do evolution–and how to fix this problem is the real issue.

    • sm4321 says:

      Arcanium82 while I understand the point that you are trying to make do you think that we should just let this happen? This being strictly a creationism curriculum. Albeit that is easier do we not have a responsibility to educate the children of our nation? Should we just say “whatever” and let this happen?

      • arcanium82 says:

        sm4321, I think you slightly misunderstood my original comments. I definitely do not agree that this is the type of curriculum should be taught or that creationism has a place in a science class. However, the fact that it is a private school limits the ability of what we can do as a society to influence it. The children going to this Christian school are sent there intentionally by their parents, probably for this very reason.

        I mentioned in my original post that these children are probably already being taught about creationism over evolution at home. Learning about evolution for a couple hours from a teacher at school is not going to convince a child who has had creationism drilled into their heads since before they could read. Also, their parents will probably try to immediately debunk any evolution homework that they happen to bring home.

        If we were talking about a public school then it would be an entirely different issue. I would be more adamant about the need for them to change the curriculum. However, this is a Christian private school. I am not at all surprised that they are teaching Creationism. It wouldn’t be much of a Christian school if they didn’t. At least they are also teaching some evolution and haven’t omitted it completely.

        At the end of the day, parents are going to teach their children what they feel is important to know, regardless of what society says.

  7. waterbottle19 says:

    apluckypremed: You pose a very interesting question of whether homeschooling vs. mainstream schooling is another demographic to be examined. I think it should. Parents have a responsibility to provide the best for their children, and that includes education. While there is nothing wrong with sharing your religion with your children, it should not spill over into the classroom setting such as it has here. This is not helping children to succeed; it’s setting them up for failure. I think sm4321 has a good point that people are entitled to their own opinions, but leaving it up to the parents has led to creationism trumping evolution in the classroom. This begs the question of what is to be done.
    In truth, I don’t believe anything can be done to stop this. The parents technically followed the curriculum. They taught evolution. They just so happened to teach creationism as well. Even a spokesman for BOSTES admitted “While creationism and intelligent design are not part of the BOSTES syllabuses and are not tested or assessed for the HSC, they can be taught”. The Australian Government really has no legal authority to tackle this situation. Despite this being a travesty for the children, I don’t even think the government should interfere. The parents are going to find a way to teach their children creationism no matter what so its pointless to even do anything.

    • I agree that government interference would be futile and unproductive, waterbottle19. I don’t think that there is an easy solution to this aside from sheer awareness–if there is a known disparity of understanding evolution between homeschooled and traditionally schooled children, there could be an avenue for further understanding of the background of those who believe in creationism.

    • gatorade15 says:

      I agree with you waterbottle19: you can’t deny a parent’s right to educate their child as they see fit. Yes, most people agree that evolution trumps creationism in explaining not only our origins as humans but the origin of the organic world as we know it today. However, as I stated in a comment above, I think that teaching creationism can be used as a means to strengthen the idea of evolution. By comparing the two theories side by side in a classroom environment, it will become apparent which one makes more sense. Faith can only go so far until cold-hard facts shed light on a more tangible reality. Now again waterbottle19, I agree that the situation I just described probably wouldn’t work so well with homeschooling, as the parent would most likely have a bias towards creationism and teach accordingly. BUT, if the BOSTES syllabus is modified to contain an equal amount of content related to evolution, and creationism, to be taught in unison, maybe the content alone could be enough to guide the student in a new direction, one that is based on self-reaosning and not so much on teacher influence.

  8. glowcloud says:

    Arcanium82, you brought up a valid point in your last paragraph, one that I would like to raise in comparison to a point made by anonymousgwustudent, who said that they would “consider it abuse if a parent won’t take their child to the hospital because of religious reasons”. Is it neglectful for parents to teach their children information that is widely accepted by the greater scientific community as blatantly false? Is it ethical purposefully put them in an institution where they will only be exposed to one viewpoint, or to remove them from a setting in which they may learn something against the beliefs of the parents?

    • Arcanium82, I can see how exposing children to different viewpoints could be beneficial because it allows them to think on there own and develop analytical thinking skills, but I only see that as being useful in situations where we do not yet have a decisive answer. In situations like the debate of sting theory or philosophical questions like what is truth or questions like how does consciousness come about. With something that is considered to be a fact, I would consider it to be disadvantageous for the child to be told otherwise in the long run even if it does not have an extreme affect on their wellbeing.

    • arcanium82 says:

      Glowcloud,

      That’s an interesting argument. It is true that parents can be held liable for not taking their children to the hospital when they are sick. In fact this just happened last November in Philadelphia.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2507563/Faith-healing-parents-guilty-murder-2nd-child-dies-pneumonia.html

      However, parents can not be considered neglectful for teaching their children about creationism. Pretty much everything in the Bible is “widely accepted by the greater scientific community as blatantly false”. Currently we are talking about creationism vs. evolution, but where do you draw the line of negligence? Noah’s Ark? Sampson? Jesus turning water into wine? I don’t think you can draw that line anywhere without infringing on an individual’s 1st Amendment rights. Unless it causes serious harm or death to the child as in the article above.

  9. punky1218 says:

    I thought the article was very interesting. I think homeschooling as well as any private schools is a place where creationism could find its way into the curriculum. In public schools, it is not as much of an issue because of the separation of church and state. Public schools are run by the state and the teaching of creationism is clearly a religious issue. In private and homeschooling there is no law prohibiting them from teaching creationism to their students. Morally, I think it is wrong to teach creationism in a scientific setting but legally speaking it is allowed to happen. Creationism in private schools and homeschooling is something that can and probably already has been taught in the United States.

    • jwmigook says:

      I attended private school for the past nine years, and I was never taught about creationism (I only learned about it because my parents are Catholic and they wanted to teach me about it). Then again, I did not go to private school in the United States…so there is clearly some cultural difference there. I think others would go against evolution being taught in schools (it was an issue in the past, after all) too. Would you agree that while creationism shouldn’t be taught in school settings, it can be acknowledged as a concept that students can individually see as valid?

      • jwmigook, I like how you are addressing the difference between acceptance rates of evolution in America versus in other countries. There is clearly a more pronounced level of rejection of evolution in the United States than anywhere else, which is why it would be such a dilemma if the situation in Australia with homeschool curriculums were to also become an issue in the US.

      • pianokid123 says:

        jwmigook, I appreciate the right people have to believe in creationalism and the right of parents to teach it to their children. However, in response to your question, I do not believe creationalism should even be mentioned in an acdemic environment, except in a Social Science classroom when discussing its political controversy (such as the Scopes Trial). In a physics classroom, would our teachers ever suggest that a geocentric view of the universe is a “concept that students can individually see as valid?” Obviously not. By catering to religious fundamentalists in the teaching of evolution, we also harm pupils who believe in reason and science.

  10. I believe this is already a problem is America, and not just for homeschooled children. Even in the public school I attended (in a very heavily Christian populated area) I was not taught evolution. I gained a very rough grasp of what it was from what I heard in church and from very religious people. Basically is was this “crazy idea that we all came from monkeys” which is clearly a gross oversimplification. My current understanding of evolution has come about by research and reading of my own. In the school I attended there was hardly any mention of evolution and from what I can tell the schools is the surrounding area were the same way. This is a real problem now. I do not think that we are still waiting for it to cross over.

    • punky1218 says:

      anonymousgwustudent that’s incredible. There was no mention of evolution in your high school biology class at all?

    • anonymousgwustudent, did studying under those particular conditions influence your perspective on evolution in any way?

      • anonymousgwustudent- I find it very interesting that you were not introduced to evolution. I found an insert from the National Science Teachers Association that contradicts what some other religious sources kept mentioning, such as if creationism is not taught students will not be able to logically think.

        http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/evolution.aspx

        “The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) strongly supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be emphasized in K–12 science education frameworks and curricula. Furthermore, if evolution is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy needed to be well-informed citizens and prepared for college and STEM careers. This position is consistent with that of the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and many other scientific and educational organizations.”

        Since you, anonymousgwustudent, were not fully taught the concept of evolution, what is your opinion on this statement?

    • sunny2018 says:

      I experienced something similar in high school; while evolution was taught, the class as a whole viewed it as ludicrous, and the content was constantly pushed away by students arguing over what was and wasn’t true; so I definitely agree that this is a problem already occurring in America, and it is a problem that isn’t even exclusive to private schools or home-schooling situations.

  11. Let’s try and look at it this way.
    Teaching creationism as an alternate theory isn’t such a bad idea to give students a philosophical background to the various empirical scientific theories that they’re supposed to learn according to their respective state syllabi. I say this because even the theory of evolution has some key drawbacks that are unexplained in the world of science. Evolution explains the biological trajectory of our lineage, but it does not explain how the universe was created. It cannot explain any cosmic phenomenon like the big bang theory, dark matter, black holes etc.
    However, I would also like to opine that evolution disproves several creationist theories with the example of Young Earth creationism (YEC). It’s ludicrous to believe that the Earth was created 10,000 years ago, and there’s more than enough fossilised evidence to discard that theory. Scientific theories are discarded all the time, and the same principle should apply for religious ones. The theories of religion are as fallible as the theories of science. Gaining insight into our past relies on the process of hypothesising and a good hypothesis (the one which carries us forward until the next) is one that has been failed to be rejected thus far.
    I think teaching creationism to a child will inspire critical thinking in her/him, but forcing it upon an impressionable mind as the fundamental basis of everything is just plain ludicrous- and this seems to be what’s happening in NSW, Australia.
    I believe that between creationism and evolution, there exists a fine balance of what we know and what’s yet to be discovered. Evolution is not as blasphemous as it’s being made out to be, and it still leaves a lot of room for religion and spirituality!
    I shall trail off with an oft-quoted and apocryphal quote:
    “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” – Albert Einstein

  12. regan1984 says:

    Not to deviate too far away from the actual topic of this article, but if the issue of what to teach homeschooled students becomes a reality in the US, what other implications do you guys think would become issues in terms of education and society?

    • regan1984, I would guess, should this become an issue in the US that there would become a further divide in the curriculums of religiously governed schools and other independent or public schools. This could lead to a huge societal gap between religious and non-religious education.

  13. cfc0567owls says:

    Australia actually, during recent years especially, has become a very conservative state, in a similar way to the USA. The rise of Christian fundamentalism in Australia has been so large, their current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is practically a George W. Bush caricature. Homeschooling in Australia and the United States is done almost exclusively by fundamentalist parents who are afraid of their children going to public schools. That is why it isn’t much of a surprise that evolution and creationism are taught as equal scientific explanations. Homeschooling is a joke. Obviously, if a parent doesn’t understand the evidence supporting evolution, they aren’t going to be able to accurately explain it to their children, and the children are going to grow up without a proper understanding of evolution. Parents that homeschool their kids are choosing the comfort of religion over giving their children a proper education. Homeschooling is a serious problem that no one ever wants to address

    • Thank you for that perspective on Australia’s viewpoint, sunny2018. I have little to no real concept of the general beliefs systems in Australia, and I think that is an important lens to look through in this conversation.

  14. sunny2018 says:

    I think the problem with the ideologies presented in the article (such as creationism and evolutionary theory being equally valid) is that they are being applied to education; more specifically science education, and not philosophy or religion. The issue with presenting creationism/intelligent design as a scientific theory is that it gives inaccurate information to impressionable minds; like the idea that religious texts can replace evidence. Throwing away evidence and fact in lieu of personal beliefs is destructive, and is something I experienced in my high school AP Biology class. When we covered natural selection and evolution, the teacher opened by stating that she did not believe that evolution was true. This automatically makes the theory seem as if it is not true to students, and it is hard to change that type of thinking even with evidence proving the age of the earth and the genetic links between humans and other organisms. We already have an answer to the ‘is evolution true,’ question, and the only reason to try and dispute the facts are because of personal beliefs that don’t belong in classrooms. I’m not at all saying that it’s wrong to believe one idea over another in this case, but science belongs in science classes, not religion.

  15. gatorade15 says:

    Since many people are posting about their personal experiences in high-school with evolution and their exposure (or lack thereof) I figure I’ll share mine as well. I attended a public school for three years, one not necessarily dominated by any one religious or ethnic group, but definitely a great school. In my Biology class the teacher began the topic of evolution with a disclaimer saying that she was not trying to change anyones beliefs and that she was only sharing ideas on the topic. I could tell that this was all scripted and that it bored my teacher, as she immediately dove into the complexity of fossils, genetic changes, and different types of evolution. It was pretty obvious that she was pro-evolution and believed everything she taught us, but she didn’t necessarily say that the idea was right or wrong.
    For me, an individual who fully believes in evolution, this was a great, fun day to learn about the topic. I knew one or two students who believed in creationism, but they enjoyed the lessons as well and even admitted to being drawn to the principles of evolution. I think that this exposure to evolution and its ideas can be crucial for human education if they haven’t been exposed to them previously. Those students weren’t stupid or slow, they had just simply never learned about evolution and its areas in depth.

  16. serrobert says:

    I personally think that creationism can be used as a proper educational tool as well as a way for young students to start to identify where they stand. What if both were taught to students and then in the end it was the students job to use their scientific reasoning as a method of deciding for themselves. I think it would be an interesting and soul searching project that gives students the ability to search themselves for what is more important to them, scientific reasoning, or personal religious beliefs. There would be no right or wrong answer and it puts the ball in the students court about what they believe or not. After all, it is the students own personal beliefs, not his/hers parents, school boards, or government’s.

    • I love this idea, serrobert. I think that something like this would have to happen at just the right time in a student’s educational career, but i think that the overall sentiment behind it is a good one. Letting kids decide for themselves mimics what their decision making process will be like as adults, in the context of a relatively adult topic (evolution).

    • gatorade15 says:

      I completely agree with you serrobert, I mentioned this idea as well and its nice to hear this viewpoint come from another individual. It can be a way for a student, like you say, to develop their own way of reasoning and their own sense of what is right and what is wrong.

  17. serrobert says:

    I agree, it would have to be later, probably during their junior or senior year of high school. I just always feel that children should have a larger say in society than they currently do. I feel that the voting age should be lowered to some age around 14 or 15. Adults presume to make decisions for their children even when children have beliefs and thoughts of their own.

  18. lumastan says:

    It’s an interesting idea to think of the coming of this issue (the divide between creationism and evolution) to Australia, a generally progressive society in terms of modernity and culture. However, as pointed out by cfc0567owls, in recent years the country has been gradually leaning towards more conservative tendencies, which, like in the United States, tend to bring along with them religious fundamentalists and their endeavours. The article shows that Australian Christian Home Schooling holds the teaching of creationism as a matter of academic education, rather than what it truly is: a matter of cultural/religious education. The tone in the quotes by Dr. Terry Harding is one of him attempting to equate creationism and evolution on equal scientific validity, stating how “in terms of scientific methodology, which is based on observation, there was no one at the beginning, whether it was the big bang or a creation, and thus it’s not scientific”, thus attempting to justify the inclusion. In this article ( http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-letters/press-the-restart-button-on-our-murky-politics-20140909-10eb45.html ), published by the Sydney Morning Herald, this argument is countered, statimg that “[b]y that logic, a murder investigation could never be solved unless there was a witness. In reality, scientists, like crime investigators, study the artifacts of the past, and come up with a theory that most fully explains that evidence”. Overall, it is the trend of the age to push towards modernity, and it would be highly unlikely that a nation as culturally progressive as Australia to revert otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s