I received an email from an anonymous reader somewhat rudely pushing in my face the fact that a federal judge ruled against teaching ‘intelligent design’ (don’t you just love political correctness?) in Pennsylvania biology classes. While that reader’s email was less than respectful of those of us with religious beliefs that include the Creation, it did give me an opportunity to bring up the issue.
Keli and I were talking about this the other night while we were driving the kids around town checking out the local housed decked-up holiday style. I was raised, as most of you know, in a pretty conservative Christian household that obviously included church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night for bible study. You cannot open the bible without first coming to the book of Genesis where it details the creation of all things by the work of God. That (the Creation described in the book of Genesis) is how I believe things came to be.
I do not believe in the theory (yes, folks, it is still a theory) of evolution. I don’t believe that we, as the human beings we are today, evolved from amoebas to lizards to chimps to people over the course of millions and millions of years. I do, however, believe in evolution within a species. That is what I think Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands when he studied the birds, reptiles, etc. I think it is that natural course of living and experiences that cause beings to evolve within their species to adapt to their surroundings. For example, humans from different climates and terrains have different characteristics. People native to the Middle East have darker skin to aid them in living in that climate with hot, hot sun; whereas people native to Ireland have no need for dark skin due to the lack of intense sunlight and heat. It’s not a perfect example, but still an example of different groups of people evolving/adapting to their environment.
If the fossil records that some use to claim the theory of evolution as being fact (which many do, believe it or not) were used in court they would be classified as ‘circumstantial’ as there is nothing to prove 100% that mankind is the direct descendants of our typically referred to evolutionary ancestors. Much of the links between fossil records is assumption and inference. And before you jump all over me with accusations of ignoring science let me also state that, while I personally believe in the Creation in Genesis, I also have come to grips with the fact that Creation, as much as I may like to hope, will never be proven as fact 100% either so long as mankind is trying to prove it. Why do I say that? Because you cannot, scientifically and factually prove that (paraphrased) one second there was nothing and then – SHAZAM! – all of a sudden there is are planets, vegetation, animals, etc. It’s just not going to happen and that’s where the whole ‘faith’ aspect of Creation comes into play – you believe in it because you feel it’s what happened. You cannot base something like that on scientific proof.
What does all this have to do with teaching the Creation in schools? I’m getting there.
Because the Creation of the bible is a religious matter, I don’t think schools should teach it in science classes exclusively or even in part with another theory simply because there is not enough time for a teacher to devote and equal amount of time to the various theories about the beginning of all things. However, it could be mentioned as an alternative popular belief. I don’t have a problem with evolution being taught in schools because of two things 1) it’s not religious based and therefore doesn’t drudge up the whole separation of church and state issue which more often than not distracts from the actual lessons and 2) people seeking an education in science (even if they’re forced to take the class) deserve to be taught science with natural proof that may contribute to theories and hypotheses.
Where I have a problem is, such as occurred in my high school biology class, when evolution is presented as fact and when no mention of it being a theory is made. Do not mislead these kids – if you’re teaching something, do not falsify it and pretend it is fact when it is not. The very nature of science and learning is to develop a theory and then seek to prove or disprove that theory. I don’t see any harm in mentioning, briefly, that evolution is just one theory about the origin of life and that there are many other theories out there which teachers should encourage kids to look into.