New in Go Girl: We are beginning monthly discussion topics, relating to current events, to keep our readers (and writers!) in the loop with news-worthy topics. We will begin by presenting the month’s topic (as seen below), and we encourage all of you to participate in the discussion. We want to hear what you think!
This month’s topic is regarding the teaching of creationism in U.S. schools. Whether you have a strong opinion on the subject, or simply want to learn more by getting involved, join in the discussion!
Few topics are surrounded with as much controversy and debate as the teaching of creationism in high and middle school science classrooms. The U.S. state of Indiana is in the process of pushing a bill that would ensure the teaching of creationism in science classrooms throughout the state. Indiana, unfortunately, is not the first or only state to encourage the incorporation of creationism into their academic syllabus.
I should preface my strong-opinion-laden text by informing you all that I have a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology – so evolutionary biology is something that I have a strong stance on. Before anyone starts touting me as a biased uninformed atheist nut-bag (you know who you are), I took throughout my many years of education, many religion courses as well – so I do know where the creationist theory comes from, who put it there, and what creationists have (or don’t have) to base their story on.
Firstly, let us all agree that there is nothing wrong with the teaching of the origins and base of modern religions. But let’s call a spade a spade – religion is not science, as much as science is not religion. I don’t come to your church to talk about the awesomeness that is an earthworm’s reproductive system, so don’t come to my science room and tell me that god created the earth in seven days. Science, or in this case more specifically, evolutionary biology, is based on factual evidence – namely fossil, comparative, and molecular/DNA evidence, in this case.
Creationists often claim that their evidence is two-fold: direct evidence (the Book of Genesis), and indirect evidence (all evidence that refutes evolution). You want to base a legitimate “scientific theory” on one book, really? Well in that case, I have this wonderful book that proves the existence of vampires: have you heard of Twilight?! Regarding their indirect evidence, by a creationist’s definition, the lack of transitional fossils refutes evolution: 1) what about the existence of fossils in the first place, 2) what about the fact that new fossils are being discovered constantly? While the fossil record and comparative science (the study of animal morphology and our physiological relation to one another) used to be large parts of the evolutionary theory’s fact-base, the advent of molecular research and genetics has come to support the theory magnificently.
While I could go on forever about the technical aspects of the subject matter at hand, let us get back to the current issue. Creationism in school? Fine, but place it in the correct context – a religion course. I encourage critical thinking in the young generation, and I trust that the evolutionary theory will continue to grow as more evidence is brought to light, but if you want to bring the Bible into a biology course, I’m bringing Tolkien into history class.
P.S. For those who claim that evolution is just a “theory”: in scientific milieus, the word “theory” is the same as the mathematical term “theorem”, it is regarded as fact, NOT mere conjecture.