Many High Schools Still Teaching Creationism As a Valid Alternative to Evolution

Wired has some distressing news on the state of science education in this country (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan).

One in eight U.S. high school teachers presents creationism as a valid alternative to evolution, says a poll published in the Public Library of Science Biology.

Of more than 900 teachers who responded to a poll conducted by Penn State University political scientist Michael Berkman and colleagues, 32 percent agreed that creationism and intelligent design should be taught as scientifically unsound. Forty percent said such explanations are religiously valid but inappropriate for science class.

However, 25 percent said they devoted classroom time to creationism or intelligent design. Of these, about one-half — 12 percent of all teachers — called creationism a “valid scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species,” and the same number said that “many reputable scientists view these as valid alternatives to Darwinian theory.” (The full study makes for interesting reading: Evolution and Creationism in America’s Classrooms: A National Portrait.

Fortunately there are many organizations fighting such degradation of science education such as The National Center for Science Education. The National Academy of Sciences has reviewed evolution, beginning with a statement indicating that there is no significant doubt about evolution:

Studies in evolutionary biology have led to the conclusion that human beings arose from ancestral primates. This association was hotly debated among scientists in Darwin’s day. But today there is no significant scientific doubt about the close evolutionary relationships among all primates, including humans.

Many of the most important advances in paleontology over the past century relate to the evolutionary history of humans. Not one but many connecting links–intermediate between and along various branches of the human family tree–have been found as fossils. These linking fossils occur in geological deposits of intermediate age. They document the time and rate at which primate and human evolution occurred.

Evolution is established science while intelligent design and creationism represent religious thought rather than science. The two fields of science and religion should not be confused with each other, especially in the class room.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    Ryan says:

    I never realized the extent that creationists go do deny the validity of scientifically discovered facts until I started discussing it at the church my wife and I now attend. U of I is like an island of liberal, science-friendly thought surrounded by a sea of anti-science, evangelical , Midwestern, Bible Belt Christian conservatism. (Don’t tell them I said that)

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ryan,

    The problem is that they believe in creationism based upon faith and there is no way to convince them otherwise. Facts don’t matter. Part of their belief system is that evolution is unproven, or that there are “gaps” which show that it is incorrect. As they are ignorant of the actual science they have idea that there is no validity to such claims.

  3. 3
    Travis says:

    You should all read The Language of God by Francis S. Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project.  Creationism is not anti-evolution; you may even find you agree with his BioLogos position.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Travis,

    Collins is not characteristic of creationists. He has rejected creationism and intelligent design (in terms of the types of creationists being discussed here) and, as many scientists do, accepts both the science of evolution and his religious beliefs.

    This differs from the creationist/intelligent design movement which specifically argues against the science of evolution and which proposes creationism as an alternative explanation.

    Some creationists such as Collins see evolution more as a tool used by God and do not try to dispute evolution. This is an entirely different belief from the one we are discussing when criticizing the creationists who claim evolution is not valid. In terms of this post, the view that evolution is a tool used by God does not contradict science but remains a religious view which also has no place in science classes.

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