Creationism

It seems that the creationist debate is in full swing once again in the states. Creationist advocates are campaigning to have the state of Texas include creationist ideology in their high school science texts. Obviously this has been a very heated debate with both sides getting quite…um…feisty. I’m hoping to spark a little discussion here as to the negative and/or positive implications of such a policy. I’ll begin with a short claim that evolution should not be instructed in high schools as a general theory.

I am not claiming that evolution is in fact wrong, I’m willing to put my position on that aside for the time being, and I’m willing to accept that while evolution is not a scientific law it is a well structured and logical theory. I am not going to attack the term ‘theory’ here either as I feel that this term in this application means more along the line of the term ‘theory’ when we speak of ‘music theory’ than just a weak idea. What I am concerned about is the context of evolutionary education.

To fully appreciate the context of evolution theory, its applications, limitations and implications the student needs a firm grasp of some fairly important philosophical concepts. Issues such as the nature of reality, cognitive closure, logic and even the history of science need to be well understood. To even look at evolution with a critical eye, and I mean this in a positive sense, the student needs an understanding of at least empiricisim, the philosophies that it replaced and why/how empiricism came to be the dominant ideology during modernity and beyond.

High school students, in general, would be hard pressed to assimilate all of this information and, I’m sure, few would ask them to. Teaching evolution in high school should, of course, be encouraged but under stricter control. At a recent philosophy of science conference I had the opportunity to hear a well presented paper by an eminent Australian scientist arguing along similar lines. This scientist had never undertaken a single philosophy of science course throughout his entire education (he was a PhD) and was shocked when he dove a little deeper. Even the history of science shocked him. Why should we populate society with individuals who don’t understand the implications of their ‘knowledge’?

By all means, evolution education should be encouraged but never in a ‘general’ sense. It is cruel and fallacious to educate people with only the conclusions. For evolution to be properly understood its history and premises need to be understood. Don’t jump the gun with our children’s education, let’s do it properly.

Posted by Simon

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5 Responses to “Creationism”


  1. 1 h3nry August 7, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    G’day Simon,

    Pardon me but I am not too sure exactly what it means by “evolution education should be encouraged but never in a ‘general’ sense” and “Teaching evolution in high school should, of course, be encouraged but under stricter control”.

    It would be nice if you could expand on them further…

    I like the idea of teaching the philosophical and historical backgrounds of evolution – as long as they are taught at the right classes – e.g. not at science classes – and consistent with other areas of science such as physics (which in my biased opinion has a richer historical and philosophical background).

  2. 2 Simon August 7, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Hi h3nry. I was intentionally trying to be a little vague. Hoping to see where people would like to begin a discussion. Lets see, by general I could be referring to either a general class, i.e. no prerequisite knowledge required, or a generalised delivery of theory.
    By Stricter control I was looking at controlling the methods and content of the delivery. Strict in the sense that you can’t learn y if you don’t already know x.

  3. 3 Nathan August 8, 2007 at 10:30 am

    [i]”To even look at evolution with a critical eye, and I mean this in a positive sense, the student needs an understanding of at least empiricisim, the philosophies that it replaced and why/how empiricism came to be the dominant ideology during modernity and beyond.”[/i]

    Most students don’t understand the Bible (lets face the Christian centricity if this argument), nor philosophy of religion and the additional questions it poses for that matter. Yet, there is a willingness to cram this ideology down peoples gullets; against peoples will!

  4. 4 Nathan August 8, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Also, if Creationism is going to be taught in public (emphasis on public) schools why is it that there is a Christocentric focus on the source of creation? If Creationism is going to be taught in public schools then shouldn’t the creation stories/myths of all religions be taught?

  5. 5 Simon August 8, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    I agree that there should not be a dominant ‘strain’ of creationist philosophy taught, if it is to be taught at all.

    My argument is as equally valid against creationism too; if you don’t know x then you can’t learn y. Just because student a doesn’t know the bible is no argument against creationism nor is it an argument for evolution.


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