Should we teach creation in public schools?
“It’s just a matter of time… before it happens here (in the US).” That’s very often the sentiment when we observe what is happening over in Europe.
Last year (2014), the United Kingdom banned the teaching of “creation” in all their state-funded schools. This probably doesn’t sound so surprising, but this actually also includes their independent and “free-schools” which would be approximately equivalent to the private and Christian schools here in the US. They had already barred teaching “creation science”, but this more recent ruling applies further restrictions. They redefine “creation” (and add the “ism” to it which gives the impression that it is an aberration):
“Creationism . . . is any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.”
This new ruling even disallows any teaching which implies that there are scientific problems with the theory of evolution. (I use the word “theory” loosely here, because evolution doesn’t even qualify as a theory. See “Evolution: Just a theory?” for further details.)
Where do we currently sit here in the US? I’m sure most of you are aware we are only presenting one view… evolution, but we are at least allowed to teach creation in private and Christian schools… at least for the time being.
Here’s the quick background. For most of US history, we were predominantly only teaching creation, even using the Bible in the classroom to teach spelling, grammar, ethics, morality, history, etc. Portions of evolutionary teaching slowly crept into our educational system (primarily after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859), but didn’t gain much momentum until well after the famous Scopes Trial in 1925. However, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that evolution began to overtake the teaching of creation. In 1962/1963, prayer and the Bible were removed from our public school systems. With the perception that the Soviet Union was advancing scientifically over the US, a push was made for the exclusive teaching of evolution in our public school systems. Skipping all of the details of various legal battles that have occurred within the past 30 years, this is still where we are today… exclusive teaching of evolution by our public school systems.
The following gives you an interesting overview of efforts to change this situation:
- In the late 1960s, a big effort was initiated in attempt to get creation back in the public schools. A great body of scientifically-credible evidence was offered, but it was largely shot down, claiming this would be a violation of the separation of church and state (a greatly misunderstood concept, but not the focus of this article). Another way of putting it, you can’t have religion in the classroom. Interesting side note… when they took prayer and the Bible out of our school systems, they were not removing religion, they were removing Christianity. Religion is still there in the form of humanism and many other views. Some schools have even been requiring their students to recite Islamic prayers and memorize the Five Pillars of Islam! So much for separation of church and state!
- The next effort was centered around what is known as “Intelligent Design”. This movement seeks to introduce scientific evidence into the public school systems, solely focusing on recognition of “design” without comments as to who or what the designer is or was. This is an attempt to strip any alleged “religious” content from the presentations. Although the Intelligent Design Movement also has an incredibly strong scientific case, our court systems have ruled that it does not qualify as real science, because it is not a naturalistic approach to answering the question of how life formed and subsequently developed over time. (Interesting quote/admission from Dr. Scott Todd – Kansas State University, “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic”.)
- With the failed attempts to bring creation back into the classrooms or even just scientific evidence for design, the latest attempt has been to seek to be able to inform students there are significant scientific problems with the idea of evolution. Unfortunately, even that attempt is being met with much resistance, much of the time. The reasoning is two-fold: (a) they believe that evolution is a scientific fact, so sharing any evidence against it couldn’t possibly be scientific, and (b) if the students were ever led to think evolution is possibly not true, they would be likely to conclude there was some type of non-natural or supernatural element involved and that’s a religious concept, which you can’t have in the school system! If you think this sounds like indoctrination, it’s because it truly is indoctrination!
So what about our question… should we be pushing to teach creation in the public school systems? My simple answer is “no”. I don’t think we should focus our energy on trying to change laws to force this to happen. Here’s why…
First of all, even if we were successful, the next set of authorities could vote it out again. Secondly, you would have non-Christian teachers presenting the material and it doesn’t make sense to trust that they would do a fair and balanced job in doing so. Reverse the situation… what if you were forced to teach atheism? Can you honestly say you would do your best job in presenting it as a credible option? And who is going to monitor this? And how? Thirdly, I think our main effort should be within the church to ensure that we are all on the same page, increasing biblical literacy and training Christians to adequately defend their faith. This in turn would have a significant effect regarding what goes on within the walls of the public schools. And even if it didn’t, that’s not what we are called to do… to change governmental agencies. We are called to “make disciples” and we can do that independent from what our government-run schools are doing. I personally don’t think the government has any business running our schools, but they didn’t call to ask my opinion or get my permission. So for now, I am forced to live with what we have.
Ultimately, we are commanded by God to be mentoring our own children (Deuteronomy 6:4-10) and not to be relying on the secular world to do our job. One thing is certainly true, however… someone will train our children. If we don’t, the world will! “Choose you this day” who it will be for you and your household! (Joshua 24:15)
As with all of our other articles, much more could be said about this, but if you have any questions related to this month’s article or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!