Monday, February 28, 2011

Indoctrination of the Origin of Man in Public Schools

Where did you come from? Where did the person beside you come from? What if your two ideas differ, who’s right and who’s wrong? Religion and schools have clashed on the origin of man for decades, stretching even farther than the Scopes Monkey Trial. The majority of students in public high schools that take biology come to believe the theory of evolution (Bird). Even in my own biology class, only the theory of evolution, as proposed by Charles Darwin, was taught. While our school is located in what is believed to be the “Bible Belt” of Virginia, and plenty of my classmates and I are Christians, there was practically no discussion about the theory of creation. Indoctrination; it is happening in schools all over the country. While it may sound like a really difficult concept to understand, it’s actually pretty simple. Another similar word that may hit closer to home is “brainwashing.” In this case, it is the concept of basically spoon-feeding certain values-like evolution- to the students. One of the most criticized forms of indoctrination in public schools is the aspect on which the origin of man is taught. In most public schools, students are only exposed, and therefore indoctrinated, on the theory of evolution. The theories of evolution and creation should both be equally represented in public school teachings, because students deserve to at least be given a choice of which theory they believe, and the only thing holding creation out of schools is a legal battle fueled by biased thinkers.

In order to properly discuss why both versions of man’s origins should be discussed, there needs to be a neutral definition given of both theories. Evolutionists say that creation is a religious belief, and therefore, it doesn’t belong in schools. The creationist point-of-view says that evolution is a bizarre scientific lie, partially because abiogenesis-the idea that life can be created where it did not previously exist (Abiogenesis) - isn’t possible. It is difficult to escape bias and create a true argument as to why the other is false. Because of this, my goal is not to prove either idea wrong, but instead prove why both deserve equal representation in teaching the origins of man.

To begin, neutral definitions of creation and evolution need to be given. The theory of creation is that God created the Earth, and all things on it, from the water to human beings, starting with Adam and Eve, in six literal days. There is no need for evolution of man, because man already existed. The theory of evolution, as summed up by Wendell R. Bird, J.D., an attorney from Yale Law School, who has published several articles in the Yale Law Journal on the topic, is: “The evolutionary theory teaches that matter has always existed and that the earth evolved to its present form…”

There is a major problem with the style of argument between creationists and evolutionists. Scientific debates are formed on the backs of the evidence that each side can present (Evolution). An article on All About Creation’s website says “…the burden of evidence should be upon the Evolutionists, since Creation has been the historic and inherent default throughout virtually all cultures and religions until roughly the last 200 years…Evolutionists, who view themselves as the only "scientists" in the debate, insist that the burden of evidence be upon the Creationists.” Both sides look to the other for supporting evidence, the evolutionists talk about the “mind”, and the creationists a “Creator”, however neither side can agree on a set of evidence (Evolution). Ultimately the logic for this argument fails, because as Ken Ham, President of Answers In Genesis, says, “…in reality they are arguing about their interpretations based on their presuppositions.” He goes on to talk about how both evolutionists and creationists share the same evidence; the same earth, the same fossils, the same people, the same animals, etc (Ham). So right out of the gate, it makes no sense that one is excluded over the other, because they are both only interpretations, so students should be able to decide for themselves which interpretation best suits their lifestyle and mindset. The teaching of only evolution in public schools has taken away that privilege.

So, what is the true argument between creationists and evolutionists as to teachings in public school? It isn’t about the other being right or wrong, instead it is merely an interpretation of legality. To take it one step further and, the argument is about the “constitutionality” of teaching creation in schools. The “Establishment Clause” in Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution says that “Congress cannot make laws regarding any establishment of religion.” The question here is whether or not the word “establishment” is interpreted as pertaining to ideological things such as the theory of creation or physical things like church buildings? I believe that since there is no specific limit, and our nation was founded on Christian-like principles, then both sides should be adhered to, meaning that it applies to both, which provides for a more neutral standpoint. With this interpretation that it applies to both ideological and physical aspects, it makes sense to say that Congress cannot make laws regarding creation, which is ideological, being taught in schools, which is a physical attribute.

For example, the National Center for Science Education cites the Supreme Court Case Selman et al. v. Cobb County School District et al., in which a teacher attempted to place the following sticker: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” The district court ruled to have the stickers removed from the textbooks, but was remanded by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually the School District agreed not to disclaim or denigrate evolution either orally or written. The website goes on to list nine other cases where teachers or school districts are denied the right to teach creation because it violates the First Amendment (Ten Significant).

On the topic of teaching creation in public schools, Ham says that, “There are the usual accusations of trying to get ‘religion’ into schools and that it’s a front for what they label ‘fundamentalist Christianity’.”  This is simply not true. The attempt to have creation taught in public schools is not a move by Christians to turn public schools into seminaries. The attempt to have creation taught in public school branches out to a much wider audience than Christianity. In fact, most religions believe that their interpretation of a god created them, such as Judaism and Islam. Even some polytheistic (more than one god) religions believe that the humans were “created.”

Dr Bergman, a writer for Revolution Against Evolution, cited Bruce Shortt, who said: “Those who are endeavoring to achieve a more balanced presentation of origins…can attest to the fact that the controversy is not over the humanists trying to present a balanced view and the Christians a one-sided view, but more often the humanists wanting to indoctrinate students in their point of view only, and the creationists wanting a fair hearing.” Neither creation nor evolution can be proven more right than the other, and the argument here isn’t about the validity of either. The argument is whether or not students in public schools deserve to be exposed to both theories on the origin of man. Ultimately, it would only be fair if creation is taught alongside evolution in public schools, so that society can just leave all this legal business behind and move on, and let the kids determine for themselves what they believe.
Works Cited
Abiogenesis. International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. N.d. Web. 18 October 2010.

Bergman, Jerry. Darwinism and Indoctrination by Our Public Schools. Revolution Against Evolution. 26 February 2005. Web. 11 October 2010.

Bird, Wendell R. Evolution in Public Schools and Creation in Student’s Home: What Creationist Can Do (Part 1). Institute for Creation Research. N.d. Web. 11 October 2010

Evolution vs. Creation – A Contentious Debate. All About Creation. N.d. Web. 11 November 2010.

Ham, Ken. Creation in Public Schools?!. Answers In Genesis. 14 December 2002. Web. 11 October 2010.

Ten Significant Court Decisions regarding Evolution/Creationism. National Center for Science Education. N.d. Web. 18 October 2010.

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