Evolution, creationism, and intelligent design. What are they, and how exactly are they different from each other? Evolution is the belief that all living things come from one common ancestor and that all populations change through time. Evolutionists believe that the earth has evolved over billions of years, and that basically the process of evolution is the means for all the diversity of life that we see. Creationism, on the other hand, is viewing the development of earth and its inhabitants from a literal interpretation of the Genesis account in the Bible. It is the belief that everything we see was created within six, twenty-four hour days. There is no room for evolution in this belief and it is prominently motivated by religious beliefs. Intelligent design can fall on both sides of the spectrum. It is basically the belief that a higher being is the start of all creation. Some people that believe in intelligent design can believe in evolution by believing that a higher being created the beginning of life and set the wheels in motion for evolution to occur. A person doesn’t have to be a Christian or even spiritual to believe in intelligent design. Creationism can fall into the category of intelligent design since Creationists believe in a higher being creating everything. With these different belief systems, how should schools decide how to teach life’s beginning and its continual process? Considering the varying lawsuits and successful outcomes of scientific innovation from each individual’s different belief, anything mentioning how life originated should not be discussed in the school systems.
There are a couple of differing opinions of how the origins of life should be taught in America. Three opinions are by Bill Nye, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and Ken Ham. Bill Nye believes that “teaching creationism in science class as an alternative to evolution is inappropriate.” In his interview with The Huffington Post, Nye proposes that “Creationism provides no insight into nature whatsoever.” He says that creation scientists “cannot predict anything, and cannot provide satisfactory answers about the past.” The NSTA, which also believes that evolution should be taught in schools, states that policy makers “should not mandate the teachings of “creation science” or related concepts, such as “intelligent design,” “abrupt appearance,” and “arguments against evolution.” Similar to Bill Nye’s opinion, in the NSTA position statement it says that the beliefs mentioned “cannot be tested, modified, or rejected by scientific means and thus cannot be a part of the processes of science.” According to the NSTA, the claims by ones that believe in a higher being “have been evaluated and discredited based on scientific evidence” and that “creation science and other claims do not lead to new discoveries of scientific knowledge.” Concluding their position statement, the NSTA says that policies requiring teachers to provide a disclaimer after teaching evolution may result in “de-emphasis or omission of evolution” and that the public will “only be further confused about the nature of scientific theories. Furthermore, if students learn less about evolution, science literacy itself will suffer,” since evolution is a unifying concept for the natural world.
Opposing the view of Bill Nye and the NSTA is creationist Ken Ham. In chapter 3 of his book The New Answers Book 3, Ken Ham reveals his belief that creation doesn’t have to be mandated in schools because he thinks that it will “likely be taught poorly (and possibly mockingly)” by teachers that don’t believe the Bible’s account, but he also believes that “whenever permissible, evolutionary ideas should be taught—but warts and all. There are many inconsistencies within the evolutionary framework and many disagreements about how to interpret the evidence. When appropriate, point out that many scientists, both creationists and evolutionists, do not believe that Darwinian evolution is adequate for explaining the existence of life on earth.”
After considering the three differing opinions, the decision of how the origin of life should be taught in schools can still be perplexing. With Bill Nye and the NSTA virtually on the same page in their opinions, the two battling opinions are whether evolution should be taught as a “well-established” truth, or if it should be taught “warts and all.” Understanding both positions, Bill Nye and the NSTA’s declaration that creationism has no viable explanations and cannot be tested is erroneous. Though, scientifically, creationist cannot prove God’s hand in creating everything that we can see, they can provide viable evidence for a young earth that would debunk the evolution belief of the earth being around 3.45 billion years old. Some evidence in favor of a young earth, for example, are examinations of the soil layers, the unreliability of radiometric dating and other dating methods, and the fossil evidence pointing toward a global flood. Knowing that creationism can, in fact, have viable explanations and tests for a young earth leaves Ken Ham’s opinion more suitable. Though his opinion makes more sense, it can’t be mandated in all schools, and teaching flaws along with evolution can start more controversy than is already evident. The best possible way to accompany each opinion would be to agree that the study of origins should be left to individual study instead of it being mandated in the school systems. Since students aren’t really taught in depth the means by which evolutionist get their conclusions in schools, they shouldn’t be taught it at all. A student, for example, will be able to understand gene mutations, atom formation, natural selection, and many other science related topics without trying to figure out how it came into existence.
Because of the different opinions regarding the matter, there have also been numerous lawsuits between creationists and evolutionary ideas. One, for example, is a lawsuit filed against Kansas to block new science standards. According to an article written by John Hanna titled “Anti-evolution group sues to block Kansas science standards,” the group Citizens for Objective Public Learning sued Kansas because they believe the new science standard promotes atheism and is in direct conflict with religious freedom expressed in the First Amendment. With the new standard, students will be taught evolution and climate change all throughout grade school, and evolution would be taught as being “well-established.” Citizens for Objective Public Education, along with some other Christian parents and two taxpayers from the Kansas City-area community of Lake Quivira filed the lawsuit believing that the new standard should not be passed, and that if the standard is inevitable, anything taught regarding the origins of life should be left until high school where thought out information can be implemented. Overall, it is believed by Joseph Rosenau, who is the programs and policy director for the Oakland, Calif. – based National Center for Science Education, that the lawsuit is “silly,” and that “no one in the legal community has put much stock in it.” According to Steven Case, who is director of the University of Kansas’ science education center, “previous court rulings suggest that the new lawsuit won’t hold up.”
It is quite obvious that creationists are in the minority when it comes to how evolution should be taught in schools. Lawsuits such as this one against Kansas are most likely lost. With curriculum requiring knowledge for evolutionist thinking, standards being passed by Kansas have to take place. John Calvert, who is one of the taxpayers joined with Citizens for Objective Public Learning believes that “the state’s job is simply to say to students, how life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it.” Though he has not been getting much attention from the legal community, his stance is most logical. Neither creation scientists nor evolution scientists can adequately explain the origins of the earth without some sense of faith, since things always have to have a beginning and nothing “abruptly appears.” The very first organism that started all of life had to “abruptly come,” or had to have been in existence for all of eternity. If teaching evolution or anything regarding the origin of life was not mandated at all, a more in depth focus on science topics and/or theories that students can observe or that have been observed can be applied in the classrooms.
A lot of times, in an attempt to make a way for creation and evolution to come to a common ground in learning environments, creationists try to claim that evolution is “just a theory.” In the article “Let’s Stick to Facts on Evolutionary Theory” by Carl Safina there is a recap of Nicholas Wade’s response to U.S Senator Mark Rubio’s answer regarding the age of the earth. Mark Rubio said “Whether the earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.” In response to Rubio’s statement, Wade says that scientists should just admit to evolution being a “theory.” Wade’s remedy for the situation is for scientists to acknowledge that evolution is a theory to satisfy the creationists, and that creationists should not object to evolution being taught as a theory, as it is. After recapping Wade’s thoughts, Carl Safina addresses the misconception of what “theory” means in the science world. According to Safina, most people think that a theory is an untested hunch, but in science a theory is a hypothesis that is tested and confirmed repeatedly, and all of the confirmations create a body of knowledge useful for predicting events. Safina then compares the theory of evolution to music theory. He notes that if a child were to sit at a piano for the first time and played some of the keys together, he/she would notice that some keys harmonize and some are dissonant. Eventually, the child would be able to know how keys sound before he/she plays them. “This predictive sense of theory is the same way scientists use the word,” says Safina. Overall, Safina believes that evolution is just as scientifically proven as any other theory and that there is nothing to “concede.”
Many creationists use “theory” in the wrong context when applying it to the theory of evolution. They don’t understand that when they say that “evolution is just a theory,” they are really saying that it is explained adequately through the evidence we have acquired. Instead of saying that evolution is “just a theory,” creationists should say that it is only a hypothesis, since in essence that is what they really believe. There are two problems according to Answers in Genesis that are erroneous in calling evolution a theory. One is that evolutionists, of course, cannot directly observe the past and how it started, and the other is that the tests performed to become evidence for evolution can have alternate explanations that are valid. But either way, calling the theory of evolution “just a theory” is definitely not going to create a common ground for believers in evolution and creationists. A better way to create a common ground would be to elevate creationism to being a justifiable scientific theory. Creationists can use the same evidence that evolutionists use, without creating a contradiction to the Biblical account of creation. Since creationists have to effectively explain events like the global flood and how man’s fall has affected the world that we live in, they do have to go a step further though. The interpretation of the Bible by Creationists does not contradict the evidence that has been found today. Though creation can be considered a theory using the same standards as evolution, it is more than likely not going to be taught as one in schools, and it shouldn’t. So the best conclusion would be to not teach evolution at all.
If evolution wasn’t taught at all in schools, would it change the ever advancing knowledge in the science realm? The successful outcomes of creation scientists and evolution scientists attest to the fact that it shouldn’t matter whether evolution is taught or not. A lot of times, creationists are considered to be gravely misinformed because they don’t believe in evolution, since evolution is a unifying theme within different sciences. That’s not the case though. There are plenty of creation scientists that have made successful predictions regarding the age of the earth and that have made inventions that benefit us greatly today. An article on Answersingenesis.org gives a few predictions that were confirmed and pointed toward a young earth as the Bible does. One prediction that was mentioned in the article was a model that Horace Lamb made over 100 years ago regarding the earth, large moons, and other planets’ magnetic field slowly decaying. Physicist D. Russell Humphreys’ created a theory based off of this model in 1984 that would explain the strength of the magnetic fields. After testing, based on the current rate of decay, if the universe was only 20,000 years old, life would not have been able to sustain because of how strong the magnetic field would have been. According to the article, Lamb and Humphreys’ theories “can be used to determine how much the magnetic field of an astronomical object should decay after 6,000 years at the present decay rate.” Humphreys’ theory successfully measured the magnetic fields of 1984 and anticipated the measurements of Uranus’s (1986) and Neptune’s (1990) magnetic field correctly. In another article on Answersingenesis.org titled “Super-Scientist Slams Society’s Spiritual Sickness!” Dr. Raymond V. Damadian is acknowledged for the invention of the MRI. It’s hard for anyone to think that people like Dr. Damadian, physicist Humphrey and Lamb are misinformed in the scientific field for not believing in evolution. These men are obviously well trained and are able to be successful all while believing in a young earth. These are just two of the many instances of successful creation science works. Other famous scientists that don’t believe in evolution are Sir Isaac Newton with his vast amount of knowledge, John Mann who developed a biological solution for cactus that was spreading uncontrollably, and Louis Pasteur who discovered the small living organisms that make milk sour. These men also contradict the NSTA’s position that creationists “do not lead to new discoveries and scientific knowledge.”
As most know, there are also many successful evolution scientists. One for example is chemist Otto Hahn, who discovered nuclear fission. Hahn discovered Meothorium, and the mother substance of radium, ionium, which we can now use for radiation treatment. He also worked on chemical warfare for WWI and after the war he focused on radioactive elements in chemistry. The discoveries made by Hahn and Lise Meitner, can be acknowledged for how atomic bombs were able to be made and used. Along with Hahn, another famous evolutionist is Jacques Monod, who was “a French biologist who contributed greatly to the understanding of the Lac operon as a regulator of gene transcription in cells, suggested the existence of mRNA molecules in the process of protein synthesis, and further contributed to the field of enzymology.”
When thought out, one can realize that the knowledge that creationists acquire is just as vast as the knowledge acquired by evolutionists. They are both obviously able to successfully make predictions and inventions. The lawsuits that have taken place are revealed to be ineffective and irrelevant and so have the teachings on figuring out how everything started. Since the teaching of evolution holds so much controversy and is not the only valid explanation for the origins of life, the school system should not hold evolution higher than others explanations and place it as a requirement for individuals to believe and test on in the school system. Whether someone believes in evolution or creation has no effect on how successful they are scientifically.
Hanna, John. “Anti-evolution Group Sues to Block Kansas Science Standards.” CJOnline.com. The Topeka Capital-Journal, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Safina, Carl. “Let’s Stick to Facts on Evolutionary Theory.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 03 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Successful Predictions by Creation Scientists.” Answers in Genesis. Answersingenesis.org, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
Damadian, Raymond. “Super-Scientist Slams Society’s Spiritual Sickness!” – Answers in Genesis. Answersingenesis.org, 01 June 1994. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
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“NSTA Position Statement.” National Science Teachers Association. NSTA.org, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
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“Famous Creation Scientists.” – Answers in Genesis. Answersingenesis.org, 01 Oct. 1982. Web. 24 April 2014.
Lamont, Ann. “Great Creation Scientists: Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).” Answers in Genesis. Answersingenesis.org, 01 Dec. 1991. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
“The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time.” Brainz. Brainz.org, n.d. Web. 04 May 2014.