While we claim to be a developed and enlightened nation, the United States is still fighting a ridiculous fight over whether evolution of creationism should be taught to children in science class. Religious individuals–specifically, right wing Christians–are opposed to teaching evidence-based science, for the simple reason that the evidence does not support their religious text’s account of the genesis of life.
Here are a few of the larger such contradictions:
- The universe is 13.8 billion of years old, not 6 thousand–radiometric dating and astro-physics prove this.
- Life developed over hundreds of millions of years, not 6 days–the fossil record, dendro-chronology, ice cores and radiometric dating prove this.
- Organisms slowly grew in complexity and were not created in their present forms–the fossil record, genetic analysis (ex. bananas and humans share 50% of our genetic code) and tests involving lab organisms with short reproduction timelines prove this.
- No great flood wiped out all life except for the organisms that could fit on a boat–basic logic, genetics and resource limitations prove this false.
Despite the volume of evidence that disproves the biblical account of creation, a 2012 Gallup poll found that 46% of the American population believed in young earth creationism (the exact statement that people agreed to was: “God created humans in present form within the last 10,000 years”).
Put simply, a belief in creationism is a plague on the intellect of the American population. As a country, we consistently poll higher in our belief of creationism that other developed nations.
How can we hope to compete with the rest of the world in producing competent scientists and engineers when such large percentages of our population are willing to subsume their logic and reason to their religious mythology?
The following video is of the debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” and Ken Ham–the owner and manager of the Kentucky Creationism Museum–focused upon the development of life. While it is a long video and most sane people will get exasperated while listening to the inane assertions by Mr. Ham, it is important to understand just how illogical the beliefs of this segment of the American population are.
In order to skip the pre-show/ad for the museum, skip ahead to the 13:00 mark
While I normally don’t support giving creationists a platform to spew their nonsense on equal footing with scientists, I think that this debate does a good job at juxtaposing the two types of thought involved.
Mr. Nye bases his ideals upon tested theories and is willing to change his opinions given new evidence–in fact, he openly challenges anybody to point out where he is wrong and is happy to hear them out. Additionally, Mr. Nye admits that he doesn’t know everything and is accepting of the idea that science is a process where humanity slowly fills in the gaps of our knowledge.
Mr. Ham starts with the conclusion that his bible is infallible and works backwards from there. He rejects all evidence that contradicts his bible’s account and uses a combination of unfounded assertions and misleading anecdotes to support his worldview. At best, it is his hope to obfuscate the evidence for evolution and make the argument that, because there are still unknowns in evolution (ex. the Cambrian explosion), his creationism is superior because it provides answers for everything (usually, “because god said so”).
This fight may seem absurd, but it is very real and it may well be coming to a school near you. Recent pushes in southern states–the largest of which was Texas–have attempted to insert creationism into public school classrooms. These attempts to indoctrinate children with religion are not only unconstitutional (see the Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision), but a threat to our next generation’s educational quality.
Put simply, the American public needs to stop tolerating religious people trying to force their religion into the classroom–after all, you don’t see scientists trying to sneak logic and factual evidence into church doctrine
This is an excellent article to which I would only add one set of ideas. The prohibition of religion in schools may seem necessary, but it creates a situation in which children have no chance to learn other points of view/beliefs than what was drilled into them from babyhood by their parents, preachers etc. I believe it should have a carefully controlled place in the curriculum. The teachers may hold any beliefs they wish, but should be trained in historical, textual and general scientific analysis. In other words, religion is an important subject but not to be taught in public schools by people who are blindly religious!
Noah’s flood is a good illustration. Mesopotamia is proven to have had many huge floods since the last ice age so that the shore line of the Arabian Gulf is now many miles further to the Southeast than a few thousand years ago. The real Noah probably managed to save his family and livestock in a large vessel, but Hebrew mythology had him saving the whole living world. This type of distortion is not unusual with word-of-mouth history, but young minds need to be given reasonable explanations, not left to swallow myths.
I will certainly agree that studying world religions is an important class, if only to ensure that students don’t live in their own societal bubble–that said, the place for this education is in a social studies class, not a science class, and in a way that doesn’t promote any religion as true.