Introducing Creationism into Public Schools


More people today than ever are objecting to the exclusive teaching of evolution in the public schools. Strong pressures are developing aimed at opening the schools to the teaching of special creation as a viable alternative to evolution.

Resistance to teaching creationism is still very strong, however. Opposition usually centers around two related arguments. First, evolution is widely claimed to be the only acceptable scientific theory of origins. Second, creation is assumed to be strictly a religious concept, which on that account has no place in a public school curriculum.

Both of these arguments are wrong and invalid. Creation can be shown to be a more effective scientific model of origins than evolution, and evolution can be shown to require a higher degree of credulous faith than creation. It is the purpose of this paper, however, to encourage a careful and objective study of both concepts of origins, on a scientific level only, in the public schools.

Creationists Need to Become Informed

If this effort is to succeed, creationists must first of all be able to support their claim that creation is as scientific as evolution and that evolution is as religious as creation. Political or legislative efforts to require creationist teaching will be futile otherwise. Even if a favorable statute or court decision is obtained, it will probably be declared unconstitutional, especially if the legislation or injunction refers to the Bible account of creation. Furthermore, a teacher forced to teach creationism with no knowledge of how to do it and with a built-in prejudice against it is not very likely to give the students a fair exposure to it, probably doing more damage than if it were ignored altogether.

The only effective way to get creationism taught properly is to have it taught by teachers who are both willing to do it and adequately prepared to do it. Since most teachers now are neither willing nor able, they must first be both persuaded and instructed themselves.

This means that someone must do the persuading and someone do the instructing. This burden must ultimately fall on the concerned creationists of each particular community. However, although a community-wide census would almost certainly show a large majority favoring the teaching of both creation and evolution, only a remnant will be found willing to work to accomplish that end.

In any case, the concerned creationist minority, whether large or small, will need first of all to become informed on the issue and its various implications. Each individual needs to be aware of the significance of evolutionary teaching and of the scientific evidence favoring creation. He does not have to be a scientist to understand the latter, but he does need to take the time for a careful reading of some of the modern treatments of the subject by creationist scientists.

For example, he should read the two I.C.R. books, The Troubled Waters of Evolution1 and Scientific Creationism,2 or other books of comparable scope and treatment. The former shows the historical background and modern influence of evolutionary thought, and the latter shows the scientific superiority of creationism in every phase of the problem of origins.

He should then do his best to help others become informed. There are many ways to do this—Sunday School classes, letters-to-the-editor, gifts of books to libraries and key individuals, promoting creation seminars, etc. Perhaps the best way is by personal, friendly discussions with school officials and other people of influence.

In the following sections appear additional specific suggestions for creationists (or open-minded evolutionists) who are in various positions of key responsibility.

School Administrators

Members of state and local school boards, school superintendents, curriculum specialists and school principals are, of course, in the most important positions of all with regard to this problem. Some of these officials are creationists themselves and many others are sufficiently dedicated to true education and service to the community as to be willing to provide the young people in their schools an opportunity to hear both sides of this all-important question.

There are many ways in which this can be done. First, each teacher should be provided with a good reference handbook on scientific creationism and asked to study it. The Public School Edition of Scientific Creationism, prepared by the Institute for Creation Research, is designed specifically for this purpose, providing conveniently-organized and well-documented scientific evidence for special creation on all aspects of the subject of origins.

The teacher should then be encouraged (not required) to use this information in his or her classes. As long as no religious instruction is given (for example, an exposition of the creation chapters in Genesis), there is no legal problem involved. For example, when treating such a subject as human origins, the teacher can balance the usual evolutionary discussion of Ramapithecus, Australopithecus. Neanderthal, etc., by citing the creationists' evidence that such fossils are invariably either of apes or of men, with no true and unquestioned intermediates between men and apes. Such a discussion need not deal with such theological topics as the divine purpose for man, but only with the factual evidence concerning the unique physical and mental characteristics of men.

If possible, arrangements should also be made to conduct Workshops on Scientific Creationism for the teachers of the district. These can even be offered on a graduate credit basis, so that the teachers can apply the time spent on the Workshop toward a graduate degree. There are now many creationist scientists and teachers who are qualified to instruct in such Workshops, the purpose of which is to provide basic scientific orientation in the creation model of origins and in the deficiencies of the evolution model.

For those teachers who, for personal reasons, are unwilling to teach creation along with evolution, substitutes can be provided who could come in, say, for a special three-week unit on scientific creationism. It might be feasible to have one or more specialists available for rotating assignments of this kind.

Creationist literature can also be provided for school and classroom libraries. This is especially needed as source material for student papers and special projects. If only evolutionary books are available, as is true now in most libraries, it is obviously impossible for any student to carry out a meaningful research study on any topic related to origins. There is a great deal of sound scientific creationist literature now available. See, for example, the Appendix in Scientific Creationism for an extensive bibliographical listing.

School administrators may have two serious reservations about taking any of the above steps, one political in nature and one financial. As long as the teaching of creationism is done strictly in a scientific context, however, without reference to the Bible or other religious literature, such teaching is perfectly constitutional, legal and proper. In fact, the exclusive teaching of evolution is not constitutional, legal or proper, since belief in evolution requires at least as much faith as belief in creation and is therefore a religious belief. Evolutionary philosophy is the foundation of atheism and humanism, which are nothing less than non-theistic religions. Exclusive teaching of evolution has the effect of establishing religious systems of this sort as state-endorsed and state-supported religions. The political reservation is, therefore, not only invalid but actually applies in reverse. This is the very reason why there is so much concern about this question around the country.

The financial reservation is understandable, as most schools supposedly do not have enough funds to adequately finance existing programs, let alone a new program such as this. However, it is a simple matter of priorities. New programs of other sorts are continually being introduced, and nothing can be more important than giving the students a fair opportunity to choose between two philosophies that will have profound influence on them, one way or another, all the rest of their lives. Furthermore, the cost is not really very much. Providing one book per teacher, plus perhaps a dozen books for library use, plus an annual workshop would altogether comprise only a minuscule percentage of the district's annual budget, and there are bound to be certain marginal items in other programs that could be postponed if necessary. In fact, most school districts actually have funds already budgeted for supplemental materials.

Teachers

Creationist teachers are in a unique position to play a critical role in this strategic conflict. First of all, they are better able than anyone else to win their fellow teachers over either to creationism or at least to acceptance of an equal-time approach. If they have first become adequately informed themselves, they are then able, over coffee in the faculty lounge, in the faculty lunchroom, or in the homes of their colleagues, to discuss the subject on a friendly, scientific basis, and hopefully to convince them of the viability and importance of the creation model. Books and other literature can be given or loaned, invitations to hear creationist speakers can be shared, and other opportunities for personal help utilized.

As far as the teacher's own classes are concerned, by all means creationism should be included, no matter what the course subject or grade level may be. This is perfectly legal as long as the teaching is factual and scientific, and in fact, such teaching is necessary to balance the evolutionist bias that is almost certain to be present in the textbook and supplementary material for the course.

In some courses—for example, biology, ancient history, etc.—it may well be feasible to incorporate a formal unit on scientific creationism into the course content. The topics in the book Scientific Creationism would provide an excellent outline for such a unit, adapted by the teacher to the particular grade level.

More commonly, perhaps, the teacher should merely introduce creation as an alternative whenever the textbook or course plan contains evolutionary teachings or implications. For example, when an earth science textbook discusses the geologic age system and the great age of the earth, the teacher should also discuss the geologic evidence for the catastrophic interpretation of the fossil record and some of the scientific evidences for a young earth.

Other possibilities include the use of creationist films and slides, assignment of student projects which incorporate both evolutionist and creationist interpretations, and invitations to local creationist scientists as guest lecturers. In the latter case, the teacher may also be able to arrange for such speakers to address a school assembly.

Pastors

Because of their wide influence, not only with their own congregations but in the community as a whole, creationist pastors can often play a vital part in getting creationism back into the schools of the community. They have knowledge of the Biblical teachings on creation and are already aware of the problem and concerned about it. Once they realize the importance of promoting scientific creationism in the public schools, leaving Biblical and theological aspects to be taught in their churches and in the homes, they can often serve as leaders of community-wide creationist emphases, especially if they will work in cooperation with pastors of other churches and denominations.

Pastors are especially capable at the arts of persuasion and instruction, and this is exactly what is needed. They should be able to arrange opportunities to talk with school administrators at such length as necessary to present the case for creation adequately to them on a personal basis.

In his own church, the pastor should see that his own communicants are well instructed in the scientific, as well as Biblical, aspects of creationism. It is especially important that the children and young people in his church be well equipped with factual evidence for creation.

He can accomplish such instruction through a series of special messages, through using creationist Sunday School literature, through having special speakers, by providing creationist literature in the church library and for his members, and by various other means.

Scientists

Scientists and other professionally trained people (engineers, lawyers, medical doctors, etc.) are often capable of special leadership in creationist efforts. Young people are often led to believe that all scientists and other educated specialists are evolutionists, and the best argument against this fallacious claim is the personal testimony of scientists who are not evolutionists. The fact is, of course, that today there are thousands of scientists who are creationists, and usually there are at least several in every community.

Scientists and other professionals who are Christians have a peculiar trust from the Lord. At the same time, the atmosphere of their professions, emphasizing intellect and prestige as they do, poses a real temptation and danger. People in these positions are especially sensitive to academic ridicule and ostracism and therefore especially vulnerable to intellectual compromise. Furthermore, Christian scientists who have themselves taken a compromising position toward evolution seem particularly antagonistic toward those Christian scientists who will not compromise. Somehow an attitude of sweet tolerance toward the unbelieving philosophies of anti-Christian scientists is often accompanied by a bitter intolerance toward creationist scientists, whose very existence is a condemnation of such unnecessary compromise.

Nevertheless, creationist scientists must not be swayed by the objections of their evolutionist Christian colleagues. The facts of science, as well as the teachings of Scripture, are squarely against the evolutionary system and there is no reason whatever (except the fear of men) for yielding to such compromise.

Informed creationist scientists are perhaps the best qualified people in the community to deal publicly with evolutionists' objections to creation in the school, to serve as special speakers and consultants on scientific creationism where needed, and to engage in other similar activities. They should be conversant with all the literature on creationism, be active members in the Creation Research Society and generally serve as the scientific spokesmen for the creationist movement in their own communities. They can also help other creationists in the community who are not scientists avoid making unscientific statements which could react negatively against their cause.

Parents and Other People

The majority of concerned Christians and other creationists do not come directly under any of the above categories. Nevertheless each person is very important. The larger the group of vocal creationists in the community, the more probable it is that they can get a sympathetic hearing from school officials.

Parents are especially important, if they have children in the public schools of the district. Through personal conversations with teachers, principals, and school board members, in an atmosphere of friendly helpfulness, but also one of well-informed confidence in the soundness of their arguments, parents often can exert a very significant influence on classroom teachings and attitudes.

If feasible under the particular local circumstances, such citizens should establish a formal community organization, with some appropriate name (Citizens for Scientific Creationism, Parents Concerned for Educational Integrity, Civil Rights for Creationists, Committee for the Improvement of Education, etc.). Someone can be placed in charge of promotion and publicity, with a view to arousing community concern over the problem. Sympathetic news and television reports can be very valuable; on the other hand, a sarcastic news story on creationism can do a great deal of harm, so the search for publicity should proceed cautiously, and the Committee should be as certain as possible that the reporter really has an understanding of the whole issue.

One very worthwhile project which the organization might undertake would be a community census or poll, in which the feelings of the people in the school district on the subject at hand could be determined. Those that have been taken so far confirm that the large majority of citizens do want to see both creation and evolution (rather than either one exclusively) taught on a scientific level in their public schools.

Another project might well be to raise funds to provide creationist books for the classroom libraries in their schools. Another would be to underwrite and promote a Creationism Workshop for teachers, as well as a Creation Seminar for people in general. Debates between evolutionists and knowledgeable creationists might be arranged. Advertisements for creationism can be placed in campus and community newspapers. Many other such projects might well suggest themselves in the particular area.

Students

Finally, we come to those who are the most affected by this controversy, the students themselves. What can creationist students do to counteract the evolutionary teaching in their own classes and schools?

There are many things such students can do, but one thing they should not do is to react belligerently or sarcastically against the teacher. As students, their purpose is primarily that of learning rather than of teaching or witnessing. They are both legally and morally under the authority of the school and the teacher, and whatever witness they may be able to give will carry far more weight if done in the proper way and through the established chain of command.

Also, there is no doubt that a teacher will pay more attention to the suggestions and criticisms of a good conscientious student than to those of a lazy and indifferent student. In any kind of effective Christian witnessing, the witness must know what he is talking about, be winsome and tactful, kind and patient, and especially where someone of higher authority is involved, respectful and courteous. Cleanliness and neatness don't hurt, either.

Assuming the above conditions as prerequisites, then the opportunities available to such students might include: raising questions, or offering alternative suggestions, in class discussions; using a creationist approach in speeches and special papers and projects; talking to the teacher privately about available creationist literature and speakers; inviting the teacher and classmates to attend creation seminars or similar meetings; suggesting a classroom debate on the creation-evolution question; giving sound creationist periodical literature or tracts to the teacher; and other similar actions.

Even if the teacher does not respond favorably, the student can still consider it a profitable learning experience. If there is a problem relative to passing tests in the course, the student can usually handle it adequately by prefacing his answers by some such assertion as "Evolutionists believe that—. "

In those few cases where the teacher seems intolerably and rigidly bigoted, insisting that the student not only know the arguments for evolution but also believe them himself, it may be necessary for the student to ask his parents or pastor for help in the situation. If this likewise fails, there may finally be no recourse except to withdraw from the course, giving a courteous written explanation as to reasons. Such a last resort, however, should seldom be necessary or desirable. Reports of student experiences around the country indicate, on the other hand, that one or two creationist students have often been able to make a tremendous impact on the class, and even on the teacher, through their careful, courteous, consistent Christian testimony.

1. Estimated publication date April 1975.

2. Now available in both a Public School Edition (no Biblical or other religious material) and in a General Edition (including extensive section on Biblical aspects of creationism).

*Dr. Henry Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.