Evolutionary Indoctrination and Decision-Making in Schools
by Richard Bliss, Ph.D.
In recent years, the efforts of anti-creationists to distort the motives and goals of scientific creationists have dominated the educational literature, influenced the courts and polarized the media. As an educator who has been in all phases of science education development and who has been involved in this debate from its early years, this writer feels an answer to these critics is in order.
The nature and methodology of science and science education should require an open and inquiry-oriented approach to the creation /evolution question. As with any other question in science, this question should be looked upon as an opportunity to stimulate thought through the education process, rather than becoming an obstacle to it. The study of origins has proven to be one of the most exciting questions that has confronted education in recent times. It has all the ingredients for promoting both good science and good education. In fact, the question of origins enhances critical thinking through a decision-making framework. Sadly, students today are being taught that the only way science can view the origin of life is through an evolution model that is "random, mechanistic and naturalistic." Certainly there is nothing wrong with using evolution as one model or framework within which scientific information can be correlated and integrated, but when evolutionists say that it is the only model and that the creation model could not also be used to correlate and integrate scientific information as well, they are no longer speaking in the context of scientific truth. Evolution falls to answer more questions than it purports to answer and the creation model certainly has much to offer as an alternative.
Anti-creation groups are distorting the potential value of both models when they call evolution the only idea available to science. Either they do not know what the data actually reveal, or else they are deliberately attempting to deceive the world's educators. Educators should know that some of the most open attacks on evolutionary dogma come from evolutionary scientists themselves, and it is from these men that creationists take note of the religious nature of the evolutionary paradigm. Strangely, testimony from these scientists is distinctly absent from the anti-creationists writings. Examples of some of these writings by evolutionary scientists are given below.
Paul Ehrlich and L.C. Birch, biologists at Stanford and the University of Sydney, respectively, summarized the problem in Nature Magazine:
Our theory of evolution has become ... one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus ‘outside of empirical science' but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training.
L. Harrison Matthews, writer of the introduction to the 1971 edition of Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES has this to say:
The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded upon an unproved theory - is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation - both are concepts which believers know to be true, but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof.
Derek V. Ager writes in "The Nature of the Fossil Record":
It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student, from Tureman's Ostrea/Gryphaea to Carruther's Zaphrentis delanovei, have now been 'debunked'.
These men and others are helping us to gain a more accurate perspective on the subject of origins. Certainly in the light of these statements, evolution cannot be considered to be a proven fact. Even its status as a scientific theory can be challenged. Dr. Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist for the British Museum of Natural History, in a public lecture before the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, November 5, 1981, said that he posed this question to the geology staff of the Field Museum of Natural History: "Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true?" He also posed this same question to the prestigious body of evolutionists at the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar at the University of Chicago. The answer he received from both groups was silence, until one member of the morphology group spoke up and said: "I do know one thing - it ought not to be taught in high school." Scientific creationists disagree. They think that evolution should be taught, but only when the strengths and weaknesses are discussed in comparison with the scientific merits of creation. Perhaps it is about time that we all learned that it is wrong to suppress evidence and teach only one view of origins as the evolutionists are demanding now. Policymakers and educators should realize that both models of origins are paradigms. Creation is neither less scientific nor more religious than evolution. Teachers must be allowed to realize this without being demeaned by a vocal minority of self-styled experts in the wisdom of science. Both teachers and students must have this freedom if today's schools are going to develop the decision-makers that we need. Open inquiry can solve this problem of teaching origins if proper skills of scientific inquiry are taught and utilized.
Creationists have been accused of teaching pseudo-science when they state that the planet upon which we live is probably a young planet rather than an old one; or that the second law of thermodynamics (systems tend to go from complex to simple, rather than going from simple to complex, naturally) applied to the living as well as the inanimate world. These comments and many others are carelessly given out by the anti-creationists as evidence against the creationists' credibility; yet, the creationist has shown his willingness to consider all evidences relating to geologic ages, whether old and young. On the other hand, the fact that there are many data that seem to limit the age of the earth and universe to younger ages is never stated or even considered by evolutionists. Oil well fluid pressures; the helium inventory in the atmosphere; polonium halos in our oldest rocks; dust on the moon; the earth's magnetic decay; short-term comets, and many others give young ages for the earth and the cosmos. Creationists believe that much more research has to be done and that true scientists should not have a closed mind on this topic; the question must remain open. Evolutionists deny this and reject, out of hand, any information that gives anything but old ages. This is bad science and does not lead to objective decision making. What creationists are asking for is open and objective science that will leave room for progress and discovery. No scientific creationist is proposing the use of the Bible as a science text book in the public schools. However, scientific creationists believe that scientists should adhere to the principles of science as they operate in the real world of science, and young people should be taught the process skills of science and scientific inquiry by exposing them to all data, regardless of which side they seem to fall upon.
"If you let creation in, you will be teaching a literal interpretation of the Bible and all of science will collapse," the anti-creationist insists. Statements such as these are evidently meant to scare the public and educators alike, but they are totally false. The question of evolution and creation is easily resolved when professional teachers rise above their personal biases and confine themselves to teaching the 'process skills' of science and scientific inquiry. From this point on, the "decision-maker," the "critical thinker," is the student. Unfortunately, most teachers refuse to let him be a decision-maker on this issue and literally force him to think in terms of evolution only.
It is often said that the content for the science curriculum must be selected data that explain the natural world scientifically, and that it has the ability to unify, illuminate, and integrate other facts. Does the evolution model do this any better than the creation model? Not at all. Hubert P. Yockey, writing for the Journal of Systematic Biology, has this to say about the whole question of origins:
Since science has not the vaguest idea of how life originated on earth, whether life existed anywhere else, or whether little green men pullulate in our galaxy, it would be honest to admit this to our students, the agencies funding research, and the public.... It is new knowledge, not another clever scenario, that is needed to achieve an understanding of the origin of life.
Scientific creationists and others are proposing a two-model approach to the origin of life that will not only stimulate scientific thought among students, but in fact, capitalize on their motivation toward this subject. Creationists cannot legitimately be accused of bias or mind-programming when they merely offer their model as alternative to evolution. If evolution is so certain, then what is there to be afraid of in this matter? Some evolutionists seem to be saying, by their passionate resistance to the creation model, that they are afraid that their model won't stand up. They say that arguing with a Creator is a no-win situation. By the same token, can't the creationist say that arguing with a model that can be made to fit any data is also a no-win situation? Why not let the students decide in this matter?
This writer submits, then, that every teacher, every student and every parent should have the opportunity to explore both models as a framework within which they can correlate scientific information without fear of retribution of any kind.
That the search for knowledge and understanding of the physical universe and of the living things that inhabit it should be conducted under conditions of intellectual freedom, without religious, political or ideological restrictions.... That freedom of inquiry and dissemination of ideas require that those so engaged be free to search where their inquiry leads ... without political censorship and without fear of retribution in consequence of unpopularity of their conclusions. Those who challenge existing theories must be protected from retaliatory reactions (National Academy of Sciences Resolution of April, 1976: 'An Affirmation of Freedom of Inquiry and Expression').
Clarence Darrow, in the Scopes trial of 1925, had this to say:
… let the children have their minds kept open ... close no doors to their knowledge ... shut no door to them ... let them have both evolution and creation ... the truth will win out in the end.
* Former Director of Science Education, Unified School District #1, Racine, Wisconsin. Former Director of ICR's Curriculum Development.
Cite this article: Richard Bliss, Ph.D. 1983. Evolutionary Indoctrination and Decision-Making in Schools. Acts & Facts. 12 (6).