The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth is being celebrated all over the world. In 1909, Darwin's 100th birthday celebration was sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences. The first "Darwin Day" was celebrated just over ten years ago in 1997 and has gained momentum and recognition in the past ten years with the help of the Humanist Society.
Darwin Day and Education
Darwin Day is seen by many "as an occasion for education and outreach in biological evolution."1 The Institute for Humanist Studies maintains a Darwin Day Celebration website (darwinday.org) with the stated purpose of promoting "public education about science" and encouraging "the celebration of Science and Humanity throughout the global community." Why is the emphasis on Darwin Day so important, especially to science educators?
Until the early part of the 20th century, the accepted explanation for origins was creation. This was taught as fact in American public schools. The turning point of the creation/evolution debate in America was the Scopes "Monkey" Trial in 1925. By 1933 both creation and evolution were taught in the classroom, but now creation is "out" and only evolution is taught as fact. That is, any scientific explanation contrary to evolution is not tolerated.
A Battle Between Worldviews
How can evolution be taught in schools as a fact, or at best, a firmly-grounded theory? The reason for this stems from a battle between two opposing worldviews. Just as creation is the foundation for Christianity, evolution is the foundation for the philosophy of humanism. Both are religions and both have basic assumptions on which their belief systems are founded. Creation and evolution are not science; they are theories about the origin of man.
Belief in creation science is generally considered to be a misconception, which educators and scientists feel the responsibility to change through America's educational system. "Darwin Day is especially important in the United States today because the percentage of citizens who accept the evidence for evolution is among the lowest of industrialized nations."1 Other terms that are used to describe belief in creation science are mythology, religion, and nonscientific beliefs. The evangelists for evolution are aware of the American public's support and belief in a special creation, as depicted in the following surveys:
- In a 2007 Gallup survey, 66 percent of Americans considered the statement "creationism, that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years" as either probably (27 percent) or definitely (39 percent) true.2
- “Roughly two-thirds of Americans favor adding creationism to the school curriculum.... Approximately 40%-50% of the public accepts a biblical creationist account of the origins of life."3
- "Thousands of public schools around the country do not allow the biblical perspective on the creation process to be taught in their classrooms. The survey shows that most Americans are dismayed by that point-of-view. About six out of every ten adults (59%) favor teaching creationism while less than four out of ten (38%) do not want it added to the public school curriculum content."4
A Philosophical Foundation
The fundamental questions for mankind are "Where did we come from?" and "Who are we?"5 The biological evolutionist asks similar questions when making a case for evolution: "How did things come to be that way?" and "What process has created this extraordinary variety of life?"6
These questions are not scientific questions but rather are philosophical in nature. As long as men believe that God created the universe, all other aspects of life focus on the Creator. Although Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, a philosophical foundation had to be established to deconstruct individual belief in God. Secular humanism is the politically accepted religion of the day and its foundations lie in the theory of evolution.
The Humanist Manifestos I, II, and III outline the philosophical and religious beliefs that promote evolution. The very first tenet of Manifesto I states, "Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created." God's plan as stated in Genesis 1:1 is absolutely denied. Likewise, the second tenet proclaims, “Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process."7 God's purpose for mankind's existence is denied. If humans are the result of a continuous process, He did not plan for them when He created the world and there is no reason for them to be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4).
Evolution Invades the Church
The evolution/creation debate centers on science and both sides have much at stake. The issues involved profoundly affect politics, law, and education because they form the philosophical foundation on which these institutions are based. Schools, courts, thought, and the fate of mankind hinge on the outcome.
Public education is not the only educational system that is being impacted by Darwin and humanism. Christian schools around the country (for example, in California) are being forced to accept state-adopted textbooks or their students will not be accepted in state colleges and universities.
Evolution has also penetrated America's churches! February 12, 2006, was the first Sunday set aside to observe Evolution Sunday. The Clergy Letter Project--which to date has almost 12,000 signatures of pastors on its "Open Letter" rejecting the biblical doctrine of creation--describes Evolution Weekend as "an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science."
One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic--to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith.8
What Can Parents and the Church Do?
Secular educational research in science teaching focuses on ways to influence those who reject evolution and strategies to get students to deconstruct former ideas about origins. In a study done by Anton Lawson and William Worsnop, one of the influencing factors on which the researchers focused was the individual's "strength of religious commitment....This prediction is based upon the commonsense notion that acquiring a new belief is easier when you do not have to give up a prior belief to do so."9
In a time when churches and schools do not make creation a serious issue, Christians need to take to heart the biblical command from Deuteronomy 6:6-7: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Christians should teach their children the following biblical principles:
- The universe and mankind were created by God
- A relationship with God gives life purpose and meaning
- Man was created in God's image
- There is hope through a loving God
- Freedom is in Christ alone
- Sin and the need for moral values
- Christ is the only means for salvation and eternal life
- There is a God and He is the final judge
Become knowledgeable about the biblical view of creation and the scientific evidence for it. Talk with your children about God's creation as often as possible as you observe the created world. Start a creation science library in your home so that your children have resources. Discuss with them the concepts of biological evolution and teach them to discern which concepts are scientific.
Whether your children are in public or Christian school, examine their textbooks for evolutionary concepts. Become a member of the textbook adoption committee at your Christian school. Be sure that the teachers in your school have content knowledge about creation science. Tell teachers about ICR's online Masters in Science Education program.
Teach a Sunday School class in your church on the facts of creation science. Pray that God will convict church leaders and members of the whole truth of the Bible. Begin to build a young earth creation science library in your church. Ask your pastor what he believes about creation. Suggest he take the online Creationist Worldview certificate program offered by ICR to come to a better understanding of the biblical view of creation.
Most importantly, teach your children that the Bible is God's inerrant Word--all of it. Darwin's treatises were written by a man, but the Bible is the inspired revelation of God. Although the world celebrates the empty philosophy of a mere man, Christians should celebrate creation. Jesus Christ is worthy to receive glory and honor and power because He created all things and all things exist because of him (Revelation 4:11).
- Good, R. M. 2008. Celebrate Darwin Day, An Event for Education and Outreach in Evolutionary Biology. Evolution: Education and Outreach. 1 (3): 306.
- Gallup poll results. 2007. USA Today. Posted on usatoday.com June 7, 2007.
- Reading the Polls on Evolution and Creationism: Pew Research Center Pollwatch. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Posted on people-press.org September 28, 2005.
- How "Christianized" Do Americans Want Their Country to Be? The Barna Update. Posted on barna.org July 26, 2004.
- Colson, C. and N. Pearcey. 1999. How Now Shall We Live? Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, xiii.
- National Academy of Sciences. 1998. Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1.
- First published in 1933. Posted on the American Humanist Association website at americanhumanist.org.
- 2009 Evolution Weekend. Posted on the Clergy Letter Project website at www.butler.edu/clergyproject.
- Lawson, A. E. and W. A. Worsnop. 1992. Learning about Evolution and Rejecting a Belief in Special Creation: Effects of Reflective Reasoning Skill, Prior Knowledge, Prior Belief and Religious Commitment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 29 (2): 144.
* Dr. Nason is Chair of the Department of Science Education.
Cite this article: Nason, P. L. 2009. The Iron Grip of Darwinism on Education. Acts & Facts. 38 (2): 34.