One of the most amazing phenomena in the history of education is that a speculative philosophy based on no true scientific evidence could have been universally adopted and taught as scientific fact, in all the public schools. This philosophy has been made the very framework of modern education and the underlying premise in all textbooks. It constitutes the present world-view of liberal intellectuals in every field.
This is the philosophy of evolution. Although widely promoted as a scientific fact, evolution has never been proved scientifically. Some writers still call it the theory of evolution, but even this is too generous. A scientific hypothesis should be capable of being tested in some way, to determine whether or not it is true, but evolution cannot be tested. No laboratory experiment can either confirm or falsify a process which, by its very nature, requires millions of years to accomplish significant results.
Evolution is, therefore, neither fact, theory, nor hypothesis. It is a belief—and nothing more.
When creationists propose, however, that creation be taught in the schools along with evolution, evolutionists commonly react emotionally, rather than scientifically. Their "religion" of naturalism and humanism has been in effect the established religion of the state for a hundred years, and they fear competition.
In the present world, neither evolution nor creation is taking place, so far as can be observed (and science is supposed to be based on observation!). Cats beget cats and fruit-flies beget fruit-flies. Life comes only from life. There is nothing new under the sun.
Neither evolution nor creation is accessible to the scientific method, since they deal with origins and history, not with presently observable and repeatable events. They can, however, be formulated as scientific models, or frameworks, within which to predict and correlate observed facts. Neither can be proved; neither can be tested. They can only be compared in terms of the relative ease with which they can explain data which exist in the real world.
There are, therefore, sound scientific and pedagogical reasons why both models should be taught, as objectively as possible, in public classrooms, giving arguments pro and con for each. Some students and their parents believe in creation, some in evolution, and some are undecided. If creationists desire only the creation model to be taught, they should send their children to private schools which do this; if evolutionists want only evolution to be taught, they should provide private schools for that purpose. The public schools should be neutral and either teach both or teach neither.
This is clearly the most equitable and constitutional approach. Many people have been led to believe, however, that court decisions restricting "religious" teaching in the public schools apply to "creation" teaching and not to "evolution" teaching. Nevertheless, creationism is actually a far more effective scientific model than evolutionism, and evolution requires a far more credulous religious faith in the illogical and unproveable than does creation. An abundance of sound scientific literature is available today to document this statement, but few evolutionists have bothered to read any of it. Many of those whohave read it have become creationists!
What can creationists do to help bring about a more equitable treatment of this vital issue in the public schools? How can they help their own children in the meantime? The following suggestions are in order of recommended priority. All involve effort and expense, but the stakes are high and the need is urgent.
(1) Most basic is the necessity for each concerned creationist himself to become informed on the issue and the scientific facts involved. He does not need to be a scientist to do this, but merely to read several of the scholarly creationist books that are now available. He should also study creationist literature that demonstrates the fallacious nature of the various compromising positions (eg., theistic evolution, day-age theory, gap theory, local flood theory, etc.) in order to be on solid ground in his own convictions.
(2) He should then see that his own children and young people, as well as others for whom he is concerned, have access to similar literature on their own level. He also should be aware of the teachings they are currently receiving in school and help them find answers to the problems they are encountering. He should encourage them always to be gracious and respectful to the teacher, but also to look for opportunities (in speeches, term papers, quizzes, etc.) to show that, although they understand the arguments for evolution, the creationist model can also be held and presented scientifically.
(3) If he learns of teachers who are obviously bigoted and unfair toward students of creationist convictions, it would be well for him to talk with the teacher himself, as graciously as possible, pointing out the true nature of the issue and requesting the teacher to present both points of view to the students. Under some circumstances, this might be followed up by similar talks with the principal and superintendent.
(4) Many teachers and administrators are quite willing to present both viewpoints, but have been unaware that there does exist a solid scientific case for creation, and, therefore, they don’t know how to do this. There is thus a great need for teachers, room libraries, and school libraries to be supplied with sound creationist literature. Perhaps some schools, or even districts, will be willing to provide such literature themselves. If not, the other alternative is for parental associations, churches, or individuals to take on such a project as a public service. If sound creationist books are conveniently available, many teachers (not all, unfortunately, but far more than at present) would be willing to use them and to encourage their students to use them.
(5) Creationist parents, teachers, pastors, and others can join forces to sponsor meetings, seminars, teaching institutes, etc., in their localities. Qualified creationist scientists can be invited to speak at such meetings, and if adequate publicity (especially on a person-to-person basis) is given, a real community-wide impact can be made in this way. Especially valuable, when such invitations can be arranged, are opportunities for creationist scientists to speak at meetings of scientists or educators. Also such men can be invited to speak in churches or in other large gatherings of interested laymen.
(6) Discussions can be held with officials at high levels (state education boards, district boards, superintendents, etc.) to acquaint them with the evidences supporting creation and the importance of the issue. They can be requested to inform the teachers of their state or district that the equal teaching of evolution and creation, not on a religious basis, but as scientific models, is both permitted and encouraged. Cases of unfair discrimination against creationist minorities in classrooms can be reported, and most officials at such levels are sufficiently concerned with the needs of all their constituents that, if they can first be shown there is a valid scientific case for creation and that evolution has at least as much religious character as does creation, they will quite probably favor such a request.
(7) Public response can be made (always of a scientific, rather than emotional flavor) to newspaper stories, television programs, etc., which favor evolution. Those responses may be in the form of letters-to-the-editor, protest letters to sponsors, news releases, and other means.
(8) Financial support should be provided for those organizations attempting in a systematic way to do scientific research, produce creationist textbooks and other literature, and to provide formal instruction from qualified scientists in the field of creationism. This can be done both through individual gifts and bequests and through budgeted giving by churches and other organizations.
It will be noted that no recommendation is made for political or legal pressure to force the teaching of creationism in the schools. Some well-meaning people have tried this, and it may serve the purpose of generating publicity for the creationist movement. In general, however, such pressures are self-defeating. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."
Force generates reaction, and this is especially true in such a sensitive and vital area as this. The hatchet job accomplished on the fundamentalists by the news media and the educational establishment following the Scopes trial in 1925 is a type of what could happen, in the unlikely event that favorable legislation or court decisions could be obtained by this route.
Reasonable persuasion is the better route. "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (II Timothy 2:24,25).
Cite this article: Morris, H. 1973. Evolution, Creation, and the Public Schools. Acts & Facts. 2 (1).