TED Conversations

Christopher Halliwell

Secondary Education Physics, Mississippi State University

This conversation is closed.

Should public schools be allowed to teach creation myths in science class?

Should christian political parties be allowed to circumvent the scientific method by using politics to put mythology in science textbooks?


Closing Statement from Christopher Halliwell

This conversation contains strongly differing opinions about public education. However, those who commented in favor of introducing creation myths into science textbooks were always religiously motivated. This is no surprise. Instead of appealing to the validity or truth of their respective creation stories, theses people appealed to "teaching the controversy". My response:

There is no controversy concerning evolution in the scientific community. "Teaching the controversy" of creation stories vs evolution is equivalent to teaching astrology next to astronomy, or alchemy next to chemistry, or magic next to electromagnetism. Without any verifiable claims to test, creation stories are not scientific. Ergo they do not belong in a science textbook.

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    Feb 25 2013: Christopher, "Creation myths", Christian Political Parties", "circumvent", "put mythology in" wow.

    You do not want a debate you are looking for a fight with this approach.

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      Feb 26 2013: Robert,

      You are correct in that I used strongly worded descriptions for my title. This was done purposefully to pre-alert all commenters to my personal stance on the topic. I created this conversation to learn more about how the TED community feels about this issue. I appreciate your input.
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        Feb 26 2013: Christopher, You have certainly came to the correct forum (TED) to argue against religion. However, a 2012 Gallup survey reports, "Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God's guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process."

        National Academy of Sciences states:

        Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth's history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.

        —National Academy of Sciences, Science, Evolution, and Creationism

        Since you have taken a position in absolute disagreenment to anything religious being acceptable and I have taken the stance of appreciating both sides of the argument and seeking a plausable solution .... we are at odds and I see no willingness to bend in your position. Therefore I suggest the following quote:

        Let that which is of Ceasar be unto Ceasar and that which is of God be unto God.

        I look forward to conversing with you again on a subject that we can openly discuss and appreciate each others views.

        I wish you well. Bob.
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          Feb 27 2013: Hi RW,

          Are you suggesting that the popularity of creationist beliefs is enough of a reason for it to be taught alongside established biology, geology, cosmology etc?

          I personally have no issue with discussion and debate in the appropriate forums. I just object in principle to special interests and political lobbying getting special treatment for their world views alongside established science, by passing the scientific processes, essentially a free pass for a loud voice.

          My views are reinforced in this case because I support the separation of church and state (schools). I don't think government schools are the appropriate place for religious indoctrination even when creator is disguised as an intelligent designer.

          Any criteria for what special interest topics get taught as alternatives to established science. Put it to a vote at the local education authority? A phone poll? Or just anything you happen to agree with gets in?

          Personally I think science classes should teach the best current established science. If that changes over time, and it will, the curriculum can be updated. If we find evidence of a species of angelic animals, they can be included in biology. If we find gods responsible for the force of gravity, that can go in physics. But lets leave it to scientific processes to decide what the best science is and not special interest groups. Controversy is not the standard by which we decide what goes in school curriculum in my opinion.

          I guess "One nation under god" upsets some US secularists and maybe a few polytheists.
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          Feb 27 2013: Thanks for the reply. I have the same question as Obey. Are you suggesting that the popularity of creationist beliefs is enough of a reason for it to be taught alongside established biology, geology, cosmology etc? If so, what is your reasoning?

          "Since you have taken a position in absolute disagreenment to anything religious being acceptable..."

          That is not what I have said at all. I am against anything nonscientific from being in a science textbook. As soon as ANY religion develops a verifiable claim, we can talk science. As it is, no religion has anything to do with science. In fact, quite the opposite. They tend to resent an effort to actually understand the world we live in. Instead, they seem to only want to take solace in their beliefs. I don't know about you, but I would rather know the sad truth than continue to delude myself in a blissful lie.

          A drunkard can be happier than a sober man, but that's no more to the point.
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        Feb 27 2013: If I were to be taking that stand I would have argued that the lack of popularity would be basis to discontinue the subject of science in education. That is an assumption on your part. Bad science to assume.

        The National Academy of Science, religious leaders and scientists seem to be able to play together nicely. You stated that you used the terms in your explaination intentionally to state your position on religion versus science. You also state in your bio that you are atheist. This appears to be an opportunity for you to grind a anti-religion ax and not really about schools. You also state you are a teacher. As strongly as you have stated your case and anti-religious views I would be concerned for any student who did not share your views.

        If I wanted my children to be education in a religious environment I would send them to a church school or private school based on a religion of my choice.

        I do not know about drunkards ... I will have to trust you on that.
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          Feb 28 2013: Hi rw. It was a question. Not an assumption.

          Actually, not sure if you were replying to me or Chris.
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          Feb 28 2013: I assumed nothing. I asked you.

          My personal anti-theist stance does not affect my belief that myths should not enter a science textbook. Regardless of your spritual beliefs, we should all come to the conclusion that science should be the only thing in science textbooks. I would thank you not to throw ad hominems at me.
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        Feb 28 2013: Obey, To Chris ... There was no reply button for your reply.

        Thanks for taking the time. Bob.

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