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Bernard White

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Does creationism indicate bad education? (If so how can we fix this, and should it be taught?) Does Creationism have any credibility to it?

I started this debate, with a new aspect (or perspective) on our current education problem. Considering many focus on how to motivate students and various other aspects. Yet this (creationism) still remains a big problem to the American education system today, and I don't think many people think about this when they consider the education system today.

I feel I should have probably made this clearer, when I say creationism, I am making reference to the type of creationism which tell people "Evolution is wrong". (Or in other words the "Creationism vs Evolution" debate).

Creationism - http://www.creationism.org/
Does it have any credibility to it? Should it be considered a science?
Considering due to recent polls 46% of American believe in creationism.
Link :
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/americans-believe-in-creationism_n_1571127.html

Many psychological studies have shown a strong correlation between a lack of education and creationism. These studies indicate that not many creationists actually understand what the scientific method is.
With all this talk of how to "improve education" surely it would be wise, to finally finish the "Creationism vs Evolution" debate, if we wish to ensure a better scientific education!
Watch this 3 minute link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTedvV6oZjo (By Lawrence Krauss)

Here are some reasons, people believe creationism should be taught in schools, which I believe are false :
http://listverse.com/2013/02/07/10-reasons-creationism-should-be-taught-in-school/
Considering, if the polls are to be believed, 46% of Americans are missing out (in my opinion) on a proper scientific education.

I think it is worth mentioning though, that I am fine with "Theistic evolution".
A good book recommendation on this matter is "Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution" by Kenneth R. Miller. I personally have never understood the claim "Atheism = Evolution"...

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  • May 13 2013: I thought as a science teacher at a socially progressive high school and as an evangelical Christian, I might have an interesting perspective to add to this conversation.

    I agree with much of what has been said above. Teaching 6day 24hr creationism does not belong in the science classroom. Though I have read some valid scientific critiques of evolution, I have no problem with the theory and it being taught. The Bible does not teach us what method God used to establish life, so it makes not difference to me whether it was through evolution or not. Ultimately, I find no conflict between science and my faith. However, this IS the framework many others on both sides of the issue bring to the discussion.

    I consistently find that my very sharp-minded high school students have largely been taught or inherited a view that science and religion (especially Christianity) cannot co-exist. Most of them accept science contradicts religion, while a few cling to their religious beliefs and are suspicious of science. Recently, one of the brightest students I've ever met (and an atheist) asked me about my personal beliefs. She found it interesting that I could somehow believe in both science and religion. My point here is that even if it is not explicitly taught, many students come away with an incorrect view that modern science contradicts any belief in a creator God.

    As a result, I spend one class period each year in a discussion with my students about science and religion. I do not push any particularly position, except to drive home that there is no reason they need to be seen as in conflict. I find at church that many people's views are not much different from my students--that science and religion contradict each other--but they have simply taken the other side. For many of them, the only way they have seen science taught has been in contradiction to their belief in God. Sadly, they begin to distrust all science. The gulf widens and perpetuates itself.
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      May 14 2013: wow, you are clearly not the type of teacher I feared was in charge of teaching the youth in the USA, as I mentioned in response to Peter Law below. Then again, what do I know, I do not even live there. My hat off to you sir. Do you think teachers in general are as honest in teaching as yourself?
      Still, your story does confirm my concern: many students - probably by pressure from parents, peers and preachers - do not want to understand the scientific method fully for religious reasons. What could you (as in Americans in general; politics perhaps) do to change this in your opinion?
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      May 14 2013: Having thought about why people distrust all science; could it be that many of the scientific observations that religious students have problems with (e.g. age of the earth, evolution in the fossil record, etc.) are simply taught as fact, without teaching HOW scientists have come to their conclusions?

      Might I suggest that the scientific method is explained to them, in the process of teaching the facts? If this takes too much time, why not make reading of "A short history of nearly everything" by Bill Bryson almost mandatory?

      Scientists are somehow seen as evil conspirators of the devil (dramatization hopefully) while they should be seen as people, very curious people.
      • May 15 2013: Gerco, thanks for your responses and for the compliment. You ask good questions. My estimation--which I'm sure isn't 100% accurate, but it's the best I can see it--is that most "religious" students do have the scientific method taught to them well and that they generally accept it. It is not the scientific method they have a problem with. Despite our best efforts, science is never 100% objective, because it is being done by human beings who have opinions, preferences, biases, grudges, preconceived notions, etc. Much of the time, science is done well and with careful, balanced analysis. On the other hand, history is rife with examples to the contrary. I think the distrust is not of the scientific method but of the scientists. It is easy for them to imagine a scientist favoring an interpretation of data that supports the scientist's worldview while overlooking contradictory evidence. This perspective is probably aggravated by the general distrust of authority that has been breeding in our country for quite some time. We have seen too many political leaders, CEOs, and other people of power abuse their positions for their own gain. A great example is the healthcare industry--I know people who consciously ignore health advice given by government entities because they believe it has been influenced by large healthcare providers who want to make more money, and so they assume it is bad advice. You get the idea?

        So, how do we address this problem? When I tell a Christian that there really is good evidence for the universe being 14 billion years old, for example, I find I have to carefully explain to them HOW we know this. They can easily assume the data has been misinterpreted or even altered. If they know and trust me, they are more likely to believe what I am saying. And so I try to be patient, carefully explaining the facts, and hopefully pointing them toward a more sound understanding of science.
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          May 15 2013: I see. Thank you for your efforts!

          It is unfortunately true that science seems like an ivory tower*. The people at the top are only trying to make it higher, and scream down at the people below what they see from up there. But what they say tends to be so complicated and incomprehensible that only the people right next to them (looking in the same direction so to say) can understand it and the translators halfway down often miss the point.

          Science as an institution isn't perfect, simply because there are people at work (as you will agree) and unfortunately also - increasingly - money. But still, the vast majority of scientists are simply curiosity driven and/or eager to make the world a better place.

          It is a great pain for honest scientists that they are viewed as a mistrusted authority, and they'd wish those political leaders, CEO's and other people in actual power would listen to them some more. If that happened, people would see that scientists are really on their side.

          While there is no scientific consensus as to whether a soul exists, scientists working to skew their data to suit the greed of companies are viewed by the larger scientific community as having sold it.

          Did you read my second post in reply to you? I think we are in full agreement on at least one way to tackle the problem, and I'm very pleased to see you take the time to do this. Might I again suggest Bill Bryson's "Short History of Nearly Everything again"? I found it very helpful as it deals with the people involved with our understanding, their motivations and discussions. I should really read it again sometime, too bad I gave my copy away to a schoolboy in Ghana :)

          * And yet, it is the industry making ivory religious figurines in East Asia that is actually driving the elephant to extinction.
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      May 14 2013: Cliff, thank you for enhancing this discussion with these reasonable and balanced comments. I would add one missing piece to the education our children receive, that is the deeply held religious convictions of some of the greatest minds in science, and how their faith actually enhanced their insatiable scientific curiosity. Imagine if our students were exposed to the fact that Newton wrote more about religion than science, or that the discoverer of the pulmonary system was a deeply religious man who was executed for his faith. The history of science is replete with these examples. How different our children's world view would be if their education was broader than the current black and white presentation so common in classrooms today. You have my admiration for your efforts to stem this tide.
      • May 14 2013: Rick, I agree with you, but I was running out of space. Throughout the year, I often do mention that certain 'great minds' were also people of faith, often leaders in their religious communities. Most recently mentioned was Michael Faraday. When I do this, however, I try to do it in a way that is simply exposing my students to the idea that great people of science have also often been people of great faith, and even in recent (and current) history, rather than trying to push a certain viewpoint. I feel this is necessary for students to have a fair and balanced view of faith and science because so many of them have a preconceived notion that faith and science are mutually exclusive.
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      May 15 2013: In response to " Gerco, I find it interesting"

      Yeah you are right. That statement was a poorly made reference to Occam’s razor that I might have phrased a lot more appropriately with something along the lines of: “to say that an intelligent creator was at the start of it all is quite a leap that requires a whole range of assumptions that make this explanation less parsimonious.” I’ve just responded to Bernard White’s request to explain Occam’s razor, where I make the same point.

      You are also right when you say

      “Anytime you question issues of purpose, meaning, [*] you are asking questions that science can't address.
      But that doesn't mean they are not worth asking.”

      That is indeed where we step into the realms of philosophy and religion.

      “If there is no why, it still leaves us asking "why do we think there could be a 'why'?" ”

      Maybe you’ve given this more thought than I have, but that question seems answerable enough: anthropomorphism. The things we do are often reasoned, so we think there is a “why” to nature. Quite likely, people once looked around them and then back at the tool they had just made and wondered “Hmm… if I made this tool, then who made everything around me?” Similarly, people assume a purpose to the universe as well. Also, people WANT there to be a purpose, which is their right, but it doesn't necessarily make it so. Science assumes no reasons, only causes. No why, only how.

      My high school biology teacher used to say: “I never ask “why” questions in a test, because a student might answer: “Because it is God’s Will” and I would have to allow that since I cannot argue with it.” Mind you, this was in the Netherlands.

      * I am not so sure whether “a potential first cause outside our physical world before the universe or multiverse existed” is impossible to talk about scientifically. It still deals with “how”, and I expect hypotheses might be formulated, which can be argued for or against theoretically (but I won’t be the one to do it).

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