TED Conversations

Bernard White


This conversation is closed.

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 :
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"...


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 24 2013: In my opinion, evolution does not contradict creationism at all.

    Science, in general, and evolution, in particular, answer the question "how?" rather than "why?". "Why?" is a human question. It's a question of purpose and motivation which material universe lacks.

    Creationism, on the other hand, is, mostly concerned with "why?" rather than "how?". It's a religious question. I don't think, it can be taught without teaching religion, and teaching religion in public schools is wrong. In my opinion, it's like teaching about hurricanes in a science class and asking a question "why did innocent children had to die in Oklahoma?". That's not a scientific question.
    • thumb
      May 24 2013: I have heard a very different story my friend.
      One which involved God not just being the 'why', yet god also being the 'how'.
      That is what 'creationism' is as I define it.
      Out of interest why do you view teaching religion is wrong? I can accept teaching creationism (in a science class) is wrong, Yet find religion harder to accept.
      Considering there are many religions (some old which included old Gods like the Ancient Greek Gods, and some new which include monotheistic Gods).
      • thumb
        May 24 2013: Miracles are called miracles because they have no explanations and go beyond our everyday experience. Once we have an explanation "how" something happens, it becomes science. Do you have an example where the Bible explains the "how" in the creation story?

        I did not say that teaching religion is wrong in general. Everything has its time and place. Ecclesiastes is my favorite book in the Bible.

        I believe, we need to have a clear understanding of what things are and what they are not. Otherwise, we get confused. Religion is NOT science. Religion should not pretend to answer scientific questions. Science does NOT answer religious or philosophical questions. These disciplines should not be mixed into a hodgepodge in the same class. I think, it's important to teach children to tell the difference between a scientific knowledge and religious belief. But this is a philosophical question, not a scientific one. It belongs in a philosophy class.

        I also believe, it is wrong to force religious or ideological opinions and beliefs onto each other. This seems to be the cause of most of the modern social tensions. This is why religion needs to be kept out of politics.

        As far as teaching religion in public schools goes, I think, it's important to teach children ABOUT religion in humanities classes. But public schools should not impose religious beliefs on children. This is what I meant when I said that "teaching religion in public schools is wrong". I see a difference between "teaching religion" and "teaching about religion". I'm sorry I didn't make it clear.
        • thumb
          May 24 2013: Oh right.
          I agree with you then! :-)
          However I do think certain lessons religions teach should be encouraged! (E.G. Compassion and forgiveness.)
          Have you watched the TED talk :
          Atheism 2.0?
      • thumb
        May 24 2013: Re: "However I do think certain lessons religions teach should be encouraged!"

        Definitely so. I think, religion is a very powerful thing. Perhaps, it's the most powerful of social institutions. It's just silly to label it "bad" or "harmful". It can be used for a great good or a great evil. It needs to be studied and used with caution and safety measures to the benefit of society. I disagree with those who label it as "bad" or "harmful" and advise to get rid of it.

        I like Atheism 2.0 talk. It's nice to hear an atheist say good things about religion. I view religion as a foundation of culture. All cultures are built on some irrational beliefs (mythology, if you will). Americans, for instance, believe in liberty, democracy, human rights, etc. There are myths and rituals surrounding these beliefs. Soviet Union had beliefs, mythology, and rituals around the doctrine of Marxism. I'd say, these things are a form of religion. They define nations. Take these beliefs, myths, and rituals away - and you will destroy a nation or a whole culture.
      • thumb
        May 24 2013: Thanks for the links. I'll watch them when I have time. I'm sure, there are multiple ways of looking at any religion. This applies to most other things. Take money. What is it? Paper? Pieces of metal? A number? Exchange medium? To some people money means power, to others - freedom and happiness, to some - slavery and suffering. It's all of these things and all these things are in our head only. People choose to see the side that has emotional appeal to them. In the same way, some people view religion as the source of joy, love, peace spiritual freedom; others use it to justify violence and oppression; while some tend to blame all evil in the world on it. None of this is "rational" yet, everyone has plenty of reasoning to back up their position.

        My position is - believe what you want to believe. Don't believe what you don't want to believe. But don't force others to believe what you believe. Persuade - perhaps. Evidence is just one mean of persuasion. There are plenty of others - appeal to emotion, rhetoric, etc. But forcing others to accept beliefs through legislation, brainwashing, wars, or acts of terror isn't cool. I will say this to an Islamic fundamentalist, a Christian right-wing conservative, a New Atheist, and to anyone in between.

        This is my belief which I would like to force onto everyone :-).
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        May 24 2013: "Science revealed", mind you.

        I don't see much of the "how" in statements like "And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." It does not say where the light came from, how bright it was, what color it was. It does not say how this light could be seen or detected - there was nothing yet to reflect or absorb this light. It simply is not a scientific text or way of describing things - no specifics at all.

        It makes sense to me as philosophy. "Light and darkness" can be viewed as a distinction between existence and non-existence, life and death, faith and doubt, order and chaos, knowledge and uncertainty, etc. The passage also establishes the rhythm - the foundation of time "And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.", "And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.", etc. The whole passage has a rhythm and structure to it. To me, the meaning of this passage is symbolic rather than literal or scientific.

        Most of the genesis consists of separation - drawing boundaries and defining what is what. I believe, it describes "how" the world is "created" in our minds. It teaches us to tell things apart, see what things are and what they are not, give names to things and concepts. In this sense, perhaps, there is "how" in the story of genesis. But it is different from the physical "how" which science is mostly concerned with.
        • May 26 2013: Arkady — you wrote: "The whole passage has a rhythm and structure to it." So that means it cannot be historically factual? I suggest you're attempting to set up a false dichotomy.
          Genesis 1 is written as narrative prose; it does not match the criteria of Hebrew poetry. It does not exhibit parallelism (as the Psalms do), and it includes features not generally seen in Hebrew poetry, such as the accusative-marker and the waw-consecutive (each used dozens of times in Genesis 1).
          For a solid technical demonstration that Genesis 1 is prose, not poetry, see the detailed statistical work by Old Testament scholar Stephen Boyd: http://www.fireprior.com/resources/genesis/Statistical-Determination-of-Genre-in-Biblical-Hebrew.pdf
          The prime reason for disbelieving that Genesis 1 is straightforward history (or for calling it symbolic — really the same thing) is not derived from the text itself. The issue is that we wish to be considered scientific, and the scientists tell us the universe could not have been produced in six normal-length days, and that organisms arrived in a certain order which contradicts the Genesis sequence. Therefore we feel we have to defuse the plain teaching of Genesis in one way or another. In most cases, we prefer not to declare stark unbelief, so instead we condescendingly describe Genesis as "profoundly true" (though historically false) or as "symbolically true" (though actually mythical).
          For Christians especially, this dodgy behaviour is unacceptable. A Christian by definition is a follower of Christ, one who believes the teaching of Jesus and accepts it as from God himself (John 7:16). Jesus was clearly a young-Earth creationist (Matthew 19:3-6). He held a high view of Scripture, and of Genesis in particular. http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=138&Itemid=62
          Let's cease playing such games and deal honestly with our Creator. Stop being "ashamed" of the truth of God, lest the divine Judge be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38).
      • thumb
        May 25 2013: When it comes to meaning, I totally agree with you regarding "seek and you will find" and "context is the key". Keeping this in mind, I would note, however, that your own writing lacks context. What exactly is this "ALL information" that lies within scriptures which can be only seen by "developing an 'eye that see'"? How does one know which 'eye' sees the 'truth'?

        I believe, such statement itself lacks context and, therefore, meaning. If you could explain to me what exactly I do not see in the sentence "And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.", this discussion might be more meaningful.
      • thumb
        May 27 2013: Richard,

        It seems, the more I say, the more I have to explain. I never said that rhythm implies that Genesis is poetry. Neither did I say that poetry cannot give a historic account. What I meant is that rhythms and cycles are at the root of existence. They can be seen everywhere and Genesis 1 seems to emphasize it.

        Literal interpretation is a figure of speech. The whole language is sybmolic. Words are symbols. Without metaphors, you would not be able to "see" what I mean and I could not "make any points".

        I don't know if it is possible to interpret the Bible literally. Most of the Christ's teachings are given in parables and Jesus himself seemed to oppose the literal interpretation of the law ("Sabbath for the man" Mark 2:27 and regarding hand washing in Luke 11:37-41)

        So, as Christians, let's shun the "dodgy behavior" and try to take the Bible literally. Have you gouged your eye and cut off your hand yet as Christ advised in Matthew 18:6-9? Or have you not looked at a woman with a lustful eye in your life? How many Christians do you know who have "made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake"? (Matthew 19:12) Do you allow women to speak in your church? (1 Cor 14:33-35) And before you judge my behavior as "dodgy", why don't you read Matthew 7:1 first?

        Tell me, who created the Chrysler building? Walter Chrysler? Yes, it was built according to his will. William Van Alen? Yes, it was built according to his design. But I doubt that either of them laid a single brick. Any "creation" is metaphoric. Check out this video http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html and tell me who created the pencil? It can be said that pencil was created. It also can be said that "pencil evolved". Both statements are correct in their own way.

        I have no problem with belief that "God created the world in 6 days", but I cannot interpret it "literally". I do not know what "literally" literally means.
      • thumb
        May 28 2013: Chris,

        Thanks for the detailed explanations. Quite interesting. Although, I am not as familiar with Kabbalah as you are, I agree with your main points - that "light" and "darkness" represent the difference between "order" and "chaos" or "clarity/faith/knowledge" from "uncertainty/doubt". The symbolism of taking bread inside our body as a symbol of internalizing the wisdom of Christ was also fairly clear to me.

        In this context, the big bang theory is a mere physical explanation of how the universe appeared. As we go back in time, the closer we get to the big bang, the less we can say about the universe because at some point, the concepts of space and time and the laws of physics lose their meaning. It's meaningless to say that "the universe appeared according to the laws of physics" because there were no laws of physics prior to the Planck time "after the big bang". According to quantum mechanics, time and space intervals smaller than Planck time and Planck length cannot be defined, in principle. It appears to me that the universe started not at "time 0", but at "time 1" - the first tick of the quantum clock. Before that, there was no time to talk about.

        So, in my understanding, creation of the universe is not to be understood as "everything from nothing", but rather "certainty/law/order" from "chaos/uncertainty". I don't see any contradiction between this interpretation of creationism and science.

        I thought, "pineal gland" is called "pineal" because it has a shape of a pine cone. Where did you get this relation to the Hebrew word "Peniel"?

        I don't think that Kabbalah can be called "science" in a sense that TED board would approve.

        We agree in one point - that when we read Bible, we cannot take literal meanings of the English translations. We need to unravel the symbolism contained therein. What would you answer to Richard, then? It appears, he advocates literal interpretation of Creation story although I don't understand how this can be done.
      • thumb
        May 29 2013: Re: "It's taken modern science over five thousand years to "discover" that which has been lying dormant beneath the story level of holy doctrine for many millennia."

        "What has been will be again,
        what has been done will be done again;
        there is nothing new under the sun."

        Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible.

        You seem to interpret science too broadly. What most people understand by science today is knowledge established using a certain method meeting certain criteria. These criteria include experimental verification, peer review, etc. Biblical truths do not fulfill these criteria. I'm not saying that they have no merit or value. Wisdom is frequently counter-intuitive, self-contradictory, and often goes against the so called "common sense" (e.g. "love your enemy", "turn the other cheek") or everyday experience. I still believe that teaching religious wisdom does not belong in science class.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.