To any persons out there that believe the hypothesis of creationism (yes, it is not a theory. Not by a long shot.) does not currently have any impact in the classroom … bollocks to you. I am an educator, a teacher of children in the curriculum decided upon by the state Department of Education and from the feedback I get, I’m a pretty good one. This afternoon I had a short and reasonably civil run-in with a Creationist who queried why the topic was not given plenty of time in the classroom…
A little back story (please note, no real names of persons or school used, due to legal requirements governing confidentiality at schools); a few days before, one student had asked in class something along the lines of where people had come from. An interesting question and one which I spent maybe five to eight minutes covering before the bell for lunch went. Not surprisingly, I presented the scientific/evidence based scientific theory for such – other known as the Scientific Theory of Evolution. You know the one, the one with huge amounts of evidence supporting it on the point of being utterly overwhelming in any conceivable way. In short, I did a quick and very basic cover of that theory with the proviso (just to cover my own rear) that other theories did exist and this was only one of them. Considering the question stemmed from the study of the Solar System, it is also the most fitting theory to present by far (talk about science, you present science. That only makes sense).
A few days later, the parent of said student makes an appointment (which is actually fantastic. When parents show up out of the blue and interrupt you doing work after school hours, it’s a pain), came to my classroom and sat down to have a short talk. Now, this particular parent was not a problem – perfectly civil and so on. Not a problem with that parent in the slightest.
The point of the visit was.
If I am doing a science based lesson (such as the formation of the solar system) then what I present will be science and it should be no other way. Science curriculum belongs in science lessons, if you want theories like creationism then you sit and wait until the Religious Education class, which all students have ample opportunity to take part in anyhow.
Some of you may be asking ‘why should it be that way?’ at this point. Valid enough question but one with a pretty obvious answer. To begin with, the validity of the creationism hypothesis is highly dubious having no independent evidence to support its case and is fundamentally based on irrational faith. Therefore, logic and reasoning dictates that scientific findings are by far superior to ones such as creationism.
Secondly, if one faith based theory is presented in class then what of all the others? Are educators obligated to give equal times to Thor and the World Tree? The Aboriginal tales of the Dreamtime? The Native American mythology? Why not the Aztec pantheon? Islam? Hinduism? They are all faith based and have just as much evidence as the other. Therefore if Creationism is to be presented in the classroom, then every single faith based hypothesis/story must be as well – and only the greatest of fools would try to say there is time in the school day for that. Not only that, but to attempt to teach falsehoods and primitive mythology as fact would be an exercise in gross intellectuall dishonesty and thus morally indecent. No, not all beliefs are equal, not at all.
In short, school has little to no place for religious teaching. Schools are there to teach students how to think and pass on established and known facts. Groundless hypothesese are not covered under that description, else topics such as ‘the celestial teapot’ or ‘the flying spaghetti monster’ would need to be part of the official curriculum. Religious teachings such as creationism or intelligent design belong in religious organisations, such as churches or bible groups.