Home Education Opinion: Fact versus Fiction

Opinion: Fact versus Fiction

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In states such as Ohio, private schools that receive tax benefits are able to teach creationism as a theory for the beginnings of humanity in science courses. Teaching religious creation stories in science classes versus the teaching of scientifically-backed evolution is a mixture of church and state that should not be allowed. To better understand each side, we will begin by defining each.

The theory of evolution was proposed 150 years ago by Charles Darwin and has since been tested and supported by a vast body of scientific evidence. In essence, the theory of evolution states that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor, stressing a purely naturalistic descent with modification. Specifically, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors over time naturally, including humans evolving from apes. This theory is accepted as scientific fact by 99.85 percent of all U.S. earth and life scientists. Surprisingly, 42 percent of Americans believe in an alternative theory: creationism.

Creationism is the belief that the universe, planet Earth and all living things were literally created by divine powers. In Judeo-Christian based faiths, God created everything in seven days out of nothing: light, dark, heavens, earth, water and man. However, God seemed to run out of creation “stuff” to make the first woman (Eve), so he had to borrow a rib from the first man (Adam).

In America, some private and public schools allow creationism to be taught in science classes. Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Utah and Ohio all have private schools that teach creationism and accept tax benefits. Texas charter schools use the story of Adam and Eve in their science curricula, and in Tennessee and Louisiana, public schools are permitted to use creationist instruction.

In the U.S., believing in creationism is acceptable. However, teaching it in public schools as a viable scientific theory is not.

There are two primary issues with teaching creationism in public schools. One, there is no scientific evidence that supports the Judeo-Christian version of the universe’s creation. Two, the use of public tax dollars to support one religion’s beliefs over another is unconstitutional. Most early cultures and other religions have their own competing creation stories.

Babylonian creationism is the story of two gods fighting, where Marduk defeats Tiamat and splits her body into heaven and earth. The Shinto religion focuses on the deities Izanagi and Isanami standing on the “Floating Bridge of Heaven” to dip their jeweled spear into the water to create the Japanese islands. Hindus believe that the universe was created from a lotus flower growing out of the deity Vishnu’s belly button with the help of his servant, Brahma.

Government support of any kind supporting the Judeo-Christian creation myth over the creation stories of the Shinto, the Hindu, the Buddhists and other religions is specifically prohibited by the separation of church and state as stated in the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

This issue has made its way into the current presidential race. Many Republican presidential candidates, who normally pride themselves on being strict followers of the Constitution, seem to struggle with the evolution versus creationism teaching question. In 2005, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said, “Yeah, but I don’t think (Evolution) should actually be part of the curriculum, to be honest with you … and people have different points of view and they can be discussed at school, but it does not need to be in the curriculum.” Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum believes there are many holes in Darwin’s theory. Ben Carson, a scientifically-trained surgeon, believes in creationism and that the earth is only 6,000 years old, reports Huffington Post. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father taught him that evolution was a Communist conspiracy. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio believes that both evolution and creationism should be taught in public schools. Rubio stated, “I’m not a scientist, man … I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says,” explains Huffington Post.  

The Republican presidential candidates’ responses on the issue are likely playing to their conservative Christian base. What they seem to forget is that their view allows public high school science teachers to teach that Izanagi or Vishnu actually created the world rather than their preferred Judeo-Christian creation story. Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution protects our youth from being taught a religiously-biased creation myth as a scientific fact. Let’s hope our future elected politicians follow science and the Constitution, though a belly button lotus flower world sure sounds enticing some days.

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