Was Charles Darwin right on evolution? Does it even matter? These questions remain a controversial topic to this day, and the third question of whether his theory on the question of how life began should be the only one taught in public high schools is no exception.
A Feb. 7 article in The New York Times noted that only 28 percent of biology teachers follow the recommendations of the National Research Council in teaching evolution, a theory that claims that species evolve and distinguish themselves from others based on the principle of “survival of the fittest,” leading to the great diversity in species we have today. Thirteen percent insist on teaching creationism, and the “cautious 60 percent” take no firm stance, but teach both in an attempt to allow students to draw their own conclusions.
The authors of the study continued by stating that creation has no scientific basis, is not appropriate for the classroom and that the statistics were alarming for science education.
To adequately understand the debate, we must first turn to where advocates of creationism base their doctrine.
Creationism is based on the biblical creation account in the Book of Genesis, which contains two conflicting stories of how life on earth started.
The first, contained in Genesis 1:1-2:3, is the story of God creating the universe in six days and resting on the seventh. The second, contained in Genesis 2:4-25, tells of a man, Adam, being formed on the same day as the earth and a woman, Eve, being formed from the rib of the man.
Clearly, at least one of the two cannot literally be true. Of course, it’s more than probable that neither are. Instead, the two stories are intended to be metaphorical, helping readers understand a broader message. The latter story, for instance, sets up the story of Adam and Eve and the consumption of the forbidden fruit — mankind’s first disobedience of God. It teaches that mankind is inherently sinful and must work to minimize sinfulness.
The only explanation for the creation of the universe that has any scientific basis is evolution. Charles Darwin’s research on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s and the publishing of “The Origin of Species” more than two decades later in 1859 laid the foundation for the theory of evolution, which says every organism on earth struggles for survival and the species best adapted to its environment is most likely to survive. It is a theory that has been widely accepted in the scientific community ever since.
Ultimately, there’s no reason creationism should be taught in schools. Besides its teaching being repeatedly considered unconstitutional in public schools by federal courts, it is not scientifically supported and is clearly not meant to be taken literally — something that anyone who has read the first two chapters of the Bible can clearly tell.
It’s time high school science educators teach what is actually supported by more than a century of research.