Five Awful Reasons to Teach Creationism in Schools

Jack Wellman has posted five really awful reasons to teach creationism in schools. He doesn’t seem to know that they are awful, and so let me briefly explain.

1) There are no criticisms of evolution: Wellman complains that there are no criticisms of evolution in textbooks even though it is (in scientific technical terminology he clearly does not understand despite using it) a theory that has never been upgraded to the status of law. He makes the common dubious claims that evolution has never been proven and cannot be proven, and even says that there are no transitional fossils. This is pure falsehood on his part – it is not merely wrong, it deserves to be called a lie, since the only way to make such a claim is either to deliberately misrepresent the facts despite knowing them, or to pretend to know what you are talking about when you do not. If Wellman had actually read a scientific book explaining evolution, he would understand how historical deduction works and what the enormous evidence is. And since he claims to be a Christian, he ought to learn about how we draw conclusions about the past. Without that, any claim he might make to know something historically about Jesus will be on much worse ground than he thinks evolution is.

2) Critical thinking skills: Sorry, but introducing evolution denial is like introducing Holocaust denial or other such pseudoscholarly garbage. The only reason to introduce it would be if the teacher is going to help students understand how it poses as science even though it isn’t. Wellman is a good illustration of how people who lack such critical thinking skills can be duped by antievolutionist nonsense.

3) Give parents what they want: Sorry, just because a parent is a racist does not mean schools should be teaching racism. If parents wanted anti-Christian teaching in schools, would Wellman support it? How could he possibly think this was a good argument?

4) Freedom of speech: No, freedom of speech does not mean a teacher should have the freedom to misrepresent the facts to children. It does cover Wellman’s freedom to blog falsehood, and even parents’ freedom to indoctrinate their children with the same lies, but thankfully we put additional safeguards in place in the interest of providing children with teaching that bears some semblance of truth.

5) Evolution is bad science: See the first point. Wellman just adds more false claims to the ones he offered in his first point, because he doesn’t actually have a fifth point.

I’ve been blogging about young-earth creationism and other forms of pseudoscience for many years now. I’d encourage readers to start with this round-up, and then use the tags on posts to explore further.

But better still, why not read what an actual biologist has to say on the subject, someone like Francis Collins or Ken Miller or Francisco Ayala? I particularly recommend Miller’s book Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. It deals with why not only all those who care about the facts and evidence and truth, but in particular Christians, ought to find young-earth creationism utterly unworthy of the allegiance which some unfortunately misguidedly give to it.

  • Paul Burnett

    It’s a shame how some fundamentalists have made scientific illiteracy a sacrament of their religion. Their desire to force their willful ignorance on innocent children is horribly inappropriate for our 21st century technological civilization. Why would anyone want to return to the Dark Ages?

  • beau_quilter

    Well said!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

    It is somewhat heartening that, of the 20+ comments at the moment at Wellman’s blog, only one is supportive of his view.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Is he really suggesting that we determine the content of the public school curriculum based on opinion polls? Should we teach that Americans won the Revolutionary War single handed because most Americans don’t know that France fought beside us? Should we teach that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks if most Americans believe it?

  • lance Geologist

    Thank you for your blog. I am amazed that the same false statements are repeated over and over again by “creationists”. Yet there is no need to lie so much. If one take the Bible as a guide to find God as well as a moral compass then there need not be a conflict between science and God. There is NOTHING in the study of geology that denies God. The belief in God is based on faith. Science is based on observation, thus there should not be a conflict. Find God within yourself and examine the wonderful changes that have occurred to life and this Earth through the millions of years. Do good works, treat others as you want to be treated and be kind to all. If this happens there would be more peace and less conflict in this world. We all could then spend more time exploring and using the minds we have to examine our universe.

    • Consumer Unit 5012

      For self-declared ‘Biblical Literalists’, they sure take a flexible view of that whole ‘thou shalt not bear false witness’ thing.

  • judhub8

    I though some of you would give some provable information where is it? please without the smarter than you attitude if you can.

    • http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/ Dr. GS Hurd

      Information about what exactly?

      • judhub8

        just what is the article about?

        • http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/ Dr. GS Hurd

          The short item by James McGrath was about his critical response to a creationist’s blog post. The creationist, Mr. Wellman, claimed to have 5 reasons that creationism should be taught in US public schools. As I and others have shown in comments to his creationist twaddle, there is no justification for teaching creationism at all.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

          Well, since you refuse to be specific and we can only guess,
          here is a very brief summary of some of the evidence for common descent, which is what most people, expecially creationists, think of as “evolution,” (misnomered as “macro evolution”).

        • Preston Garrison

          Another good source for evidence written to be understood by non-scientists is the Resources at biologos.com.

    • Christopher R Weiss

      You carry around the evidence in your own body for evolutionary adaption.

      1. Start with your genome. Look at the fact that human chromosome 2 is a merged version of great ape chromosomes 2a and 2b down to the predicted and identifiable merge point.

      2. Look at the bizarre pathways of cranial nerves such as the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which is most grossly exaggerated in the giraffe. Compare this to the same nerve pathways in animals without necks.

      3. Look at the pathways of the vas deferens in animals with and without descended testicles. This tube loops over the urethra in animals with descended testicles.

      I could list dozens more just in the human body. Learn some comparative morphology. It is eye opening.

    • David_Evans

      On the evidence of this article I am smarter than him. Smart enough, at least, not to write confidently on a subject I am so ignorant about.

      Just one point. He writes “…yet not one set of transitional fossils revealing specie evolving into another has ever been found.”

      It’s not hard to find them. You can find a long list at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/

      Or you can read the comments to Wellman’s article.

      Or you can Google such well-known transitional forms as Tiktaalik and Ambulocetus.

      • beau_quilter

        I find it amusing that he thinks “specie” is the singular of “species”.

        • David_Evans

          So do I, but I think that’s the least of his sins.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

            Yeah, it’s a minor point but it does indicate that he has made no effort to become the least familiar with the science he sets out to declare “poor.” It’s like criticizing a translation of Caesar and mangling “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.”

            • Guest

              yes ” all of Gaul is divided in three parts..the first is the Helvetica…..”

    • guest

      Look up transitional fossils on Wikipedia. Actuallly read the article. If you won’t do that, then you don’t really want evidence. The evidence for evolution is just a google search away.
      Here’s some links to get you started:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_fossil
      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01
      http://darryl-cunningham.blogspot.co.nz/2011/06/evolution.html

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        And I actually linked to a round-up of my previous discussions on this blog, which includes specific evidence, and also recommended a book – which is a much wiser source to turn to than Wikipedia!

  • guest

    2) might be an arguement for teaching creationism in a philosophy class, but it would involve teaching criticisms of creationism as well as criticisms of evolution and I doubt he’d go for that.
    The other reasons are just laughable.

  • wfraser11

    Great article. Thanks.

  • Konrad Crist

    Excellent article. With respect to historical evidentiary scientific methods, I also note that if Mr. Wellman expects an “observer” or an observable sequence of events or process to explain or “prove” evolution, then the same standard applied to a crime scene with no witnesses would theoretically be unsolvable. I doubt that he would accept the conclusion that crimes without observers would then be, by definition, unsolvable.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      And events in the past that are important to conservative religious people would likewise be even further out of reach than the reconstruction of a modern crime. I wonder how many times it would be necessary to respond to young-earth creationist statements about Jesus with “Were you there?” before they would grasp how self-defeating that approach is.

      • Konrad Crist

        Indeed. You make a good point.

      • lance Geologist

        I have seen the reply that one needs to “observe” to be scientific. These people don’t know or choose to not know what the scientific method is.You are so very correct that the same could be said about the Bible and Jesus.I don’t know why they want a scientific analysis of the Bible.It is not a history or science book. My personal belief is that if one considers the Bible as either a history or science text then one misses the whole point,that is a path to morality, living with your neighbor and finding God.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Nicely done!


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