Putting religion in schools to defend evolution?

John West, an Intelligent Design proponent, writes that religious liberals and even secularists are injecting religion into public school classrooms. They do this by promoting varieties of theology that are warmer toward biological evolution than ID.

West might have a point. I don’t trust ID people— in my experience, they’re not reliable sources, putting their disagreeable spin on everything they talk about. And I’m way out of my depth when it comes to any law-related issue. But there is still something troubling about this.

Religion is the biggest source of resistance to evolution, and promoting more liberal religiosity is the only realistic way to deflect this resistance. So, for the sake of easing a major headache for science education, I’m inclined to say that sure, liberal religious statements about evolution can only help in the classroom. But in a more strictly secularist mood, I also want to say that I want all religion out of science education. I probably shouldn’t make exceptions for theologies that ease headaches.

I don’t know where I stand on this, really.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09556854691370895429 manson48

    Increasingly divided demographics solves the issue at hand. Our cultural differences are simply too vast to put any singular pious tone on the popular areas of science.

    While the religious zealots of yesterday scorned evolution with the borrowed vengeance of their creator, the same zealots must be careful in the diverse cultural dynamics of today’s class rooms.

    In this sense, religion and it’s dividers is a disease unto itself. When racial differences were largely black and white and both were born again Christians, the future looked bright for ID inclusion in classrooms.

    However, today this notion, born of an illfated ideology, would fail under it’s own flaws. When Allah met Jehova in science 101, Buddha would be less than enlightened. JM

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09468191085576922813 David B. Ellis

    I don’t know where I stand on this, really.

    Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    The public school classroom is not the place to promote religious views of any sort—conservative or liberal—it makes no difference.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09468191085576922813 David B. Ellis

    There is, however, one gray area I can think of. Its probably not unusual when covering evolution for a student to ask about the relation of evolution to the existence of God—whether evolution is atheistic and the like.

    Under those circumstances I don’t think it would be inappropriate to point out the believing in evolution does not necessarily entail that one not believe in God and that many theists have no problem accepting evolution as a fact.

    This is very different from promoting a religious ideology and I wouldn’t even bring up the subject unless asked about it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    DBE said: Its probably not unusual when covering evolution for a student to ask about the relation of evolution to the existence of God—whether evolution is atheistic and the like.

    Subject never came up in my school – the God thing that is….. but I agree that its pretty much the only time God should be mentioned in *science* class.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I’m in two minds about this too. On the one hand, teaching ‘about religion’ can easily be used by someone as an opportunity to present things in a one sided way. On the other hand, it is only when people are made aware that, even though the English translation they read may smooth things over, Genesis 1 mentions a ‘dome’ and other things that no one alive today believes is a factual description of the sky. And unless we can change people’s thinking about religion, in particular their conviction that it is a question of choosing between a meaningful existence and religion or a meaningless one and science, then all the scientific evidence in the world will still have a hard time getting through to many of those who feel most strongly about these issues.


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