Proportional Time for Creationism: A Simple Solution to a Science Education Conflict

Proportional Time for Creationism: A Simple Solution to a Science Education Conflict December 31, 2011

Many have called for “equal time” for creationism in science classes, while the vast majority of people oppose such measures. But conflicts over this issue appear time and again, wasting valuable time and resources of lawmakers, courts, schoolboards, and everyone else involved.

In a comment on Facebook, Ed Babinski suggested a brilliant solution that both sides should find acceptable: proportional time for evolution and creationism.

The process of evolution has taken roughly 4 billion years. Young-earth creationists say that everything was made in the form in which we now find it in six days. Ed’s suggestion? Simply apportion time proportional to the amount of time each viewpoint says was involved in the formation of life into its present form. Since evolution involves a longer time period, it is only natural that one will spend more time explaining and exploring it.

The first step in calculating the appropriate proportions of time to be spent on each is to multiply 4 billion by 365, so that one is working with days on both sides. Then place the 6 days of creationism over the 1,460,000,000,000 days of evolution. Converted to a decimal, this is 4.10958904 × 10-12, or .00000000000410958904.

Keeping that number handy, we then calculate how much time a biology class in a public school will spend on evolution. While the majority of high school biology teachers spend between 3 and 15 hours on evolution, those who consider it important may spend as much as 18.5 hours on it. Let’s maximize the time for everyone and go with the higher end of the spectrum.

If one devotes 18 hours of class time to evolution, then all one has to do to calculate the proportional amount of time to spend on creationism is multiply by the decimal we calculated earlier.

18 x  .00000000000410958904 = 0.000000000073971

One then multiplies by 60 to calculate minutes, and again to calculate seconds, with a result of 0.0000002662956

Rounding up to the nearest whole unit of time, that means that roughly one millisecond of class time should be devoted to creationism.

Obviously, if a teacher spends less than 18 hours on evolution, then to be fair, they really ought to reduce the amount of time spent on creationism proportionately. However, as an act of generosity on the part of the supporters of evolution, given that they will be getting the vast preponderance of class time, I would argue that creationism simply be given a millisecond across the board, even by those spending significantly less than 18 hours on evolution.

As it happens, the proportion also seems to do justice to the amount of evidence for each viewpoint.

And so this seems like a doubly fair solution. What do others think? Would this be acceptable to all parties?


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  • Cliff Martin

    Well, I don’t know how reasonable Bab’s solution is. I’d propose another that could get some traction.

    99+% of biologists accept evolutionary natural history. Less than 1% deny it. So, for every two hours (or so) of evolution instruction, we’d allow a 1 minute mention for Creationism.

    So, if a biology class had a 10 week section on evolution instruction, that would yield about 25 minutes of “proportional time” for Creation. The only trouble with this solution is finding enough meaningful material to fill the 25 minutes.

  • aar9n

    Cliff- Reading Genesis one out of the KJV very, very, slowly.

    If creationism is given “equal time” in schools, then so should the Demonic possession theory of disease. 

  • Reyjacobs

    The solution is that in the science classroom we need practical science to be taught.  We are behind the rest of the world in our science education precisely because we insist that science is about the origin of the human race rather than how to harness nature to improve our way of life.  It idiotic.

  • TLFitz

    I think Creationism would work wonderfully in the science classroom as an example of how NOT to do science. Plenty of evidence for that.

    • RadconPU83

      Indeed, I use it as a way to recall what we learned at the beginning of the year about the process of science and what makes something “true” science as apposed to “junk” science.

  • Gary

    Leviticus 14 should be taught in medical schools.

  • Michael Wilson

    Maybe just an acknowladgement that some people maintain tradtional beleifs about the creation of the world or feel that the cosmos is directed by intelligence? beyond that I don’t feel their is a need to spell out anyones particular view.

    • Kaylee6

      When I was in high school biology, the teacher addressed the issue. He said that some people believe a supreme being or beings created the universe, and that it was perfectly okay to believe so, and that we were free to research the many stories on our own, because some of them are quite interesting. But he was going to cover what was in the textbook. Please note this was in the early 90s, before the term “intelligent design” was being tossed around by the general public.

  • There’s these Christian fundamentalists, the ones who are trying to get creationism taught in school as a science. I think it would be great because it would definitely be the shortest class of the day. “Welcome to creationist science. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day he rested. See ya at the final!” — Bill Hicks (comedian)

  • To stretch the chronology of Genesis a bit, creationists are willing to admit
    there are mini-gaps in the genealogies of Genesis that total several
    thousand years. But why, if God directly inspired Moses to write those
    genealogies, should there be any gaps at all? —  J. Mattill, Jr., The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs (enlarged edition)

  • Mark Henderson

    I’m sorry, but I’m still for not allowing creationism to be taught in schools, period. Science isn’t a democracy, meant to be broadcast in as general and inclusive terms as possible, allowing for the people to decide what is fact and what is not; in the end, facts prevail unless people aren’t able to decipher the difference between the two, and that’s EXACTLY what teaching creationism is setting out to do.

    Since the early 60’s, the push for teaching creationism in classrooms has fought to blur the lines between fantasy and reality in attempts to force indoctrination of our children in our schools, yet nowhere has there ever been a single case of any scientific organization or lab or think tank fighting to have evolution taught in Sunday School, Catechism, Bible Study, Sermon, Mass, Mission, Retreat, or any of the other numerous tools the church has to perpetrate its doctrine among the stupid masses.

    I’m sick of it, I’ve had enough, and many other people agree, and we see evidence of that in every court case that’s reported, in every debacle involving a school coming under attack by the church for not allowing them to teach false science in their creation doctrine, every time the media shines the light on another devious attempt at brainwashing our kids.  It’s time every sane member of our communities puts their foot down and stands up to their bully churches and stops their march on our liberty to learn PROPER science.

    • I apologize if it was at all unclear to you that this post was intended as a tongue-in-cheek turning of the creationist appeals for “fairness” back on them, and not a serious attempt to advocate for giving creationism an actual millisecond of time in science classes.

  • WillBell

    This is the system used on wikipedia already in Evidence for Common descent.

  • Kristin Harley

    My high school chem teacher, as we were getting into organic chem (I am and was an atheist at this point, so the “God help mes” uttered were purely metaphorical as we contemplated carbon chains) told us that if we wrote “Goddidit,” we would get an F – and if God took his class, wrote “Ididit,” he would also flunk, because it was not an explanation.

    However, I also propose a proportion based upon how much evidence supports evolution versus creationism. Of course, that could be a replaying of Kitzmiller (“The biology class you wish you had had”).

  • pcolsen

    At my rate of speech, devoting 1 millisecond to creationism might allow me to say the first part of “cr”.  Let’s allow enough for the entire letter pair.  I could steal some time from the evolutionary part of the course, say “ap”, and give the entire subject of creationism all the attention it deserves.

  • D Doerfler

     I propose equal treatment in class- each one should be evaluated scientifically:  spend one or two classes to present the theory of creationism, then examine ALL the scientific evidence for and against. Then spend however many weeks it takes to look at the evidence for Evolution.
     This should dis-abuse most all students of any belief in creationism.

    • D Doerfler, I think you make an important point. In my (university) classes I have been focusing more attention on the skills of identifying reliable, credible sources of information. Nowadays people turn to the internet for answers and so the big question is whether they can spot pseudoscience, pseudohistory and other forms of junk information. Using a concrete example of something that masquerades as science/history/medicine and helping students to understand how it differs from something reliable in that field may be the most helpful thing an educator can do, and may be more effective than ignoring the imposters.

  • Alison Yessick

    Creationism should NEVER be in any science class, but if it ever is taught, just say: 

    You guys claim your god created all this crap, then he got pissed  & was sorry he made your sinful asses, so he commited the biggest abortion of all time by drowning everyone…blah,blah, blah, ad nauseum.

    I think your god needs to get back on his bipolar medication.  Class over.

  • Ephraim7

    The evolution theory is an irrational falsehood, embraced by atheists, that is a
    phony conclusion of the 600+ million fossil record.  There is no valid
    “supporting data” for evolution.  In a court of law, or in a public forum, the
    same evidence that evolutionists would use to try to “prove” that false theory,
    I would utilize to reveal the truth of Genesis.    In order to believe in
    evolution, you have to purposely ignore certain facts of reality.  For example,
    when you see illustrations of primates being pictured as evolving into humans,
    it can be shown in a court of law that such a premise is impossible, because
    certain human and primate traits are different, and could not have ever been
    shared. The only “common ancestor” that humans and primates share is God

    Creationism can’t be taught in science class, ONLY BECAUSE there is
    no one in any school system that is qualified to teach Biblical Creation.  The
    doctrines of current Creationism are both false (old earth), and foolish (young
    Earth).  Both creationist views misrepresent the Genesis text, and should not be
    part of any curriculum.  The point I’m making is that part of the subject matter
    in biology science class is the advent and extinction of past life forms on
    Earth, which Creationism does not address.   But without offering an opposing
    view, schools are brainwashing students with the tenets of Atheism, which is
    both unconstitutional to be state sponsored, and evil. 

    Current Creationism
    is ignorant of the Genesis text, and either teaches foolishness (young Earth),
    or false doctrines (non-literal reading of the text).  Creationists foolishly
    try to prove “Creationism”, rather than seeking and teaching the truth of
    Genesis.  How can an untruth, ever prove another lie, to be in error?   You
    can’t do it.  That is why Creationism fails.  It essentially is also a lie, and
    should be discarded.

    The correct opposing view to evolution is the
    “Observations of Moses”.  It properly conveys what God was showing Moses, and
    explains the text of Genesis chapter one.


  • Edwinthomas01

    If its in the bible, it must be true.  And 2 Chronicles (describing the “molton sea” as: 10 cubits across, and 30 cubits around), will make the math much easier for students. because pi will =3.00!!  Course our cars will ride really bumppy (because the wheels will all be hexagons!!)

    Creationism has been shown to be nothing but disguised religion time after time.  When do we tell the charlatans and liars, “enough is enough”?  Their arguments have been debunked, disproven, thrown out and shown to be utterly worthless for decades.  Yet, every year we welcome the creationists (and their tired littanies of lies, distortions and half-truths) to our legislatures, front pages, tv screens, and school boards.  When will we learn??

  • Monado

    Ephraim7, if you think that the presence of derived characteristics after a species split invalidates evolution, you don’t understand evolution. Go back to school on it because your argument fails.

  • Monado

    And by the way, Ephraim, your creation myths get no more credence from the rational world than other religions’ creation myths get from you.