Distorting the Truth of Creation: Educators Should Understand the Facts
Anti-creationists' efforts to distort the motives and goals of the "scientific creationists" have dominated the educational literature, influenced the courts, and polarized the media. It is about time that someone who has been involved in all phases of the development of science education and in this debate from its early years be heard.
The question of origins, of evolution or creation, is one of the most exciting questions to hit education in American history; it has all the ingredients for promoting good science and good education. It is concept-loaded, and above all, it enhances critical thinking. But students today are being taught that the only way science can view the origin of life is through an evolution model that is "random, mechanistic, and naturalistic," as evolutionists say. Certainly there is nothing wrong with evolution as a model or framework within which scientific information can be correlated and integrated, but to say that it is the only model and that the creation model cannot correlate and integrate scientific information as well, does not coincide with scientific knowledge.
The nature of science and education in science requires an open and inquiring approach to the question of creation versus evolution (and any other question that attempts to resolve itself in science). We should look upon it as an opportunity to stimulate thought, not as an obstacle to thought.
When anti-creation groups call evolution the only idea available to science they are distorting the concept's potential value. Either they do not know what the data reveal and the predictive power of that data, or else they are deliberately deceiving educators throughout the world. Educators should know that some of the most open attacks on evolutionary dogma come from great men in science, and it is from these men that creationists take note of the religious nature of the evolutionary paradigm. Strangely, testimony from these men is distinctly absent from anti-creationists' writings. Here are examples of some evolutionists writings:
- In a 1967 article on evolution in Nature, Paul Ehrlich, a biologist at Stanford University and L.C. Birch of the University of Sydney wrote, "Our theory of evolution has become ... one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus 'outside of empirical science' but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training."
- L. Harrison Matthews, author of the introduction to a 1971 British edition of Darwin's Origin of the Species wrote: "The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded upon an unproved theory--is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation--both are concepts which believers know to be true, but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof."
- In a lecture last fall at the American Museum of Natural History, Colin Patterson, a senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History, stated: "I myself, took that view [that the evolutionist's view was a rationalist's view which had replaced an irrationalist's view] up until about 18 months ago. Then I woke up and realized that all my life I had been duped into taking evolution as revealed truth in some way."
These men, and others, are helping us to gain a new perspective on the subject of origins. Certainly in the light of these statements, evolution cannot be considered to be a fact. Even its status as a scientific theory can be challenged. In his lecture, Mr. Patterson said that he posed this question to the geology staff of the Field Museum of Natural History: "Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, any one thing that is true?" He also posed this question to a prestigious body of evolutionists at the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar at the University of Chicago. The answer he received from both groups was silence, until one member of the morphology group spoke up and said: "I do know one thing--it ought not to be taught in high school."
Scientific creationists disagree. We think that evolution should be taught, but only when its strengths and weaknesses are discussed in comparison with the scientific merits of creation. We have come full circle; the evolutionists are taking just the stand that creationists took over 120 years ago. Perhaps it is about time that we all learned that it is wrong to suppress evidence and teach only one view of origins as the evolutionists now demand.
Both models of origins are paradigms and neither is more scientific or more religious than the other. Teachers must be allowed to realize this without the fear of being demeaned by a vocal minority of self-styled, so-called experts in the wisdom of science. Both teachers and students must have this freedom if today's schools are going to develop the decision-makers that we like to boast about. Open inquiry can solve the problem of teaching origins if the proper skills of scientific inquiry are taught and used.
Creationists have been accused of making statements about evolution and its relation to communism and fascism, and yet the accusers make the same kinds of statements and draw inferences about the consequences of giving equal time to creationists. For example, in the Commentary pages of the Jan. 26 issue of Education Week, Gerald Skoog writes: "Policymakers and educators cannot fall prey to this rationale. Equal time is not necessarily a fair or educationally sound procedure. A policy providing equal time could result in a biology curriculum that includes the view, held by the Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan, that different ethnic groups had a separate creation."
Not only are such statements intended to scare the educator, they are false. The question of evolution and creation is easily resolved when professional teachers are able to rise above their biases and confine themselves to teaching the 'process skills' of science and scientific inquiry. From this point on, the decision-maker, the critical thinker, is the student. Unfortunately, we refuse to let students be decision-makers in this matter.
It is often said that the content of the science curriculum must be selected data that explain the natural world scientifically and that have the ability to unify, illuminate, and integrate other facts, as Mr. Skoog wrote. Does the evolution model do this any better than the creation model? I think not. Hubert P. Yockey, writing in the Journal of Systematic Biology in 1981 has this to say about the question of origins: "Since science has not the vaguest idea of how life originated on earth, whether life existed anywhere else, or whether little green men pullulate in our galaxy, it would be honest to admit this to our students, the agencies funding research, and the public. ... It is new knowledge not another clever scenario that is needed to achieve an understanding of the origin of life."
It is not the scientific creationists who are to be blamed for misinformation in science, it is the anti-creationists--those who have their whole world view tied up in evolutionary theory and are unwilling to concede that there could be an alternative in the creation model.
Scientific creationists and others are proposing a two-model approach to the origin of life that will not only stimulate scientific thought among students, but in fact, will increase their motivation toward this subject. The creationists should not be accused of bias and mind programming when they offer a model of equal scientific and philosophical stature. If evolution is so certain, then what is there to be afraid of in this matter? Some evolutionists seem to be saying, by their passionate resistance to the creation model, that they are afraid that their model will not stand up. They say that arguing with a Creator is a no-win situation. By the same token, can't the creationist say that arguing with a model that can be made to fit any data is also a no-win situation? Why not let the students decide this matter?
What happens when the question of evolution is put to a practical test of molecules, numbers, and the spark of life? Recently two great men of science, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, placed the whole question of the origin of even the spark of life under the scrutiny of mathematics and molecular probability, according to a report last August in the London Daily Express. As they reported in Nature, after years of independent study they both came to the same conclusion, the chances were only one out of 10 that this would ever happen by naturalistic, mechanistic processes on this earth in five billion years. According to them, even multiple billions of years wouldn't produce discreet living systems. Now, who is exercising the greatest faith, the evolutionist or the creationist? Both of these previous evolutionary agnostics, by their own statements, have now come to the conclusion that they must continue to explore the realms of science through a God-centered framework, rather than the framework of the random processes of evolution.
Isn't it reasonable to allow our students the same right to hear and explore all sides of a question in a nonsectarian framework and to change their minds if they choose, just like these men and many other scientists have done? What is it that compels some educators to want to deny them this exciting opportunity? Sectarianism should and can be kept out of the classroom and inquiry brought in. Professional teachers must be taught to rise above their biases in our teacher training institutions.
It has often been said that "scientific creation" is a contradiction in terms. But when one asks a creationist about D.N.A., the fossils, the second law of thermodynamics, or any other subject related to the origin of life, he responds by discussing the scientific evidences and their logical interpretations. Strangely enough, it is invariably the evolutionist that is all too anxious to discuss the religion of evolution.
I submit then that every teacher, every student, every parent should have the opportunity to explore both models as a framework within which one can correlate scientific information without fear of retribution of any kind.
To quote from the National Academy of Sciences resolution of April 1976, "An Affirmation of Freedom of Inquiry and Expression:"
"... That the search for knowledge and understanding of the physical universe and of the living things that inhabit it should be conducted under conditions of intellectual freedom, without religious, political, or ideological restrictions.... That freedom of inquiry and dissemination of ideas require that those so engaged be free to search where their inquiry leads ... without political censorship and without fear of retribution in consequence of unpopularity of their conclusions. Those who challenge existing theories must be protected from retaliatory reactions."
Vol. 01, Issue 27, Page 24