Does creationism belong in public school?

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September 2006

 

A friend recently emailed me all the letters and Forum articles that appeared in the Midland Daily News since April. From my perspective, the writers are not writing about the same thing.

Faith

            The first and most important topic that needs to be addressed when discussing whether creationism or intelligent design should be taught in our public schools is faith. Faith is very much the opposite of science.

            Faith is acceptance as truth something that cannot be proven. It is very real, but it is based on experience rather than the physical world.

            We have faith on a purely human level, when we say “I have faith in you” to a friend who is undergoing some struggle in life. It jumps to a higher level when we say we believe in a Being that is beyond our physical reach, whom we normally call God.

            The human understanding of God is so shrouded in anthropomorphic terms that it is hard to distinguish between what is being said about God because we are human and who God really is.

Science is based on factual evidence and interpretation of those facts. They can be interpreted using analysis as well as accepted scientific theory to draw conclusions.  That’s why scientists continue to do research, and why scientific discoveries continue to happen.

The Bible

            We people have numerous beliefs that flow from our faith in God (or lack thereof). One of the Christian expressions of our faith in God is faith that the Bible is the Word of God. There is nothing in the Bible that even remotely suggests that God made a list of writings that belong in the Bible and said that He was the author of them. Our belief in the Bible as the Word of God comes from a declaration of bishops in the 4th century (a more definitive list came later). Before then, the Bible did not exist! So Paul’s reference to “scriptures” in 2 Timothy (written in the first century) is general, not referring to the Bible.

            Even though we refer to the Bible as a “book”, it is actually a compilation of numerous books of various literary styles and forms.None of the books of the Bible are history, as we think of history, even though manyof them refer to historical events.

There is much of the Bible that is myth. A myth is a story told to convey a message, in tis case religious truth about God or humans.

            No one was present at the creation of the world with a pen and pad of paper or a tape recorder. The first chapter of Genesis tells the story of creation in six days, but in chapter 2 there is quite a different story of creation. Which one is true to what really happened? It doesn’t matter, because both stories stem from different sources of hundreds of years of oral tradition and each conveys a beautiful message that God created the world and human beings. Both of these stories are myth.

Evolution

            Evolution is a scientific theory that purports to explain the many varieties of species and life on this planet and how they came to be. It has nothing to do with the origin of the world because science is not about ultimate realities. It is about what can be seen, analyzed, dissected (sometimes) and tested. It has to do with this world as we sense it. Evolution is a scientific theory.  As such it should be taught in the science classroom.

            Creationism is not science nor is intelligent design. These two subjects do not belong in the science classroom. They shouldn’t even be taught in the public schools at all, because they are based on faith.

As a Christian, I don’t believe in the literal interpretation of myths, but I am quite fascinated that the days of creation show a progression in the complexity of life over the six days, not quite the same as the scientific theory of evolution, but evolving nonetheless. Even the ancient writers knew somehow that life evolved from the simple to complex.  As a person of faith, I believe that there is a God who created the world and all that is in it, but I leave the details to God.

Response

Before you respond by writing a letter to the paper or emaling me or responding on line, please think about the difference between faith and science.  Can the two come together in an amicable way? Absolutely, that’s the duty of parents, not the job of the public school teachers.

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