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Teaching Creationism Ok, Just Not As Science

February 8, 2011

ASHEHAM PRESS OP-ED ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I read a bumper sticker last month that said, “And on what day did God create the dinosaurs?” I giggled at its cleverness.

Evolution and creationism have been at odds with each other since Darwin wrote, Origin of the Species, and even before. I ascribe to evolution. I do so because there is an abundance of evidence that before we were here, humans that is, other relevant life existed for many millions of years. Fossils are the key to understanding those forms of life. I started collecting fossils when I was a kid. My backyard had a whole bunch of plant fossils on the back slope. I have some really cool ones on my book shelf that I have collected over the years. Carbon dating tells us how old these fossils are, that life on Earth goes back many millions and millions of years. We have named the ages and epochs that preceded modern human history: The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 12,000 years BP that spans the world’s recent period of repeated glaciations.

The Paleolithic (or Palaeolithic) Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of the first stone tools, and covers roughly 99% of human technological history. It extends from the introduction of stone tools by hominids such as Australopithecines 2.5 or 2.6 million years ago, to the introduction of agriculture and the end of the Pleistocene around 12,000 BP. The Paleolithic era is followed by the Mesolithic.

The Earth is around 4.6 billion years old. How it came into being is postulated by the big bang theory. And whether that theory is right or wrong, the question still begs: from whence did everything come? No one has that answer. Religion, science, and philosophy helps us grapple with this universal question. And if we say, God made everything. We still have questions about God. What is it? Who is it? What is it’s motives? Why does it allow suffering and death? It is an endless array of questions – an endless quest to try to know the unknowable. This is why there are so many different approaches to understanding what life is all about: various scientific theorizing, various religious faiths, and various philosophical beliefs.

I have no problem with teaching Creationism in schools as long as it is taught as a religion, or a byproduct of religious thought. In fact, I think we should teach children about ALL the world’s religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and all the major philosophies. It would help children better understand that there is a wide range of beliefs and yet there is a commonality in that diversity, and thus we would promote awareness, empathy, understanding and tolerance. There is room for Creationism as long as it is taught in the context in which belongs – religion. Evolution, on the other hand, is a scientific theory and it is taught in its proper context – science. To pit one against the other does no one any good and sets up a false argument. Why can’t we say for instance, that there is a power beyond our comprehension that gave rise to life on our planet and put into motion the creation of the universe and its process maybe evolution. That is not so radical. That is not sacrilegious. In fact, it brings us closer to our Earth and helps us to appreciate its rarity and magnificence. I choose the contemplative approach. I see everything as a manifestation of creation, of the ever expanding, convulsing universe. I have no answers – I only feel its power. That is what life is, a small fragment of creative and destructive power; an extension of greater consciousness beyond our comprehension. We are born and we die. The power of creation and destruction takes place in every single human being. The power of life runs through us all. Why? I do not know, and as in Tao, “He who professes to know, knows not; and he who does not profess to know, knows.” It’s a paradox. I know there are no answers to the breadth of infinity, or the length of eternity… and in that not-knowing I am acknowledging the great Way. That is Tao, the Way; the Way of all things; the Way of nature. If we can only get out of our own way, our shadow, we can see the greater Way. Then, it is a matter of going with the flow.

Related NY Times report:

Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.

The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to “believe” in it. Others treat evolution as if it applied only on a molecular level, avoiding any discussion of the evolution of species. And a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs.

Eric Plutzer, a co-author of the paper, said that the most enthusiastic proponents of creationism were geographically widely spread across the country.

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  1. September 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    The Virgin Birth taught as scientific fact in public schools:

    http://arthuriandaily.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/scientific-proof-of-the-virgin-birth/

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