Teaching (Was: Re: Final Textbook Insert)

George Murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 08:26:04 -0500

Steven Schimmrich wrote:
> The idea of glueing a "warning label" to the inside cover of a textbook is
> repugnant to me. The idea of government getting involved in deciding what is
> and isn't science based on the pressures of special interest groups
> (young-earth
> creationists) is a dangerous precedent in my opinion. .............................
IMHO the entire way that this issue of evolution & creation in
public schools has been dealt with has been wrong. Instead of warning
people about evolution or teaching "creation" as a scientific competitor
of "evolution", let's try the following:
1) Teach about evolution in a biology class, with due note of
problem areas _and_ with a statement that evolution has implications
beyond pure biology, that it has been a subject of _religious and
social_ controversy, and that this issues will be dealt with in another
2) Have a course (perhaps required for anyone who takes the
preceding biology class) called something like "Religious Beliefs about
Creation" - or perhaps do this as part of a broader course teaching
_about_ religion. This could deal with:
3) The Genesis creation accounts & their importance for
Judaism, Christianity, & Islam & subsequent culture. literature, &c.
4) The fact that many members of those religious communities
believe Genesis to provide an accurate historical &/or scientific
account of origins, and that they do not believe that there is adequate
scientific evidence to support evolutionary theory.
5) The fact that many members of these communities believe
Genesis to be true & authoritative but _not_ chronicle-like accounts of
origins. (This would provide some opportunity to teach about literary
types, &c.) These people think that evolution can be consistent with
their religious beliefs.
6) Perhaps some attention to other religious traditions,
depending in part on the makeup of the school. (But you can't cover
7) Some history of the subject, with _accurate_ (not "Inherit
the Wind") treatment of the Scopes trial &c.
8) Discussion of social, political &c implications of beliefs -
& non-beliefs - in creation and providence.
9) The nature of the course would be made very clear at the
beginning & throughout: It teachs about religious beliefs and their
implications, but does not teaching a particular religion, or even
general "belief in God", as the true religion. Students would be
allowed to express their own beliefs on these issues in appropriately
civil ways.
I can see no reason why such an approach would run afoul of the
law. It seems to me a sensible approach in today's American society.
Now all someone has to do is implement it!
George Murphy