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Origins Teaching in the Public Schools




Ellen Myers

In 1986 a study was conducted in the state of Ohio on high school biology teachers by Dr Michael Zimmerman of Oberlin College He found that no less than 376 percent of the teachers responding to h s survey thought that creationism should oe taught in public schools, and over 25 percent thought the science classroom was the proper place to do so Dr. Zimmerman also found that creationism was actually being taught in 19 percent of public high school biology courses. in 40 percent of private non-sectarian schools, and in 67 percent of private sectarian schools. This meant that 22 percent of Ohio high school students were receiving creationist teaching in their science classes. In addition, 12 percent of Ohio nigh school biology courses excluded evolution entirely, more than twice the national average in 1942. Finally, Dr. Zimmerman noted that only very few teachers he surveyed treated evolution "as a theme running throughout their entire course

The national secular humanist establishment was alarmed by these findings, doubtless not unique for Ohio. ts dismay was aggravated by the fact that the Ohio study preceded the June 1987 U.S Supreme Court rejection of the Louisiana statute granting balanced treatment of creation and evolution in Louisiana public schools. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court majority actually struck down the Louisiana law in part because "requiring the teaching of creation science with evolution does not give schoolteachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life." In other words, the Ohio situation is perfectly legal.

In Kansas the Wichita Eagle-Beacon published a study of origins teaching in connection with the Arkansas statute then being argued before the U.S. District Court in Little Rock In the Eagle-Beacon article of November 9, 1980 three Wichita public school science teachers were interviewed. All three presented evidences 00th for and against evolution in their classrooms. The Mid-Kansas Branch Chapter of the Bible-Science Association thereupon presented a unanimous resolution to the Wichita school board in which it commended the three teachers for their open-minded, fair and objective teaching on origins, as they presented in their classes (a) the scientific difficulties inherent in the evolution model, and (o) the main points of creationist alternative interpretations of scientific data The resolution also thanked the school board and school administration "for providing the proper climate of academic freedom and integrity of education in which such open-minded, fair and Objective teaching on origins is carried on." This resolution was personally presented to the school board at its official meeting on January 5, 1981.

According to chapter members, similar academic freedom on origins teaching also existed in other Kansas public school systems at that time. Such conditions still exist today as shown by a state survey in the Wichita Eagle-Beacon of June 20.1987. A few public school people, it is true, wanted creationism totally excluded from classroom discussion in order to avoid any reference to the Bible or "sectarian religious beliefs," However. a recent survey of all Kansas certified science teachers by the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers showed to the surprise and distress of its author that a "large number of respondents .. did indicate they do teach or discuss it creationism]."

Even more growth of this trend should be expected due to a number of reasons. First, a veritable arsenal of teaching materials exposing the deficiencies of evolutionism is now available, from books to videos to overheads. Second, the number of disillusioned evolutionists with fine scientific credentials is growing and publishing For one Norman MacBeth in the 19605 we now have many like Francis Hitchings, Michael Denton, Sir Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Colin Patterson and so on who will not be overlooked or silenced. Third, the split in the evolutionist camp between Darwinists, saltationists ('punctuated equilibrium" advocates), and the unscientific but vocal Telihardian cosmic evolutionists can only help creationists. With regard to the cosmic evolutionists, we must keep in mind that their thought goes back to the counterculture of the 19605, whose members may now be teaching in the public schools and have no loyalty to strictly materialist varieties of establishment philosophy. This is a factor the older generation of secular humanists has not yet recognized.

Lastly, an ever growing number of creationists and their families are determined to stand up and be counted in spite of traditional evolutionist ridicule or silent treatment, or even discrimination and persecution. The tens of thousands reached through the public debates which evolutionists by and large have lost, through the flood of creationist literature and through personal witness are now reaching their own tens of thousands. The creationist message spreads in myriads of ways, like brown bag lunches on secular university campuses, a creation oriented magazine in the waiting room of Christian doctors, through many hundreds or thousands of student papers, speeches or debates in the classroom (not only science but also speech, English, social studies etc.), heated discussions in factory and business cafeterias, and 50 on, Every fall and spring even a relatively little known organization like the Creation Social Science and Humanities Society receives dozens of requests for creationist materials from public school students all over the United States and Canada. Add to this other creationist activities like running candidates for local school boards, letters to local newspapers, the donation of important creationist books to local libraries and, of course, the continued booking of top creationist spokes men like Henry Morris, Duane Gish, the Australian firebrand Ken Ham, and so on, drawing their thousands at each tour despite the news media's censorship by studied silence and it becomes clear that short of outright legal censoring creationist teaching will stay and expand

Yet such legal censoring would be a virtual declaration of bankruptcy, and it would also be ineffective. What can evolutionists really do against those formerly in their own ranks who expose the fatal scientific shortcomings of evolution? Will they censor from school or college classroom the works of Michael Denton, Sir Fred Hoyle, Jeremy Rifkin and so on (who cannot be accused of a biblical bias)? No, the flexibility of schoolteachers "to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories, besides evolution, about the origin of life," sanctioned by the U.S Supreme Court, is the breach in the evolutionist citadel's wall which they cannot repair. And it is the good teachers, the informed and inquiring teachers and students who will insist upon their freedom to attack and demolish if need be the obsolete, tottering evolutionist model, and to admit sound arguments and evidence even though it be in favor of creationism.

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