It sounds unbelievable, but the latest advocate for teaching creationism in public-school science classrooms is Michael Reiss, who is director of education for one of the western world’s great bulwarks of science, the Royal Society. He wrote in the (UK) Guardian:

Teachers need to accommodate the differing world views of students from Jewish, Christian or Muslim backgrounds — which means openly discussing creationism and intelligent design as alternatives to evolutionary theory

Reiss’s justification for this is, in a word, bizarre:

Evolution and cosmology are understood by many to be a religious issue because they can be seen to contradict the accounts of origins of life and the universe described in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Scriptures. The issue seems like an ongoing dispute that has science and religion battling to support the credibility of their explanations.

I feel that creationism is best seen by science teachers not as a misconception but as a world view.

Reiss is saying that because the religionazis of the world have defined evolution and cosmology as being their purview — merely by virtue of their holding metaphysical beliefs about them — that we are required to capitulate to this claim and allow their metaphysics to creep into science in return.

This is simply wrong, however. I’m well aware that believers truly consider themselves somehow “credentialed” as authorities on these subjects for the sole reason that they believe themselves to have such credentials … but they are not, in fact, so credentialed. It is therefore not in any way appropriate to act as though they have such credentials. Only scientists possessing the credentials to do so — and educators trained in science — are capable of deciding what is or isn’t science. Shoving creationism into public-school classrooms simply indulges believers’ mistaken, arrogant claim of possessing scientific credentials, and does nothing to correct the problem.

The answer to clearing up the minds of the young is not to allow the “forces of darkness,” to reimpose medieval thinking on humanity. No, the answer is, instead, to tell believers that their “faith” is not sufficient to allow them to determine what is or isn’t science — and if they don’t like it, well, too bad, no one said they had to like it.

Lastly, I agree with Reiss that creationism is a worldview … but that is precisely why it cannot be mixed with science. There are lots of worldviews, not all of them deserve a hearing in science classrooms. That the earth is flat, not spherical, is a worldview that a few, even today, hold to — but it should not be taught as science. I do not expect Reiss would propose the flat-earth notion to be taught in science classrooms … so why he would want creationism there, I have no idea.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.