My Senior Paper
Creation vs. Evolution in School
In the beginning was creation, and then came Darwin who discovered evolution. Ever since there has been a dispute over which theory is true, and which should be taught in the school system. Both theories have been taught as fact and both have been found not to be completely factual. Decisions need to be made on which theory should be taught in public schools and how both can be presented giving credit to each.
Creation was the first reason given to how we came to be on this planet. It gives credit to an infinite and all knowing source, God. This was written in the bible specifically in Genesis with Mosses being the author. The bible gives details to the order that creation took but is fuzzy on how long it took to create the earth. The bible says six days but it also says one day is as one thousand years, and one thousand years as one day to God (II Peter 3:8), so it is hard to tell exactly how long it took in this theory. In the bible it says that God created the world with words, God said, “Let there be light.” And there was. (Genesis 1:3) It doesn’t say how he did this but it doesn’t have to, it is God. For the people who believe in God this is the best and most trusted theory. (Howerter, pg.1) In contrast, the people who need a more scientific theory to our origins can turn to evolution.
Charles Darwin was an observational man who put the ideas he saw on the Galapagos Islands in his book called “Origin of the Species.” (Howerter, pg.1) He noticed that the birds on the island were all finches but were different in many ways. The finches had different beaks, colors, and behaviors. Darwin wondered how all the traits came to be from one species. The scientific definition of Evolution is “an unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.” (Robinson, What is Evolution pg.2) Natural selection is the primary mechanism driving evolutionary change. It is caused by variations, which exist within a species due to differences in the genetic makeup of its individual members. This causes some individuals to be more likely to thrive in a given environment, and to produce offspring like themselves. (Robinson, What is Evolution pg.2) Which is simply survival of the fittest. These theories counteract creation.
Creation has been around for a really long time, much longer than evolution. It is based upon the bible’s interpretation of the origins of all things. Creation, until recently, wasn’t rejected. (Howerter, pg.2) One of the first controversies of the creation theory wasn’t until the late 18th century. (Robinson, History of the Conflict pg.1) The controversy resulted when Geologists started to realize that the once thought notion of Bishop Ussher’s 4004-BC estimate of the earth’s age wasn’t possible. Ellen G. White, an early prophet of the Seventh-day Adventists, reacted to the debate about the fossil record of past species by stating that they were deposited by the flood. (Robinson, History of conflict pg1.) This was a good argument until geology became more advanced. The geologic column was explored further and new discoveries made.
If creation were true the fossil record, from bottom to top, would be primarily composed of progressively larger species. But every so often there would be the occasional mixture of species, for example humans with dinosaurs and maple trees with Cycad trees. Species would be somewhat mixed. The very bottom layers of the Fossil Record would include signs of human habitation. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science, pg.4) The human habitation being what was destroyed by the flood. If the Theory of Evolution were true, then the fossil record, from bottom to top, would show gradually more complex, less primitive species. Also certain species would be only found in certain layers; they would never be found in others. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science, pg.4) A man would never be found with a dinosaur. (Kuban, pg.1) Species would be strongly segregated. There would be no signs of human habitation in the lowest layers of the geologic column because humans were not around at that time.
Unfortunately for creationists the fossil record does not show any evidence of the creationists theory of the fossil record. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science, pg.4) There are not any dinosaurs mixed with humans, only small warm blooded mammals. Although there have been many cases where people have claimed to have discovered footprints of dinosaurs and humans together. (Kuban, pg.1) These are usually dismissed as fakes. If a real footprint of dinosaur and a human were found together there would be a huge media hype. This is called The Paluxy Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy (Kuban, pg.1) There have been some discrepancies over creation but there are also plenty discrepancies for evolution.
Creationists as well as some scientists have come up with many suggestions to disprove evolution. A very good argument is the ability of plants to photosynthesize. If by rare coincidence, nothing but gasses and chemicals came together to form a plant it could not have survived without the very complex ability to photosynthesize. Creationists argue that photosynthesis is much to complicated to have come from anything but a designer, God. Evolutionists might contract by saying that plants couldn’t propagate when there were no ants or birds to distribute their seeds. The bible says that plants were created on the third day and birds and ants were created on the fifth and sixth day. If each Genesis "day" is equal to 1000 real years, as some creation scientists believe, then some plants would have had to survive without propagation for thousands of years. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science pg.5) To other creation scientists who believe that a "day" in Genesis is literally 24 hours, then this does not present a problem. The fossil record clearly shows that land animals developed before birds. But the Genesis account indicates the reverse. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science pg.5) Evolution is fragile, like all other scientific theories. A solitary discovery could confirm that at least part of the evolutionary theory is false if not all of it. (Robins, Proving Evolution or creation science pg.1)
The evolutionary theory is in a state of flux. (Robinson, Proving Evolution or creation science Pg.2) Every time a major biological discovery is unearthed it could prove evolution to be false. If this were to happen scientists would be forced to alter their theories to reconcile the new discovery and make the evolution theory right again. It is predicted details of the theory will change in the future as well as the time in which it happened. Even so, the expansive area of evolution is soundly secure. (Howerter, pg.1) According to about 95% of scientists the world did converge many billions of years ago. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science Pg.2) Different organisms have changed throughout time and have turned to fossils over billions of years and are deposited in the rock layers. This demonstrates the slow outgrowth of simple life forms to more complex organisms. This exhibits some validity to the theory.
It is impossible to prove that the theory of evolution as now accepted by almost all scientists, is true. (Howerter, pg.1-2) The evolutionary theory states that animals and plants have evolved and the major geological changes have unfolded over billions of years. Because the theory of evolution has been spread out through so much time it is impossible to demonstrate or test the theories in a lab environment. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science pg.3) If you are unable to reproduce results or proof then you don’t have a fact; evolution is not a fact. For example processes like mountain building and erosion are too slow to be observed during one person's lifetime. Some situations of evolution have been seen for instance fruit flies in the laboratory and Tilapia fish in East African lakes that have been observed. Unfortunately no one was able to see what the earth or its life forms were like billions of years ago. (Robinson, Proving evolution or creation science pg.3) Both Creation and Evolution have their proofs and their speculative theories. The discord between the two theories is very arguable.
Disharmony between the science based origin theory and the religion based has been around even before Charles Darwin. One of the first more famous controversies was the trial of Galileo in 1633. Galileo published Dialogue, a book that said the earth revolved around the sun not visa versa like the bible says. (Linder, pg.1) A very famous trial that featured Creation Vs Evolution in schools was the, “Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.” The Scopes trial concerned the teaching of evolution by John Scopes. John Scopes was a high school biology teacher. He broke the state's Butler Act law, which forbade the teaching of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." (Robinson History of controversy pg.1) Even though it was a ground breaking trial it did not resolve the question of whether states could ban the teaching of a theory that contradicted religious beliefs. (Linder pg.1) It wasn’t until 1968 that the Supreme Court ruled the Epperson vs. Arkansas, contravened the Establishment Clause because their primary purpose was religious. The Court used the same rationale in 1987 in Edwards Vs. Aguillard to stop a Louisiana law that committed biology teachers who taught the theory of evolution to also discuss evidence supporting the theory called "creation science." (Linder, Pg.1) The controversy is far from over even in recent times.
The strife continues today. In 1999 the Kansas Board of Education voted to remove evolution from the list of subjects tested on state standardized tests, trying to encourage the local school boards to consider dropping or at least d-emphasizing evolution. (Linder, Pg.1) Creation scientists have come up with a new idea to discourage evolution by making public school teachers teach the refutable parts of the theory. (Robinson, Recent evolution / creation conflicts in public schools pg.4) This makes it so teachers can’t tell students that evolution is a fact, which it isn’t. It doesn’t however, make them give information on Creation science. Recently, creationism has become considerably more popular in the United States and Australia. Creationism has been heavily promoted by Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians in the USA and Australia. It hasn’t made as much of an impact in Canada and Europe. (Robinson, Teaching of evolution in U.S. schools pg.2) Even with gaining support there isn’t a foreseeable end to the controversy anytime soon.
There are two groups of people that keep an arrangement from being made. They are the conservative Christians and evolutionists. For a conservative Christian to concede to evolution would mean giving up their belief in how they think the earth was made. The evolutionists wouldn’t give up their theory for the same reason. About 95% of scientists accept either theistic or naturalistic evolution. But both evolution theories say that the earth is about 500,000 times older than the creation scientists believe. (Robinson, teaching of evolution in U.S. schools pg.2) The thought of accepting evolution creates a barrier of ignorance for creation to be taught in public schools even though it is possible. In order for creation to be taught it would have to prevent conflict with the separation of church and state that is contained within the First Amendment of the Constitution. (Robinson, Teaching of evolution in U.S. schools pg.2) This says that public schools are not allowed to teach that one religion is better than any other religion, or that religion is better than no religion. According to this, creation could be taught but as a concept that only some people believe in and not as an actual truth. (Robinson, Teaching evolution in U.S. schools pg. 2) It is argued that creation should be taught so students are aware of all of the possible beginnings of this planet not just the scientific theory.
ABCNEWS.com did a pole to determine the publics opinion on this controversy and the results are very interesting. In the poll they asked whether creationism and evolution should be taught together, and if creationism should be taught instead of evolution. A surprising 68% were in favor for creation and evolution being taught together and a 40% for creationism to take over evolution. (Robinson, Teaching evolution in U.S. schools pg.2) A bill was introduced that would give equal time to the evolution theory being taught as well as creationism. This bill is still before the House Committee on Education. The action of proposing a bill shows that some people obviously believe that a change in the current science curriculum is in order.
Decisions need to be made on which theory should be taught in public schools and how both can be presented giving credit to each. If alteration in the way world origins are presented now were to change it would have to be accepted by the majority of people. Moreover the majority think that evolution and creation should both be taught together. This means that a compromise is in order that would satisfy both scientists and creationists. Both evolution and creation science should be taught side by side as theories and left up to the students to decide which theory they would like to believe in.