Evolution & Creationism in Education
The twentieth century has witnessed the escalation of the creation - evolution debate through famous court cases and Supreme Court decisions on the teaching of evolution in public schools, culminating most recently in a Kansas Board of Education decision. As this highly controversial issue of the teaching of evolution in American classrooms rages on, it may be difficult for some individuals of Christian faith to form an alternative belief other than the extremes of creationism and evolutionism. Before discussing this issue any further, when I refer to strict beliefs in creationism or evolution as extreme views I am not necessarily implying that they are wrong, but are simply two views on completely opposite sides of the creation - evolution debate spectrum. For some creationists, accepting God as Creator as told in the Book of Genesis means the simultaneous rejection of evolutionary theory. For some evolution believers, accepting evolution ultimately results in the replacement of God as Creator with the process of evolution.
After reading the preceding two sentences, we can come to the conclusion that the creation - evolution debate is really a matter of faith, either there is a Creator or there is no Creator. However, at the same time the main battle of the debate is over what is taught in our public schools. This creates a problem, particularly for creationists, because separation of church and state keeps religious criticism to evolutionary theory away from the classroom. The Kansas Board of Education decision to eliminate evolution and the Big Bang Theory from statewide tests reflects the resulting pressure on school officials to chose between what many have come to view as two mutually exclusive alternatives. However, is it really necessary to strictly chose either an evolutionary or creationist belief? Many Christians today would answer "no" to this question. Accepting the theory of evolution as a possible explanation of how we came into existence does not deny God as our Creator or that He remains at work today. Instead, it is entirely possible to believe that God used the process of evolution to create the human species. In addition, evolution should continue to be taught in public schools, even if this requires the presentation of dissenting views so that students may formulate their own beliefs.
History of the 20th Century Creation - Evolution Debate
The creation - evolution debate entered the education realm in the early 1920's when several states prohibited the teaching of evolution in the classroom. Stephen Jay Gould (1999) reports that this led to the famous 1925 Scopes "monkey trial" in Dayton, Tennessee, and the conviction of high school teacher John Scopes on the grounds of teaching evolution in a public school. An article on the world wide web entitled "The Scopes 'monkey trial,'" says the trial pitted prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan against defense attorney...