The Instigator
SolaGratia
Pro (for)
Losing
42 Points
The Contender
KevinL75
Con (against)
Winning
79 Points

Evolution and Creationism should both be taught in public schools

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/18/2007 Category: Education
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,577 times Debate No: 652
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (32)
Votes (36)

 

SolaGratia

Pro

According to a recent Gallup poll, 66 percent of Americans believe in Creationism, while 53 percent believe in Evolution. Obviously there is some overlap here. A full quarter of Americans believe that both Evolution and Creationism are definitely or probably true, suggesting to me that they believe God created the universe THROUGH evolution; a reasonable belief.

It's obvious that America is divided on this issue.

We have public institutions for educating our young people. They are run by the Federal government and paid for by our taxes. Not just the Evolutionists' taxes, or the Creationists' taxes, but Everyone's'. But is this division of belief reflected in our public schools?

No, it is not. The vast, overwhelming majority of public schools--99 and some fraction percent--teach ONLY Evolution.

Does this reflect the beliefs of Americans?

No, it does not. The public school system, which should represent the views of Americans, represents only the views of the 53 percent that believe in evolution, while ignoring the 66 percent that believe in Creationism entirely.

Now I ask you: how can an intellectually honest person deny that this is a flaw in our public school system and must be remedied?
KevinL75

Con

Oo oo pick me - I can deny that this is a flaw in our public education system! Here we go...

You are correct that the American citizenry is divided on the issue of how man came to exist on Earth, and that the vast majority of public schools teach only evolution.

I do not believe, however, that this is a reason to change the cirricula in our public schools. "Because many Americans believe this to be true" is just not a good enough reason to teach something in a public school. A majority of Americans believe a LOT of things! A majority of Americans believe that a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion, a majority of Americans believe that God exists, a majority of Americans believe that the next step in U.S. foreign policy should be to withdraw troops from Iraq, a majority of Americans bleieve that bloggers are journalists (all of this I got from a simple Google search of the phrase "A majority of Americans.")

Should we then teach in public schools that women have the innate right to choose to have an abortion, that God exists, that the U.S. should pull out of Iraq, and that bloggers are types of journalists? I don't think you would agree with teaching those in public schools.

So just because many Americans believe that man was created by God does not mean that it should be incorporated into the public school cirriculum. Teachings in schools have never been about a show of hands from the public, especially not in science. The very definition of science is the study of the world through observable phenomena. Creationism is not science, it's belief, and we've never been in the habit of teaching beliefs in public schools - not even if a majority of Americans hold those beliefs. We don't teach theism in schools, but an overwhelming majority of Americans believe God exists.
Debate Round No. 1
SolaGratia

Pro

There is no doubt that creationism is a belief. However, that's not to say that there are no Creationist scientists, who see the evidence of God in what you call the "observable phenomena." I have taken a Christian Biology course, and although the cover was an unattractive purple, it was a good science book, firmly based in fact, and it compared favorably with the various secular science classes I've taken. Because creationism is a belief--or encompasses beliefs, like Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc--does NOT mean that is is NOT a science.

America is a Republic, no? And a Republic, unlike a Democracy, sets the majority and the minority on equal footing. Our public school system should reflect that, but it doesn't. Whether Creationism is a majority or a minority, it should be represented. IT ISN'T. The Iraq war, Abortion, even blogging; all these are addresses in some way in schools, with various viewpoints. On the one subject that's most important, the origin of life, only one viewpoint is presented. I say again, this is a flaw in the system and it should be fixed.

You say, correctly, that we should not teach something because it is a majority viewpoint. However, does that mean we SHOULD teach something because it is a MINORITY viewpoint? I'm confused. All credible views should be represented. Creationism and Evolution are both credible beliefs--many people believe them. But Creationism is not represented. THEREFORE, Creationism should be represented in public schools.

It's not about the majority. It never has been. The poll I used earlier was to illustrate my point, not to define it.

My original point still stands: the public school system should reflect the views of the public that pays for it.

Congratulations, you've managed to be intellectually honest! Mostly... ;) Hope I've done the same. Thanks for accepting my debate.
KevinL75

Con

I'm intrigued by the idea of seeing the existence of God through observable phenomena - can you expand on that idea for the next round? I have a feeling that there's a leap to be made between something that can't be explained by current scientific theory to "it must be God." I can't imagine there being direct evidence for the existence of God.

You said: "The Iraq war, Abortion, even blogging; all these are addresses in some way in schools, with various viewpoints. On the one subject that's most important, the origin of life, only one viewpoint is presented. I say again, this is a flaw in the system and it should be fixed."

Perhaps those first three aren't the best examples to use, because they're in the realm of social science, whose goal is very different from that of science. I think the best example I have is the belief that God exists. When dealing with science, the goal is still to seek the truth by observing and analyzing evidence.

You said: "However, does that mean we SHOULD teach something because it is a MINORITY viewpoint?"

Of course not - we should teach evolution because it's science, and we should not teach creationism because it is not science. I don't think the majority OR the minority viewpoints have anything to do with it.

You said: "the public school system should reflect the views of the public that pays for it."

And I still think that leads to absolutely absurd consequences. Education is supposed to be about objective truth. Subjecting it to the whims of the public (and those whims do change over time) would render it meaningless.

I'd love to explore the idea that creationism isn't solely-belief based in our next round!
Debate Round No. 2
SolaGratia

Pro

Intelligent Design and Evolution both attempt to explain the origins of life an the universe. In that sense, whether ID is a science is not important. However, you've raised the point. ID started as, not a belief, but a hypothesis. As did Evolution. Evolution, however, is apparently backed up by empirical data. Much of this data has only surfaced in recent years, yet Evolution has been taught in many schools since before the Scopes trial. The vast amount of data that scientists lean on when they say Evolution is a fact did not exist then. However, it was still taught in schools; then as now not as theory, but as fact. In an ideal system, both would be taught as theory and the students would not have anyone's viewpoint forced upon them. It is fallacious to say that teaching ID--as a theory--in public schools infringes on the students' Constitutional rights, as some detractors (to your credit, you haven't) have said, when to teach evolution as a verifiable, undeniable fact is not.

You say, "Education is supposed to be about objective truth." You set that in opposition to my statement that the public school system should reflect the views of the public that pays for it. This is an interesting statement. Your objective truth is like universal truth, correct? Truth that is generally or universally accepted? You throw out the idea that education should be based on the whims of the public, and say they change over time. What determines objective truth? General consensus? General consensus changes just like the whims of the public. It was an "objective truth" in the middle ages that the world was flat. It was an "objective truth" before Darwin that God created the universe. It is an "objective truth" in today's scientific community that life spontaneously combusted billions of years ago.

You say that education based on the "whims" of the public would have absurd consequences. You are right. However, I don't think Creationism/Intelligent Design/Monotheism is really a "whim." If it is, it's been going on for a while. Since man created/evolved and became self-aware, in fact. Indeed, if anything, Evolution is a "whim." It is only in the since The Origin of Species was published in 1859 that the idea has even existed.

Who determines objective truth? Why is it different than a whim? Well, it is, I assume mandated by the government in the public school setting. Well, who appoints the government? We do. The people of the United States do. By extension, then, we mandate objective truth in public schooling. It comes to the same thing as the "whims" of the public.

Whether ID/Creationism is a science is utterly irrelevant. Evolution has transcended science in some areas, whereas ID has transcended its base as a belief. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe schools teach more than science. And the science they teach explains how things work, and how they came into being. It is not pure, investigative science based on the Scientific Method. Boiled down, it is to educate students about how and why the universe started. Both Evolution and Creationism do that, and many Americans believe both, AND HAVE DONE SO FOR YEARS. If their belief in Creationism is a whim, what is their belief in evolution? Evolution claims to have all the evidence, but that simply isn't true. It may be supported by some empirical evidence, but there are gaping holes. For example, where are the missing links we've heard so much about? I mean, we know about the Neanderthals, but what about something between an animal and a vegetable? No? Well...

Sorry. This isn't a debate about Evolution.

I'm not a scientist. However, I read Francis Collins book, The Language for God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. I won't try to summarize his arguments, but they are very well put together. You could do worse than to read it. To say that Creationism is not supported by any of the "observable phenomena" is fallacious. As it is to say that is is supported by all of it. The same applies to Evolution. I would go more in-depth about Creationism, but the debate is not strictly about creationism either.

I'm not making a radical proposal here. Before Evolution, Creationism was taught in all schools. It's not something complicated and untested. It has been tested far more and far longer than Evolution.

But you deny it any place in the public school.

This seems to me a ignorant position, even a self-contradictory one. You base your conclusion that only Evolution should be taught in schools on "objective truth," and say that Creationism/ID is only a "whim." Objective truth, as I have proven, changes over time because it is, at the heart of it, an extended whim. As I said, it was objective truth for centuries that the world was flat. It is interesting to me that you base your conclusion almost solely, in this age of relativism, on the base of objective, absolute truth.

Who determines objective truth? Why is it different than a whim? Well, it is, I assume mandated by the government in the public school setting. Well, who appoints the government? We do. The people of the United States do. By extension, then, we mandate objective truth in public schooling. It comes to the same thing as the "whims" of the public.

In the end, it may never happen, but teaching some form of ID/Creationism in public school is not really such a revolutionary proposal. I think it's absurd to teach only one viewpoint when a significant fraction of Americans disagree with it completely. It shouldn't matter that Creationism doesn't have as much of a scientific base as Evolution. We, the people should determine what is taught in schools, not the scientific elite.
KevinL75

Con

I'd like to start by clearing up something from my last argument - I wasn't trying to call ID a whim of the public, only to say that if we apply the broader principle of deciding education based on the will of the electorate, the education system WOULD fall prey to whims.

You make the argument that objective truth has changed over time, and you're correct. However, the present incarnation of science - which you seem to think is an acceptable way of seeking the truth - is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nothing is accepted in science today without evidence to back it up, and even then, there is usually more than one side to any given phenomenon.

Education does and should seek to be about objective truth - it will never fully reach that goal, because it's impossible to be certain about anything, but it should continue to strive toward that goal.

But I'd like to spend some time talking about the idea that science isn't pure in public education, and that it's not simply the pursuit of truth. I strongly disagree with this idea - every part of a science class's curriculum follows the same basic pattern - introduce a phenomenon and offer explanations for that phenomenon. The evidence, and any alternative scientific theories are always offered. At any given time, what's taught in science class reflects the most plausible explanation for a phenomenon given the evidence.

I think it's ludicrous to place ID and evolution on equal footing when explaining the origins of the universe and of man. No matter what, you'll always have to make some leap of faith to the idea that God is involved in ID, because there's nothing that could possibly prove the existence of God, not to mention His involvement in creating the planet or the species. Scientifically, evolution is a legitimate and defensible theory, whereas ID is not at all.

I suppose this debate really comes down to the goal of education though. I believe that if we truly want education to be the instillation of knowledge into our nation's youth, we need to teach evolution as the only current viable theory for the existence of man in science class. Students should certainly know of the existence of Creationism and ID, but students know that already - it's not complicated to communicate, and it gets a mention in most classrooms as an afterthought. But if we really want to instill knowledge into children, we can't compromise the very definition of science to play to a belief that has very little academic merit.

Something like that is the province of parents, because at some point, it will require an article of faith to swallow - evolution requires no such faith. So I don't think it is wise at all to teach ID or Creationism in a science classroom.

Let me close by talking about the Flying Spaghetti Monster (more information at http://www.venganza.org....) If, theoretically, enough people decided to hold the belief that the FSM created the universe, shouldn't we start teaching that as a theory in public schools? There's no scientific basis for it, but it's essentially the same idea as ID, just with a different Creator. I know it's an absurd example, but your argument does have the potential for absurd results.
Debate Round No. 3
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by killa_connor 9 years ago
killa_connor
"I'm intrigued by the idea of seeing the existence of God through observable phenomena"

Con won with this observation. Science (in the simplest sense) is using observations of nature to explain nature. Because 'God' is inherently unobservable (thus the necessity of 'faith' to believe he exists), you would have to fundamentally alter the definition of Science to include super-natural explanations for nature. Intelligent Design is no different, the implied 'creator' is a super-natural entity.
Posted by goldspurs 9 years ago
goldspurs
Like I have said before, even though I am a Christian, I believe evolution could be possible. I don't know exactly how God created man. I do have a few points to make for those that believe evolution is the only possible way:

1. Exactly what scientific law allows something to come from nothing? If there was no Creator, where did everything come from in the first place?
2.How does dead material suddenly spring to life? Evolutionist have still not been able to awnser this question because it is not consistent with scientific observation.
3. While it is true that diffrent types of creature have lived on the earth at diffrent times. There is no progressive change that you would expect from evolution in the fossil records. What you find is when something new is uncovered it is completly formed. Surely we would find some fossils that could show the long steps it takes for single-cell organisms to "evolve" into their present day form.

Sethgecko-

Please tell me what these question where a decade ago that have been "proven". And exactly when did the burden of proof fall on me to prove that Intelligent Design is true?

" That response demonstrates you don't even understand what Evolution theory actually says. It doesn't say we come "from monkeys.""

Ever heard of sarcasm?
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
Furthermore, I'd like to note that even if there was a creator that sparked the big bang or whatever, it's non-falsifiable and therefore not science.
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
Hah. The first cause argument is ridiculous; the only escape from infinite regress is the special pleading fallacy.

Furthermore, there is extensive evidence for evolution (including speciation-- yes, it has been observed in several plants and in certain insects, especially fruit flies.)

The genetic evidence is particularly strong. Here's just ONE example.

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Every other great ape has 24. Now, under evolutionary theory, what could have happened to this missing chromosome pair? Perhaps it could have been lost? No. This is impossible, because any great ape who lost a pair of chromosomes would not make it past the womb. As it happens, though, evolution makes a testable prediction, one that could be falsified-- and had it been, evolution would have been completely disproven.

What it predicted is that we would find some evidence that two chromosomes had fused together to form one of the human chromosomes.
A quick background, with diagrams:

T==C==T

This is a (basic) diagram of a chromosome. It has a telomere(labeled here by T) at each end, and a centromere(C) in the middle. The = is whatever code is in between them.

This is the structure of every chromosome, with VERY few exceptions. So, what they would have had to find was a chromosome in the human body that was structured something like this:

T==C==TT==C==T

If, upon looking, they could not find any such chromosome in the human cell, our common ancestry with other apes would be utterly disproven. And guess what? They looked, and the human chromosome #2 was structured *exactly* like that. What's more, one half of it matches *exactly* to #13 in every other great ape, and the other half matches #14 in every other great ape.

Pretty astounding, isn't it?
Posted by Locke 9 years ago
Locke
My take on this debate is that evolution shouldn't be taught alongside something else, it simply shouldn't be taught at all. Anyone with a human brain can figure out that things couldn't just 'start' on their own. Even if things did evolve, they had to evolve from something to begin with...what started that original something? It had to be a Creator. But the fact is the only kind of evolution that is fact is the kind involved in cross-breeding and the like. The only people displaying ignorance are the ones denying creationism. If you do not believe me, then search for books by scientist Dr. Jay L. Wile. They present my point far better than I can.
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
goldspurs, again, you are wrong. It is not intolerant to call somebody ignorant. All it means is that there is something that is true that they are unaware is true. Therefore, because I do not think God exists, I believe that religious people are ignorant.

Now, creationists are CERTAINLY ignorant, because so much scientific evidence directly contradicts their view of the age of the earth. Therefore, anybody who believes in it is ignorant of the evidence.

The problem is that you fail to realize that ignorance isn't an insult. I'm ignorant about a good many things-- I couldn't tell you, for example, the number of known planets outside of our solar system, because I do not know that number. I'm ignorant about that. But that's not insulting.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
SolGratia -

"You can see the problems with that view. It does absolutely no good to present Evolution as theory, because there are no alternatives available to public school teachers. Thos should change."

There are alternatives to evolution (and even more alternatives within the theory of Evolution about the finer details of how it manifests itself in practice). The problem is that "Intelligent Design" isn't an alternative for two reasons:

1) It doesn't address the same territory that evolution does; evolution only postulates about how species change over time. It says absolutely nothing about the origins of the universe or how life originated on earth.

2) Intelligent Design isn't scientific. It's not falsifiable. It's just as illegitimate as introducing a theory to explain how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; there's no way to collect evidence and draw conclusions so it has no place in a science classroom (which is a forum entirely dedicated to the practice of basing conclusions on evidence).
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
Goldspurs -

"Sethgecko, I don't believe the theory of evolution is as rock solid as the theory of gravity."

It doesn't matter what you "believe"; it only matters what the evidentiary record proves. That's the underlying theme behind this whole debate. The point of bringing up the theory of gravity is to rebut this utterly moronic contention from the anti-evolution side that the fact that something is "only a theory" somehow means it's not rock-solid.

"There is so much evidence that I could drag up to cause reasonable doubt."

And that's your entire problem. You can't disprove evolution - all you can do (like all creationists) is to point out things that evolution theory can't explain (YET). The irony is that many of the questions raised by creationists in decades past have since been answered - so they've been forced to move on to others. It's the "god of the gaps" argument.

The onus isn't on me to respond to every "god of the gaps" point you raise - rather it's on you to prove the legitimacy of creationism as a scientific theory by showing what evidence can be used to test it.

"Also, the fact that I received a flu shot this year only means that Medicine is more advance, not that I came from monkeys."

That response demonstrates you don't even understand what Evolution theory actually says. It doesn't say we come "from monkeys."
Posted by goldspurs 9 years ago
goldspurs
ozymandias, if you would take the time and read my other post you would see that I believe that evolution should be taught in science class, not Intelligent Design. Evem though I do not believe in evolution, I do believe that it could be possible.

One thing you need to know is that to call someone ignorant because they don't have the same spiritual beliefs as you is intolerant. I wouldn't call you ignorant because you are an atheist.
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
goldspurs, even if religion isn't ignorance (though I would say it is-- I disagree with it, after all), creationism certainly is. To say that the world is 6,000 years old is just silly, and no *thinking* person who looks at the evidence can come to that conclusion.

Now, even OEC isn't science. There's no evidence for it. So to teach it as if it IS science is to teach ignorance.
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