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Creationism and evolution: A teacher on the front line as faith and science clash

"The poor treatment of evolution in some state education standards may reflect the public’s widely held creationist beliefs. In Gallup polls over the last 25 years, nearly half of American adults have consistently said they believe God created all living things in their present form, sometime in the last 10,000 years." - Amy Harmon

New York Times/ Amy Harmon writes:
(Orange Park, Florida ) David Campbell (pictured right) switched on the overhead projector and wrote Evolution in the rectangle of light on the screen. He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact.

But in a nation where evangelical Protestantism and other religious traditions stress a literal reading of the biblical description of God’s individually creating each species, students often arrive at school fearing that evolution, and perhaps science itself, is hostile to their faith. Some come armed with “Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution,” a document circulated on the Internet that highlights supposed weaknesses in evolutionary theory.


Over the next weeks, Mr. Campbell regaled his students with the array of evidence on which evolutionary theory is based. To see how diverse species are related, they studied the embryos of chickens and fish, and the anatomy of horses, cats, seals and bats. To simulate natural selection, they pretended to be birds picking light-colored moths off tree bark newly darkened by soot. But the dearth of questions made him uneasy. “I still don’t have a good feeling on how well any of them are internalizing any of this,” he worried aloud.


Bryce came to Ridgeview as a freshman from a Christian private school where he attended junior high. At 16, Bryce, whose parents had made sure he read the Bible for an hour each Sunday as a child, no longer went to church. But he did make it to the predawn meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a national Christian sports organization whose mission statement defines the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. “I think a big reason evolutionists believe what they believe is they don’t want to have to be ruled by God,” said Josh Rou, 17. “Evolution is telling you that you’re like an animal,” Bryce agreed. “That’s why people stand strong with Christianity, because it teaches people to lead a good life and not do wrong.”

Doug Daugherty, 17, allowed that he liked science. “I’ll watch the Discovery Channel and say ‘Ooh, that’s interesting,’ ” he said. “But there’s a difference between thinking something is interesting and believing it.” The last question on the test Mr. Campbell passed out a week later asked students to explain two forms of evidence supporting evolutionary change and natural selection. “I refuse to answer,” Bryce wrote. “I don’t believe in this.” READ MORE


H/T: Pam's House Blend

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