Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A study in contrasts: creationism as science in schools

Isn't that peculiar? The official Jewish position is that creationism and intelligent design are not science and should not be taught as such.

I had a recent debate on the topic of teaching Creation or Intelligent Design Theory in schools on Facebook. In that debate my opponent called me bitter and suggested that I should not be opposed to teaching different worldviews in science class. Actually, I have no opposition to teaching "different worldviews" in sociology, theology or philosophy, but there is no way you can tell me that "Creation Theory" is science.

The only "faith" that I know of that approaches science is Buddhism. There are historical accounts of Buddha (oddly, there are no historical accounts of Jesus), so we know that he's real. The story goes that Buddha sought the path to enlightenment through personal experimentation. He tried something akin to gluttony - plenty of women, plenty of money and luxury and still could not find happiness. Then he went the other way and tried asceticism, and as could be expected, he was pretty miserable. So he tried to find the middle ground, and when he found it, he found enlightenment and shared his experience with us.

That is what science is all about. Consider an idea or hypothesis, test it, share it, let others test it and see if they get the same results.

Yet, no one in the vast community of Buddhists will ask you to teach their faith as science. The members of the Jewish faith are also averse to teaching their faith as science. Even the Muslims, as fanatical as they can be, seem to agree that Darwin's theory of evolution is the most accurate explanation for our being, as they do teach evolutionary biology in school.

At the same time, most Christians around this country seem absolutely desperate to get their pet theories taught as science. So the Christians seem to be the odd man out on this issue.

I've often wondered why they are so adamant on getting creation theory in school, but have never been brave enough to ask. In debates they try to couch it as an innocent desire to make sure kids know there are alternative theories. But creation theory lacks something that all powerful scientific theories do: all scientific theories are considered scientific knowledge because they can be tested over and again, and they can be used to predict outcomes.

The theory of evolution has been tested over and again and can be used to predict outcomes, just like the theory of gravity. No one has ever been able to prove Creation Theory or Intelligent Design. I doubt anyone ever will, and for that reason, religious theories should not ever be taught in school as science.

Perhaps the Christians could be more careful about what they wish for.
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