Should Creationism Be Taught in Public Schools? Is it Legal to do so?

by Jack Wellman on November 20, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

Can public schools teach Creationism?  Is it legal to teach Creationism along with evolution?  What do the local, state, and federal laws say about this?

Should Creationism Be Taught in the Public Schools?

There is no reason that Creationism should not discussed in the public schools because evolution is being taught and after 125 years, it remains a theory.   Additionally, evidence against the theory of evolution should be allowed to be discussed.  There should be freedom to speak about the lack of fossil evidence like all of the missing links that should show transitional fossils evolving from one species into another.  The only evidence that the theory of evolution has right now are sketches, drawings, and computer images that show purported transitions of one species evolving into another, different species.  The fossil evidence has never supported this theory and students have every right to know all of the facts.

There is nothing wrong with the students entering into this discussion and advancing their beliefs on the origin of life, the universe, and the cause of both.

Teachers have every right, under the First Amendment rights, to do this.  The Supreme Court has stated that, “teachers[do not] shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school house gate” [Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969)]. It is crystal clear that teachers have “the right to discuss alternate theories of the creation of life and to independently research such topics” [Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Bd. of Educ., 975 F. Supp. 819, 828 (E.D. La. 1997), aff’d, 185 F.3d 337 (5th Cir. 1999)].  There is nothing wrong with the students entering into this discussion and advancing their beliefs on the origin of life, the universe, and the cause of both.  The Supreme Court clearly stated that “teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school-children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction” [Edwards, 482 U.S. at 594 (1987)]. This would include Intelligent Design,(AKA Creationism). There is no law that states that Creationism can not be discussed along side the theory of evolution in the classroom as an alternative theory.

Critique of Fossil Evidence

Just as history, philosophy, and other disciplines are able to be critiqued, the theory of evolution should be allowed to be critiqued by presenting evidence contrary to it. One example is the Cambrian explosion, which is a fossil layer where almost every single plant, bacteria, flora, fauna, mammal, and animal fossil remains appear suddenly and without any apparent ancestral predecessors. It is called an “explosion” because of the fact that all life forms appear at one level with few fossils before and after it that show any type of transitional form.  This sudden burst of fossils explode onto the scene that gives the appearance of all life forms similar to the account of creation in Genesis. If you look at the life forms in the Cambrian layers, many of these life forms are still with us today and yet remain unchanged.  Many have become extinct but those who haven’t, are the same as they were in the Cambrian strata. Even Richard Dawkins concludes that the fossil record is imperfect as he writes “if we arrange all our available fossils in chronological order, they do not form a smooth sequence of scarcely perceptible change” (Dawkins 1996: 229).

Charles Darwin quite readily admitted that the archaeological evidence of fossils was not there to support the theory of evolution. The sudden appearance of whales with no known ancestors troubled him.  Ultimately, Darwin could not find supportive fossil evidence showing a common ancestry with descending or ascending transitional forms.  He thought that they would later be found as we dug deeper into the more ancient layers and he honestly stated that the lack of transitional fossil was one of the most worrisome problems of his theory. These life forms, which have been around, allegedly, for some 270 to 570 million years ago, are virtually unchanged.  Darwin stated that, “The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, [must] be truly enormous … why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory” (Darwin 1859: 260-261).

The Local School Boards Authority

Local school boards are elected by local school district residents.  These boards, although under the governance of the State Board of Education, have certain freedoms in what curriculum may be taught and what may be excluded.  In fact, in a ruling of the School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225, (1963) the court wrote an opinion that “it certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may be affected consistently with the First Amendment.”

According to the Common Core State Standards Initiatives (corestandards.org) which are used for public schools, “Local teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards will continue to make decisions about curriculum and how their school systems are operated [and] the federal government has had no role in the development of the common core state standards and will not have a role in their implementation”[1].  The Common Core State Standards Initiative will remain a state-led effort.  The fact is that although some state authorities may limit their discretion to some degree, the local school boards and officials normally make the decisions regarding the curriculum and instructional materials for their schools and not the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education does not determine what should or should not be taught at the state level in any subject because each of the 16, 000 school districts in the states are financed and administered by their own state’s department of education and the local communities. This means that predominantly, each district adheres to the wishes of parents and the local school boards. The government has historically kept a “hands off” policy because the U.S. Constitution relegates the responsibility to local boards and their respective states.  Parents of the children in their local school districts have more say than most realize, particularly since the local communities elect the school board members.  Whether a district allows creationism or Intelligent Design to be discussed along side the theory of evolution in the classroom as an alternative is not illegal nor against any federal law.  With this in mind, it is within the power of the local citizens to ensure that students and teachers have the ability to do so. It is their God-given right and they most certainly should speak up for it, defend it, and insist upon it, for there is no law against such parental wishes or desires.

Interested in some related Christian answers? Take a look at these articles:

Resources:

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species, (1859).

Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (W W Norton & Co., 1996).

[1]  Common Core State Standards.  January, 2012, Accessed Sept 23, 2012 at: http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions



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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Binky Tolstoy November 20, 2012 at 7:16 am

“Additionally, evidence against the theory of evolution should be allowed to be discussed.”

That is a very interesting sentence, and well worth considering. Testing the veracity of scientific studies is part of the scientific process. Should then the same scrutiny be applied to creationism?

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Jack Wellman November 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Thank you Binky for your comment. Whether creationism should go thru the same scrutiny as evolution is up to each local school district. My issue is how can it be repeated or observed since it is a one time event? I do believe in the Bible and Jesus as God can not lie and it is clearly obvious that Jesus did not believe in evolution and if you can believe in Jesus, which I do, then let His words prove it to you. Don’t believe me, believe what Jesus says.

In Matthew 19:4-6, He answers the question about divorce from the Pharisees saying, “4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? ‘ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” So God did not create amoebas after the amoeba kind or single-celled creatures after the single-celled creature kinds.

The issue is not should creationism be taught but CAN it be taught as an alternative view but the crux of this article is that the theory of evolution SHOULD be critiqued in all of its areas like the lack of fossil evidence, the lack of observable evolution, and so on.

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Robert November 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

Great article, Jack.
I think great harm is actually being done by the public school system in that it teaches a theory (evolution) that says God did not create the universe, thus it explicitly denies that God as Creator. This unproven theory of evolution therefore casts doubt on the reliability of the first book of the Bible. This doubt can spread out like ripples in a lake with the effect of causing doubt about the rest of God’s Word. The theory of evolution, which you’ve pointed out is not at all a proven theory, needs to be publically critiqued. I remember when I was going to school, nothing else was taught about our origins except evolution. As far as I knew, it was a fact that we used to be monkeys, who used to be fish, etc. Evolution is taught the same way today, as proven fact without any competing options. I would love to see Creation Science taught in public schools by those who actually believed it to be a viable alternative to evolution. It should not be taught by evolutionists who would merely mock and ridicule it. Thank you, Jack, for another thought-provoking article that I hope everyone will seriously consider.

Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Jack Wellman November 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Thank you Robert. I agree with you. The word “science” means knowledge and theories that are unproven should never be taught as fact until they are established as so, like Newton’s Three Laws of Gravity which have been observed, tested, repeated, and been falsified. Thank you sir for your encouragement but I know this will bring many negative attacks, I have no doubt.

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vincent knight November 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

genesis should not be taught as a science, it is not a science, but a creation by god the full Godhead, father son and holy spirit, as taught in the holy bible, excepted by faith by bible believing Christians, the bible is not science, and it should not be taught as science, it based on faith, and that is how it should be taught.

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Jack Wellman November 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Let me say this Vincent and thank you for your comment. Nowhere in this article did I say that creation should be taught or Genesis should be taught as science. The local school boards have the right to do what they wish and the local citizens who elect such board members are those whom voted them in, so the local citizens have the final say ass I mentioned in this article, near the very beginning.

The Bible is not so much a book about the heavens as much as it is how to get to heaven, but there are scientific facts in the Bible that were thousands of years ahead of natural science which discovered these many hundreds or thousands of years later. Faith is not a hope or wishful thinking, but “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). The word substance and evidence are part of the definition of faith but theories (such as in evolutional theory) is speculation, hypothesesis, and full of assumptions and beliefs. There is more faith needed for evolution with no fossil evidence and that everything came from nothing, than a cause (creation) and effect (the universe).

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John Lemmon November 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Good article Jack.

There are none so blind as they who will not see…or so the saying goes.

Every scientific theory is not accepted until it has been through rigorous testing and review with the proof of the theory coming from quantitative analysis, data and proven fact. Every theory that is except evolution for which there is none of the above. And yet it is vehemently defended as fact despite the lack of evidence and despite the clear problems pointed out by Darwin himself.

Which brings us back to the one question that should be taught in the schools…”Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” For an evolutionist the answer is impossible. For a Creationist it is simple, God made the chicken who laid the egg & as you rightly show, the Cambrian explosion clearly points more closely to a Creation than an evolution. Even another great scientist said, “When the answer is simple, it is from God.” (Einstein) And Creation is a simple truth. It is the devil who is the author of confusion and who adds complexity to prevent the truth being seen, and there are few things as confusing as evolution.

The debate will rage until the Lord returns for Satan has blinded their minds and only Christ can lift them from their darkness. Whether people try to penetrate the darkness in the schools is yet to be seen, but I take comfort from the word of God who said, “The Lord knows those who are his.” (2 Tim 2:19)

Thanks again for the article.
God bless,
John

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Jack Wellman November 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Thank you so much John. Well put. Jesus did not believe in evolution, obviously (Matthew 19:4-6) and He also believe the record of Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12 – not a whale as some mis-translate), and in Noah’s Ark (Matt 24). If Jesus believed in Creation (John 1, Colossians 1:15-17, 1 Cor 8:6, etc.) then who do I think I am to question God of very God? Either Jesus was wrong (& thus not God), He was a liar (& we know that God can not lie), or He is right. I choose to believe God and not some beaker science theories.

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Robert November 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

In this discussion concerning creation/evolution this needs to be kept in mind: neither evolution nor creation are observable, repeatable events (the changes in organisms that evolutionists say powers evolution are reductions in information not additions, and they are almost always harmful), therefore, they are both belief systems, based on the same evidence but interpreted differently because of the interpreter’s presuppositions (evolutionists interpret the evidence from the starting point of no-God, the Christian interprets the evidence from the starting point of God). The interpretations will remain consistent with what one believes about God.
Therefore, if one is taught in school, the other should be. Remember, evolution is not a repeatable, observable science; it is a belief system, based on faith that the evolutionists have it figured out correctly. But there is no proof of that.
My concern is that there is a belief system being taught in our schools that tells us, backed by supposed scientific proof, that God did not create the universe. If we allow science to tell us which parts of the Bible to believe, which beliefs will fall next? The flood? Heaven? The Resurrection? Teaching evolution in school fosters doubt about God’s Word. Creation science should at least be given a fair hearing.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Binky Tolstoy November 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Would anyone like to defend the many other creation stories that exist? I am setting aside for the moment the inaccurate representation of A) the unobservable/untestable science of evolution, and B) that the observations are reductionist in nature. Why should the Biblical version be more valid than any other? The answer shouldn’t quote scripture, i.e. it’s true because the Bible says it’s true. That’s circular logic, frowned upon in 7th grade debates.

What about a the Hindi story of creation (which is nothing of the sort)? A quoted summary: “This is not the first world, nor is it the first universe. There have been and will be many more worlds and universes than there are drops of water in the holy river Ganges.”

How poetic and meditative!

Or the Cherokee myth that the, “…Earth is a great floating island surrounded by seawater,” and that, starting with a beetle, the animals descended from the sky realm. Greatly simplified, but evocative, and no less plausible than a chatty snake with bad intentions.

Are these less valid? They are held as dearly to the breast by those who believe as the cross is to a Christian.

Thoughts?

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Jack Wellman November 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Do the Hindu’s or Cherokees have support for their writings like the Bible does which includes historical validations by archeological finds? Are you equating the Bible with a myth? You are stating that it is circular reasoning as a reason to discount the biblical account. I was using Jesus own testimony and there is more empirical evidence that Jesus existed than any human that has ever existed. We believe the Bible and we believe the Jesus of the Bible. We see no reason to believe in myth’s that are unsubstantiated by historical or archeological or paleontological evidence. You either believe the Bible or you don’t, by choosing to not believe this historicity of the Bible you are choosing to not believe what Jesus was quoted as.

It is true that creation can not be tested or repeated or observed just as evolution can not for creation is a one time event, but neither can these “myths” be either. How do you explain the origin of life (which evolution does not address of course) and of the universe? Creation is the best reason for it, the Bible has empirical evidence for what is in it, but none of these myths do my friend. I can see we are not going to convince you (that is not our intention) but neither will you persuade us that everything came from nothing and that life arose spontaneously which has been shown (tested & proven) to not be possible.

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Robert November 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Hello Binky,
Just a couple of thoughts. The Bible is my source of authority, so I will not set it aside when it comes to discussing/debating the issues (Although the ‘7th grade debate’ thing was cute). Secondly, Christians aren’t promoting a fairy tale at all. The myths you described wouldn’t convince those 7th graders you spoke of, much less an adult. The reason that those who believe those myths do so is because, “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4 ESV).
The Bible is clear (I could explain it if you’d like) that everyone knows that God exists. Nevertheless, many deny the truth, rebel against Him, and reject His Lordship. That is why they are able to be deceived by so many ungodly ideas. Binky, the choice is yours to make, as it is for each of us, whether to continue to fight against God’s love or to give in and worship Him. I pray, for you sake, that you will look deep into your heart (and allow God to do the same) and consider the truth of the Bible, not the caricature of the atheistic world. God bless you, Binky.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Binky Tolstoy November 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Hi Robert,

I really don’t know where to begin. We are all being very honest here, and civil (which is much appreciated). But the velvety lash that is “polite condescencion” is starting to be gently swung. It is a slippery slope.

I leave the conversation by wishing you all the best, and letting you know that my children and their children will have in me an advocate who will fight, teeth bared, to be sure that creationism is never taught as a considered alternative to either the origin of humanity or of space and time in a science class at a school where they would attend. I say this with what I hope would be mutual respect as warriors on a battlefield – I am your enemy in this endeavor.

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Robert November 21, 2012 at 7:15 am

Binky,
I am civil because there is no reason to be otherwise. Even though we do not see eye to eye on this, I harbor no ill will for you or yours. My issue lies with the continued indoctrination of our children against God. And I to will continue to give reasons for the faith I have (I Peter 3:15) and oppose the godlessness whereever I can. God bless you and may you have a happy Thanksgiving.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Robert O. Adair March 28, 2013 at 12:16 am

Well Binky, evolutionist Ernst Mayr tells us “The Darwinian revolution was not merely the replacement of one scientific theory by another, but rather the replacement of a worldview, in which the supernatural was accepted as a normal and relevant explanatory principle, by a new worldview in which there was no room for supernatural forces.” This confirms what the founders of your religion were saying. Most of the time uneducated “scientists” are pontificating their philosophy/religious notions and trying to force them on the theistic majority. Of course because you know nothing about the history of science your notions are worthless. People like you keep referring to people like the Nazis and Communists as “abusing evolutionist notions” when they simply carried them to their logical conclusions. Ideas have consequences!

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Joshua Ogaldez November 21, 2012 at 1:40 am

Eloquently stated, Jack. I often am taken back by the double standard present in our education system, especially in the sciences. Although the origin of life has a myriad of evolutionary scientists without response, evolutionary theory is still biasely taught. But isn’t science suppose to be objective? Furthermore, the double standard overlooks the reality that there have been great nobel-prize winning scientists and esteemed researchers that have, through study, been lead to intelligent design. Well done, Jack. Bless you

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Jack Wellman November 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

Thank you so much Joshua. There is a certain fear it seems to me to not allow the theory of evolution to be questioned and to allow no alternatives. This is like force feeding children a pablum whether they like what they are eating or not. Isn’t science always interested in growing in knowledge and not to be satisfied with any status quo? Evolutionists almost seem to have a paranoia about allowing critiques about the theory while in the remaining realms of scientific knowledge they are not so encumbered.

When Newton presented his theory of gravity, he had no mechanism for how the force worked. Objects drew each other across giant gulfs of empty space, which seemed to go against everything that scientists would expect. It would be over two centuries before a theoretical framework would adequately explain why Newton’s theory actually worked. Over this time period, the Newton’s theory became Newton’s Laws of Motion:

First Law of Motion states that in order for the motion of an object to change, a force must act upon it, a concept generally called inertia.

Newton’s Second Law of Motion defines the relationship between acceleration, force, and mass.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that any time a force acts from one object to another, there is an equal force acting back on the original object. If you pull on a rope, therefore, the rope is pulling back on you as well.

The point is that theories can be moved from theoretical to factual (laws) by using processes like the Scientific Method which involved 5 steps: Observation, Question, Hypothesis, Experimentation, and Results. These steps moved Newton’s theory to Newton’s Three Laws of Gravity. These steps are not possible for evolution and thus I believe that is why it remains still a theory.

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sampso osei November 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm

it should be taught in school. No doubt about it.

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Ari Godfrey November 22, 2012 at 3:34 am

evolution of man in other words is from man while creation is of GOD and GOD is a spirit so it is only the spiritual minded person that can understand creation(2cor2:14) Since creation is of GOD is not debateable because no matter what you say a canal man can never understand the things of GOD. Therefore let creationism be thought in school since the state and federal law is not against it.

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Ari Godfrey November 22, 2012 at 4:09 am

Evolution is of man in other words is from man while creation is of GOD and GOD is a spirit so it is only the spiritual minded person that can understand creation(1cor2:14) Since creation is of GOD is not debateable because no matter what you say a canal man can never understand the things of GOD. Therefore let creationism be thought in school since the state and federal law is not against it.

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Derek Hill November 23, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Thank you again for another informative article Jack! The Bible has lots of support archaeologically and I am encouraged by your words and I am encouraged ultimately by Christ’s words since He is the Word and He taught the Word as it should! I must add that evolution provides no positive outlook for eternity anyways. Survival of the fittest means that if I am weaker than I die and that is it. No thanks, life in Christ is much more appealing and is absolute truth! God bless you brother!

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Jack Wellman November 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Thank you brother Derek. I think that science can tell how how but not why, and tell us what but know Who. I so much enjoy your encouragement my friend. May God richly bless you as you have us and me personally.

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