December 11, 2012
Creationism in public schools should be given the same consideration as the concept of a flat Earth. Unfortunately, those who argue in favor of science generally do not present the strongest argument.
That argument is that oil, gas and mineral exploration companies hire geologists to find areas of the Earth with economically significant resources. This involves reconstructing a complexity of geological events and processes that occurred over hundreds of millions of years, and reconstructing that geologic history generally involves the use of the fossil record. Exploration for these resources costs hundreds of millions and sometimes even billions of dollars.
When such big money is put at risk, the concepts and theories of geological sciences, including evolution and the principle of fossil succession, are used; creation science isn't. Students should be made aware of this.
Stanley C. Finney
The writer, a professor in the department of geological sciences at Cal State Long Beach, chairs the International Commission on Stratigraphy.
Steve Lopez draws attention to how far down the proverbial slippery slope our tolerance for ignorance has fallen. It dishonors our public schools and their efforts to educate students in the rigors of science to allow school-affiliated clubs to serve as de facto challenges to established curriculum.
Students may have the right to pray on campus in their club meetings, but they do not have the right to use school property to be "de-educated" in religious doctrine that asks them to ignore biology, geology and chemistry. Neither do students have the right to have an adult religious figure lead their club meetings on school grounds, outside of the rare instances for which the subject matter to be discussed is reviewed by the administration and found not to conflict with the school's educational responsibilities.
In short, there is no place for creationism in public schools.
Lopez mentions creationism and intelligent design, and he quotes UC Irvine biologist Francisco J. Ayala, a former priest who believes evolution and a belief in God are compatible.
It would have been good for Lopez to mention alongside creationism and "intelligent design" the idea of "theistic evolution," a term that describes the views of a significant number of evangelical Christians. There is a wide range of views among proponents of intelligent design. For example, biochemist Michael Behe, author of "Darwin's Black Box" and "The Edge of Evolution," is convinced that people and chimpanzees have a common ancestor. I do think that it is good for students (along with the rest of us) to consider various views.