|AN EVOLVING DEBATE
Can Evolution and Creationism Coexist
in the Science Classroom?
May 8, 1998
in this forum:
Why is the faith of one group given prominence over the other? Can science and religion coexist in people's minds? How does teaching creation or evolution help people? Why should a high school science class be burdened with teaching creationism? Which version of creation should be taught, if any? What academic credentials would qualify one to teach an unbiased Evolution vs. Creationism class in public school? Additional Comments... A question from Ashley Dodgen & Ashley Siebert of Greenwich, CT: We are two ninth grade students at Greenwich Academy, in Greenwich CT. Recently in our English class, we have been reading many articles regarding the compatibility of religion and science. We are currently watching the film, "Inherit the Wind," and we are continually perplexed by this issue everyday. In one article that we came across, "Newton's Approach to Science: Honoring the Scripture," author, Larry Vardiman wrote:
"When a conflict becomes evident between an apparent interpretation of the Bible and an apparent finding of science, it is not necessary to force a final determination to be made immediately without further investigation. It is possible that a misinterpretation of either or both of the statements of Scripture or the evidence from science have occurred. Since, of the two, Scripture speaks with greater clarity, until a satisfactory resolution can be made about the conflict, I will proceed with confidence in my interpretation of Scripture. Resolution may not occur in my lifetime."
To what extent do you believe that science and religion can coexist in people's minds? Do you believe that one ultimately overpowers the other? How do you think that our society's perception of the Scopes Trial, reflects how we deal the incompatibility of these institutions?
Dr. Carl Herbster, president of the American Association of Christian Schools, responds:
True science and true religion as taught in Scripture are fully compatible. The Bible teaches direct creation by God, and many scientists believe this. While it is true that the majority of scientists today believe in evolution, we must recognize that evolution is only a theory, not scientifically proven fact. The former evolutionary scientist, Frederick Hoyle, estimated by the laws of probability that the odds of life originating by chance are in the 10 40,000.
Dr. Donald Kennedy, chair of the panel that authored the new guidelines, responds:
I think science and religion are sometimes incompatible, in which case a person either has to resolve the conflict or engage in a form of denial. In other cases -- the origin of life may be one -- science has strong views but not certainty. In that case the position Vardiman describes can be maintained with some comfort. Our society's perception of the Scopes trial is pretty vague (Scopes "lost"; but did he really?), so I don't think it reflects much of anything. You remind me that I must watch Inherit the Wind again!