I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert on evolution nor Young Earth creationism. My natural science core classes and previous education did not get me a degree in this area of studies. If you are looking for reasoning for why Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution is correct, go read "On the Origin of Species". Fear not, SparkNotes has a summary of it.
Here’s what I do know, or rather, what I believe: Young Earth creationism, or any type of creationism for that matter, is not a viable scientific theory. Furthermore, it should neither be taught in science classes instead of, nor side-by-side with, evolution. Bill Nye, the popular scientist, and Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis, duked it out a week and a half ago over the first point in a moderated debate at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
Doesn’t this debate seem a little outdated? I thought so, but apparently not. In 1925 the Scopes Monkey Trial brought to the nation’s attention the then controversy of teaching modern science instead of creationism in schools. In the last 90 or so years, there has been ongoing debate over the right balance of these two theories in education. With a distinct trend of evolution taking over since 1925, a more recent shift has gone back toward creationism as being a viable subject to talk about in the classroom. The question is, what classroom? Is creationism a subject to be taught with or instead of evolution as a science, or should it be taught in a theology class? Americans have voiced their opinions through polls.
In 2012, a Gallup poll reported that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. In 2000, People for the American Way conducted a poll and reported that 33% of Americans felt that either creationism and evolution, or only creationism, should be taught in science classes. I was extremely surprised by these results. I never would have thought that Ken Ham and his crazy Kentucky followers had company. To think that a large slice of the population wants creationism taught in science class is truly astounding.
Professor Alan Kafka of Boston College conducted a poll in his Geoscience and Public Policy class to determine what students thought of this issue, as he has done for many years. This year, less than 10% of the students who responded to the poll thought that creationism was a better explanation than evolution for explaining how the world works. The trend has been pretty consistent over the last decade. This number, coming from students at a Catholic university, varies from the national trend. It’s safe to say that on the whole, educated citizens definitely favor the more scientific approach to understanding the world. We can assume from this data that these students would feel similarly when asked about creationism in the classroom.
Let’s get to the bulk of the argument. If creationism, including the most extreme Young Earth creationism that Ken Ham aligns himself with, is to be discussed in a science classroom along with or instead of evolution, it must be a viable scientific theory. Well, creationism is not even a viable scientific hypothesis because a hypothesis must be testable, and creationists refuse to do this. Creationist institutions, despite having budgets of millions of dollars, do not perform any scientific research at all. These people are so sure that their ideas are correct that they feel no need to test them.
Nothing about that is scientific. If you are unwilling to test your hypothesis, it cannot be a theory and therefore it is not science. This is theology and should be taught as a religious story of the Earth in a theology class, the same place where the Bible is taught. Creationism is more about literal extrapolation from literature than anything else. A more investigative, less literal approach should be utilized when translating biblical concepts into lived reality.