What Should Students Be Told About the Origins of Life?

By Voices
Sunday, June 5, 2005

Science curriculum should comprise the theory of evolution and include the scientific evidence found to date to substantiate current conclusions. Science courses should not include ideas that are not supported by scientific facts and findings.

Philosophy curriculum should comprise "higher intelligence" theories regarding the earth's beginnings. These theories do not need scientific facts and findings, but are based on belief (philosophical or religious).

I have no problem with both curricula being taught in public schools -- science and philosophy. But keep them separate. Or if they are taught together, promote evolution as science and promote beliefs without scientific proof as philosophy.

-- Jeanne Trapani, Springfield

If parents want other theories taught with evolution, then they should send their kids to religious schools. Any teaching of a creator is religious in nature (i.e., intelligent design) and not fit for public classrooms, as it confuses real science with religious faith.

Look to Copernicus and Galileo for examples of how the Catholic Church got it wrong with regard to science conflicting with religious teachings. Science will continue to push the boundaries of our faith and explain what once could only be explained by religion.

-- Robert E. Stachler , Atlanta

Students should be told that evolution is a purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. Scientists who support evolution believe that the universe should be interpreted in a strictly naturalistic manner. Students should also be informed about coexisting origin-of-life explanations, which are based upon alternative interpretations of the same evidence used to support evolution.

The issue with evolution is that its supporting definition of "science" rejects all but the most strictly naturalistic derivations of "truth." This "science" has evolved into a virulent and intolerant "religion" which demands that everyone must deny the existence of anything except nature itself.

-- Eric F. Samuda , Corona, Calif.

Students should be told that some respected scientists find Darwin's theory inadequate because it is based on 19th-century science, which does not account for the 21st-century science of molecular structure of life. Study of the molecular structure of complex systems will help students understand how life works and see the shortcomings of Darwin's theory. Students should be told that irreducibly complex systems, such as the blood-clotting system, disprove Darwin's theory.

Students should be told about intelligent design and creationism. They can learn the science behind each theory and become better students.

-- Vonderlear Fields , Clinton

While I would like to literally believe the Judeo-Christian version of the creation of life, I actually believe that it is an oral tradition to explain something unexplainable to earlier people. In my belief system, God did have a hand in giving us a mind to use, and I am willing to use it to explore this world He has put me in. I can also believe that He had something to do with the big bang and with pushing along certain evolutionary feats and still not believe that He created the world in seven days.

This country was founded on the principle that one religion is not more important than another. And to teach in public schools the biblical version of creation, one must also teach versions of various other religions no matter how odd they seem to a Judeo-Christian.

Worldwide the scientific explanation of evolution is the commonly accepted reality of how life got to where it is. If the United States becomes a country where creationism is taught as accepted, we open ourselves to be the laughingstock of the world.

-- Carolyn Faraday , Herndon

Next month's question: Is it morally acceptable to conduct medical research involving stem cells from human embryos? E-mail your answer (100 words or less) tovoices@washpost.com. Include a daytime phone number. For more answers to today's question, go tohttp://www.washingtonpost.com/religion.


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