My home state of Texas is embroiled in a passionate debate on should creationism be part of the science curriculum in public schools and stand side by side as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Moral and political objections aside, given that they are thoroughly played out in the public forum already, I tend to look at this argument from another point of view. Given the desire to treat creationism as a scientific theory, by principle of the scientific method, we will allow the children to challenge the existence of God. Can the faith-based portion of our society accept such consequences?
The scientific method as defined by Wikipedia:
Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
Given this umbrella for which all methods of scientific discovery across multiple disciplines should follow, it is not just the obvious if creationism can sustain such scrutiny, but rather the consequences of the exchange. Tossing aside the need for empirical evidence and experimentation, how does an educator approach the need to test the validity of creationism? More importantly, how will questions of faith be handled in an objective manner?
The great thing about theories, other than their ability to generate consistent reproducible outcomes, is that they are inherently flawed by design. In other words, they are built upon a given body of knowledge that is never in a static state. The theory of evolution contains flaws in it’s inability to explain variance within species or behavior. The same can be said about the big bang theory. The key element is the word ‘theory’ and to apply that to creationism is to introduce the idea of a flawed concept, something many adults can grasp but could be a paradigm shift for the young impressionable minds that require structure and rules to learning that differs from faith.
To obtain knowledge, the student must not only be given the tools and methods to ensure a strong foundation to build from, but also the ability to question what is being taught. Blurring the lines of established principles with a faith-centric concept could potentially lead to a more objective approach to self-awareness, but can established faith accept the objectivity of patrons that will challenge their existence? This may be the ultimate outcome of such discussions. Something I am not sure many are aware of.