I can still recall my science classes from elementary school, as well as my Sunday school classes, but I don’t remember ever having to decipher between their conflicting views as a child.
In science I learned about the environment, chemicals and animals, but not much about how the Earth or people came to be.
That I learned in church; about God, creation and all the other ideas that played such an important role in my religion and life. Now in college, I have created my own set of ideas about the creation of Earth and humans.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Education took a vote to determine whether evolution should be added to the science curriculum for K-12 students. The vote passed, and the teaching of the “scientific theory” of evolution will be added to Florida’s curriculum.
Evolution has long been taught in classrooms by way of code words such as “change over time,” and now that teaching has simply been legitimized. There is concern that calling evolution a theory implies that not much change has occurred at all.
But should young children be taught something that could directly contradict what they learn in their religious institutions?
It is clear that parents pick a child’s religion from birth by taking them to church or temple, reading a holy book, telling them about God(s), etc. As children mature and become adults, they may or may not decide to change their religious affiliation, but they typically become aware that they can make their own judgments.
School-aged children cannot, however, make judgments about many things – especially those taught by an older and presumably wiser individual: a teacher. If children are taught two very different views of the same idea (creation vs. evolution), they are not going to grasp either one fully because it will be too difficult to decide which makes more sense in their lives. It is like trying to teach a dog to shake and roll over, but calling them both “shake.”
Nothing is wrong with the idea of evolution. It has been well supported for many years now, and has gained ample proof for justification, but there is something wrong with teaching it to young children as the only truth. I believe that children should be able to learn about science and Earth in general, but what they are taught should not interfere with what they learn in their religious institutions.
Often, children who are brought up with a religious background have questions regarding what they learn in school compared to what they have learned in Sunday school. They are taught they must have faith and accept things that sometimes seem impossible.
If evolution is presented as the only way humans did indeed come about, it would show no consideration whatsoever for religion as a whole. Public education should not stand as the direct alternative to private or religiously affiliated schools, but should instead embrace diverse ideas, rather than simply providing one.
The decision on behalf of the school board to sanction evolution as an explicit “theory” is undoubtedly the best way to incorporate it without overshadowing the also-common idea of creationism.
Sarah Torrens is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.