Hundreds of thousands of people watched the debate Tuesday between Bill Nye, affectionately known as the “science guy,” and Ken Ham, founder of Kentucky’s Creation Museum and critic of the theory of evolution.
As people from all over the country watched, the two men debated long-standing argument between the creationism, the history as outlined by the Bible, and evolution, a topic highly debated in public education over the past century.
Though the two-hour debate shed new insight into both arguments, one question was not answered: Why so many people still consider it a legitimate argument, with both sides having fact-driven verified claims.
While each should maintain and value personal religious beliefs, the concept of creationism is not something to be taught, or even considered being taught, in modern public education.
Creationism, including the key concepts Ham outlined that include the age of the planet only being several thousand years old, a global flood and Noah’s Ark, is a wholly religious concept that should be taught at home or in church.
Evolution on the other hand, which has rigorously been tested by generations of scientists from across the globe, is a strictly fact-based theory created by a scientific method, a critical teaching device of modern science.
Though many facts were presented in the debate, the key thing about evolution is that it is taught as a theory. Though it is taught as near definite based on the great work of Charles Darwin and all who followed, it is also taught as a theory so that students can utilize the scientific method, ask questions, and try to disprove the concept.
Students are not taught evolution as a definite, but they are taught it to challenge their views of the world and think critically. This critical thinking, more than any fundamental belief, is what is needed in public schools.
Beyond the separation of church and state, students shouldn’t be given the concept of creationism, because it is an untestable and based only on faith in what is in a book.
Science, properly taught, actively requires students to put the book down, experiment and find out for themselves. This, more than any other reason, is why evolution is the only scientifically supported claim to the universe and life on earth.
This is what gives us as a society the ability to solve problems and move forward by overcoming new obstacles and advancing civilization as a whole, something Nye said was essential to keeping a thriving culture, education, and economy.
If decades of research dating the planet and millions of fossil records tracing evolutionary changes outlined in modern science have not already discouraged the belief that the earth was created in six days, it is doubtful any new scientific findings will do so.
The debate does not have to end in private views, as there should be more progressive conversation on including evolution in religious doctrine, but as far as the matter of education in the classroom, there should no longer be doubt in evolution by those practicing any particular faith, much the same that the sphere of the earth is no longer debated by the church that it is flat.