How do creationists explain evolution?

Didactic main ideas on dealing with creationism in schools and in public

by Prof. Dr. Horst Bayrhuber, Leibniz Institute for Science Education, Kiel

 

Horst Bayrhuber, IPN Kiel

Background discussion of the science press conference on the topic
 "Creationists / Evolutionary Biologists"

 Cologne, September 26, 2006

 Didactic central ideas for dealing with creationism in schools and in public

Overview

 

  1. Creationists make unscientific statements about nature; they cannot explain what happens in nature. The discussion with them must therefore take place with epistemological arguments, on the basis of solid knowledge from biology and other sciences.

  2. Creationists mistakenly equate creationism with theism and the acceptance of the theory of descent and evolutionary theory with atheism. Dealing with them must therefore also be based on theological arguments. These are to be strictly separated from biological arguments.

  3. The doctrine of descent affects the self-image of humans. In the discussion with the creationists it must be clear that the personal character of the human being is not called into question by the doctrine of descent.

  4. Creationists secretly pursue socio-political goals. Dealing with them must therefore also be based on arguments from the social sciences.

  5. The school lays the foundations for an interdisciplinary approach to creationism in biology classes, religion classes, geography classes, physics classes and politics classes. The interdisciplinary teaching must be evaluated and the teachers must be prepared for it during the course.

  6. Misconceptions about evolution make it difficult to deal with this topic in class and in communication with the public. The widespread teleological conception of evolution is closer to the creationist conception than to the theory of evolution.

  7. A (Darwin) Science Center is required in Germany to provide information to the public.

1. Creationists make unscientific statements about nature; they cannot explain natural occurrences. The discussion with them must therefore take place with epistemological arguments, on the basis of solid knowledge from biology and other sciences.

  • Creationists believe that the theory of evolution cannot explain the development of complex biosystems and therefore reject this theory. They claim such systems are the result of deliberate planning by the Creator. In contrast, in the natural sciences, a theory that cannot explain certain phenomena is modified, supplemented or replaced by another more explanatory theory. A scientific theory is verifiable. To replace such a theory with a doctrine of faith (doctrine of creation) means to stop the theory development and thus to end the scientific work.

  • The assumption "God created the world" cannot be falsified and is therefore not a scientific hypothesis.

    • Anyone who puts forward such a "hypothesis" cannot fail scientifically; because a statement about God's creative activity cannot be checked, so it can neither be proven nor refuted. The creationist statement mentioned is therefore not a scientific hypothesis. Intelligent design is therefore not part of the natural sciences, it is not a sub-discipline of biology. Generally, no falsifiable hypotheses can be derived from a doctrine of creation, it is therefore scientifically empty and does not provide any explanations of natural occurrences.

    • In contrast, the theory of evolution includes all results of biology without contradiction, no result of biology contradicts it. On this basis, numerous predictions have been made about homologies or the structure of genes in different species. The theory of evolution is also consistent with the results of other disciplines, e.g. geology and astrophysics, which were obtained independently of the theory of evolution.

    • Although DARWIN's theory of evolution z. B. was modified on the basis of knowledge of molecular biology, it turned out to be applicable in the no. Nevertheless, there is a dispute about Darwinism in biology (see e.g. "Critical Theory of Evolution"). Corresponding critics, however, do not reject evolution, but try to explain it in another way. They in no way replace the theory of evolution with a theory of creation.

  • Like any scientific theory, the theory of evolution cannot be regarded as conclusively concluded. It may not yet provide a complete description of the cause. The description of the parentage relationships or the course of the parentage history should also not be completed. Further contributions in this regard can be expected as new sources are opened up. However, the theory of evolution is to be regarded as a sufficient theory.

 


2. Creationists mistakenly equate creationism with theism and the acceptance of the theory of descent and evolutionary theory with atheism. Dealing with them must therefore also deal with theological ones Arguments take place. These are to be strictly separated from biological arguments.

  • The statement that God cannot be part of a scientific hypothesis is by no means identical with the statement that God does not exist. The methodological restriction to empirically verifiable information does not mean that that which cannot be verified does not exist. Therefore representatives of the theory of evolution are not necessarily atheists.

  • Anyone who believes that he will lose the meaning of life if he accepts the doctrine of descent and the theory of evolution cannot be convinced of the opposite by a correct presentation of the doctrine of descent and the theory of evolution, but only through a theological correction of this view. From the theological point of view, it can be justified that the Creator cares for the universe and that he willed evolution, the causes of which biology describes, as well as man as its result, who can recognize the Creator as the meaning and goal of life.
    Theological and biological arguments do not conflict with strict separation.

3. The doctrine of descent affects the self-understanding of humans. In the Dealing with the creationists must make it clear that the The doctrine of descent does not question the personality of the human beingis provided.

  • In relation to other living beings, people experience themselves as absolutely unique, they perceive themselves as fundamentally different from other species. According to the theory of descent, on the other hand, Homo sapiens is a result of speciation in evolution, i.e. one species of many. Seen in this way, humans are not biologically unique and fundamentally different from other living beings; they are part of nature. On the basis of anatomical and physiological properties as well as biochemical features (e.g. protein structure, DNA, RNA sequences), it can be classified into a consistent taxonomic system of all types of life.

  • The described self-image of humans can hinder the acceptance of the theory of descent and the theory of evolution. It must therefore be made clear that its classification in a system of living still leaves man with reason and responsibility (personal character) and thus does not undermine his special position.

4. Creationists secretly pursue socio-political goals. The Dealing with them must therefore also include social science Arguments take place.

  • The development within creationism from "Creation Science" to "Intelligent Design" is owed to the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which stipulates the separation of state and religion. The development within creationism is intended to obscure the religious character of creationism. Thereby it should be stylized into a science so that it can become the subject of the curricula of state schools.

  • For the Discovery Institute in Seattle, the inclusion of intelligent design in biology classes is only considered to be a milestone in achieving social change in the sense of evangelical ideas about how society is organized, e.g. about the role of women or how to deal with homosexuals: One of the "Twenty years goals "of the Discovery Institute is called" To see intelligent design theory penetrate our religious, cultural, moral and political life ". This goal is veiled in the public display of creationism. Dealing with creationism therefore also requires sociological analyzes.

5. In school, the foundations for interdisciplinary discussion are established with creationism in biology classes, religion classes, Geography classes, physics classes and politics classes. The Interdisciplinary teaching needs to be evaluated and teachers need to be in Study to be prepared for him. 

  • In biology lessons it must be made clear that from an epistemological point of view, intelligent design does not make biological, but theological statements.

  • Religious education must make it clear that this type of theology is not at the level of theological science; it must interpret the biblical accounts of creation in their historical context and according to their theological objectives. When religious education deals with questions of the goal and meaning of the doctrine of creation, it clearly and unambiguously differentiates this approach from the biological explanation of the doctrine of descent.

  • The suggestion of the representatives of intelligent design that their views should be treated on an equal footing with the theory of evolution in biology lessons is unacceptable because scientifically unprovable or refutable belief statements would have to be conveyed as ostensibly biological statements. Biology lessons cannot be used as a Trojan horse for the purpose of religious proclamation. It is therefore not unfair to reject the demand for equal treatment of the theory of evolution and intelligent design.

  • In the biology class, the theory of evolution, tribal history and human evolution are worked out.

    • A special focus is the topic of self-organization. It is made clear that, in the course of evolution, the complexity of the structure and information processing of biosystems through self-organization, i.e. without regulatory interventions from outside, increased continuously.

    • According to the KMK educational standards for the lower secondary level and the propaedeutic science principles of the upper level, it is also made clear how a biologist comes to true and generally valid statements (competence area "knowledge acquisition").

    • In an interdisciplinary way, biology lessons continue to show that the theory of evolution is in harmony with a large number of scientific content in other disciplines, which would also have to be abandoned if the theory of evolution were replaced by a doctrine of creation and the time of creation according to the statements of the Bible 6000 years would be scheduled. Examples are: Big Bang, age and expansion of the universe, aging and dying of stars, plate tectonics.

    • Evolution in biology lessons must not only be dealt with at the end of secondary levels I and II. Since all findings in biology can be easily assigned to the theory of evolution, it can and should be made clear over and over again over all school years that biological phenomena also have evolutionary (ultimate) causes.

  • Physics lessons and geography lessons deal with the specific contributions of physics and geosciences to the formation and development of space or the earth and also place an emphasis on questions of scientific knowledge acquisition.

  • In politics lessons, the image of society that creationism does not expressly favor should be discussed. It should become clear that socio-political goals are hidden in the intelligent design approach (ideological analysis).

  • New interdisciplinary teaching concepts need to be evaluated. The following questions arise:

    • Under which teaching conditions (contexts, activities) are students interested in interdisciplinary topics?

    • Under which teaching conditions do the students acquire adequate knowledge and can misconceptions about evolution be overcome?

    • Are the sub-topics appropriate to the ages for which they have been selected?

    • The training of religion teachers and biology teachers must be interdisciplinary so that both groups of teachers can adequately deal with the subjects of evolution and creation in the classroom from an epistemological perspective. In the course of biology, questions of the theology of the creation must therefore also be dealt with, and questions of evolutionary biology in the theology course.

 


6. Misconceptions about evolution make this topic difficult to deal with in teaching and in communication with the public. The widespread teleological conception of evolution represents the creationist View closer than the theory of evolution.

  • Many students have a teleological conception of evolution; they see evolution as a linear historical process that leads to the "improvement" of living beings and do not realize that variations occur by chance. It is not clear to these students that those forms inevitably prevail in evolution which, under given environmental conditions, have the highest reproductive success. The teleological misconception stands in the way of insight into the interplay of chance and necessity (random variation, necessary selection) in evolution.
    Many students also find it difficult to differentiate between genes and traits. It is therefore not clear to them that selection affects the phenotype. Research is required on the question of the conditions under which misconceptions can best be further developed in the direction of scientific ideas. Research also needs to clarify whether the teleological notion of evolution facilitates the acceptance of creationist notions.

  • It cannot be assumed that a scientifically correct idea of ​​the causes and the course of evolution is widespread among the public. For this reason there are also limits to the understanding of newspaper articles on evolution.

7. There is a (Darwin) Science in Germany for public information Center required.

To date, there has been no science center in Germany for communication with the public, in which the basics of the theory of descent and the theory of evolution and the additional information required for dealing with creationism can be presented in a clear and understandable manner, and the visitors can acquire relevant knowledge in their own work.

In such a science center, a school laboratory should also enable school classes to empirically work on the subject of evolution under supervision.

A multimedia department should develop and evaluate materials for the information of schools and the general public in cooperation with scientific journalists, natural scientists, specialist didactics and scientific organizations.

Such a science center could counteract the missionary activity of the creationists on a scientific basis, which is likely to be significantly strengthened in Germany sooner or later.

© Prof. Dr. Horst Bayrhuber
Leibniz Institute for Science Education (LPN)
at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Olshausenstrasse 62 24098 Kiel

released for www.palaeo.de/edu/kreationismus with the kind permission of Prof. Bayrhuber

Can be quoted under:

http://www.palaeo.de/edu/kreationismus/info/bayrhuber.html or.
http://www.palaeo.de/edu/kreationismus/info/bayrhuber.pdf