Academic journal article The Science Teacher

This View of Life

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

This View of Life

Article excerpt

Recently a colleague came to me for advice. A student in her ninth-grade biology class wanted to be excused from the "evolution unit" for religious reasons. With more than four in ten Americans continuing to believe that God created humans 10,000 years ago (Gallup 2016), such a request is undoubtedly common in our biology classrooms.

My colleague and I worked out an approach that started with discussing several important ideas with the student:

* Evolution and religion are different ways of knowing that need not conflict. Science and faith can coexist. Scientists like Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins (and many others) find evolution compatible with faith, while many religious groups accept evolution (Pew 2014).

* Evolution is so well established by a preponderance of empirical evidence that there is no longer any room for scientific debate or controversy.

* Evolutionary theory is supported by virtually all scientists and scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and many others. The position statement of the National Science Teachers Association affirms that "if evolution is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy needed to be well-informed citizens and prepared for college and STEM careers" (NSTA 2013, p. 1).

* State and national standards require the teaching of evolution. The Next Generation Science Standards include evolution as a core idea in the life sciences and take a firm stand that students must learn about evolution. …

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