Does God Belong in Public Schools?

By Kent Greenawalt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Teaching Natural Science II: Evolutionism,
Creationism, and Intelligent Design

A CAREFUL ASSESSMENT OF the place of evolution, creationism, and intelligent design in public schools requires matching the specific claims and methodological foundations of each against an analysis of what belongs in a science course and what counts as teaching religion.


SCIENCE AND MATERIAL FOR SCIENCE COURSES

Educators need to evaluate whether any theory about the development of life is “scientific,” or nevertheless closely enough related to science to belong in a science course, and whether, from a scientific standpoint, the theory is minimally plausible.


Minimum Plausibility

Although I have no expertness in evaluating the plausibility of scientific claims, my appraisals are nevertheless worth stating, both because almost anyone trying to figure out what is true overall must engage a field in which he is not expert1 and because many educational officials and virtually all judges who must discern if educational decisions are constitutional will lack special scientific competence.

Jeffrie Murphy says that scientific creationists regard their account as “a highly confirmed scientific hypothesis,” which can be established by empirical evidence.2 If evolution and creationism were both scientific theories and were about equally plausible from a scientific point of view, teaching them both in biology courses as alternatives would make sense.

If a theory, while relying on scientific evidence, has almost no scientific plausibility, science teachers, and textbook authors, should not present it as having a substantial probability of being

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