Illinois teacher may be fired for teaching creationism

Katherine - posted on 03/23/2011 ( 86 moms have responded )

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Illinois parents are enraged over 11th grade science teacher, Beau Schaefer’s incorporation of creationism into his science lessons, and some are calling for his dismissal. Schaefer openly admits he did indeed teach creationism alongside evolution.



Last night, the school board called a meeting and parents on both sides of the issue spoke. The superintendent made it clear that there is no black or white area in his opinion, saying that the Supreme Court has already decided that teaching creationism is not allowed in public schools.



But I tend to agree with the parents who supported Schaefer.



His students are 16 years old and at an age where they can, and should be learning everything possible about various views so they can take them in and decide for themselves what they believe to be true. Students say that the teacher only tested on evolution but spoke about creationism. With no grades attached to his lessons, I don’t see why this is being made such a large issue. Of course, an atheiest activist is saying that he gave quizzes that pushed students to believe that creationism was science.



As a parent, I want my kids to learn all they can about everything. There are no theories I want them shielded from by the time they are in their late teen years, educationally speaking. To deny them learning about a very basic view that many people have seems absurd. In fact, it is the opposite of what an education should be. To me, an education should present a person with knowledge and views of all kinds. Then and only then can anyone deicide what they believe. An education should not produce mindless drones with the same beliefs.



I think what Schaefer did would only open up a dialogue for kids to discuss and debate. After all, these are kids are only a couple of years away from college age.



The school board said they were not calling for Schaefer’s dismissal but they were planning on taking steps to ensure that he would never teach any part of creationism again. The superintendent did not comment on what exact action would yet be taken.



Would you object to your child learning about creationism? At some point in their lives, won’t they learn about it anyway?



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Krista - posted on 03/23/2011

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I guess if my kids were going to learn about Creationism, I would rather it be in a Comparative Religion course with approved curriculum.

But Creationism has no place in a science class. It would be like a Sunday School teacher suddenly deciding to teach about evolution. Do you think parents would be happy about that?

Creationism is not science. It is religion. Science is science. Science belongs in science class and religion belongs in religious classes. Full stop.

Sara - posted on 03/25/2011

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" personally do not have the stance that evolution is fact. It is a theory. Facts are things that someone has seen and produce evidence of. I personally do not think that the begining of the world can be proven by any fact at all as there is no way to recreate the action and no one was around at the time".

But it's not a theory in the sense that it has not been proven. You can observe evolution in action through just a few generations of some animals, so it can be observed. And because it can be observed means that it can be extrapolated to trying to understand the origin of things. I mean, look at DNA. If you look at the DNA of a human, a chimp, a fish...any animal really, you would see that it all kind of maps itself out like a tree, one giant family tree. So, it can be extrapolated from that evidence that we must all have a common ancestor, so then even more can be extrapolated from that. You see, all of these are things that can be proven and have been. God and creation and all that has no proof and to lump it all in the same category as scientific evidence is a tragedy.

Ava - posted on 03/24/2011

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Creationism is in no way science. It cannot be proven, disproven, tested, or even evidenced. It is in NO way a hypothesis let alone a theory. It does not belong in any classroom. Period. I would also push to fire any teacher that taught creationism in the classroom. It is not 'the controversy', it is not another hypothesis. It is a myth only. It is in no way scientific, again. There's no debate. Also, creationism is not the opposition to evolution, but rather the opposition to the idea of the big bang happening by chance. So if it did belong anywhere equally, it would be a physics classroom, not a biology classroom. Evolution is fact, as much as heliocentricism or gravity. Get over it.

Krista - posted on 04/26/2011

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Evolution is a "theory" in much the same sense as the theory of gravity is a theory. In other words, it's as close to absolute truth as you can get. The thing is, though, the scientific community always leaves itself some wiggle room for new discoveries -- hence the use of the word "theory". They're never going to say, "We know all there is to know about this topic."

And as far as religion goes...well, it is easy to answer every question under the sun when you're not constrained by having to produce solid evidence that is subject to peer-review. I suppose that is why so many people find religion so comforting: it provides ALL the answers.

But that doesn't mean those answers are the right ones.

ME - posted on 03/25/2011

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I get SO sick of hearing that Evolution isn't 100% true! Scientific Theories are REQUIRED to be falsifiable! If they aren't falsifiable, they are considered BAD science. This is what makes creationism incompatible with science. Any theory that cannot be proven false has NO place in a science classroom. It will only confuse our students!

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ME - posted on 04/26/2011

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Just covered this in class today. Scientific theories are required to be FALSIFIABLE, if they aren't falsifiable, they are poor science. Hypotheses that cannot be tested, peer reviewed and studied, cannot be considered science in any manner.

Colleen - posted on 04/26/2011

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On the surface, I would have no problem w/ my children being taught all theories about how and why the world exists. My daughter is 6 and believes God created everything, while I am an atheist who believes in evolution. The difficulty, as I've found through some friends is after class, when the kids discuss what they learned in class and form "sides". My friend, a fellow atheist whos daughters are also atheist, lives in Alabama. The children were taught evolution in science. After class, the children discussed what they learned versus what they believed. This is a fairly religious area. My friends kids were teased and bullied by the other children for their beliefs. So while they didn't have a class dealing w/ creatiosm, the fact that that belief is so prevelant there, and even though evolution is taught in school, it is a minority belief, I can see how children who both look for ways to belong and keep others from enjoying simialar status could use a conversation/debate like this in class to castigate other stdents who hold a different belief/value system.

Jennifer - posted on 04/26/2011

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Well, creationism has the support of many scientists and philosphers as well as Christians and Jews. Evolution is only a theory and does not answer many of the basic questions of where we came from. I find myself on the other side of this fence since I would like my child's school to teach creationism. However, I can understand how parents who expect a teacher to stick to a defined curriculum would be upset to find out that the teacher is not following it. I don't think it would hurt the students to be allowed to be exposed to both ideas and then debate it.

ME - posted on 03/26/2011

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Intelligent design theory is a failure on many levels. Scientists do not hold it up as a possibility, nor do Philosophers. The only people who continue to push this faith based belief are those who already believe in the Western/Christian god. They do this despite the fact that IDT (ie, Creationism) cannot prove anything that they "want" it to prove either deductively OR inductively. Evolution is the ONLY accepted paradigm available currently.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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That's what I was taking it as... beings you were forming your posts as questions. I really didn't know your stance, not that it really would have mattered anyways. It wouldn't have changed any of my responses. ;) I do the same thing in some threads so I get it.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Yip I was asking questions and getting the answers, but I happen to agree with you. But I like to put forward other senarios and see what comes out. I didn't mean to confuse people I was just putting out a different train of thought. I am a traditionalist and can be very conservative but when it come to logical thought I tend to argue every side to make sure of my own convictions and find out about other peoples ideas and thoughts. That way I understand anothers way of thinking. Sorry about that.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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I thought Desiree was more or less asking questions. I was providing her with answers (at least to the best of my knowledge!) Desiree you're going to have to explain yourself now! haha!

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Thanks Laura;-) I think I may have gotten a bit carried away. It's a very interesting subject choice. If my parish priest had to hear some of my thoughts ..... It's times like these I am glad its not 150 years back. I would have been burnt at the stake for heresy.



Don't you love a good debate.;)

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Well I agree it is a very wide subject. I was intrested in all points of view regarding Science and how it is viewed. The word itself doesn't define itself as one particular thing.

Philosophical Materialistic Evolution does not accept the supernatuaral meaning there is no God. Darwin rejected the notion of the bible, God and Creationism.

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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Jennifer, I think you might be arguing with people who agree with you...I noticed it a while ago as well.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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Yes but what science classes are we teaching in HS? Biology, Chemistry, Physics? If we taught science by your definition that would be a very broad topic now wouldn't it?

Sara - posted on 03/26/2011

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So you think that unproven science belongs in a high school science curriculum, is that what you're saying? Your last post was little confusing to me...

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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Methodological Materialistic Evolution-- that one I can personally accept as a 'plausable' theory, intelligent design influencing evolution. But until science proves that intelligent design exists it cannot be taught in a science class. How would you teach it anyhow? You wouldn't be able to teach the Bible story of it. You could simply state: one theory is Methodological Materialistic Evolution and explain what that is.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Science as you are discribing is proved Science and doesn't take into account all sciences. Which incorporates a number or subjects but maybe that should be for a different discussion. The Definition of Science is from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.



Edit: Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.



I agree that Religion has its place, But Evolution and Darwin are forms of science and they also have their place and yet they are listed as creationism.

Sara - posted on 03/26/2011

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But all of those creationist theories are based on the belief of a God. That's why I think a lot of people don't want that taught in science class...any of them.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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Ok so why didn't my last post go up. :P maybe it's just delayed.....
Sorry Desiree, I added more to my last post...
but we only teach 'proven' theories in highschool science classes not theories that are highly up for debate. I think we're getting the idea of theories confused....
A "scientific theory" comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.

A "common theory" is just a guess based on opinion and belief.

I'd have to be given more specifics on these theories you're speaking of.

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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and I don't mind them learning about that by the way...I did (in English class)...what I have a problem with is them being tested on fairy tales in science class.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Different types of Creationism are:
"Flat Earthers

Flat Earthers believe that the earth is flat and is covered by a solid dome or firmament. Waters above the firmament were the source of Noah's flood. This belief is based on a literal reading of the Bible, such as references to the "four corners of the earth" and the "circle of the earth." Few people hold this extreme view, but some do.

Geocentrism

Geocentrists accept a spherical earth but deny that the sun is the center of the solar system or that the earth moves. As with flat-earth views, the water of Noah's flood came from above a solid firmament. The basis for their belief is a literal reading of the Bible. "It is not an interpretation at all, it is what the words say." (Willis 2000) Both flat-earthers and geocentrists reflect the cosmological views of ancient Hebrews. Geocentrism is not common today, but one geocentrist (Tom Willis) was intrumental in revising the Kansas elementary school curriculum to remove references to evolution, earth history, and science methodology.

Young-Earth Creationism

Young Earth Creationists (YEC) claim a literal interpretation of the Bible as a basis for their beliefs. They believe that the earth is 6000 to 10,000 years old, that all life was created in six literal days, that death and decay came as a result of Adam & Eve's Fall, and that geology must be interpreted in terms of Noah's Flood. However, they accept a spherical earth and heliocentric solar system. Young-Earth Creationists popularized the modern movement of scientific creationism by taking the ideas of George McCready Price, a Seventh Day Adventist, and publishing them in The Genesis Flood (Whitcomb & Morris 1961). YEC is probably the most influential brand of creationism today.

Omphalos

The Omphalos argument, first expounded in a book of that name by Philip Henry Gosse (1857), argues that the universe was created young but with the appearance of age, indeed that an appearance of age is necessary. This position appears in some contemporary young earth creationist writing. For example, Whitcomb & Morris (1961, p. 232) argue that earth's original soils were created appearing old. The position is sometimes satirized by suggesting that the universe was created last week with only an appearance of older history.
Old Earth Creationism

Old-Earth Creationists accept the evidence for an ancient earth but still believe that life was specially created by God, and they still base their beliefs on the Bible. There are a few different ways of accomodating their religion with science.

Gap Creationism (also known as Restitution Creationism)

This view says that there was a long temporal gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, with God recreating the world in 6 days after the gap. This allows both an ancient earth and a Biblical special creation.

Day-Age Creationism

Day-age creationists interpret each day of creation as a long period of time, even thousands or millions of years. They see a parallel between the order of events presented in Genesis 1 and the order accepted by mainstream science. Day-Age Creationism was more popular than Gap Creationism in the 19th and and early 20th centuries.

Progressive Creationism

Progressive Creationism is the most common Old-Earth Creationism view today. It accepts most of modern physical science, even viewing the Big Bang as evidence of the creative power of God, but rejects much of modern biology. Progressive Creationists generally believe that God created "kinds" of organisms sequentially, in the order seen in the fossil record, but say that the newer kinds are specially created, not genetically related to older kinds.

Intelligent Design Creationism

Intelligent Design Creationism descended from Paley's argument that God's design could be seen in life (Paley 1803). Modern IDC still makes appeals to the complexity of life and so varies little from the substance of Paley's argument, but the arguments have become far more technical, delving into microbiology and mathematical logic.

In large part, Intelligent Design Creationism is used today as an umbrella anti-evolution position under which creationists of all flavors may unite in an attack on scientific methodology in general (CRSC, 1999). A common tenet of IDC is that all beliefs about evolution equate to philosophical materialism.

Evolutionary Creationism

Evolutionary Creationism differs from Theistic Evolution only in its theology, not in its science. It says that God operates not in the gaps, but that nature has no existence independent of His will. It allows interpretations consistent with both a literal Genesis and objective science, allowing, for example, that the events of creation occurred, but not in time as we know it, and that Adam was not the first biological human but the first spiritually aware one.

Theistic Evolution

Theistic Evolution says that God creates through evolution. Theistic Evolutionists vary in beliefs about how much God intervenes in the process. It accepts most or all of modern science, but it invokes God for some things outside the realm of science, such as the creation of the human soul. This position is promoted by the Pope and taught at mainline Protestant seminaries.

Methodological Materialistic Evolution

Materialistic Evolution differs from Theistic Evolution in saying that God does not actively interfere with evolution. It is not necessarily atheistic, though; many Materialistic Evolutionists believe that God created evolution, for example. Materialistic evolution may be divided into methodological and philosophical materialism. Methodological materialism limits itself to describing the natural world with natural causes; it says nothing at all about the supernatural, neither affirming nor denying its existence or its role in life.

Philosophical Materialistic Evolution

Philosophical materialism says that the supernatural does not exist. It says that not only is evolution a natural process, but so is everything else."

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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Sorry Desire, I added more to my post. But again... we only treach 'proven' theory in highschool science classes. Not theories that are highly up for debate.
I'd need some specifics to understand what theories you're talking about.

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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I think creationism (in contrast to evolution) would say that Humans did not evolve...that God made man out of dirt and woman out of a man's rib.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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That I understand but even under that point there are a total of 13 different forms including some that work with science.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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Intelligent design basically. But the type we're talking about in this thread is Christianity's belief on creation.



Edit to add: Most scientists don't 'rule out' intelligent design because they can't prove it's not the case. Although Stephen Hawkings is working on it. Not for the purpose of ruling out intelligent design but explaining the beginning of the universe. He will probably not discover the answer himself, but he has/will paved the way for future scientists.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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I have a question What do you define as Creationism? because there are several different forms both reffering to Religious and non religious form of Creationism.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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I said there is 'little' room for error. :) All scientists will agree that there are exceptions to every rule and nothing is 100%. Perfection does not exist.

Science never states it is 100% correct it states it is highly probable. Creationism is not even close to being considered highly probable and is not an accepted theory in the scientific community.

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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so we should teach children that the world might be flat...I foresee a LONG difficult school year from now on if we are teaching everything that MIGHT be.

The fact is that religion is NOT science and should not be taught as such.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Anything that is touched by mankind is open for errors. That includes Science, and any other subject for that matter.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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No it allows us to expand on those theories. The theories themselves are not incorrect Einstein's theory of relativity still stands true today. Other scientists like Stephen Hawkings have expanded and branched out on his original theory. The theory is still correct, it has paved the way to explain theories involving the universe.

In modern science having advanced tools, strict methods, countless experients involved, review by the scientific community and widely agreed upon before a theory or fact is accepted leaves little room for error.

Modern theories are not proven incorrect they merely evolve.

Isobel - posted on 03/26/2011

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Should we also go into great detail explaining how the world MIGHT be flat in geography class?

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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And the science of today won't stand up to the science of tomorrow, so it all becomes relative doesn't it?

Krista - posted on 03/26/2011

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I wish they'd taught alchemy in science class...that would have been cool.

Tracey - posted on 03/26/2011

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So if I believe that bears live in a cottage in the woods, eat porridge and get visited by little blonde girls, that pigs have informed debates as to the best materials to build a house out of straw, stick or bricks, and that my fairy godmother can turn a pumpkin into a coach can I teach that in lessons?

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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Yes they do teach what theories led up to the modern theory. As in, first we figured out this, which allowed us to expand on it to this theory, which allowed further expansion to this theory. But it's not in the form of a history lesson it's taught to show how we arrived at our modern conclusion. They don't teach 'dead' theories.

Creationism is not a proven theory. We only teach proven theories not every theory that has been thrown out the window and highly regarded as disproven or holds no scientific proof. That would be a lot of ground to cover and holds no real purpose because historically science experiments and theories were flawed and many based on opinion or 'belief' not to mention, have been disproven.

Creationism cannot stand up against the science of today. Therefore there is no point in teaching it in a science class.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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The history of Science still belongs in Science class you have to know how it came about. Science didn't just happen it came from somewhere it isn't just because that is the way it is..Nothing in life is like that everything fits together that is how it all works.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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We don't teach outdated science. Alchemy was once a science but we don't teach it in school. It's a science class not a history class.

Desiree - posted on 03/26/2011

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Sometime the 2 do go together especially when you are trying to prove a scientific proof and are using parallels between the 2. Just remember one the creationism was the science of its time. just like the earth was flat at one point. So I don't see much of a difference, creationism is part of the history of science and one day in it's own good time the science of today will change and proven to be insuffcient evidence so then what will happen? Even if a teacher is hired to teach a curriculm he must shut up because his opinion doesn't matter. Then what the hell was he hired for. A teacher who hasn't got an opinion about his subject is not worth the paper his degree was written on. And don't think for one minute that any other teacher doesn't use some of what he loves and his personality goes to teach a class.

[deleted account]

I say that creationism should be taught at home. It was taught to us in school when I was a kid as a "theory" just as evolution was taught as a "more scientifically plausible theory". I think if the parents want it taught they should think about going to church. It is better taught through church and family than any other way.

Isobel - posted on 03/25/2011

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teach my children philosophies in philosophy class and scientific theory in science class...they have nothing in common and should never come into the same room as each other.

[deleted account]

Well, it's not even that, is it, Krista? The teacher should stick to the curriculum and teach the stuff the kids need to know for further science classes, but it sounds as though what he's done is against the law!

But yeah, if he wanted to stand on a crate in a street corner spouting his beliefs, he has every right to do so. Or, if he wanted to teach a class on philosophy, theology or even anthropology, he could then insert Creationism appropriately. Otherwise, he should stick to the textbook.

Oh yeah, with regard to your Islamic question, I still don't feel that's appropriate. A science teacher is paid to teach the science curriculum, full stop.

Krista - posted on 03/25/2011

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And Desiree, asking a teacher to stick to the approved curriculum is not "shutting him up". He's free to talk about his religion all he wants, on his own time. But his job is to teach science.

Krista - posted on 03/25/2011

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I'd like to pose a question:

If the teacher had been Islamic, and had started teaching his religious views in the middle of a science class...would all of you be so sanguine?

Desiree - posted on 03/25/2011

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For a country that believes in freedom of speech the American Government certainly spends a lot of time shutting it's people up. Makes me wonder about a good many things.

[deleted account]

I actually agree with allowing kids to learn Creationism in the proper class. My boys will be attending an Anglican private school, so they will undoubtedly come across a religion class and learn about Creationism. However, in this instance, it seems pretty cut and dry. The Supreme Court has ruled Creationism is not allowed to be taught in public schools, so this man needs to be reprimanded at the very least.

Johnny - posted on 03/24/2011

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He should be fired. He obviously doesn't understand the basic tenets of science. I think that's pretty elementary for a SCIENCE teacher. I'd freak if my kid's science teacher couldn't even manage to get the basics right.

I have no problem with my child learning about creation myths. In comparative religions or social studies or literature or classics.... Creationism of any form is not a science, it is a story that is the basis for some people's beliefs.

I would absolutely not allow my child to be taught by someone who is clearly totally incompetent in his subject area.

Jessi - posted on 03/24/2011

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i agree with those that are saying -sure teach it in school but not in science.
based solely on the fact that evolution has facts behind it and creationism is a belief.

Jenni - posted on 03/24/2011

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The difference is: evolution is supported by facts, science is based on facts and scientific experiments that prove those facts along with physical evidence, not beliefs.

creationism is purely based on beliefs and does not belong in a science class. Maybe a philosophy class. But it can not hold up against scientific experiments and physical evidence. Therefore, it is entirely based on beliefs which have no business in a science class.



For the most part the only people who argue the validity of evolution are creationists because it is not mentioned in the Bible and in some ways questions the validity of the Bible.

Happy - posted on 03/24/2011

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Thanks for the heads up Jocelyn! And yes I think Phoebe is an imbecile. Always have and don't know too many people who don't!
My thoughts are this, Evolution is not 100%, period. I am not debating whether or not it is closer to 100% fact then anything else. I am stating that, if, I said IF people, creationism is true, then don't you think it is possible for the god of that creation to create things to look and act a certain way over time, in essence a god created evolution.
That is neither hear nor there though. My point is, and remains, no one, absolutely no one knows 100% absolute fact what the answer is to the age old question.
I must say though that I do agree also with Sharon on her point about curriculum. If you sign up as a teacher to teach in XYZ school then you need to use only their approved curriculum, not your own beleifs or opinions. If you feel, as I am assuming this high school teacher was, that your beliefs are in contradiction to the curriculum then you need to resign, not change the material. On the other hand, I think all ideas should be taught, but it is not for me to dictate what is taught in a school unless I am willing to open up my own school and disclose all being taught to the parents of the children being sent to said school.
On the other hand, LOL, I think firing him is a little extreme IF this is his first offense, but yes I do think he was wrong to stray from the curriculum, but lets not crucify him already!
I think I covered everything now! LOL Smile, now worries! Go eat something! =P

Jocelyn - posted on 03/24/2011

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Sorry Laverne (I think she's referring to the friends clip), I didn't mean it in a rude way.

I in no way think that you are an imbecile, you may be surprised to learn that even *I* believe in creationism to a degree.

I posted that clip because of Phoebe's theory on gravity :P It's hilarious lol.

Jenny - posted on 03/24/2011

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I think it's horseshit. If I find out my child's SCIENCE teacher is teaching religion you better believe heads will be rolling. I take my children's education VERY seriously.

How do you "teach" Creationism anyway aside from a blurb of "Some people believe god made everything". There are no facts to teach about Creationism aside from that so really it's nothing but yet another Christian marketing their religon to a captive audience. It makes very angry, how dare they feel their personal beleifs should be taking up valuable learning time.

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