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Evolution Education in Michigan

on October 10, 2009
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The Grand Rapids Press: “150th Birthday of ‘On the Origin of Species’ Prompts Area Colleges to Assess Darwin’s ImpactA supporter sent in a fascinating article that focuses on evolution education in Michigan.

November is the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the Press points out, and “most scientists and many in the faith community have accepted the basic tenets of the book,” staff writers assert. “But one area of American society—education—continues to grapple with how to implement Darwin’s theory,” they continue.

“The Press found all of the institutions that teach biology teach Darwinian evolution.”

The authors looked at local colleges and universities, Christian and otherwise, to see what educational attitudes toward Darwin existed. The result? “The Press found all of the institutions that teach biology teach Darwinian evolution.”

Biologist David Warners of Christian Reformed school Calvin College, which teaches evolution as fact, said, “Evolution is the paradigm out of which we teach biology. We’re not trying to hide things; it’s just that we’re not looking for a fight.”

At Hope College, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, biologist Thomas Bultman says of Genesis, “It’s not a story about how the world came to be, but of what our place in the world is.” Both Warners and Bultman told the Press that many of their students arrive as creationists, which Warners says presents “a challenge.”

Yet not all Calvin biologist students accept Warners’ logic. The Press quotes senior biology major Joe Moss, who has taken three of Warners’ courses but does not accept Darwinian explanations—in part because of his attendance at a Christian high school that taught creation. He emphasizes, “God’s word is true,” but laments that at Calvin, some biology professors “say you’re not a scientist or biologist unless you believe in evolution.”

Also standing apart from the pack is Cornerstone University. James Fryling, a chemist at the university, explains that Darwin’s idea is “important—scientifically, politically, culturally—so we do talk about it, but it’s certainly not the focus.” Fryling readily admits that he is a young-earth creationist. He clarifies that young-earth creation isn’t a scientific perspective, but that “science . . . is not the only way we have of knowing or explaining things.”

“We discuss the strengths of [Darwin’s] theory, we discuss the flaws of the theory,” Fryling went on. “We don’t buy his theory as far as a molecules-to-man explanation, but we do teach it.”

At least as far as Fryling’s perspective is concerned, we are in wholehearted agreement. It’s important that students understand Darwin’s model simply because of its past and present scientific significance. But both Darwinian evolution and biblical creation are untestable historical events and thus are outside of the range of operational science.

As for the state of Christian higher education, the Press piece serves as a reminder that students and their parents can hardly be too cautious about selecting a college or university. What is Christian in name may deviate significantly from Scripture in many areas. Jason Lisle even pointed out in Surviving Secular College that “compromised Christian college[s] . . . are much worse than secular colleges, in my opinion [because] [s]ecular colleges are honest about their rejection of the biblical worldview.” Sadly, the majority of Christian colleges fall in the compromise camp.


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