Reexamining Teaching Creationism in Schools

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on December 3, 2011
Featured in News to Know

Creationists accused of conspiring to create intellectual prisoners.

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In the wake of a statement that the U.K. education secretary “will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum or as an alternative to accepted scientific theories,”1 some citizens have been expressing their opinions in video clips aired after the evening news in the U.K. on 4ThoughtTV. Their topic: “Should creationism be taught in schools?” Philosophy lecturer Stephen Law has made vociferous accusations there, offering curious criteria for mental illness.

Law, who calls creationism “pernicious scientific nonsense,” considers his discovery of one public school science teacher who held “such an extraordinary view” as evidence that creationism is insidiously “creeping into the British school system.” The teacher’s views were a surprise to fellow teachers, so it seems the teacher’s extraordinary views hadn’t crept too far. But Law, apparently claiming omniscience regarding earth’s origins, says, “Teaching creationism in any class as fact is to teach children things which we know not to be true.”

Curiously, creationists who have spoken on this Moral and Ethical Opinions feature (and whose TV spots are all linked online) do not ask that creationism be taught as fact but that it be open for discussion. Even evolutionist Michael Reiss, featured in one of the spots, favors discussion of the subject in schools, if only to allow exposure to how other people think while explaining why creationism is wrong.

Raising the alarm lest children be “sucked into belief systems which are utterly absurd,” Law considers creationists to be conspiracy theorists who go about “convinced that everyone else is wrong and they are right.” He warns that once someone gets “sucked into that kind of belief system, they’re never coming out. It makes them intellectual prisoners, and they become intellectually unreachable.” In fact, he adds, they begin thinking in ways that are “symptomatic of mental illness.”

Another of the 4Thought speakers considers creationism to be unscientific because it is not falsifiable. Yet evolutionism suffers from the same problem. Neither creationism nor evolutionism can form testable hypotheses falsifiable by observable science. Why? Because the origin has already happened and cannot be undone, rewound, observed, and tested in a controlled fashion.

According to Law, anyone convinced he’s right and others are wrong thinks like a mentally ill person. So now, because we dare to think we’re right, our thought processes have gone beyond the reach of intellectual reason as we’ve been sucked into mental illness. But don’t evolutionists generally think they are right too? Law himself declares what he knows to be true. Even outspoken evolutionist Richard Dawkins, in reference to the evolutionary explanation of human origins, has said, “We don’t need evidence. We know it to be true.”2 Wouldn’t that make evolutionists mentally ill too?

Neither evolutionists nor creationists saw the origin of the universe. Biblical creationists believe God created the way He said He did. Evolutionists believe ideas of man’s invention. But neither was there to see it.

No, both evolutionists and biblical creationists have a faith. Faith is “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).“By faith we [biblical creationists] understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Neither evolutionists nor creationists saw the origin of the universe. Biblical creationists believe God created the way He said He did. Evolutionists believe ideas of man’s invention. But neither was there to see it. (At the same time, we would argue that what we see and experience in the world only makes sense—and can only be truly understood—in light of the Bible.)

One law of logic declares that contradictory things cannot be true at the same time. To believe that you are right about something does not suggest mental illness. We as creationists believe God’s eyewitness account of Creation. If we were to say that we believed God did as He said and at the same time say that He might not have, then we would be illogical.

Answers in Genesis has never suggested teachers of any persuasion be forced to teach creationism but rather has always maintained students and teachers should have academic freedom to critically examine scientific facts and the worldviews by which they are interpreted. Learning to exercise discernment when presented with facts and interpretations frees the intellect, not imprisons it.

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  1. Riazat Butt, “Scientists Demand Toughter Guidelines on Teaching of Creationism in Schools,” The Guardian, September 18, 2011,
  2. “Quotables,” World, March 22, 1997,


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