Monday, January 12, 2009

Teach the Controversy

When I was younger I was taken in by this tactic: by addressing the evolution-creation debate and how to teach it in schools, evolutionists cede ground to religious radicals by acting as if there's some controversy in the first place. When Sheikh Ben Baz in Saudi Arabia decreed in 1975 that the world was still flat, I don't recall geography classes teaching the Round vs. Flat controversy.

Let's turn this around. Yes, we should teach the controversy - about religion, in public schools. I earlier pointed out Dan Dennett's fantastic proposal that we teach the facts about religious belief (of all religions) in public schools. You could make it a unit of world cultures class in ninth grade. This is a nifty move because you could even teach creationism as part of this class (in fact I would strongly favor it!) and take some wind out of any claims of a big academic conspiracy against the Bible. It would also expose kids to multiple religions, and discussion and tolerance are deadly to fundamentalism.

Politicians in favor of including creationism in curricula but against this addition to the education system would have a hard time explaining their position in terms other than explicitly trying to make public education Christian education. That's exactly why we should teach this controversy.

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