Defender's Guide to Science and Creationism

Mark Vuletic

Assertion

Creationist objections to science should be taught in school to help students develop critical thinking skills.

Analysis

I. Argument is an attempt at misdirection

This creationist argument is an attempt at misdirection. If creationists were concerned about having critical thinking skills taught in schools, they would lobby for the inclusion of logic as a required public school subject; instead, they try to place the label of "critical thinking" upon a pseudoscience in order to try to force it into the science classroom by any means possible. The net result of such efforts is to harm critical thinking, not to advance it.

II. Importance of learning actual science

Everyone agrees that it is important for students to develop critical thinking skills. However, it also is important for students to learn the best current state of knowledge. If high school graduates do not know what Newton's laws are because they have spent so much time "honing their critical thinking skills" by learning about astrology, alchemy, parapsychology, and creationism, then the education system has failed. Fortunately, as Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne (2005) point out, the dual goal of teaching students both critical thinking and the best current state of knowledge can be accomplished, even in the science classroom, without asking baffled K-12 students to try to make up their own minds between mainstream science and pseudoscience. Dawkins and Coyne explain that there is more than enough legitimate controversy within science to exercise students' critical thinking skills without forcing educators to waste time on the claims of alchemists and creationists, about which there is no scientific controversy at all. In biology, for instance, students who are taught the debates about the units of selection and the validity of evolutionary psychology will have their critical thinking skills exercised while learning about real scientific debates; this is far better than forcing students and educators to waste valuable time on the claims made by anyone who has a religious axe to grind against modern science.

References

Dawkins R and Coyne J. 2005. One side can be wrong. The Guardian, 1 September 2005.

Last updated: 10 Feb 2016

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