THE FEARLESS BIOLOGY TEACHER – Evolution Together With Creationism in the Classroom

January 6th, 2020

For those unfamiliar with my background as a teacher, I wrote an article entitled, “A Fearless Classroom” over at Lulu dot com. The twelve page download for college and university teachers is free and details how to create an anxiety-free environment for learning in higher education. While I believe our higher education system operates in an unconstitutional manner and abuses the taxpayers, I’m a firm believer in public universities insofar as those educate our students in other ways than private universities. I hope to publish those ideas in a book this year. For the present, my ‘Fearless’ series will soon add a unit on ‘Fearless Faith’ (religious tourism) and the following unit (Part I) regarding the teaching of ‘creationism’ alongside evolution in the schools without a constitutional crisis emerging or forcing biology teachers to cringe with embarrassment when beginning this unit. Thanks for returning to this neglected blog.

PART I of The Fearless Biology Teacher – Evolution Together With Creationism in the Classroom by Barbara Rubin, M.A.

INTRODUCTION

Among the hotly debated issues in the teaching of evolution theory to high school students is a presumed ‘gap’ between the substantive ‘facts’ of science and religious ‘truths’. Religion and science have met upon numerous battlegrounds and the teaching of biology became one of them. The reason for this conflict is two-fold; the first being how science has looked down upon those who believe humans are more than the mere sum of their synapses. Scientists have generally resisted dialogue with the religious community, believing that would be a hazardous waste of time.

Thankfully, the religious community no longer burns scientists at the stake in order to gain their attention. While that makes the present gap in communication less violent, pay grades in the classroom still hinge upon community school boards rather than the opinions of staff working for the NASA. Stacking the school boards with degreed experts still does not guarantee agreement between precepts in the laws of religion, those of philosophical reason and the laws of physics. Does that mean persons of faith like to deny facts? Is the term ‘fact’ equivalent to the information conveyed by the word, ‘truth’? Facts are dispassionately accepted following presentation of proofs while truth is relegated to an hypothesis that is felt to be real, whether or not sufficient proofs have been amassed to satisfy the dubious or non-believers. Equations representing facts might have to await the arrival of a genius to put together the mathematical proof. One example is the equation E=MC squared being stated in mathematical terms, when the variables represented in the equation were already known for generations.

Religion has been conveniently blamed for numerous wars although the Encyclopedia of War informs us that only ten percent of wars had religious issues at their core. Simply put, religious persons have traditionally refused orders by tyrants to forget truths found in both history and national narrative, often resulting in the censorship or eradication of books, the arts and rhetoric itself. The resulting carnage in the lives of those religious populations under totalitarianism is generally classified as ethnic cleansing, although that isn’t factual. Accepted as a truth, the unspoken facts are that religious persons believe in a higher authority that determines behavior while totalitarian rulers require unquestioning obedience in behavior to members of their self-defined class. Compulsory education brought about a crisis in teaching children how to think, specifically because of shifting political tides which prefer rationalization over reasoning to result in obedience to authority. School attendance was originally mandated as a social service, to ensure children weren’t used to replace adults in employment or abused as unpaid labor. Home tutoring had long been the choice of the wealthy. Literate citizens were largely taught by parents or at the expense of employers and landowners in proto-type schools. This naturally led to wide variations in opinions, whether learned by experience or by the teachings of past and present experts.

Therefore, the regard for truth – how you feel about a proven opinion or unproven theory – is not the real battleground as often touted by scientists. That Hitler demanded obedience from the scientific community, at risk for their lives, is a fact. The truth required a belief that Hitler hadn’t the right to command control of intellectual ability and property. Those scientists wasted time on false experiments or escaped to give their knowledge to a better ‘bet’ in the nation-building department. The behavior of an individual under Hitler’s regime was therefore based upon whether you went with the unpleasant facts of existence or with your ‘truth’. The Jehovah’s witnesses went into labor camps with their truths, while the ‘SS’ chose the facts of the times and ran those labor camps as young officers. Freedom is more of a theoretical construct when viewed only through the lens of the Gregorian calendar. Religious calendars that are older only refer to freedom, a state of mind that is created via rigorous efforts to nourish and nurture young minds.

Another, less respectable reason for the gap between ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ belongs to the religious community’s emergence from ignorance in the sciences but still at a loss besides those with degrees in physics, chemistry and biology. There is a very real threat of losing a debate in the marketplace of one’s worthiness for employment, when science becomes a litmus test in a job interview. A casual conversation about the latest findings in Novel Scientific Inquiry Magazine, (NSIM is not a real periodical), may be used to wrest information about matters of belief by a job candidate that are forbidden to investigate in a job interview that doesn’t require those skills.
Readers of the Bible understand that most job interviews are conducted in an effort to distinguish between the famed twins of humanity. It’s more desirable to hire Esau and leave Jacob to begin his own company. Esau would, in turn, fall prey to Romulus and Remus when those predators began hunting in novel territories. Head-hunting agencies would easily replace the lost cog in that wheel of fortune. Jacob, left to seek other visionaries of this world, would have to protectively separate his ‘subsidiaries’ – his children and his flocks being his investment in eternity. Negotiations between the Jacobs and Esaus of the world are easily viewed in the United Nations, where Esau – like UNESCO – seeks to protect the heritage of his ‘brother’ into a sole proprietorship.

What powerful leaders and captains of industry forget is that belief systems have validity even among those who don’t know the human body has vestigial organs we’ve outgrown over the evolutionary time scale. I’ve also known scientists who eat and drink wheat grass when any biologist knows that grasses require four stomachs to digest. Interestingly, evolution is taught in biology classes in the United States. The evolution of intelligence marks humanity’s reach for negotiating with nature’s insistence upon winning over human settlements, never mind the aggressiveness of the Cains and Esaus of the world. Deeper footprints are left in the soil, sand and moon dust of Jacob’s universe, demonstrating that animalistic behavior does not have to rule us. Nonetheless, animalistic tendencies ‘lean towards the mean’ on the bell curve of human normalcy. This requires we examine how Jacobs are created while warily approaching the rest of the ‘human’ family – from wily father-in-laws with more than one daughter to marry well, (Laban), to the successful nomads able to circumvent external nature via travel.

History is filled with hunters and warriors who slashed, looted and burnt their way around the territories they ranged. Their names are memorialized, (e.g. Ceaser, Ghengis Kan, Lenin, Hitler and Mao), while their victims lie in largely unmarked graves, testament to cannibalism among humans. The prevalence of evil in the world often prevents those with higher aspirations from attaining the status required to both stave off/conquer threats and still implement better systems allowing communities to thrive. The martial atmosphere results in the development of caste systems whereby warriors feel overly put upon in the midst of intellectuals, despite the need for educating warrior classes lest you wind up with Bolshevism as your core belief system. The status of women consistently becomes degraded, despite periods of enlightenment because even an oppressed male may own a female. Phylogeny tells of the basic male-female relationships we should have left far behind us, yet remain in portions of every society. Appearances matter in terms of the search for healthy and intelligent mates or, at least, successful hunters and gatherers. Female birds go to males with the brightest plumage and researchers like Jane Goodall observed male chimpanzees attract females to private ‘honeymoon’ areas using the lure of food. However, among most mammals, males overpower females with strength in order to mate with a female ‘in season’. They will fight other males for the available females and we even see males, like lions, kill their own cubs in order to bring a lactating female back into ‘season’. Keeping the cubs from the father is a major responsibility of the lioness while still providing meat to the entire family unit.

Today, the earning potential of a woman is regarded as more valuable than her potential as a successful mother who nurtures a child to maturity in physical strength, philosophical orientation and intellectual/earning skills. ‘Bringing home the bacon’ is more important than bringing up the next generation. This represents a degradation of mothers as the major purpose of family units. It results in women needing to prolong childhood through extended educational (college) preparation to be more attractive or self-sufficient and then avoid or terminate pregnancies in order to keep the provender coming. The average public debate is about the ‘right to choose’ to terminate a pregnancy while the humanist debate ought to be about a woman’s right ‘to refuse’ an unwanted act that leads to conception.

The evolution of marriage laws has, to date, been intended to respect the independence of women. Fathers of daughters in societies where descent is through the mother, like Israel, already had betrothal contracts that allowed daughters to inherit and keep property brought into a marriage should a divorce occur. These contracts may be seen in transcriptions of contracts drafted in ancient Greece while women were unable to own property in the Western world until late into the Gregorian calendar. This ‘dance of dependency’ for women is an ongoing class action suit against the deterioration of a legal system stacked against weaker portions of the population.
Human evolution is theorized to have worked similarly in pre-history. Therefore, the creation of a family unit based upon peaceful relations between members was essential to the growth of the sentient humans and fostered an economically sound society. Capitalism evolved naturally in ancient Mesopotamia due to a diversity among economic strata within the peaceful relationships that existed between communities with goods to barter of diverse valuation. Termed by some as merchant capitalism, rather than a free market economy, the difference might be accrued to inequities in education and the relationship of the community to an avaricious ruling class. The overwhelming force of Alexander’s invasion of 331 BCE ended that self-sustaining system of multiple cultures living in proximity to each other.

Today, abuse is rife in many politically mixed communities while rarely observed where humanist/religious values are primary in importance. It is therefore logical to believe human nature is the result of the intentional drive to create humans on a scale that permits great nations to emerge from the chaos of billions of bipedal beings. Humans do not naturally evolve due to issues of dominance via force and community attrition versus superior ways of approaching other members with our shared DNA. Migration patterns have long been established among our species, established by refugees fleeing persecution and arid landscapes to those empire-builders sending forth insurgents in order to destabilize the conscious effort it requires to develop righteous nations. Insurgencies threaten the inheritance of both land and tradition. National lands fragment unless merged via a jointly held framework of laws, defensible through a system of justice that treats all members equally.

Religion, science and secular humanism are separate belief systems that are not mutually exclusive. Religion is a system comprised of watershed events, thought, tradition and legacy. A higher authority, generally regarded as a Deity, is responsible for matter and the interactions that permit the world to work and renew itself in observable ways. The relationship between the Deity and the individual leads to a pattern of how to think about life. Rituals develop to ensure the daily lives of the faithful are not without a sense of supra-survival purpose (e.g. a Sabbath for refection and family time). Educational norms are then developed to guarantee the legacy continues for adherents of the religion. Secular education is rather late in history, particularly in the United States – a youthful ‘upstart’ among nations.

The battle to keep the first amendment from reading ‘…freedom FROM religion…’ instead of ranking religion a freedom to maintain, is at the heart of this discussion. Religion approaches the issue of life with a sense of awe in order to remove the dangers of idolatry from taking over young minds. Humans are far from immune to succumbing to the worship of government, science and even secular humanism. The human mind and spirit have created Torquemadas as well as Einsteins, leaving a great number of persons throughout the world rather dubious about viewing all humanity with favor. Perhaps it is wise to remind the reader that Einstein was stateless for many years between leaving Germany and being granted Swiss citizenship. He was not defined by his nationality but, rather, helped the Swiss to better their nation through his admission. Merit sometimes triumphs over birthright as we have seen in prior paragraphs.
Evil is also awesome when you consider the human bent to erase its better nature from the surface of the earth as it begs for a dictator to turn Jacobs into Hitlers. The bible teaches that Jacob overcame the earthy tendencies to discarding the teachings of the fathers in his clash with his twin brother, Esau. Teachers and gurus (Jacobs) are more rarely sought than Hitlers because those roles do not guarantee the provision of meat to their adherents. Rather, Jacob tended his own family and flocks by dispersing those in the face of danger, knowing his children would be an admirable legacy. Each child different in their own right, the tribes of Israel set the bar for later generations of nation builders.
Science describes the rules governing matter, i.e. the beginnings, development and ultimate fate of the world. This includes rules governing humans – that bipedal and sentient species regarded as the top of the ‘food chain’. Education in the sciences is rigorous, using methodology developed over the millennia, from the mathematical discoveries of Egyptians, Aristotelian logic and extending through the newer statistical verification processes utilized to prove various hypotheses. Interestingly, these ancient sciences derived from beginnings in, or travel to, the Middle East; home to the Sages of early religious philosophies.

‘Humanism’ has been categorized as a religion by the United States courts to justify the way in which incorporation of groups, like Ethical Societies, might be allowed equal financial treatment under laws pertaining to religious non-profits, (American Humanist Society v. United States). Requiring exhaustive reviews of scientific method and human history, humanists will hopefully inform us why we are still asking the same questions already answered by Moses, Saint Augustine and other prophets and religious scholars. While often claiming to be atheists, I have found that humanist philosophers place an entirely unjustified faith in human nature to survive everything from natural disasters to the evil inclinations of blood-thirsty power grabbers. A tsunami does not mean the Creator hates a population. It means periodic natural disasters did not lead to the evacuation of known hazardous regions. It may also reflect powerful governing forces desirous of having residents remain in danger zones that generate wealth through fertility of the soil, an abundance of fish or to maintain a presence of military import. Other severe but less frequently encountered catastrophes, like earthquakes, support the scientific scheme of evolution, with shifting tectonic plates and active volcanos. Divine intervention should not be posited as required when you’ve accepted how the earth ages.

Nonetheless, the thoughts of men from Socrates to Galileo, and Hobbs to Nietzsche, have had enormous influence over the degree of submission men and women have proffered upon authority figures, legitimately chosen and/or perceived. That defies the definition of philosophy as a study concerned with free will and human evolution. The evolution of land ownership in ancient times led to the development of various forms of economies. Most schools fail to teach how capitalism naturally evolved in Mesopotamia, where luxury goods were made by artisans to serve a higher economic strata of consumer. The Renaissance was famed for patronage of artists with musicians and artists paid to create People have had patrons and created music ‘to order’, with the exception of Beethoven, permitted to write as he wished. Writers were paid to tell stories with preferred endings to posited challenges of the day and sometimes merely to fill space in broadsheets. Insofar as illiterate persons are fully able to understand freedom, perhaps some learned philosophers were all too to excuse bending to force in order to keep their jobs. Modern philosophers are faced with clarifying the technological issues of real force, in opposition to perceived force. Such conflicts are overcome by a combination of free will and strong community defenses. Perceived force begins benignly enough and then becomes malignant, metastasizing into concentration camps before the eyes of those paid ‘not to see’. In industry, Upton Sinclair also warned of conditions that grow when a man’s paycheck depends upon his not knowing its derivation. He was speaking of the processed meat industry before the food and drug administration began enforcement of sanitary requirements – not to mention the period before bribery was enough to gain certification as an approved food preparer. The health of a nation is based upon faith, as well as credit, in the currency and in each other.

Many writers of fiction throughout history have actually been philosophers helping to differentiate between true Gulliverian Lilliputs and those who follow ‘Gullibles’ travels. Where facts are in short supply due to censorship and reality is denied by the bulk of society, proofs are limited to the field of geometry without an end point to be proven. Spiraling out of control, myths beget myths unless describing a known destination. An example of this argument is my own experience when I first visited Europe. In Geneva on a warm, spring day, I was followed in town by a man with a tape recorder issuing forth Barak Obama’s voice. The faked tape called out foul threats against Jewish people and other disgusting statements. Upon my return to the States, a newspaper story described how a woman died after speeding into a brick wall. Her emergency call to police had said that Obama was monitoring her phone calls. I then informed the authorities of how his voice had been used to intimidate myself in Geneva. The authorities must have dealt with the problem because I’ve not since heard a presidential voice used in that manner in other than comedy routines showcased on stages around the world.

Belief in facts has widespread acceptance but does not extend the term ‘fact’ to tenuous matters like politics and economics, subjected to the plans and whims of many. While we make excellent use of the scientific method in the physical sciences, (the ‘null’ hypothesis), there are relatively few ‘givens’ in the equations of life. The null hypotheses of science requires a theorist to prove his theory to be untrue, as in the statement, “The earth does not travel around the sun.”. Do we really want to state the hypothesis that “Humans are all dead.”, or “Humans do not have souls.”, in order to remove ourselves from the pursuit of truth outside of the physical sciences? The context of this debate requires an admission that human consciousness is more than leaps of energy stemming from the axons of nerves from dendrite to dendrite, across the synaptic abyss of cellular space. Neural impulses are explained in the physical sciences while the results of those leaps in wisdom across humanity is a subject left to philosophers. Students of human behavior or religion generally substitute philosophical aphorisms to circumvent being accused of either scientific or religious heresy by the hierarchies of their days. Only calendar years separate a Galileo from a Dalai Lama, both persecuted by their respective establishments.

Intellectuals tripping over these issues have learned not to permit the degradation of the ‘soul’ – or the complexities of meta-consciousness – through claims that the soul does not exist without proof. It is entirely legitimate to believe that neuroscience is also part of the investigation into the human ‘raison-d’etre’. Belief by consensus (democracy, which is not always about the will of the majority) often stands in place of human judgement, leading to terror by loss of an approval craved by most people. Hence the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes whereby the nudity of the head of state was ultimately believed via the innocent proclamation of a child unable to lie about what lay before his eyes. The adults chose to say “I will deny the truth revealed by my senses to satisfy perceived authority.” The statement of that innocent voice led even the Emperor, like Adam, to run for a fig leaf in sudden embarrassment. We might say the Emperor was the ‘apple’ of the child’s eye on that fateful day and all gained ‘knowledge’ in the Aristotelian sense of learning to trust in your own observations.

The spirit of intellectual inquiry guarantees we will all encounter these three approaches to the world in our lifetimes – humanism, religion and science. Those encounters will happen whether encouraged or forbidden by the political/power constructs around us. Political and power hierarchies generally referred to as ‘governments’, are often challenged by these three branches of reason. These orientations lead to questions as to the legitimacy of the visible leadership in areas where a solid majority exists with shared values. Theocracies generally have differences over degrees of orthodoxy but rarely about legitimacy. Humanists, on the other hand, have rarely been sure enough about their positions to hold on to a censorship-free society lest power slip away from a controlling minority. Scientists may unpredictably lean in directions favoring funding of governmentally-preferred scientific interests even when forced to serve totalitarian interests . Self-interest in the name of money and safety has often overcome precepts of free expression and investigation, a severe infringement of creativity. Not all constraints may be blamed upon authority itself but upon those prepared to compromise at every turn.

Legitimate leadership does not interfere in the teaching of facts, except where governments rule upon thought itself, rather than the behavior of residents crossing legal lines of established frameworks. The teaching of truths however, are a nebulous area arising from the emotional component of learning; how do you feel about your hypothesis? To some, a hypothesis remains a truth even lacking factual evidence, as in deism. At other times, facts are filled in after theories are supported by partial evidence of the whole. In the latter case, history taken from the Bible is often supported by archeological evidence that comes to light in modern excavations. Last year, Royal seals consonant with the stories of the prophet Jeremiah about an imminent danger to Jerusalem were found, making the assertions more than mere morality tales. Disasters connected with Biblical floods and plagues are similarly handled in geological analyses, supported by the fact that many cultures have stories of a Great Flood. This makes education a legitimate battleground when making determinations about beliefs that appear to be outside of the realm of serious inquiry – like Creation. Evolution answers questions including how the earth was formed; how the animals and humans developed and so forth. Therefore, why is it when the term ‘Creation’ is uttered, hands begin to flutter, eyes blink at the supposed lack of clarity and the cheeks of biology teachers redden in distress? School boards have agreed that the subject of Creation must be taught. Some resolve on the part of both students and teachers regarding this matter must be made.

I will always remember the acute embarrassment suffered by my own, tenth grade biology teacher following the unit he taught about evolution. Explained with his usual enthusiasm for this area of his expertise, his downcast demeanor when relating Bible stories about Creation led the class to begin taking sides against each other. Religiously minded teens felt threatened by the aspiring scientists who wanted to make an impression upon this humiliated teacher who might write them a recommendation someday. They had no other interest in debate, being able to simply dismiss the information presented without penalty. Budding 14 year-old humanists pretended to mediate the arguments with a woeful lack of understanding of the divisions before them. The classroom became devisive and the public shaming of teenagers by teenagers degraded the educational process. The teacher remained helpless in this matter, a silence that further alienated those who wondered why, should evolution be a real phenomenon, that the term ‘creation’ must be a form of scientific blasphemy?

The sole aim of this essay is to present the thesis that the biological envelope of our species developed in a manner gradually unfolding before the eyes of biologists. Humans must still undergo the gradual undertaking of creation with the support and guidance of parents, guardians, teachers, the environment and the natural gifts conferred upon all of us by the Creator. Biologists should revel in the nature of creation given the complexities of neurophysiology, learning theory and human relationships required. Biology teachers – your unit on evolution will be the most challenging portion of your academic year when you add creationism to the menu. The word, ‘creative’, did not obtain the position it enjoys in the English language without the Latin root, creare. The definition is actually about the formation of something from nothing, and referring to events that would not enter into being by ordinary processes. Evolution is therefore insufficient to make a body ‘human’, being an ordinary process guided by the laws of science. Our lack of full understanding for the process of evolution is the reason we regard it as extra-ordinary. Creation is never ordinary however, being unique – for better or worse. For purposes of this essay, I refer to ‘inadequately created humans’ as sentient bipeds. The fact bipeds are sentient allows for a generous possibility of individuals to re-create themselves in order to reach the potential denied by necessary and avoidable circumstances.

END Part I – NEXT, The Biology of Creationism

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